Concertina

Concertina!

My concertina arrived today!

The box it lives in is a lovely sturdy old battered leather thing. I wish I could upload a picture of how it smells.
concertina1

It's pretty much as the eBay seller described. The end covers are non-original and functional but not very pretty. A few of the keys have lost their caps. One thing these end covers are lacking is any way to fit felt bushes in the holes, so the keys are a bit rattly. I'll probably make a pair of new wooden covers modelled on the originals. The thumb straps are a bit frayed so I might make a new pair.
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The bellows seem in great condition, particularly as I suspect they are original (about 130 years old). I've ordered a pot of some special leather balsam to condition and protect them.
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One of the two action boxes. Some of the keys are loose because they are missing the leather grommets that go between the lever and the key. The pads have gone pretty hard so it probably makes sense to replace them all along with the dampers and grommets to reduce air leakage and improve the feel of the key action.
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The action springs are all pretty worn out and could do with replacing too. About half a dozen of them have already been replaced with modified safety pin springs (which make those keys feel about twice as stiff as the rest).
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The inside of one of the reed pans. The reeds seem in fairly good condition, though they want cleaning, adjusting and re-tuning to modern concert pitch and equal temperament (I'm hoping to be able to do this myself). One of them was stuck but it freed off when I carefully pushed the tongue with a matchstick. The valves (the leather flaps that only allow air through each reed in one direction) are stiff and could all do with replacing.
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Here's what I wrote to wibble_puppy when it first arrived this afternoon:

"Only when I opened the lid of the box did I realise that I have bought an item of genuine highly-concentrated Steampunk! Not that fake brass cogs stuck on with hot-melt glue nonsense, this is a real live Victorian music machine. Just gently holding it between my hands I can feel the excitement crammed inside; the thrumming buzzing dancing notes itching to be let back out to play."

Comments

It's going to be fascinating watching this project progress.

Fixing the air leaks will make a big difference to playability.

Are the bellows papers original? (You can get replacement ones, I believe) Just trying to figure out if you can condition the leather bellows without removing the papers. (Probably worth conditioning it, though)
The papers are probably original. They are in remarkably good condition and have a lovely patina, so I'm not going to try to remove them. Somebody who is experienced in concertina restoration has advised that the leather balsam might be a bad idea because it might affect the glue that holds the bellows together but there is a different product (Meltonian Shoe Cream) that might be safer.

concertina7
It's absolutely beautiful, and your photos are fascinating. The bellows really do look special. What a shiny, shiny, SHINY thing!
Thank you! :)

Looking forward to seeing your harp too!
Have been pondering the contrast between your museum piece instrument (fnaar) and mine which is brand new - but a replica of a far older one.

Like those bonus pics of the bellows in your reply to Judith :)
"Only when I opened the lid of the box did I realise that I have bought an item of genuine highly-concentrated Steampunk! Not that fake brass cogs stuck on with hot-melt glue nonsense, this is a real live Victorian music machine. Just gently holding it between my hands I can feel the excitement crammed inside; the thrumming buzzing dancing notes itching to be let back out to play."

...lovely piece of writing, there.