Melodeon.net Forums

Discussions => Instrument Design, Construction and Repair => Topic started by: Baron Collins-Hill on January 20, 2015, 12:13:00 AM

Title: Bellows Tape Question (updated)
Post by: Baron Collins-Hill on January 20, 2015, 12:13:00 AM
I am wondering the best plan of action for some minor wear to the bellows tape on a box I just bought. The bellows are tight and none of the wear spots are letting in any air, but I want to keep those spots from getting any worse or starting to wear through the card stock. Should I buy some special bellows tape and glue, or would some electrical tape do the trick?

I am attaching some (probably overly magnified) photos I took

Thanks,
Baron
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: AirTime on January 20, 2015, 01:41:53 AM
Any tape will protect the worn areas from further wear, but electrical tape is a particularly bad choice as it leaves a sticky mess behind. Better to get proper bellows tape - it's easy enough to put on.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Baron Collins-Hill on January 20, 2015, 03:02:54 AM
Thanks for the advice, AirTime. What sort of glue should I use with the bellows tape? Do I need to take off the old tape just where it is worn or the whole strip, or just add another layer on top? Any tips for things I am surely not thinking of?

I don't mind too much about looks, would rather patch it and have it look a little off than pull off the whole strip and mess up putting on the new one, but will look in to it if that's really what I ought to do.

Thanks,
Baron
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Kimric Smythe on January 20, 2015, 05:58:59 AM
Hide glue or White glue works well.
 I found folding and putting a crease in the tape length makes it easier to apply. Hitting it with a hair dryer for a few seconds after applying helps get it to stay down.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: AirTime on January 20, 2015, 07:06:03 AM
Quote
Do I need to take off the old tape just where it is worn or the whole strip, or just add another layer on top? Any tips for things I am surely not thinking of?

As Kimric suggests, I have used white glue. Fold it first, then smooth it on firmly & it should stay in place. Wipe off any excess glue. The tricky part is removing the old tape. Some people believe you should always remove all the old tape. Personally, with your box, I wouldn't bother to remove the old tape, but would just apply a length to the areas that are worn. The rest of the bellows tape will wear very little - the area that is already worn will likely wear again over time, at which point you can remove the layer of tape you added & re-patch it.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Nick Collis Bird on January 20, 2015, 08:01:50 AM
All the above answers are correct, but you really should remove the old tape. If you tape over the original, you will create a swell and it will be difficult to close the bellows straps.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Steve_freereeder on January 20, 2015, 09:12:27 AM
All the above answers are correct, but you really should remove the old tape. If you tape over the original, you will create a swell and it will be difficult to close the bellows straps.

Nick is correct in some ways. But there is a balance to be found here involving practicality, necessity and aesthetics. We are discussing a modern, working instrument here, not restoring a valuable museum piece or antique.

Removing old tape:
Yes ideally, but it is an absolute pain to remove old bellows tape and replace the lot with new. With the minimal degree and location of wear shown in the photos, I think it is overkill to remove all the bellows tape, even from just the folds affected. Most of it looks perfectly good and therefore not necessary to remove it. With careful matching of new bellows tape colour and texture (it often has a one-way grain), it should be possible to just patch over the worn portions and it would hardly show at all.

'Creating a swell':
This is something to be aware of, but is only really of importance when lots of tape is being replaced. When patching small areas, as in this case, there is sufficient give and flexibility in the bellows folds to accommodate the extra thickness and it is unlikely to cause a problem closing the bellows straps.

If the old tape is a bit loose in the worn sections and seems to be easily removeable, it could be worth carefully lifting a small length of old tape and cutting off squarely with a sharp blade (care needed not to damage the underlying bellows card or leather gussets!). Then replacement tape patches could be applied flush.

Glue:
White PVA glue is the stuff, as others have mentioned. It is possible to obtain PVA glue which has a tackiness, which is useful in this situation. Clear contact adhesive, such as Bostik Clear is also useful for fixing small patches. The bond also remains slightly flexible which is possibly an advantage.

Bellows tape:
Get the proper stuff to match your instrument. Charlie Marshall has a good selection here (http://www.cgmmusical.co.uk/CGM_Musical_Services/Bellows_Tape.html).

