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Author Topic: leaky bellows - probably  (Read 970 times)

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Anne Croucher

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leaky bellows - probably
« on: September 04, 2017, 12:27:15 PM »

I have bought a Barcarole melodeon - the one with the 'missing' C button if you follow the sales. It was cheap, so I was delighted to be able to find that the bass button had just slipped inside and could be put back. Having played it for a few days the bellows seemed to be becoming easier to move, but the box was harder to play - there is a leak which is getting worse day by day.
Is there any information on how the bellows should be glued together, as there are a couple of places where the card and the suede looking corners do not meet - my first thought was to try using white glue, first I would press the card into the correct fold, as it is skewed, apply glue and then allow the bellows to close until the slender thing holding the fold is clamped and the glue then hardens and holds things together.
I am not absolutely certain that is the problem - but I have been lucky so far. The reeds are fairly well in tune, that is - slightly sharp. I am told it is 'wet' - I think it sounds just great, mostly.
I did think that it might be an idea to take the bellows out - I think that there are round headed pins which secure the ends to the bellows, to see if there really are gaps on the corners, and there are some more joins which look rather iffy.
I realise that I am messing with things I know not off - but that's me - I repair knitting machines and have already moved tools from that bench to a desk by a window for melodion investigation purposes. I have a strong genetic inheritance of fettling things - steam engines, internal combustion engines of charabancs, planes, pushbikes, motorbikes and cars have all been 'in the family' - when I was a student I rebuilt a BSA 650cc A10 in the dining room of my flat, then attached it to a Watsonian double adult side car and used it to roadie for a folk singing duo. I made my own books of words over the decades and the last one, the magnum opus, I have bound in white leather so the joining of card and leather is no mystery.
I will probably have the box looked at by a proper repairman to get the sound perfected - but the bellows seem to be a simple concoction of patchwork and origami which should not prove too difficult to master.
One odd thing - where the straps fit on, the plates with bars - I would have thought, should be a V, and they are a <  - perhaps there is some internal woodwork reason for it, a strut to which it is fitted perhaps. It works just the same, but why the 90 degree rotation from the obvious placing?
All information comments warnings and anecdotes gratefully received.       
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Rees

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2017, 12:49:14 PM »

The < strap bracket arrangement is quite common. Attach left strap to the bottom leg of the < and the right strap to the top one.

The bellows may well be leaking at the corners. Pull the pins out to detach the bellows.

The most common sources of leakage are:
1. Bellows gasket deteriorated. When you remove the bellows you will see the gasket on the bellows frame where it mates with the body. Replace with new neoprene gasket.
2. Leaky pallets. The buttons are attached to levers which pivot to lift the pallets. The pallets are faced with felt and leather (or just leather). Replace with new stuff in both left and right ends.
.......... then check your bellows.

See the Home Page - Shops and Repairers - CGM Musical. Charlie has everything you need.

............. good luck  (:)
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Anne Croucher

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Re: Maintenance - should melodeons be played regularly...?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2017, 01:08:37 PM »

I just bought a melodeon and when I began to play it it smelt distinctly old - like an ancient leather bound book from a slightly damp attic.
When I began the bellows were airtight and over the next few days they have become leaky - I think that there has been deterioration and something has disintegrated and been blown out by the pressure of use - but if the instrument had been used and stayed aerated inside then things might be better. It might be the glue which has failed, my first thought, but felt or leather could be the culprit, apparently.
I will open up the various removable parts and investigate the possible causes - and do some straightening out if possible - all the buttons are off centre in their holes and there are a couple which stick - but it was really cheap, so I am lucky that it is even playable.
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2017, 01:18:18 PM »

One odd thing - where the straps fit on, the plates with bars - I would have thought, should be a V, and they are a <  - perhaps there is some internal woodwork reason for it, a strut to which it is fitted perhaps. It works just the same, but why the 90 degree rotation from the obvious placing?

I've seen this a number of times too. There is no obvious advantage nor structural reason for the < placement. In fact it makes attachment and balancing of the straps a little more awkward. I always use the V shape orientation when fitting this sort of strap bracket.

Good luck with tracing your bellows leakage. What Rees has said is spot on.
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Steve
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Re: Re: Maintenance - should melodeons be played regularly...?
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2017, 01:26:04 PM »

I just bought a melodeon and when I began to play it it smelt distinctly old - like an ancient leather bound book from a slightly damp attic.

Febreze fabric freshener spray is good for dealing with musty bellows smells. Easily obtainable in most supermarkets.

Remove the bellows from the ends by pulling the bellows pins and spray the interior and exterior of the bellows with Febreze. Just dampen it slightly, don't saturate, and allow to dry naturally before reassembling. You might need to do this 2 or 3 times to get rid of persistent smelliness.
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Mario Pastora

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2017, 01:31:26 PM »

Has to be the seals if you don't see or feel anything on the tapes or gauges!

