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Author Topic: leaky bellows - probably  (Read 968 times)

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Anne Croucher

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #20 on: September 05, 2017, 08:51:11 PM »

Oh - good - I can try some of the material I have already to hand if I remove the bellows sooner rather than later.
I do have my daughter's Scarlatti Nero here at the moment - but I really prefer the Barcarole's sound.
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2017, 01:01:28 AM »

Oh - good - I can try some of the material I have already to hand if I remove the bellows sooner rather than later.

Real bellows gasket is cheap, easy to apply, does the job really well, and is readily available from Charlie Marshall. It is a neoprene foam with a self-adhesive backing. It does not degrade into dust and remains serviceable for very many years. This is one instance where I really strongly advise you not to try to improvise with anything else. It's false economy in terms of time, effort and money. Use the proper stuff.

The 5mm x 3mm size should be OK for your instrument.
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Nick Collis Bird

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2017, 07:42:41 AM »

"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!)

Not so much of the OLD Edward.......even if it is true!
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Edward Jennings

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2017, 10:45:36 AM »

It was meant as a "clever" play in words, as I didn't actually want to call you Satan, especially after seeing that charming picture of you working hard at the melodeon in your angelic white garb.
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Edward
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Nick Collis Bird

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2017, 11:00:58 AM »

 ;D
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Anne Croucher

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2017, 02:31:13 PM »

Hmmm - I can't find a leak in the edge or the bellows themselves - I used smoke and could not see a draught - but that only leaves - as far as I can see - the flap on the 'breathing' hole as the problem.
The inside looks very clean and solid but it has obviously been made with a minimum of finesse. I feel a distinct urge to sand down and wax or even varnish - to replace pins with screws or snaps - but this is a cheap box - the sow's ear which would not make a silk purse no matter how prettified it is. 
Ah well - I shall play it a bit more and then take it back to the bench to be opened up again.
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Lester

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #26 on: September 07, 2017, 03:02:06 PM »

Hmmm - I can't find a leak in the edge or the bellows themselves - I used smoke and could not see a draught - but that only leaves - as far as I can see - the flap on the 'breathing' hole as the problem.
The inside looks very clean and solid but it has obviously been made with a minimum of finesse. I feel a distinct urge to sand down and wax or even varnish - to replace pins with screws or snaps - but this is a cheap box - the sow's ear which would not make a silk purse no matter how prettified it is. 
Ah well - I shall play it a bit more and then take it back to the bench to be opened up again.

Easiest way to check if its the air valve is to masking tape over the inside of the hole and then try the box.
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Gena Crisman

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2017, 06:33:10 PM »

Anne, how about a picture or two, just for us nosy beggars?

Pictures were requested, and pictures I can provide (as the mysterious melodeon playing daughter in question). A few more than 2 though, just for the curious.

Here's an album of pictures, from glamour shots down to the reeds, which actually look pretty good.

And here's a short video of me playing Three around Three with no mistakes, and playing up the scales

It has standard accidentals, and different inversions for the two D chord buttons. It has Hohneresk sized holes around the melody buttons that allow you to keep your fingers protected from high winds, if you so desired, and a couple of the G row buttons stick when pressed down 'too far', due it turns out to their pallets jamming between D row armatures. The candycane styled strap is an improvised, recent addition.

The gaskets don't look super bad but could be replaced, as one of the corners did look a bit powdery. The inserted wooden frame size for the bellows was a little over 140x270mm (ie, they have a this size rectangle in the bass and melody husks), and the woodwork of the case appears to be 5mm thick plywood, to give a rough external size of 150x280mm for the box. It weighs 2.75kg (or 6 pounds).

Edit - I should add, pretty much all the lower melody notes read like 20 cents sharp, according to my phone's tuner, soooo, it's certainly out there. We didn't isolate the pairs to to verify wetness, but by ear it's pretty wet, some pairs maybe 5 or 6 beats/second, but that'd be our untested uncalibrated ears guessing.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2017, 06:54:58 PM by Gena Crisman »
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2017, 12:56:44 AM »

Pictures were requested, and pictures I can provide (as the mysterious melodeon playing daughter in question). A few more than 2 though, just for the curious......

