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Pete Dunk

48 Key Lachenal English Concertina

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A very good point Theo, thank you for mentioning it. I'll be sure to work out clearances before re-padding in future. :)

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When repadding a concertina if you use replacement pads of the same size the key arms should not need 'bending'.

 

You mentioned that the new pads were higher or taller than the old ones. Should the goal be to match the original pad height or bend up the arms to mate well with new well padded pads?

 

I just ran into this myself - my fix was to use pads that matched the ones removed because I did not want to bend the arms. But I must say bending was the first thing that came to mind.

 

Dan

 

Dan,

 

Bending arms is the correct technique and is nearly always necessary, you cannot guarantee the lever arm grommets, or the pads are going to be a direct replacement to yield an even key height accross the instrument (assuming perfect replacement parts). The pads you are removing will have compressed over time, even if they are not damaged, so are are not a representaive sample. You need a consistent key height of around 3mm, 1/8 ins to get the proper pad lift without too much key travel. You also need a soft landing onto the pad board seatings, and firm felt that will not slide in use.

 

Surely the first objective is to get a good playing instrument, consistent with it's original specification, the second objective is the museium piece approach?

 

Dave E

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OK.

 

I was afraid of breaking the arms on my Jones box... They feel stiff and almost brittle comparded to a new piece of 1/16 bronze rod.

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OK.

 

I was afraid of breaking the arms on my Jones box... They feel stiff and almost brittle comparded to a new piece of 1/16 bronze rod.

 

 

Don't worry about it, 'Faint heart never won a fair lady' as the song goes.

 

I have been repairing for quite a few years now, and I think I have only broken two arms (concertina that is!); in both cases there were flaws from original manufacture. When I get really busy, or she is broke, my daughter pitches in to help, she is now just seventeen, and, over the last couple of years or so, she has re-padded a dozen or more instruments, setting key heights, changing springs and replacing cross bushings as necessary. Read the book, make the tool and always make sure the key is pressed down as you bend the arm.

 

Go for it!

 

p.s. We will have to become Elliott & Co soon :o

 

Dave E

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Repairing damaged chamber walls and replacing the damaged gaskets on the left hand reed pan wasn't entirely successful in affecting a proper seal all round. I've now stripped off all of the chamber top gaskets so I can check each chamber wall for level with a straight edge and apply suitable packing before re-gasketing the lot.

 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I've now figured out how I will approach this kind of fault in the future. First strip out all gaskets including the bellows end and clean off the old glue, then check for level with bare timber. This will show up any warping and check the support block heights, they may have fallen off at some time in the past and been refitted incorrectly or need slight packing to compensate for reed pan warp. Then do any necessary packing on the chamber tops to get them level with the bellows frame before fitting new gaskets to the whole end.

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Pinching an idea from Bob Tedrow's excellent bellows construction thread I cut a strip of timber at 96mm to hold the bellows almost fully open, then began fitting new papers to cover up all of the bellows patching....

Edited by tallship

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Papers all finished, they're a bit lumpy and bumpy here and there because of the additional thickness caused by rebinding but she looks a hell of a lot better than she did. This weekend we'll be adding the finishing touches, gauze inside the fretwork, new Lachenal label (thanks spindizzy!) and the original serial number can be stuck back in its proper place. After that all that's left is a bit of reedwork to correct a couple of slow speaking reeds. For now I'm happy to leave the concertina in philharmonic pitch. Why mess with it when I'm unlikely to use this brass reeded 'tina to play along with others?

 

I'll post a final set of pics when it's all done along with an autopsy on what I did wrong, what I did right and what I'll do differently next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time! :D

Edited by tallship

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So, the concertina is finished and I’ve learned quite a lot along the way. Next time I’ll use a much more structured approach although I did things pretty much in the right order thanks to Dave Elliott’s good advice. I would be much more critical at the purchasing stage; this instrument really was in quite a poor condition so I should have bargained much harder over the price and simply walked away if I couldn’t get the right deal.

 

I was too eager to get started and failed to address the major structural problems at the beginning. The golden nugget of advice from Dave Elliott was ‘fix the machine first, and then consider the musical instrument’. This is after all a fairly complex feat of engineering and it will never work as an instrument unless the mechanical detail is fully functioning.

 

The best place to start, as Dave said, is to work towards air tightness, the bellows are the heart of the machine and until you have an efficient pump you can’t begin to assess other problems properly. Air tightness does of course depend on a number of components working together; first of all the bellows themselves must be free of leaks. A bright light inside the bellows will literally highlight the most obvious punctures and will very probably show up all faults of this nature, however small.

 

The next link in the chain is the reedpan fit inside the bellows frame. Leaks past the side of the pan will rob the instrument of air generally making all notes in that area slow to respond. Leaks between chambers will cause the same effect and in extreme conditions cause several reeds to sound at once. Despite Dave’s rather dry comment of: “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it”, I feel that if any part of the end gaskets has failed then the whole lot should be replaced. My reasoning here is that if the gaskets have ‘thinned’ over a long period of time or if the concertina has changed shape slightly over the years of exposure to varying temperature and humidity conditions it’s time to start again and make the gaskets fit the current conditions.

