Monday, June 24, 2013

Restoring a Reed Organ -- Part 9: Removing, stripping and cleaning the Bellows

At this point, we needed to remove the bellows from the lower part of the wind chest.  What we did not know at the time was that while most manufactures simply screwed the bellows board to the wind chest with a couple of screws and sealed it with a leather gasket, Mason and Hamlin was in the habit of gluing the board to the chest.  I have since learned that some people are skilled enough to re-cover the bellows and exhausters while attached to the chest.  I don't think I am one of those people.  In any event, we figured we needed to separate it from the chest, so we gave it the old college try and exercised great care.

We needed to make sure we disconnected all the linkages related to the grand and the swell levers. 

There were a couple of screws and a few nails.  We still didn't realize at this point that the board was glued to the chest.

We worked it very carefully with a pallet knife, with some heat, and with some moisture, but it was really tough going.

In the end we did get it apart, but as you can see some of the bottom of the chest splintered and came off onto the bellows board.  Note the yellowish protrusion along the edge of the board just beyond Dad's crossed hands.  We thought we had failed miserably at this point, but after an emergency email to Rodney Jantzi, Rodney assured me that this can certainly happen and that it wasn't the end the world, and explained how to repair it.  He also recommended that when we reconnect it that we do not reglue it, but rather seal it with a leather gasket.  I think that is what we will do.
You can also see the cardboard gussets from the exhauster bellows (a few close ups of them follow, below).  These were very common on the old M&H models apparently.
In sight is also our tape measure and pad.  We carefully measured the masximum opening/expansion of the exhausters and bellows before taking them apart.

We tried to remove as much glue and bellows cloth residue as possible with heat and moisture.  A fair bit of gentle scraping was required.  Dad is using a chisel that belong to his Uncle Stanley.

A couple of reference pictures of the seal along the hinge.

Cleaning up the bellows board

Getting ready to remove the bellows cloth from the main bellows. 

Here is the hole for the release valve, which prevents the bellows from being "over pumped."  The release valve was removed and a block of wood screwed over top of the hole. This was likely to deal with the face that the bellows were leaking, so someone covered the safety value to help maintain the air pressure.

The cloth was pretty difficult to get off.  You can se we tried with the heat gun (lower left hand corner). What really worked best was some moisture with heat.  It took a while. There were about a million tacks holding it in place as well, indicating a later recovering job.
The exhausters were original, but the bellows had clearly been redone.  The cloth on the bellows was like a canvas with fleese on the interior.  It tore quite easily and disintegrated in places as we pulled it away.

Next:  Fixing the splinter

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