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    Building a bellows

    Hi all, I am new to repair of reed organs. I've owned a 1860 melodeon for about 8 years and it's been apart since. The reservoir blew up right after I bought it - the rubber cloth being very brittle couldn't hold the spring. This has an upper leather exhauster on the other side of the foundation (?) board. The leather exhauster is still intact but I don't know if it's airtight. I don't feel comfortable messing with something so carefully built so long ago, and not being able to locate anyone willing to do the work (I've tried), have decided I'd rather try to build a complete bellows system and not risking mucking up the original. If successful, I'll keep the original bellows system carefully stored for the next owner, be it one of my sons or someone else after I'm gone. If it doesn't work, nothing lost but time and a few bucks, but I won't have butchered an antique.

    So, I have many many questions but will start with the first one I'll need answered. The foundation board (if that's the wrong term, I'd appreciate a correction!) is 5/8" hardwood put together in sections. Is plywood suitable for this application? If so, is there a certain type, like hardwood or furniture grade? Is the thickness critical? 5/8ths is hard to find.

    The original bellows used thin wood strips that held down the bellows material into routed slots, so I'm wondering if plywood would work for this. Using plywood would certainly simplify the process as I'm not a woodworker, although I have a friend who is an expert carpenter and trim person who could replicate the piece if that is the only option.

    Any insight and criticism greatly welcomed.

    John
    Last edited by JohnCT; 05-21-2020, 10:34 AM.

    #2
    Originally posted by JohnCT View Post
    Is the thickness critical? 5/8ths is hard to find.
    Okay, that was a dumb question. The foundation/bellows board is screwed into the cabinet and becomes the floor of the organ and is what the action is mounted to, so changing the thickness will change the keyboard height. I'm thinking about going to 3/4 plywood and relieving the two edges of 1/8" about an inch from each side edge to drop the board down a bit so the keyboard height will remain the same as it was before. The only visible change would be the lower bellows/reservoir being about 1/8 lower.

    John

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      #3
      John - welcome to the Forum. I'm in eastern Connecticut.

      Note that the forum has had some communication problems recently; members may not be getting notifications of new posts. I just got notified of your 5/21 and 5/22 posts just a few minutes ago (5/28 at 1pm EST). Patience is the word of the day!

      Tom M.

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        #4
        Originally posted by nutmegct View Post
        John - welcome to the Forum. I'm in eastern Connecticut.

        Note that the forum has had some communication problems recently; members may not be getting notifications of new posts. I just got notified of your 5/21 and 5/22 posts just a few minutes ago (5/28 at 1pm EST). Patience is the word of the day!

        Tom M.
        Thanks Tom. I prefer the flow of a dedicated forum, yet realize many members are gravitating to Facebook.

        I'm in Wolcott, northeast of Waterbury - almost dead center CT.

        John

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        • myorgan
          myorgan commented
          Editing a comment
          John,

          Funny, I thought Hartford was in central CT rather than Waterbury. I think I got my directions messed up when I turned in Waterbury.

          Michael

          P.S. At least you don't have Pay-By-Plate like that country to the North!
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