Thanks for the comprehensive set of photos and the video. Most helpful.
Yes - this is one of those cheap and none too cheerful DDR boxes. Definitely not a Pokerwork. However, I've seen and heard worse. The inside looks quite tidy and the reeds and valves seem to be in reasonable condition. However it seems fairly air-hungry and would benefit (a) by fitting new bellows gasket and probably (b) optimising the set of the reed tip gap (leave this to a reed technician).

The bass reed block being waxed in, rather than secured with screws, is a sign of the cheapness of the construction method. Sooner or later that wax will fail and the reed block will come adrift.

Quote
different inversions for the two D chord buttons
That's typical, and is also common on Hohner Pokerworks/Ericas.

Quote
It has Hohneresk sized holes around the melody buttons that allow you to keep your fingers protected from high winds, if you so desired
It should be possible to limit the button travel using Theo's method (google search the forum for this - in the blue menu bar at the top of each page) but the simpler way is just not to put your fingers all the way down the holes! Just rest the tips of your fingers on the far edge of the holes.

Quote
couple of the G row buttons stick when pressed down 'too far', due it turns out to their pallets jamming between D row armatures
Yes - I've seen this on these DDR boxes before. One remedy is to sand the edges of the sticking pallets carefully in order to make them slightly narrower. It's probably easiest to remove the pallet to do this and re-fix afterwards. But if you can limit your finger pressing as described above, you should find the problem doesn't occur (still annoying though!).

Quote
The gaskets don't look super bad but could be replaced, as one of the corners did look a bit powdery.
They look a bit thin and compressed to me, which could be contributing to the air leaks. Replacing with the proper neoprene gaskets from Charlie Marshall will almost certainly make a difference.
Real bellows gasket is cheap, easy to apply, does the job really well, and is readily available from Charlie Marshall. It is a neoprene foam with a self-adhesive backing. It does not degrade into dust and remains serviceable for very many years. This is one instance where I really strongly advise you not to try to improvise with anything else. It's false economy in terms of time, effort and money. Use the proper stuff.
The
5mm x 3mm size should be OK for your instrument.


....to replace pins with screws or snaps....
I would advise retaining the bellows pins. If they are loose at the moment, you may well find that they will tighten up when new bellows gasket is applied, as there will be more 'springiness' acting laterally on the pins. If they still remain loose, a good remedy is to quickly 'wipe' the inside of the pin hole with a small amount of super-glue on the pointed end of a cocktail stick. Leave to dry for a minute or so and then replace the bellows pin. Just do it on the pin hole in the instrument casing, not the hole in the bellows frame. The aim is not to fill the hole with glue but just to lightly coat the inside of the hole which will reduce its diameter fractionally and allow the pin to fit more snuggly. One application of glue is normally sufficient, but you can repeat if necessary.

Quote
pretty much all the lower melody notes read like 20 cents sharp, according to my phone's tuner, soooo, it's certainly out there.
That also seems typical of 'factory tuning' :o. Even Hohners can be this bad too! Again - a reed technician/human tuner can flatten it and reduce the tremolo (if you want) at the same time as optimising the reed tip set.
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Steve
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Anne Croucher

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #29 on: September 09, 2017, 02:02:56 AM »

The 'bellows pins' are actually more like nails - they do not have a bead shaped head, and there is appoint on the other end, but I expect that the better sort can be obtained.

Such things as there being screws on only one side of the bass board and the screw used as a support for the grill all indicate the basic nature of the construction - but having found out how to access the inner spaces I can almost guarantee that there will be alterations made. I have not had trouble with the buttons but adding in small boards and felted strips to restrain the amount they can be pressed would seem to be a good idea - we have grandchildren.
The bellows were airtight when it arrived, but they have become leaky quite rapidly. Although there is no great need for it to be put in tune as I doubt that I will be playing it in the band I will probably take it to a fettler eventually - but I can put on new gaskets, no problem. I like the sound of it, and the wetness so will go on playing it until the imperfections get too annoying. The misidentification of the box as a pokerwork was just amusing - the clacking of the mechanism is, perhaps, Hohnerish 
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #30 on: September 09, 2017, 07:35:53 AM »

The 'bellows pins' are actually more like nails - they do not have a bead shaped head, and there is appoint on the other end, but I expect that the better sort can be obtained.

Yes, they look like nails but the terminology is nevertheless 'bellows pins'!  ;)
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malcolmbebb

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #31 on: September 09, 2017, 08:48:34 AM »


... (as the mysterious melodeon playing daughter in question).