Electrical/insulating/freezer tape? No - never!
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Theo on January 20, 2015, 09:31:29 AM
With the number of worn folds on the lower photo (I count 10) you will definitely have problems fastening the bellows straps if you add new tape on top of the old, unless your bellows straps are loose. The extra thickness is particularly problematic when it is over the metal corners as this is the thickest part.   Its usually not difficult to remove old bellows tape.  The only exception is some Hohner bellows where the tape is paper and the glue is stronger than the tape.  With modern cloth tape like yours it will usually pull off in one piece.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Nick Collis Bird on January 20, 2015, 09:52:20 AM
Steve has a very good point about grain direction.
See my website here.
http://www.collisbirdandwithey.co.uk/paper-grain-direction
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Nick Collis Bird on January 20, 2015, 01:10:18 PM
Good point, but silicone release paper is better. Well worth a google
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: TedK on January 20, 2015, 01:30:27 PM
I have to admit I found removing tape to be a real struggle.

I've done it twice (on Hohners- but both older models). Each time I started off with the intention of replacing full strips and doing a neat job, but when I tried to removing the old tape it would not pull off neatly and started tearing off pieces of the surrounding coloured bellows surface. Both times I eventually got scared I would ruin the bellows and ended up doing a patch-up job!

I tried wetting the bellows tape in preparation, but this just seemed to make the bellows tape break up rather than tearing off in long strip, and didn't really help with the tearing issue.

Is there any way to make the process easier, or is this problem just inevitable with Hohners?
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Lester on January 20, 2015, 01:38:10 PM
I have to admit I found removing tape to be a real struggle.

I've done it twice (on Hohners- but both older models). Each time I started off with the intention of replacing full strips and doing a neat job, but when I tried to removing the old tape it would not pull off neatly and started tearing off pieces of the surrounding coloured bellows surface. Both times I eventually got scared I would ruin the bellows and ended up doing a patch-up job!

I tried wetting the bellows tape in preparation, but this just seemed to make the bellows tape break up rather than tearing off in long strip, and didn't really help with the tearing issue.

Is there any way to make the process easier, or is this problem just inevitable with Hohners?

It is a job I hate, loath and despise but also one that comes through the door of the workshop regularly (Just finished stripping a set of pokerwork bellows yesterday). I do it this way, I use a scalpel to remove the gold part of the tape, you can usually pick at the ends near the metal bellows corners and then peel off the gold stuff. Then I give the remaining paper/glue a good dampening and leave for ~15 mins after which it can usually be easily removed  by rubbing with a finger tip. 
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Lars on January 20, 2015, 01:45:13 PM
I think wetting the bellows tape (or any other part of the bellows) is a bad idea - moisture is hard to control, and you don't want the wrong parts of the bellows soggy or prone to developing mold of any sort. I know some folks do it (like Lester here just said a minute ago), but I would not risk it to my own bellows - I'd rather use a little more patience.

Hohner bellows are made in many different combinations of paper-tape, cloth-tape, different glues etc. A certain vintage were made with glue that breaks free with time, and sometimes just falls off. Others need patience, and lots of it.

I find that having a small tool (such as a knife with only a very small sharp edge) is good for prying off the ends, to allow for a bit long enough for my fingers to hold on to. I would not use a regular knife, as you need to have absolute control over the blade so you won't risk tearing the wrong part of the bellows. I don't cut with the knife, I don't scrape with the knife, I just pry it under the tape, and use it to help lift up the ends.