 

Older instruments are subject to movement and warping; the likelihood of any action board surviving a hundred years or so without significant changes even under the best conditions must be virtually nil. Trying to force these timbers back into their original position will, without fail, result in further damage; all we can hope to achieve here is to pack out the affected areas and restore a reasonably good fit that new gaskets will make airtight. Pad-board repairs, to cracks and the like, should be carried out before any re-padding is done.

 

I regard pads and valves as service consumables and replacement will complete the air tightness process. Any key re-bushing can be tackled as pad replacement progresses or even prior to re-padding, trying to get a key out after new pads are in place would be nigh on impossible.

 

You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and the Lachenal was always a basic model, the cheap and cheerful of its day. I’m leaving the woodwork as it is, all the knocks, dings and scrapes are the marks of a long and sometimes hard life that the concertina wears with a certain dignity.

 

I will post a final set of pics when I've got to the bottom of why the file host is messing about and only showing half an image!

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So, the concertina is finished and I’ve learned quite a lot along the way. Next time I’ll use a much more structured approach although I did things pretty much in the right order thanks to Dave Elliott’s good advice.

 

Something else to consider next time is to strip away unwanted bellows components before you start. Papers should certainly be removed, not just covered. Sometimes split gussets are better removed and replaced rather than be covered, or patched internally. It does need a leap of faith though. The only practical way to remove these parts is to dampen the whole bellows sufficiently to soften the glue and then strip off the unwanted parts. That means spraying the whole bellows with water and then leaving the water to soak in. :o Its a bit like stripping wallpaper before redecorating! The difference is that the wall is unlikely to be much affected by the effects of moisture and scraping. The bellows on the other hand can fall to bits completely! :lol:

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I think the reproduction Lachenal label works well. :)

 

109_0932.jpg

Edited by tallship

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The bellows are really too small with only four folds but I didn't want to lash out on a replacement set straight away, mainly to keep the initial expense down but also to make sure that there was a playable instrument in there somewhere. I hadn't intended to get involved with all of the gussets at first but it became clear that constant flexing of the bellows was causing many of them to crack through and bits were flaking off the outside leaving no surface on the outer part of the leather. When the bellows are replaced for a six fold set the patched up ones will become part of a tuning rig.

 

I was strongly advised not to attempt proper repair by removal of existing components as it's not really a kitchen table job and I would probably end up with a kit of parts. ;)

 

I may become brave at some point in the future but I think I'm more likely to have a stab at the Bob Tedrow method and make a new set. :D

 

Something else to consider next time is to strip away unwanted bellows components before you start. Papers should certainly be removed, not just covered. Sometimes split gussets are better removed and replaced rather than be covered, or patched internally. It does need a leap of faith though. The only practical way to remove these parts is to dampen the whole bellows sufficiently to soften the glue and then strip off the unwanted parts. That means spraying the whole bellows with water and then leaving the water to soak in. :o Its a bit like stripping wallpaper before redecorating! The difference is that the wall is unlikely to be much affected by the effects of moisture and scraping. The bellows on the other hand can fall to bits completely! :lol:

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Hi

'Museum section'????????? :blink: where?

chris

 

It took me a while to find it, then I lost it again but here's a link to the Concertina.net Museum

 

Just as Chris T. endlessly reminds (especially new) folks to look at the FAQ, I likewise tell folks to go to the C.net home page some slow afternoon and try all the links. Yes, there are hundreds of items in the half dozen areas. Maybe it's time to add the old, static areas (Learning, Buying Guide, etc.) to a menu on the top of the Forum pages. I'll check with Paul some time...The static pages mostly need rewriting (what else is new), but there's some good info there. Have a look, keep playing.

 

Ken

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If you (or anyone) comes up with a good high-res image of this (or any other brand) of label, I'd be willing to post it in the Museum section for others to access also.

 

Ken

 

 

If anyone wants to send me pics of the labels they want a replica of i will give it a go as I am a some what skill calligrapher and have more than a few years of art training (classical) and Drafting under my belt and could probably make an exact copy from any images you want. All I would need is an original in moderate to passable condition and I would be able to make something in high definition for reduction to print.

 

Michael

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Following an enquiry I received recently about the pictures in this thread, all of which had broken links and had disappeared, I've uploaded the photos to a better server and fixed all of the embedded pictures. I'm sure I had more pics than this so I'll trawl through a few folders when I get time and add a few more.

 

Following this particular project I got sidetracked into repairing a melodeon so that I could learn something about the black art of tuning on much larger and more forgiving reeds. Little did I know that absolutely everything about accordion repair differs from the concertina so I learned a few more skills along the way. ;)

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This was a really good read and very encouraging. I have a similar concertina now and will need to do pretty much all that you have done. Given your experience of repairing/restoring this one, where would you start on a new one? Would you patch the bellows first or begin with the valves and pads again?

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