A new toy!

Dear Reader, you might remember that I sold my concertinas a few years ago. I cannot recall exactly when, but ever since, I've been regretting it!

I bought my 48 key Lachenal English Concertina in my late teens (if I remember correctly) from an old bloke with a baby grand piano at Ponteland in Northumberland, for £18. He'd wanted £20, but I'm almost sure that I knocked him down to £18.

This was about the time that I used to attend Stefan Sobell's weekly folk club at The Barley Mow in Newcastle, where I met the famous concertina man, Neil Wayne. (His address, then, was Neil Wayne, Duffield, Derbyshire, as if he was the only person to live there!) Neil inspired me to start the hunt for a concertina of my own.

Later on, I bought another couple; one was a Wheatstone, another 48 key job, but it was a "Tutor" model, with the notes stamped on the end of the buttons, and in very poor condition, the other was an "Anglo", labelled as if it had been built in Newcastle, but I was assured later that it was, in fact, another Lachenal which was produced to be labelled by retailers.

My 48 key English model gave me untold hours of amusement over the years, but, being naturally lazy, my lack of serious practice never got me to be confident enough to play it in public, even after 40 years or so! This resulted in me selling them all, in order to finance some project or other, in Egypt probably.

As I said, I've regretted it ever since. I don't like not; just having it! Yes, I know, it's not logical but I still feel a sense of loss, I can't help it! Anyway, that mini history lesson has laid the ground, so to speak, for this blog about my newest of toys; a Melodeon!

Although I cannot recall exactly when I first imagined that owning a melodeon might be a good idea, I suppose that I was hugely influenced in my subconscious decision by the superb melodeon playing which I had been exposed to at South Shields Folk Club. The playing of experts like Anahata, Steve Harrison or Vic Gammon cannot fail to enthuse anyone with the slightest interest.

Of course, my main interest in the melodeon is as an instrument to accompany singing voices, which is the main occupation of the playing of the above mentioned people, also.

So; here it is:

A bit of a rough looking little devil, I know. But considering that I won the eBay auction for it at £7.01, I wasn't expecting an instrument of real quality or beauty! Never mind, I love it, especially as it was within my notoriously limited price range!!!!!

As far as I can ascertain, it's in the region of 100 years old, but in better fettle than many of that age, I should think. I've done a good deal of amateur restoration on it so far, mostly using bits and bobs which have been floating around the house. (Cost saving, you know?)

Some spare uphoulstery material, from one of our old sofas, went to make new straps. (Including an adjustable thumb strap!)

A nice soft cleaning cloth, from an old spectacles case, was cut up to re-line the pads which control the airflow, using one piece on top of the other.

Self-adhesive sealer (for windows) substituted for bellows gaskets.

Splits in the bellows were repaired with silver duct tape.

And the stuck-fast stop slide was freed off using a hammer and chisel!

Several of the levers which operate the pads were straightened using ordinary pliers and a small screwdriver in conjunction.

The long ago snapped and disappeared metal clips which hold the bellows closed, were replaced by home-made straps fashioned from some scraps of leather, donated by my crafts-person sister.

So far; so good! I'm having quite an adventure, "Going where no man has gone before" (well, maybe not quite, but certainly no Jennings to my knowledge).

There's still a lot to do to get it into the condition I'll be happy with, but I'll just plod on, as usual.

Here's the work space (little front bedroom) and a selection of the tools used to date.

It's only three weeks, or so, till we're back in Luxor. Hope to see you there. TTFN.

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