Reed problem

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AccordionTop126
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Reed problem

Post by AccordionTop126 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:53 am

I am having a strange problem with a newly rewaxed 3 reed piano accordion. I have noticed that some reeds have been going flat and even failing to sound. When I pulled the blocks, I found several inside reeds coated with a clear, sticky substance that was causing the malfunction. It appears that something is evaporating, or "sweating" onto my reeds. My only guess is that there was something wrong with the accordion wax I bought. Needless to say, after countless hours cleaning, re-valving, and rewaxing, I am frustrated. Has anyone experienced this problem? I have restored almost a dozen accordions and never experienced this before. I have had to pull offending reeds and clean with solvents to remove this sticky coating.

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Re: Reed problem

Post by debra » Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:43 am

I have never experienced this. How hot is your wax when you do the rewaxing? And did the reeds initially (say in the first hour) work well?
I just did a complete cleaning, revalving and rewaxing on an accordion. It is now resting for a few weeks for the wax to settle before I do tuning. I hope that when I start tuning I do not experience a similar problem... (but never had this before so I'm hopeful).
Your problem is quite strange because when reed plates lay completely flat on the reed block when you do the waxing nothing should get to the inside. SO how did that "coating" get inside the resonance chambers to then end up on the reeds?
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
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Re: Reed problem

Post by AccordionTop126 » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:16 pm

I am revisiting this post after letting my rewaxed accordion sit for awhile. I am still experiencing reed problems with the stickiness on some inside reeds. I forgot to answer Paul's questions. I do not know the exact temperature of my melted wax, and the reeds all sounded fine after rewaxing. The stickiness seems to be forming over time, and only on inside reeds. I am absolutely baffled by this. If I remove the reed plate, I can clean this substance off with alcohol and the reed sounds fine again. The only thing in an accordion that could be sticky is the wax. How on earth could this get on a reed plate?

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Re: Reed problem

Post by debra » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:42 am

Accordion wax is for the most part bees wax and resin. I could imagine a problem if too much resin was used (that would be a sticky residue). Often a tiny bit of oil is added but that would not cause stickiness. But I never heard a residue build-up through evaporation. Then again... it takes decades of repair practice before one has encountered every imaginable problem...
As I said before: if the reeds plates lay completely flat on the reed block and the "holes" are the right size (so you do not need to fill part of holes that are too large with wax, as happens even on some really expensive accordions) then there cannot be any wax residue build-up on the inside as no wax can get to the inside. But if the reed plate partly rests on wax instead of wood then it is possible... and it may explain why only a few notes exhibit the problem and the others do not. Could you check whether indeed the problem notes have reed plates not completely flush against the reed block?
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
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JIM D.
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Re: Reed problem

Post by JIM D. » Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:41 pm

Could you answer some ??'s before I reply?

What is the make of your box?
What are your reed blocks made of?
Are your new valves leather or plastic?
What glue did you use for fastening the new valves?

What I'm getting at here is that some vinyls, glues and lacquers when drying and are combined in a confined space with some plastics will cause some plastics to bleed and leave a sticky residue.
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Re: Reed problem

Post by AccordionTop126 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:01 am

Jim,
It is a Castiglione from the 1950s or 1960s. The reed blocks are wood, but I am using a mixture of leather and some plastic valves. For glue I use a water-based white glue called "Aleen's Original Tacky Glue".

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Re: Reed problem

Post by AccordionTop126 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:11 am

Paul,
That same thought occurred to me, that perhaps there was some contact with the wax at the gaps formed when some reed plates don't completely cover the holes. In fact, this is the case for some of the troubled reeds, which are the smaller piccolo brass plates. I wonder if that, in combination with the wax/rosin/oil mix caused some leaching of this stickiness onto the inside of the reeds in the block? It is not a clumsy drip or leak(I admit to making this mistake in the past), but an overall clear film. I do notice that the stickiness is only noticeable on the metal tongue and reed plate, and is not apparent on any of the wooden block surfaces. This is truly a first for me, after years of successful rewaxing and restoration.

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Re: Reed problem

Post by AccordionTop126 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:17 am

Jim,
It just hit me! This is the first time I have ever ordered a brand new bellows. I don't know what kind of adhesives were used in manufacture and these could be curing in the closed space and affecting my reeds. Perhaps I should have waited a few months before installing?

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Re: Reed problem

Post by JIM D. » Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:54 am

Very possible the bellows :o
The glue or vinyl used in its construction could be bleeding a vapor in its drying stage. Is there a noticeable odor from the new bellows (much like the smell of lacquer paint drying ??
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Re: Reed problem

Post by AccordionTop126 » Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:41 am

Jim,
Yes, there is an odor and that I noticed as I began playing last night. Perhaps not playing this particular accordion every day prevented the air from circulating and caused those fumes from whatever glues were used when building the bellows. It would be interesting to know if anyone else had this experience. The bellows are beautifully made, and I am very happy with them. This is only a theory, of course, so I hesitate to indicate where I bought the bellows. Since the new bellows were the only aspect of this repair that was new to me, I am leaning toward this being a reasonable explanation.

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