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Author Topic: Softening concertina bellows leather  (Read 956 times)

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RogerT

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Softening concertina bellows leather
« on: July 02, 2018, 07:43:20 AM »

Hi
I have a Jones concertina and it’s bellows by and large are functional. Any tips to soften up the gussets etc?

Rob2Hook

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2018, 11:15:16 AM »

Definitely not a recommendation, but in the long and distant past Neatsfoot oil was used to condition leather.  I'm not sure that it would rejuvenate a soft leather that has dried out, but just thought I'd mention it.

Rob.
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John MacKenzie (Cugiok)

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2018, 12:01:21 PM »

Saddle soap is another possible remedy.

SJ

Edit.  Scratch that idea, just read up on it, and it's not recommended. Lanolin is another possible road to try.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2018, 12:06:55 PM by John MacKenzie (Cugiok) »
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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2018, 01:10:03 PM »

I've been told neatsfoot oil is not advisable is it may loosen the glue.
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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2018, 01:29:20 PM »

This has been discussed at length on Concertina.net, an search on neatsfoot brings up about 30 topics. A quick consensus seems to be very light use on otherwise scrap bellows, else avoid.
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Theo

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2018, 01:33:42 PM »

If bellow leather is hard and stiff it usually means it is coming to the end of its useful life.  Leather dressings May extend the life a little, but the end is nigh! 

Any dressing that is designed to soak into the leather should be used sparingly to avoid the problem that Anahata has alluded to.  The safest I’ve found is this, used sparingly: https://www.colnesaddlery.co.uk/belvoir-leather-balm
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Nick Collis Bird

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2018, 01:37:13 PM »

If bellow leather is hard and stiff it usually means it is coming to the end of its useful life.  Leather dressings May extend the life a little, but the end is nigh! 

Any dressing that is designed to soak into the leather should be used sparingly to avoid the problem that Anahata has alluded to.  The safest I’ve found is this, used sparingly: https://www.colnesaddlery.co.uk/belvoir-leather-balm

Ditto
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triskel

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2018, 01:40:28 PM »

Neatsfoot oil is a definite no-no - it may work (traditionally) on leather balls, but they're stitched together, whilst old concertina bellows were stuck together with either hide glue or flour and water (paste), and are liable to fall apart if either of those get wet or oily.

In fact it's a bit of a taboo in concertina circles, but I believe Colin Dipper sometimes applies (or did, anyway) British Museum Leather Dressing. Whilst I sometimes use dubbin, gently and carefully applied with a Q-tip.
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RogerT

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2018, 09:03:20 PM »

Ah ... dubbin. Now there's an idea. I'll head on over to Concertina.net. But anyway the bellows are reasonably airtight so there is life in them yet.

Nick Collis Bird

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2018, 10:37:42 AM »

British Museum leather dressing is a goodie.
Use very sparingly!
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Theo

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2018, 11:28:22 AM »

Read this for a thoroughly researched summary of leatherctreatments.
http://www.hewit.com/skin_deep/?volume=6&article=1
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Winston Smith

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2018, 11:48:00 AM »

Fascinating article, Theo. I wondered, seeing that different plastics seem to be taking over from leather in many areas, if the following method applied to my footwear, protect my feet from getting wet whilst wearing my Aldi pretend Crocs?

Method of Making Leather Impervious to Water (1795)
The New England fisherman preserve their boots tight against water by the following method, which, it is said, has been in use among them above a hundred years. A pint of boiled linseed-oil, half a pound of mutton suet, six ounces of clean beeswax, and four ounces of rosin are melted and mixed over a fire. Of this, while warm, not so hot as may burn the leather, with a brush, lay plentifully on new boots or shoes, when they are quite dry and clean. The leather is left pliant. Fisherman stand in their boots, in water, hour after hour, without inconvenience. For three years past, all my shoes, even of calf skin, have so been served; and have, in no instance admitted water to pass through the leather. It is also a good salve - a Basilicon.

From the American Almanac for the year 1796 - Pr. Abraham Blaudelt - New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1795

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2018, 03:46:53 PM »

I guess once the mutton suet goes rancid no-one will let you out of the water - in fact they'll try to push you further in!  It reminded me of how I saved a lot of effort when re-waxing my Barbour jacket.  The instructions said to rub it into the cotton, which was damned hard work on a cool day.  I melted the wax into a little paraffin and brushed it on which have an excellent coating.  After a few days hanging in the garage it became bearable on the motorbike (Triumph T100SS 1970) and on a warm day would part crowds to get me easily to the bar.

Rob.
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wes williams

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2018, 11:09:36 AM »

I'll confess here as I'm making a rare visit. Almost 50 years ago I restored the very dry folds on my first concertina using Ko-Cho-Line on my girlfriend's recommendation (now wife) as she worked with horses. No problems so far  (:). About £6 a tin from your local horse goods provider. Its a waxy gell that can be applied carefully into the folds only - Neatsfoot is much too runny. Although its now deemed politically incorrect in the concertina world, I still use it if I need to, which is almost never. That first concertina could probably do with a repeat now, but it doesn't often come out as its a small Maccann duet - in fact I'm almost sure I've still got the same tin to do it with. And then keep a piece of genuine chamois in its case to stop it ever happening again (tested for 20 years!).
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Winston Smith

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2018, 11:34:54 AM »

"And then keep a piece of genuine chamois in its case to stop it ever happening again (tested for 20 years!)."

Mmmm, that sounds interesting.
I've got some bits of old leather strap (from old PA bass-end straps) which I could do with softening up a bit, would your Ko-Cho-Line stuff work on those, I wonder? Or, with Neatsfoot Compound being easily sourced, might that be a better bet?
This is new territory to me, so any advice would be gratefully received, thanks.
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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2018, 02:10:34 AM »

The Chamois tip came from an old concertina player in Ireland, who said that the natural oil in the chamois slowly evaporated and kept bellows supple.

Ko-Cho-Line has been used in saddlery and other horse tack for many years, so has been most used on the kind of leather that you describe. I've used it on anglo/duet concertina hand straps which are similar. However if the strap has a felt/suede backing or padding it would be worth being cautious. The makers state that its not suitable for aniline or untreated leather, suede or nubuck.
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forrest

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Re: Softening concertina bellows leather
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2018, 05:04:57 PM »

I have had reason to do this myself in the past, on concertinas and boxes as well. I have found that there are some good leather treatments that are not so oily. The trick is in application. The method I used was this: https://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?/topic/14112-softening-leather-gussets/&do=findComment&comment=135383
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