I was getting pretty sure  ;) Maybe see you at Swanage?


Such things as there being screws on only one side of the bass board and the screw used as a support for the grill all indicate the basic nature of the construction - but having found out how to access the inner spaces I can almost guarantee that there will be alterations made.
Sounds a plan. If you want to play around with the internals, this is an ideal box to do it on - nobody will mind very much if you get it wrong!  ;D
Also, if you have the means to measure the diameter and length of the bellows pins, you may be able to get replacements from Charlie with a better head, which might reduce risk of damaging the casework.
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Theo

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #32 on: September 09, 2017, 09:09:42 AM »

I would be surprised if the air leakage is from the bellows. Much more likely to be the pallets.  The treble mechanism on these is very flimsy, and often the pallets are able to move from side to side.  This can lead to the pallets not being centred over the holes which can lead to leakage.  This would explain why the leaks are getting worse with use.
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Gena Crisman

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #33 on: September 10, 2017, 02:22:13 AM »

I would be surprised if the air leakage is from the bellows. Much more likely to be the pallets.  The treble mechanism on these is very flimsy, and often the pallets are able to move from side to side.  This can lead to the pallets not being centred over the holes which can lead to leakage.  This would explain why the leaks are getting worse with use.

So, we tried a little bit of experimentation with it when we took the photos; we slid a large piece of paper underneath all the pallets on the melody side and a separate one on the bass side, also one under the air button - these were only being held down by the respective mechs but it seemed to be fairly tightly down. The intent was block up all the holes without doing anything too inconvenient to undo, but I'm not sure it's a great method. However, we concocted a fairly seat-of-pants test by timing how long the bellows took the open 'an amount' under gravity when hanging from the bass strap and doing comparison testing, so since we were sucking air into the bellows, the paper should have rendered the holes blocked off, I'd think anyway. I don't know if there's an industry standard 'how leaky is this box' test that we could be doing but that was what I came up with.

With no attempts at sealing it up, the ballpark was ~7 seconds, with the melody side piece of paper in place, that improved things to about ~5 seconds (at least a couple of runs each situation), the bass paper and air button paper seemed to make little to no difference. We also tried slapping a bit of temporary tape over the connecting line you'd expect the gasket to seal, just for the sake of trying, and didn't see any further improvement from that, but, I'm not confident any of this test worked very well - I'm pretty sure I can feel at least one air leak near one of the gasket corners, and Steve Freereeder's right about the gasket being thin and compressed, it just isn't actual powder (yet). Whenever Anne gets replacement gasket in the post, we'll likely go back to the drawing board on trying things. Probably actually tape over the respective holes inside to make doubly sure they're sealed, probably take out the melody reeds entirely and see if we can tape over the holes in there, and then tape under the bass pallets since the fundamentals are waxed in. Main reason we avoided this was I'm not too sure about the felt underneath the blocks. Plus if we do this I can try and record data about how the separate reed banks are "tuned".

So, a known definite benefit in redoing the pallets as they seem to be just leather on wood and have a known impact, definitely some benefit from redoing the gasket but uncertain as to scale of impact (but it would be a massive surface area), reed tip gap a definite issue (and C bass low Fundamentals seem lazy) but mostly affects playing. The keyboard flimsiness could be a contributing factor, but the pallets are decently wide so I'm not sure if misalignment would be as big an issue, but it sounds like you're speaking from experience (perhaps minor rotation is a factor?). The bellows pins are tight in their respective holes, they're just pointy and have small heads - quite unlike the pins in the two much more modern boxes I've played, with large beaded heads and blunt tips, but those boxes are both less than 10 years old - the smaller heads could lead to accidental damage to the finish. All in all, quite the shopping list of work.

Thanks for the many responses and ideas from everyone by the way, they're really appreciated. (And I did meet up with Malcolm in Swanage, for those keeping notes)
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #34 on: September 10, 2017, 10:17:46 AM »

So, we tried a little bit of experimentation with it when we took the photos; we slid a large piece of paper underneath all the pallets on the melody side and a separate one on the bass side, also one under the air button - these were only being held down by the respective mechs but it seemed to be fairly tightly down. The intent was block up all the holes without doing anything too inconvenient to undo, but I'm not sure it's a great method. However, we concocted a fairly seat-of-pants test by timing how long the bellows took the open 'an amount' under gravity when hanging from the bass strap and doing comparison testing, so since we were sucking air into the bellows, the paper should have rendered the holes blocked off, I'd think anyway. I don't know if there's an industry standard 'how leaky is this box' test that we could be doing but that was what I came up with....

