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Author Topic: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance  (Read 8252 times)

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Martin J

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Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« on: July 21, 2008, 10:52:53 PM »

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Theo

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2008, 11:05:04 PM »

The way I learned was the way I've learned all sorts of practical skills, from beekeeping to web design.  Watch, ask questions, try things, be self critical, watch, ask questions, try things, be self critical, watch, ......

You get the idea.  Its a slow process of picking up little snippets here and there, and I'm more than happy to share what I've learned so far.   I know some people with skills are secretive because they are afraid they will loose something.  I've found the reverse to be true. 

On a more nuts and bolts level you will learn a huge amount on the melodeon building course.  Certainly enough to keep you practising for the next couple of years.  In the mean time you could do worse than getting hold of an old box to take apart and rebuild. 
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Theo Gibb

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TomB-R

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2008, 11:37:28 PM »

I'd just add to Theo's excellent reply that, in my limited experience so far, the absence of that "Haynes Manual" is part of what makes it so interesting!

That type of book does exist for concertinas, of course, it's by David D Elliott.
There are a couple of (mainly piano) accordion books around.  I wouldn't recommend either of them. They spend a lot of pages telling you very little.

In the past I've spent some time in the builders section of mandolincafe.com, a lovely website and fantastic resource..... (if you like mandolins!)  There were times when one wanted to say to people, "for heavens sake, go away and try things out, work it out for yourself, start learning, and start learning how to solve problems."
I'm definitely not saying you need to be told that, Martin, but in these days of internet fora I think it bears saying once in a while that working things out from scratch for yourself is a load of fun, and very valuable. This means an interest in melodeons is particularly worthwhile!
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Rees

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2008, 12:25:51 AM »

Yes, I too have traveled the same road as Theo.
Many's the time it has been two steps forward and one step back.

I've learned a lot from my friends in Castelfidardo. Also, huge thanks to Ivor Hyde, Dave and Marcus at Marcus Music, Martyn Banks at Oakwood, Colin Dipper, Andrew Norman, Marc Savoy, Neil McRitchie, Phil Bleazey, Tim and Tora Phillips, John Turner, Monsieur Pariselle and many others who have shared their knowledge and enthusiasm for our humble instrument. I've read all the books and learned very little from them.

My only regret is that I wish I'd started building melodeons earlier in my life. I come from an engineering background and have always been a bit scared of wood. I finally realised that to make a melodeon you need to apply engineering principles to wood. Hey presto!
It's the best job I've ever had and the thrill of playing my own instruments on stage is worth a mint.
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Martin J

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2008, 01:17:02 AM »

Well, I'm greatly warmed by the openness and enthusiasm of people I know to be in the business.  I will take the advice.  I do have an old box which I have just liberated from the attic (literally) which I will photograph and instigate a programme of refurbishment.  I will post the photo's within the next day or so (I may have to ask how) and chart the progress.

Watch this space as they say.

Any further sources, advice, anecdotal wisdom etc will all be greatfully received.

Martin
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RGF

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2008, 02:14:21 AM »

Ah, yes......the good old Haynes Manual. Got me through my first Renault 5 rebuild! The ability to follow instructions will get you far. As a tinkerer, model maker, wannabe builder (even if just for a one-off), I'll throw in my two cents here.

I built model boats, cars, planes mostly, all through grade school and high school, and so aquired some basic tool skills.  Many a 2:00 AM when I should have finished my homework and been long asleep, I was down in the basement filling the house (and my brain, likely) with fumes. Then in college, I studied set design and built more models still. Turns out that model airplane wings are really not much different than stage flats and, so it appears, reedblocks. At least construction-wise. (First time I walked into the local accordion shop, I spied a flying model airplane hanging from the ceiling!)

When I once again took up the accordion (at first the piano type) after a 40-year leave, I became curious about the internal workings, and bought the John Ryther book on repair. Some parts were certainly more useful than others, but I read it over and over until it made sense. Bought an old accordion and just took it apart, s-l-o-w-l-y, so as to see what was connected to what, and lo and behold, it's not that hard. And I certainly don't mean this to take away anything from the people who are experts at building and tuning and adjusting and so forth-- there are talents and skills and experience that nothing else can make up for, and I'll never approach their level, and haven't the desire to. But just the basic bits aren't all that hard.

Having refurbed a half dozen PA's, and half dozen more melodeons, I'm anxious to try my hand at building one. It will be FAR from perfect, I'm sure, but it will be fun to try! (In fact, the last one I purchased was intended to be a "Donor Hohner", but it was too nice to cannibalize, and it turned into another restoration project.

I guess the point of all this rambling is to say, just don't be afraid of the bits. Get in there and take them apart with care and some consideration as to their purpose, and they'll go back together again more easily than you'd thought. Buy a cheapy, and get in there and get your feet wet. It'll be fun!

