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Author Topic: ungluing some old reedblocks?  (Read 3209 times)

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RGF

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ungluing some old reedblocks?
« on: July 28, 2009, 11:14:40 PM »

Well, I'm off on another project that more knowledgeable or practical folks would (quite correctly) say is not worth the time which I am about to invest. It's an old 2-row GC that is obviously a one-off labor of love, quirky from the get-go, right down to the polished aluminum grill that was so apparently handmade. But sometimes the best dogs are the mutts, and somebody's got to take them in!

So, the reed blocks have no base plates, and the bottom ends of the reeds were waxed directly to the case. My plan is to add a proper base plate, so the block and reeds can be removed for tuning. I've removed the reeds, the block retaining screws, and have discovered that the blocks are glued directly to the case. I'm at a bit of a loss as how to remove them without causing damage. Not enough room down in there to get any kind of a razor saw or craft knife to work. The glue is dark brown, translucent, brittle......hide glue? Is there any solvent that might work? I'll build new blocks if I must, but would prefer to keep as much of the original stuff as possible.

Any ideas?

Bob



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TomB-R

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2009, 12:23:26 AM »

Sounds a bit like hide glue, and if it is, that's good news.  "Violin" technique with a saucepan of simmering water so you can apply heat and a bit of dampness to the glue via a nice bendy pallette knife? (With lots of patience, gradually and gently getting a start and persuading it to let go.)

(Time honoured technique for disassembling violins for repair....)
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Malcolm Clapp

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2009, 03:30:42 AM »

Bob, A worthy idea, adding the bass plate to the reed blocks.

However, before you commit yourself to that, might be worth checking that, by adding 5mm or so to the height of the blocks, the treble and bass blocks don't collide when the bellows are closed....(Been there, done that!!!   :-[

OK, you can probably shave a little from the top of the reedblocks to compensate, but not always. Unless you were planning to replace the bellows, of course, in which case allow for an extra couple of folds.

Good luck.

MC
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RGF

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2009, 05:35:36 AM »

Thanks for the reminder about that! I've just checked, and it's going to be close, but I think everything will fit. I'll make the base plates from some thin aircraft plywood, and there is a bit that can be shaved off the top of the blocks. Should be able to squeeze it all in. Hoping to retain the original bellows -- the frames are somewhat deep, and the gasket is only a thin bit of suede. If I plug the original holes in the frame, use some modern foam gasket, and then drill new holes for the pins, I can pick up a couple of mm there, as well.

I'll post some photos when I've figured out how to do that.

Bob
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HallelujahAl

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2009, 05:44:01 PM »

How's the project going Bob?
AL
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RGF

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2009, 07:01:11 PM »

Ah, well........I just got a call from my clockmaker friend saying that the reeds were out of the ultrasonic cleaner and I could pick them up anytime.  I, on the other hand, have not yet got to the craft store to by the bendy little pallete knife that was suggested as the tool of choice for working loose the blocks.

Once I get the blocks out of the case halves, the cases will go to a friend who will work at cleaning those up for me, and to see what might be done about the staining on the celluloid.  (I work in the museum world, and I'm fortunate to have some art conservator friends who help out with these projects, in exchange for photography services, most usually, or the occasional plumbing job, etc!)

I did take a few "before" photos of this little one-off, & I'll renew my effort to get some posted.

Thanks for asking!

Bob
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RGF

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2009, 12:27:12 AM »

OK, I've been prompted! Returned from the craft store with a nice, pointy, little palette knife -- my wife took one look at it and said, "Oooh, looks like an accordion tool to me." (Or, as a French mechanic once warned me about self-installing new wrist pins in my R5....."Yes, but do you 'ave ze zpecial tewel?")

Set up in the kitchen with a pot of boiling water and kept dipping the blade and then working it progressivley beneath the bottom of the reed block. It took about an hour, but it finally came out with very little damage to the block. I've cleaned it up and made the bottom flat and will next make a proper base plate for it. One down, two to go -- only one block on the bass side, as some of the reeds are installed flat.

Thanks, TomB-R, for the tip about the palette knife!

« Last Edit: August 04, 2009, 12:32:56 AM by RGF »
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triskel

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2009, 04:20:49 AM »

Well, I'm off on another project that more knowledgeable or practical folks would (quite correctly) say is not worth the time which I am about to invest. It's an old 2-row GC that is obviously a one-off labor of love, quirky from the get-go, right down to the polished aluminum grill that was so apparently handmade. But sometimes the best dogs are the mutts, and somebody's got to take them in!

Bob,

Now you've posted a picture of it I can see that the style is a curious combination of "old" and "new" elements, probably from the late '30s or the '40s, but I've seen others that were similar to it, so maybe not such a one-off after all?  ???

I bet it'll sound great!
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RGF

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2009, 05:18:50 AM »

Yes, the new/old combination of elements was one of the things that first struck me about it, also.