My corona ii came with original seals you couldn't even tell there ever was seals.

I got some blocks last eeek they were old and the wax was cracked from the bottom attachment therefore leaky.

Just throwing some clues as to what to look for.

Here's a video on leaky accordion may not be diatonic but the problem could be similar in oldies.
https://youtu.be/-qoDxylQeWQ


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Mario Pastora

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Re: Re: Maintenance - should melodeons be played regularly...?
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2017, 01:42:13 PM »

Oldies will require maintenance soon.

The only one accordion ive seen in brand new looks shine and smell.

It was a Corso from the 50s in its original box 📦..I'm guessing the original carrying boxes were made to keep the instruments from weathering.

If you didn't get yours not even with a carrying bag assume you will have to do maintenance in it ..

Valves, wax, seals at very minimum. Based on how frequently it was maintained you can throw some reeds, gauges and bellow tapes based on how neglected it is.
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Hohner Corso A/D from the 50s/60s
Hohner Corona II A/D/G from the 50s/60s
Hohner Club IV C/F Pre-War from the 30s
Hohner Club Liliput yet to find out the tune
Hohner Club Mignon I G 50s
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Theo

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Re: Maintenance - should melodeons be played regularly...?
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2017, 02:18:02 PM »

I just bought a melodeon and when I began to play it it smelt distinctly old - like an ancient leather bound book from a slightly damp attic.
When I began the bellows were airtight and over the next few days they have become leaky - I think that there has been deterioration and something has disintegrated and been blown out by the pressure of use - but if the instrument had been used and stayed aerated inside then things might be better. It might be the glue which has failed, my first thought, but felt or leather could be the culprit, apparently.
I will open up the various removable parts and investigate the possible causes - and do some straightening out if possible - all the buttons are off centre in their holes and there are a couple which stick - but it was really cheap, so I am lucky that it is even playable.

[[ADMIN]]

Anne I have merged your questions as I assume they all relate to the same instrument.  There will be some answers common to both  these questions so this will keep it all together.
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Theo Gibb

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Anne Croucher

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2017, 03:11:26 PM »

Ah - thank you.
There was no case nor bag - I will see what can be found for it.
I am still able to play it fairly well and the sound is surprisingly pleasant - I like the vibrato - but there are things to attend to.
My daughter has been trying out all the melodeons she can and some of them make me wince - I have unusual hearing. I used to be able to hear bats.
The Barcarole is not as loud as some, and it clacks like a Honer, but for a total of £80 I really cannot complain.
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Edward Jennings

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2017, 03:27:11 PM »

Anne, how about a picture or two, just for us nosy beggars?
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Edward
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Nick Collis Bird

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2017, 05:14:31 PM »

Don't you mean nosey buggers Edward . Perfectley acceptable word in US of A 🙉
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boxcall

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2017, 05:49:33 PM »

Seems like pretty much anything is acceptable these days,in the U.S.A 😤
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Re: Re: Maintenance - should melodeons be played regularly...?
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2017, 06:05:46 PM »

Oldies will require maintenance soon.


Ain't that the truth..... ::)
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Anne Croucher

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2017, 06:06:07 PM »

I'll see what I can do in the way of photographs - it is band practice tonight so I need to shoot off in a few minutes.
I have been told that the Barcarole is the same as a Weitmeister - I think that is how it is spelt, but several people at the last dance out thought that it was a Hohner pokerwork - not that I know what the merits or otherwise of these are, by the way.
I did dance morris at school to the strains of such classics as Nellie the Elephant on a wind up gramophone, but then got a guitar and started singing in folk clubs. More recently I got a snare drum and joined up with Border morris sides, but my daughter became interested in playing something and settled on melodeon. She has two already and is looking for a third.

 
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2017, 06:19:21 PM »

I have been told that the Barcarole is the same as a Weitmeister - I think that is how it is spelt, but several people at the last dance out thought that it was a Hohner pokerwork - not that I know what the merits or otherwise of these are, by the way.
If it doesn't say 'Hohner' on the instrument, it isn't a Hohner.
There are Weltmeisters and un-named cheap, mass-produced, former DDR-made boxes around which have a sort of floral/leafy pokerwork type pattern on them but they are not proper Hohner Pokerworks and in most cases very much inferior quality instruments, although the more recent Weltmeisters are not so bad.

A proper Hohner Pokerwork especially if German-made (even the modern Chinese-made Hohner Pokerworks are good) is an excellent instrument for both beginners and professionals.
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Steve
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Edward Jennings

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2017, 07:01:29 PM »

"She has two already and is looking for a third."