On some italian made accordions from the 30's I have found that the tape is almost impossible to get off in the middle. In that case, I have sometimes had to use 80-grit sandpaper to take off a small bit of the old tape, and roughen up the surface to accept new tape. This will however require a good wipe-down with a cloth (or some compressed air from a proper distance) to remove any dust or old bits before attempting to apply new strips.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Nick Collis Bird on January 20, 2015, 02:29:37 PM
Dampening can be controlled as Lester says. Just don't chuck buckets of water at it. A little dampening and PATIENCE is the key. I used this method for removing ex-Libris stickers from books. The main thing is just waiting.
  I really do despair for restorers in the future who will have to contend with a range of non soluble glues !
By the way, if you are dampening something, damp the whole area. This will stop any local staining.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: diatonix on January 20, 2015, 02:34:16 PM
I always use a suitable tuning wedge to remove old bellows tape.
There is absolutely no point in glueing new tape on top of the old one, and not only for aesthetic reasons: The glue will simply not stick well to the coated side of the tape.
Erica bellows are by far and away the worst to de-tape. It's some sort of coated paper, and my advice would be to try and scrape away most of the (glue un-friendly) coating before glueing new tape on top of it.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Theo on January 20, 2015, 02:39:59 PM
I think we can all agree on one thing.  Replacing bellows tape is the most unpopular job in accordion/melodeon repairing! :(
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: GPS on January 20, 2015, 03:19:00 PM
I think we can all agree on one thing.  Replacing bellows tape is the most unpopular job in accordion/melodeon repairing! :(

Indeed - but also one of the earliest most of us have a go at when we first dip a toe into the deep waters of melodeon repair, refurbishment and restoration, because it looks so straightforward and the need for it is generally pretty obvious. It also provides great satisfaction and high returns in terms of improvement to the instrument against financial investment. Investment in time, stress and frustration is another matter! I now usually use a very carefully wielded scalpel with a 10A blade for most of the removal; quite often the old tape will strip off quite happily in one or two pieces once one end is loosened.

Graham
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Baron Collins-Hill on January 20, 2015, 03:58:08 PM
Thanks for all the thought, everybody!

Next question is, any idea what having someone else do the job for me would run? At some point in the next couple of months I'm hoping to get the box in to the button box in Massachusetts for a light tune up and maybe a note swapped around, and wonder if it makes more sense to let them have a go at it and save me some frustration and time. That said, if it is a relatively expensive job compared, I could probably just do it myself.

Thanks!
Baron
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: GPS on January 20, 2015, 05:06:42 PM
It's certainly a very do-able DIY job; just a little more time-consuming and tedious than you might initially think!
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Rob2Hook on January 20, 2015, 05:12:57 PM
I should imagine the job is mind numbiungly tedious and worse - you can buy new bellows for what it should realistically cost!

Rob.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Lester on January 20, 2015, 05:18:17 PM
You can buy new bellows for what it should realistically cost!

Rob.

Nah! New bellows in 100's of £s, re-taping in the 10's of £'s.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Kimric Smythe on January 20, 2015, 05:28:46 PM
 It is one of the jobs in the shop that the staff agree that it is a "pain in the ass" though I will trade it any day for a tone chamber repad and rebuild job.
 We charge $50 a side to retape bellows on smaller instruments. This includes removing the old tape.

 I just did a old Hohner Vienna one row in "G" and I had to do two sides. (paper tape)

I started by using a small screw driver to get under the ends of the tape and peeling back what would come off easily, if you are careful you can get about a 3rd of it off this way. You may be able to find some other loose area and get under those and get them too. (I have used really sticky tape in the past to some effect to rip the old paper tape off by sticking it ONLY to the offending bellows tape, and pulling it off. This will use a lot of tape.
 Your bellows will now look like hell, at this point I use coarse sand paper in small pieces to sand at the tape, the tape will come off in bits and if you are careful you will not sand the bellows themselves. After about 20 min of this per a side you will have got it pretty clean. I have not found that areas that have small patches of old tape are not a problem if they have been sanded smooth.
You can now apply the new bellows tape.
 Rotate and repeat as needed.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Kimric Smythe on January 20, 2015, 05:37:51 PM
Also I noted that it looks like one side of your instrument has paper tape and one is fabric (old retape job).
 On the fabric tape I use a small paint brush and some alcohol and water mix (that coffee cup full of Gin will do fine) and lightly wet the tape itself with the brush, wait a few min and do it again wait a few again (you can have a few sips of Gin while you wait) and then try peeling the tape, it should come off pretty easy if not wet it again. The alcohol is to help get the water to penetrate the tape and dissolve the glue from behind while not really wetting the bellows themselves.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Nick Collis Bird on January 20, 2015, 07:14:01 PM
Yes it is simple, but it's repeat, repeat, repeat and it becomes very boring very quickly.I should know I tried making bellows some time ago. :'(
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Theo on January 20, 2015, 07:58:54 PM
it becomes very boring very quickly.