I'm still conjecturing that it's a one-off, and I'll post some more photos in support of that. For instance, there are no two corner joints the same -- not the same angle or size on the gussets, or anything. The cabinet ends & corners are not symmetrical -- some more radiused, some more angular.  Lots of joinery by means of small nails driven through and then clinched over on the back side. The aluminum grille has a good handful of errant punch marks, where it looks like the tool wasn't struck properly and took a good bounce, and the openings are of varying size. There are high spots where the celluloid was polished so thin that it's translucent and you can see the joinery peeking through. And all of the lettering and decoration is very irregular, and has the look of having been done with a Dremel or similar, and then painted in. Initials carved on a tree kind of look. And the reed tongues not centered relative to the square, or root, end, but with dissimilar shoulder widths here & there.

I'll be happy if it just sounds and plays "OK" when I'm done with it. I don't have very high expectations. So why, then, am I putting all this work into such a mutt? Because it has the look of someone's shop project from Castelfidardo High School or something, somebody made it because they really wanted to make it. And it wound up with me, and so now I feel like it's the least I can do. (As I mentioned earlier, I work in museums...can't help myself sometimes! ::))

I've saved a handful of other old boxes, but this is by far the most unusual for me. Perhaps I'll keep a photo album going at Picasa and post a link in case anyone else might be interested in the goings-on.

Bob
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RGF

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2009, 05:29:50 AM »

Oops, this photo was supposed to be in there, also.
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triskel

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2009, 05:33:50 AM »

As I mentioned earlier, I work in museums...can't help myself sometimes! ::)

Bob,

I know the feeling, my house is more like a museum - or a refuge for redundant accordions and concertinas...  ::)

I'll see if I can find photos of similar accordions to yours, and post them. It does sound pretty crude, from what you say, but ones from that era do tend to sound very good!
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Malcolm Clapp

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2009, 04:37:51 PM »

Hi, Bob,

Now I've seen the photos, I think I was an underbidder on this one when it was on eBay ca some months back. I didn't persue it too seriously though as I had some doubts about its originality.

My take on it was that it could have been a fairly recent "dress up" of an older accordion; something I believe the seller has been known to do on other boxes he has sold.

(No criticism implied here; I've done similar things myself.)

Out of interest, how original is it, in your opinion?
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HallelujahAl

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2009, 04:42:16 PM »

Quote
I've saved a handful of other old boxes, but this is by far the most unusual for me. Perhaps I'll keep a photo album going at Picasa and post a link in case anyone else might be interested in the goings-on.

That would be good! And if it's any consolation I know exactly why you're  doing it - it's something to do with making an old instrument sing again! I'm sure it'll sound great when you've finished. please keep us posted. I'm glad I prompted you about it!
AL
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RGF

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2009, 05:28:42 PM »

Malcom,

While I'm no expert on this, it does appear to be largely, though not entirely, original. The grill backing -- especially that matching green paper panel in the central area -- came later. There was a strip of contrasting blue self-stick craft felt stuck along the edge of the keyboard that served no descernable purpose other than....."decoration"? Bellows straps and bass strap were of newer vinyl belt material. The bass panel, with its black plastic feet and non-skid shelf lining material behind the holes (!) I rather doubt is original. And, someone had made a really crude attempt at "rewaxing", by pouring new wax all over the old stuff, and in a lot of other places, too. This was a huge mess. But the parts that matter all appear to be from the hand of the original maker, right down to the strap brackets and the cap over the end of the keyrod.

Bob
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Malcolm Clapp

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2009, 04:39:13 AM »

Malcom,

...a strip of contrasting blue self-stick craft felt stuck along the edge of the keyboard that served no descernable purpose other than....."decoration"? .

...the cap over the end of the keyrod.

Bob

Those were two of the things that immediately stood out to me and raised the question. Additionally the button colour(s); in fact the entire colour scheme, which sort of appealed to my taste, but I thought a little suspect on that style of melodeon.

I assume the finish is celluloid rather than painted?

From your description I think I'm quite glad I didn't persue it myself; I'm busy enough restoring other folks' boxes....hope it all works out for you.

« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 05:28:04 AM by Malcolm Clapp »
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RGF

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2009, 05:32:58 AM »

If the buttons are not completely original, they certainly are not anywhere near recent. Those corroded, old, dark screws have been in those buttons for a long time! Ditto for the blue decorations, which appear to have decades of accumulated grime in the gold-painted outlines. Do you think these things were possibly added later than the time of original building?

Thanks for the good wishes....I'm sure I'll need them before this is over. But, as I said, I'm a sucker for the mutts!

Bob
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RGF

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Re: ungluing some old reedblocks?
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2009, 05:40:18 AM »

P.S.

Sorry, I neglected to answer your question......yes, the finish is celluloid.

Bob
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