These 'dangling tests' are not always reliable, especially (as you observe) you are likely to get different results on the push and pull, as the pull tends to suck the pallets close up to the vent holes on the pallet board. Here's a couple of refinements you could make to your testing, which would help establish whether it is your pallets or bellows which are leaking:

1. With the interior of the instrument opened up, remove the reed blocks from their screws/clamps and position a narrow of strip of paper* over the vent holes and then reattach the reed blocks. The paper should stop any air at all getting through the reed chambers. Then reassemble the instrument and try compressing and pulling the bellows. If there is still leakage, it will be coming from the bellows or the gaskets, not from a poorly sealing pallet.

*You can use plain paper but it can be a bit fiddly to keep in place while re-clamping the reed blocks. When i do this, I use a strip of post-it note paper on a roll. The slight tackiness keeps the strip in place but doesn't damage the reed block wood when you eventually remove it. You could also use a strip of masking tape, but remove some of the strong tackiness first by pressing the tacky side against some clothing - a tee-shirt or jeans leg is ideal - a couple of times before sticking it to the reed block.

For your low bass reed block which is waxed into place (argh!!!) you will have to block off the pallet holes by using a strip of de-tackified masking tape directly underneath the pallets.

2. For testing which individual pallets might be leaking, you need a thin 'feeler gauge' made from a Rizla-type cigarette paper. Cut a narrow tapering strip of the paper. With the grille removed, insert the narrow strip of ciggy paper under each side, corner and end of every pallet in turn. Allow the action spring to clamp the paper in place and then test how easily you can pull the strip out. If the pallet is sealing properly, you will need a definite tug to remove the paper; if the paper slides out easily there is a good chance that the pallet will be leaking at that point, even though it may not be otherwise visually obvious.

Leaks detected in the pallets by this method may be caused by one or more of:
(a) a misaligned or loose pallet
(b) the pallet not seating flat over the entirety of the surface
(c) a weak spring on the lever arm failing to hold the pallet closed with sufficient force
(d) a gap caused by a flaw or undulation in the leather pallet facing (I had one of these once and it took me hours and hours to detect the real cause! Replacing the pallet facing cured the leak instantly).
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Anne Croucher

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #35 on: September 11, 2017, 12:50:02 PM »

Now that the practice season is upon us I will be able to try out various improvements, and even take it to someone who knows what they are doing to see what can be done - if anything.
I only have the box to pootle about on in the back room and to see which of the many tunes I know can be played on melodeons - people will ask those difficult questions as to what key a tune is in - as I can transpose on the fly with most tunes on a recorder, and own a capo for anything on the guitar the concept of 'only' D and G is a whole new world.
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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #36 on: September 11, 2017, 01:04:52 PM »

(And I did meet up with Malcolm in Swanage, for those keeping notes)
I was at Swanage too with Wyld Morris on Saturday. Were you the the box player with spectacles with Wild Thyme later on in the day when I joined in with Sue and Tinners? If so, I'll try and not be so rude next time and introduce myself (and also to Malcolm B who I suspect was one of the Bourne River box players).
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Gena Crisman

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Re: leaky bellows - probably
« Reply #37 on: September 11, 2017, 04:36:32 PM »

I was at Swanage too with Wyld Morris on Saturday. Were you the the box player with spectacles with Wild Thyme later on in the day when I joined in with Sue and Tinners? If so, I'll try and not be so rude next time and introduce myself (and also to Malcolm B who I suspect was one of the Bourne River box players).

I was indeed - being pulled into dancing in Sue's workshop last year is what convinced me I'd best have something musical to hide behind next time around, and, well, here we are! You're right about Malcolm too, but, he also plays for at least one other side as well.

Actually, I think Anonymous may have shared spots with Wyld a few times this year, at Folk on the Quay as well as Bridport maybe? I get a lot of missed connections though, but often it's because I was in the process of meeting someone else at that exact moment, so, all is (hopefully) forgiven. My Mum (and the poster of this thread) Anne, was also there drumming. I was also at the Red Lion for a lot of Saturday evening's session if you went to that - I'm going to have to go to more of those. At any rate, hopefully we'll catch one another next time round!
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