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Seasoning small pipe bellows
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Author:  mike delta [ Fri May 12, 2017 7:42 am ]
Post subject:  Seasoning small pipe bellows

How do I season my small pipe bellows (wood & leather) and what substance do I use either commercially bought or home made. I have several small leaks emanating through the stitching between the leather cheeks and the wooden boards. Nothing drastic and the bellows are still usable but I would like to staunch these small leaks now before they become an issue.
I'm assuming there is always the risk of new seasoning being pumped through into the bag and then fouling the cane reeds, yes? So ideally nothing too thin and runny as I use natural cane reeds in chanter and drones.
Mike Delta

Author:  Ted [ Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Seasoning small pipe bellows

You can make a mixture of one part melted beeswax mixed with four parts lard or Crisco. Allow to cool and roll some worms of it. I use bamboo skewers to apply the worms to the inside where the leaks are where the leather meets the paddles. Use a heat gun or blow dryer and blow hot air into the intake hole, When the worms melt, cork off both openings with the bellows open and apply pressure to force the mixture into the leaks. Allow it to cool and Bob's yer uncle. You only need the worms where the leaks are. Minimal clean up after.

Author:  psychodonald [ Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Seasoning small pipe bellows

I've recently been working on a set of Smallpipes that I own and I came across and excellent book entitled [i]More Power to Your Elbow[i] published by The Lowland and Border Pipers Society. In appendix 4, Maintenance and Repair, this text describes using a "stitching paste" that is made by melting together equal parts of beeswax and resin (fiddle bow resin) and then adding just enough neatsfoot oil to make the paste the consistency of Vaseline when cold. This text states that if the main cause of air leakage is through the stitching then the above described stitching paste can be applied as a alternative to the full bag dressing. This book also describes, step by step, their thoughts on properly dressing a bag, if required. I've used this book as my "go to" information source, along with help from this community on questions that I've had concerning Smallpipes. Hope this helps some.

An afterthought. If you do decide to dress the bellows bag, you must cork off the outlet and pour out the dressing in through the air inlet hole, with valve assembly removed. Replace the valve and inflate. Shake the dressing around the bellows and pour out the surplus after uncorking the outlet. Some pumping action with the bellows will help the process. Remove the valve, clean off any dressing and replace it, making sure that the hinge is uppermost. Dressing is made by melting half an ounce of beeswax and then adding to it about half a pint of 100% pure neatsfoot oil. It will be a liquid when warm and the consistency of soft margarine when cold. Use it warm, but not too hot. My understanding is that the dressing mixture should be no more than 100 degrees F. The material that I taking this information from stresses that the dressing mixture should be no hotter than 100 degrees F, 38 degrees C. You do not put the dressing through the bellows into the Smallpipe bag (these are separate procedures), you certainly do not pump the mixture into the drones or into the chanter--all of the outlets are corked off. The dressing mixture only goes into the bellows, same with the bag. All of the above information comes from the book I mentioned. In addition, the dressings used for mouth blown Highland bagpipes are not suitable for bellows-blown pipes.

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