Bob

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pipives

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2008, 10:42:14 AM »

I've started to play with re-building melodeons too. I've re-furbished an old Hoher form C/C# to C#/D. Mainly using the advice from this forum and many conversations, parts and advice from Theo. I still have a way to go to get it right, but I'm happy with how it's going. (just need to sort the bass end out a bit).

I've also just re-bushed a Lachenal anglo concertina. That really WAS a fiddly job. But when you're a student on summer holiday you need something to keep you busy!

One day I'd love to build my own box from scratch, when time, experience, money tools and workshop space are available!
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TomB-R

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2008, 10:47:10 AM »

Interesting point about wood "engineering" Rees.  I reckon an important step in my woodworking "career" was when I started using a dial caliper and dial gauge as well as rulers. Some things become a lot easier when one can easily measure to 0.2mm or less!
(I recently got hold of a micrometer, but it hasn't seen a lot of use yet. I was thinking more of wire diameters there than wood.)
Tom
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Pete Dunk

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2008, 06:36:17 PM »

Well, I'm greatly warmed by the openness and enthusiasm of people I know to be in the business.  I will take the advice.  I do have an old box which I have just liberated from the attic (literally) which I will photograph and instigate a programme of refurbishment.  I will post the photo's within the next day or so (I may have to ask how) and chart the progress.

Martin

Go for it Martin, I've already started a similar project and received a great deal of helpful advice from the people on here. My only regret is that I didn't take the time to video the various jobs I've done, both as a reference for myself and possibly a useful series for others to see the ups and downs of going it alone - but then I would have needed one of those thingamabobs that puts bleeps in the soundtrack.  ;D

As for the Melodeon Repair Manual, we'll just have to gang up on the long suffering Theo and bully him into doing a Dave Elliott.  :o
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Martin J

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2008, 06:58:52 PM »

The engineering side keeps cropping up so my apprenticeship as a millwright (the person who makes the machines that make things) should stand me in good stead.  I have build many model aeroplanes when young, graduating onto building two boats and one guitar.  The guitar was built on the rational that it was in many ways just a different aeroplane, ie. an empty box with a cover and some tensioning struts and strings.

I had though melodeons somewhat more complicated and in need of plans/drawings etc utilising the condensed and refined knowledge of those who have gone before but no, the concensus seems to be suck it and see.

The photos of the project will be available soon.

Martin
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EeeJay

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2008, 09:34:52 PM »

I come from an engineering background and have always been a bit scared of wood. I finally realised that to make a melodeon you need to apply engineering principles to wood.

I remember a copy of Taplas (Welsh folk magazine) with two articles on local instrument makers... Chris Wilkes (flute maker) and Doug Briggs (squeezebox maker - then based in Malvern)

I remember Doug likening a squeezebox to a machine, rather than an instrument... comparing it to the Victorian engineering of an old mill engine he remembered growing up near Holmfirth (I think it was Holmfirth?). In other words, it is the precision of the thing that counts above all, then the aesthetics. He then went on to talk about bookmatching burr walnut like Rolls Royce do it... ;D

Another thing I do remember was the article about Chris Wilkes, and how he got into his profession, and gained the knowledge... quite a story in itself from what I recall...

Suffice to say, if you have a notion to learn the craft, keep at it...

Ed J
« Last Edit: July 22, 2008, 10:13:56 PM by EeeJay »
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TomB-R

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2008, 10:00:56 AM »

If you're looking for plans there are some, plus other stuff, discussions (and sometimes a certain amount of spam,) at

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/boxbuilder/

The plans are in the Files section.  They, like most of the content there, are Cajun one-row related.
Because discussion happens fairly slowly there the "email digest" option may be worthwhile if you join the group. That way you're told when something happens!
Tom
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Martin J

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2008, 01:10:23 PM »

if you're looking for plans there are some, plus other stuff, discussions (and sometimes a certain amount of spam,) at

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/boxbuilder/


Thanks Tom

What an ugly interface.  I didn't find the plans yet but I'll try again when my constitution is up to wrestling with such a messy site.

Martin
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TomB-R

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2008, 01:17:19 PM »

Apols, you have to join and log in before the Files link becomes active.
Tom
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Martin J

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2008, 01:30:50 PM »

I'll try that.

Another question.  I listened to a box by VanderAa  at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VBFStAezYRo

Whilst I understand it is fairly dry tuned I can't help feeling there is something more than just the tuning compared to a Hohner at say 14 cents.  Perhaps my hearing is duff but I don't think it is octave tuned.

I would like to make my restoration project sound like this box - too much ambition???
Martin
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Theo

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2008, 01:56:44 PM »

I'll try that.