And if it is an old bellows with hide glue it can become very sticky too, but it does wash off with warm water.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: 911377brian on January 20, 2015, 07:59:37 PM
Lester has a bellows taping tutorial on YouTube. It is brilliant and after watching it several times tackled my old 1040 C box. It came out ok so I took on the G box.... which came out better.... :Ph I'm about to tackle the middle frames of my newly acquired bandonika and after tackling the 1040's feel pretty confident
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Kimric Smythe on January 21, 2015, 08:09:10 AM
"Slooowly I tape...side by side..fold by fold!"
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: invadm on January 21, 2015, 02:28:54 PM
I use’’ wall paper removing ‘’liquid. Mixed with warm water  and apply with a  artist brush only on the tape them self, go away & have a coffee, try one to see if all soften if so start working, if not apply little bit more..I am working on a Hohner Erica at the moment and it is time for a coffee  (:)
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: GPS on January 21, 2015, 04:48:07 PM
I find I prefer to work "dry" as far as possible; introducing moisture seems to me only to make the job longer and more complex than it need be. The great majority of tape that I've removed has come off easily with care, a sharp blade and a firm pull in the right direction.  To be honest, if the tape has reached the point where it needs replacing, then the glue's hold is probably a good deal less secure than it was when it was new!
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Nick Collis Bird on January 21, 2015, 05:02:40 PM
That's true also Graham, working "dry" IS much better......but there comes a time when it's just not possible.
Another thought that has struck me. If you do retape using PVA make sure you buy the "reversible" stuff. Eg water solvable
 Think of the poor restorer in the future.  :-X :-X :-X
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question
Post by: Baron Collins-Hill on February 04, 2015, 04:12:18 PM
Ok, post update.

The shop wants $150 to retape the 17 affected strips. Because I play with two straps and the instrument doesn't touch my legs at all, I am not adding any more wear to the spots. I don't really mind the look of the worn tape, but wonder if there is some way to deal with the very few (4 or 5) small places (seen in the pictures) that the white is showing through the tape. Those are the only points that are making me nervous (even though I am not going to wear them further).

Thanks,
Baron
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question (updated)
Post by: Kimric Smythe on February 04, 2015, 05:40:49 PM
If it is only a few spots, then it is common to lay a short piece of the tape over that area. If it is bad on the affected folds (scraped by a strap buckle over a large area, I will just replace the affected fold(s) and leave the others alone.
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question (updated)
Post by: baz parkes on February 04, 2015, 10:02:54 PM
all of the above is why I've just disposed of my bellows tape... :|glug
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question (updated)
Post by: Julian S on September 14, 2018, 09:11:05 AM
I'm having great fun covering my table with glue and sticking tape to an old pokerwork bellows as practise for more critical repairs. Just wondered whether there is any benefit in putting an extra layer of tape on the bellows edges that get the most wear - in my case inner side, just where the tape covers the metal corners , and for the first few folds on treble end...? Or whether it's just a case of repairing those bits more frequently ?

J
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question (updated)
Post by: Lester on September 14, 2018, 10:44:44 AM
I'm having great fun covering my table with glue and sticking tape to an old pokerwork bellows as practise for more critical repairs. Just wondered whether there is any benefit in putting an extra layer of tape on the bellows edges that get the most wear - in my case inner side, just where the tape covers the metal corners , and for the first few folds on treble end...? Or whether it's just a case of repairing those bits more frequently ?

J

If you are using good quality Italian fabric tape you will take many years to wear through it. Hohner used paper on the Pokerwork/Erica etc which wear quickly, and when they moved to China they started to use gold toilet paper (:):
Title: Re: Bellows Tape Question (updated)
Post by: Julian S on September 14, 2018, 11:15:14 AM
Thanks Lester. Being short of gold toilet paper I am using the proper stuff...😸
Some misguided young idiot (me !) used plenty of carpet tape for emergency repairs...still ....it lasted a good few years before falling apart...
Now I know better.

J
SimplePortal 2.3.5 © 2008-2012, SimplePortal