Now that's what I like to hear!

And.......Get thee behind me "Old Nick!"
It may well be acceptable in the US, as it is deemed to be acceptable just about everywhere and anywhere nowadays. But IMHO it shouldn't be so visibly and openly acceptable in these hallowed pages. (Mind you, I have been known to use course language on occasion, I'm not very saintly!)
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Edward
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Anne Croucher

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2017, 12:00:03 AM »

I have no illusions that it is a Hohner - by another name, but it has the 'clack' of a Hohner if I play it in the same way as the better boxes my daughter has - but mine cost £80 including postage so I count myself lucky that it is playable at all.
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2017, 07:50:26 AM »

I have no illusions that it is a Hohner - by another name, but it has the 'clack' of a Hohner if I play it in the same way as the better boxes my daughter has ...

Clacky buttons are not restricted to Hohners! The noise is usually generated by the return action of the button lever arms once the button is released. The pallets, which are the flat-faced wood rectangles on the inside end of the lever arms, are usually faced (on cheap melodeons) with a thin leather seal. This forms a reasonably air-tight seal but is invariably noisy as it slaps against the pallet board on the return stroke.

The remedy is to replace the pallet facing with the proper felt/leather composite obtainable from Charlie Marshall (the wonderful and highly respected melodeon spare parts wizard). It's a bit of a fiddly job and will require temporary removal of the pallets and resetting the button height afterwards, but is well worth doing. There are several threads on this forum which describe the process, if you want to go down that route, although you have other more important  issues such as bellows leakage to sort out first.

Other button clackiness can be caused by the buttons fouling on the sides of the keyboard holes, or the lever arms contacting each other, or the inside of the grille.

Quote
....but mine cost £80 including postage so I count myself lucky that it is playable at all.

Congratulations on getting an instrument so cheaply, especially if you can make it playable.

Beginners always seek to get a cheap instrument, which is understandable, but there is a trade-off to consider. A cheap, mass-produced instrument like the unbranded former DDR instruments will usually be poorly constructed using inferior quality components which often make repair/adjustment difficult or impossible. While they might be OK to learn the basics on for a short while, they are invariably physically hard to play because of stiffness of the bellows and, more importantly, the poor quality reeds, the reeds set-up, and the poor air-flow characteristics through the air vents to the reed chambers. The result is often that the prospective player is discouraged by the physical difficulty of playing the instrument and the poor sound resulting from indifferent tuning.

By all means experiment with your cheap instrument - find out the basics of playing and take it to bits to see how it works, and try to make such repairs as you can. But at the same time, don't let it hold back your playing for the reasons given above. If you become bitten by the melodeon bug, you will soon want to move on to something better.

This forum is populated by lots of nice, enthusiastic and very knowledgeable people who will be only too pleased to advise and help. Good luck!
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Anne Croucher

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2017, 07:50:32 PM »

Thank you for the advice and encouragement - I have been really pleased to find that the reeds are actually in tune - both what I hear and what the tuner thinks about them - they are all sharp, to about the same extent, though not so much for the higher notes as the lower, but non are so flat as to show green on the tuner.
It is wet tuned and fairly quiet, which is good, doesn't hurt my ears. The bellows were airtight when it arrived, playing it has resulted in the gradually increasing leakage - I assume it is old age and the glue or gasket material crumbling - but I am still able to play it a couple of times a day and feel extremely pleased with myself.
There is a label on it with the shop which last sold it, I assume Dave Mallinson Music in Cleckheaton -no doubt long gone.
I will just get it to the best condition I can - I have just braided a second strap for it as it had just the one - half a dozen pieces of cord and a few minutes weaving them around eachother and it is good to go.
Presumably the gasket is a closed cell foam. I'll take out the pins and see what state it is in as soon as I have the time. I expect that will result in the old stuff falling apart and so it will have to be renewed before I can play it again.
Are the gaskets rectangles which would need to be the right size or is it a strip which is wrapped around?
The knitting machines I work on have foam strips which deteriorate and need replacing regularly - I'm just wondering if some of the materials I have around the house would be suitable for replacement gaskets.
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Theo

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2017, 08:10:29 PM »

If the gaskets or other parts of the bellows are leaking you should be able to feel the air escaping.  If you suspect a leak hold the palm of your hand over the place, or even better your lips and you should be able to feel the air.  The glued joint between the bellows frame and the bellows is another place worth checking, but because these two are so close it can be tricky to work out which.  Replacing bellows gasket is so easy that it is worthwhile doing anyway.  I always replace the gaskets on old boxes that I'm renovating.  The gasket material comes as a strip which you fit and cut the ends to firm a butt joint.
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Theo Gibb

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