Another question.  I listened to a box by VanderAa  at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=VBFStAezYRo

Whilst I understand it is fairly dry tuned I can't help feeling there is something more than just the tuning compared to a Hohner at say 14 cents.  Perhaps my hearing is duff but I don't think it is octave tuned.

I would like to make my restoration project sound like this box - too much ambition???
Martin

It sounds dry tuned to me too.  Not fairy dry, but dry.  In my view you there is no such thing as fairly dry.  Dry means no tremolo. So fairly dry is a similar linguistic confusion as 'slightly pregnant'

I agree with you too that its not octave tuned, probably its two voices tuned in unison, but could also be single voice. 

"too much ambition???"  no, having an ambition will focus your efforts, and increase the learning opportunities.
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Theo Gibb

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Martin J

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2008, 07:46:53 PM »

Here are the photos (all being well).  Will have to post them in two or three batches due to size.

As you can see, the manufacturer 'Mastertone' is a German company and proclaims not only steel reeds but that this is a 'Concert Model'  In it's current condition this claim is hard to believe.

Opinion's of origin and the pro's and con's of a single reed plate would be welcome.  I'm guessing, but I feel the single reed plate is an economy move or is it some mysterious high end structure giving great tone and clarity.  I'm unable to tell as in it's current condition I cannot get any air through anything.

Nest post being constructed.

Martin
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Martin J

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2008, 07:58:31 PM »

Second lot of photos.  Curly leather as discussed elsewhere.

The restoration plans seem to be to remove the dreadfull case fastenings, replace the seal and change to bellows pins until the case becomes airtight.

The reed plates then have to be made tight with either new valves or replace the big single plate with individual plates.  Perhaps Binci reeds ??

More comments and experience would be great.

Q.  Theo, have I started this thread in the wrong part of the forum?  If so can it be moved ?
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Theo

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2008, 08:43:05 PM »

I've seen this box before, did you get it from the violin shop in Hexham?

I originally saw it in Newcastle Music, I gave the shop owner my opinion of it (see below)  and the next I heard he had sold it to Dave Mann who runs the Hexham violin shop and is a friend of mine.  He didn't tell Dave I'd seen it, nor pass on anything I'd said about it. Dave was not a happy bunny when I told him my part of the story.

If this is the box I've seen then it would be a good learning experience to renovate it, but I don't think it has any possibility of being a good player, even with new reeds.  Its just a cheap Saxony built box similar to the ones that were turned out in their thousands in the late 19th and early 20th century.   Money spent on new reeds would be wasted, and you would probably have to build new reedblocks to mount them on.  If this has any value then it is as a curious antique, and the funny clamping arrangement to hold it together are part of that interest.  If you want to get an old wreck and turn it into a decent player then go for a Hohner.  Look for a C/C#, few play that system so they are cheap.

Sorry to be a party pooper, but its just not got the makings of anything decent.  Its the musical equivalent of the Trabant though it almost certainly predates the partition of Germany.
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Theo Gibb

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Martin J

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Re: Hayes Manual of Melodeon Construction & Maintenance
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2008, 10:32:34 PM »

I can't remember where I came by this box, I've certainly never been up that neck of the woods.  I can however tell you why I bought it, and it would have been cheap.

I had a friend I met annually at Sidmouth back in the early nineties.  Jordie Steve.  He played concertina and was an electronics engineer.  We discussed midi, which at that time was just becoming available on accordions courtesy of WEM.  Steve said he could build the electronics and I supplied the idea that the box should have no reeds, just a series of different size holes behind normal keypads.  This mean the feel of the box without reeds would be the same as if they were there.  I demonstrated the prototype at Wimborne Festival sometime in the mid nineties.  The results were tremendous, nothing vaguely connected with melodeons.  We set it up as a steel drum and Jamaican drums and played reggae; perhaps that's why it didn't catch on although Steve did sell a few units but in those days they were hugely expensive.

About the same time, Phil Williams then of Swanage and also an electronics designer, built two midi concertina's (one English one Anglo)using plastic boxes and micro switches.  He gave them to me to install in this melodeon, a project which foundered through lack of time and the lack of a pressure sensor (he had used a micro switch compressed between the two plastic boxes) that didn't have to be zeroed according to the air pressure, (sea level or mountain / falling or rising barometer) and software that would allow pressure changes to have an overlap that didn't produce a machine gun effect everytime the bellows changed directions.  Phil if you read this I still have the electronics in good care.

I digress, this Mastertone then has little or no value save that of a 19th century cadaver which can be safely butchered in the interest of science.   Following other threads on this site and in pursuit of my original enquiry re the building of instruments it would seem then that the carcase of a box is every bit as important as the reeds.  Looking at the wood work, this all seems accurate and well made.  The bellows are fairly subtle the action is easy and quieter than a Hohner.  The mystic art of zen and melodeon building deepens.

Martin
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