Author Topic: Shortened Air Bar on my Shand Morino  (Read 696 times)

Derek Lockhart

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Shortened Air Bar on my Shand Morino
« on: June 29, 2020, 11:11:10 PM »
Hi, I've recently bought a Shand Morino and I've noticed that the air bar has been shortened.

As you can see from the photo attached it comes down to about the E Dim whereas the hole in the bass plate that has been filled came down to about the C Dim. I am finding that it is quite a stretch to reach the air bar compared with my Hohner Gaelic on which the air bar comes down to the D Dim.

I also see that the bass end has had 1 set of reeds removed making it a 4 voice, I can remember speaking to Jimmy Shand jnr about this but I can only remember him saying that many players wanted them removed however I can't remember the reason he gave.

Can anyone shed any light on either of these 2 points?

Derek

John Macrae

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Re: Shortened Air Bar on my Shand Morino
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2020, 10:48:11 AM »
Hi Derek,

Your Shand Morino looks like a 46 treble key model from the position of the Hohner badge in relation to the bass couplers. The very early models had a full length air-bar but those that followed had a much shorter bar which extended down to around G dim. Many have had the bar extended, as with my instruments, to around F dim which makes playing the bass in the flats much easier. I can't imagine the bar being shortened to E dim. which seems much too short. From your photograph, it appears that the lever was extended at some point, down to around F dim, but has then been changed back to a shorter lever, possibly to its original configuration.
John Crawford of Freuchie was the expert at reconfiguring the air-valve lever on Shand Morinos in particular, the usual change being to lengthen the lever. Sadly John is unwell and no longer working. However, I recently had an extended air-valve lever fabricated and fitted to a Shand Excelsior by Murray Balfour of Highland Accordions in Inverness. The air-valve mechanism in the Shand Morino is much more robust than on the Excelsior and it is easier to fit a longer lever to that instrument than in other British Chromatics. Bright steel rod of 4mm diameter should be used but the problem is that of bending the rod which needs high heat to avoid cracking the metal. Also important is the method of location and hinging the lever to the inner surface of the bass plate.
I imagine that Gordon Patullo also has some experience of altering the air-valve lever on these instruments as well.

The bass reeds. A number of the early Shand Morinos had 4 sets of bass reeds but after that, 5 sets of bass reeds became the standard configuration. Of these 5 sets of reeds, one set was fitted in a "cranked" or semi-cassotto position at right angles to the other reeds. This could result in a very slightly delayed reponse on the bass side. As a consequence, John Crawford altered a number of Shand Morinos to refit this bass reed block in a conventional position. The answer to your instrument is that instead of repositioning the "cranked" reed block, it may simply have been removed completely.

I hope that is of some help.

Kind regards,

John

John Macrae

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Re: Shortened Air Bar on my Shand Morino
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2020, 11:18:28 AM »
Hi again Derek,

I've just checked - on both my Morinos which are 40 key models, the air-valve lever originally extended to around G dim but I had them lengthened to extend to F dim. One was lengthened by Jimmy Shand Jr. and the other by John Crawford. I think on your instrument the original bar would have extended to about the same level (ie. G dim) because E dim. seems far to high for the bar to end and too short to play easily. I think it has been altered twice, firstly lengthened down to about F dim. as indicated by the cut-out on the bass panel, and then it has been shortened, shorter than originally, to its present length.

Regards,

John

Derek Lockhart

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Re: Shortened Air Bar on my Shand Morino
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2020, 07:54:27 AM »
Hi John

Many thanks for your in depth reply to my questions and yes my box is a 46 key model.

I have only been playing accordion for 4 years and regard myself as an improver now rather than a beginner so I do use the air valve when required although it is quite hard to reach in it's current position compared to my Gaelic and it seems quite fast when operated.

I can see inside the bass plate that the block of wood for the pivot point on the lower end of the air bar is still attached so it will be a fairly easy task to form a new lever and attach it to the existing pivot points, I had a quick look in my workshop but so far I have only found 6mm bar which is too big so I'll have another look today for some 4mm or order some up if required.

Being a mechanic I have no reservations about making one up myself and fitting it, I can remember many years ago Jimmy Shand jnr would occasionally come into the garage needing a wee brazing job done on some accordion parts but didn't want anyone but our foreman to do the job cause it had to be "just right", now I know why.

I have looked back at previous posts on the forum about air valves and I've seen mentioned that many players reduce the size of the air hole by about 30%, this I will try with some tape as I did with my Gaelic, using a bit of trial and error to get it just right.

Having looked closely at the bass reed blocks I can see that the "cranked" one has had the cranked part removed and sealed up, leaving that block with only 1 set of reeds instead of 2 with what looks like the lowest reeds removed. The bass does sound good to me but having only really heard this Morino close up I can't tell whether it would be better with the 5 sets or not. I do happen to have a spare "cranked" reed block that I was given by Jimmy Shand jnr although without reeds, maybe one day if I can find a set of low reeds I'll get it fitted then I'll be able to tell the difference in sound myself.

Thanks again for your reply.

Derek
Derek

John Macrae

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Re: Shortened Air Bar on my Shand Morino
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2020, 10:23:16 AM »
Hi Derek,

You're very fortunate to have the engineering skills to enable you to fabricate the air-valve lever yourself! My first Shand Morino, which I have owned from new, had the air-valve lever extended by Jimmy Shand Jr. and he did it by simply brazing an extension to the lower end of the existing lever. I found the lower end of that lever rather sharp and at a later stage John Crawford rounded off the end. The recess in the bass panel had also been extended to accommodate the longer lever. In the case of my other Morino, which I purchased around 10 years ago, John Crawford lengthened the lever by cutting off the original lever from the arms, fabricating a new lever from 4mm. bright steel rod, bending each end of it at right angles and then brazing it to the ends of the arms. The lower mounting block was then relocated in the appropriate lower position on the inside of the bass panel and the arms fitted to the blocks with screws. The beauty of this method of locating the lever and the design of it is that it moves in and out parallel to the bass panel so that the effect on the air valve is uniform no matter where you press the lever.
On both my Morinos and my Shand Excelsior, I have partially closed the air-valve opening. From memory, by about 1/3 on the Morinos and about 1/4 on the Excelsior. I don't like a fast air-valve response and use the alternatives on the treble side to assist bellows control. Jimmy Shand, Jimmy Blue and my late friend Sandy Tulloch, who was a great friend of Jimmy Shand, always partially closed the air-valve for the same reason. I have used a piece of card attached with double sided adhesive tape. As you say, it does require a bit of trial and error.
I don't really understand why the low reeds should have been removed from the bass reed block. Coincidentally, I purchased a Shand Excelsior from Ireland early last year and a previous owner, not the one from whom I bought it, had also removed the set of low reeds from one of the bass reed blocks. Fortunately, my seller had received the reeds which were in a box and he sent them to me. The coupler slide relating to that bank of reeds had been closed off and sealed with glue! Fortunately all that was rectified by John Crawford who managed to free the coupler slide and refit the reeds in their correct places. It just makes me wonder if the same individual had carried out the modification on your Morino's bass reeds as on my Excelsior. A shame you don't have the reeds but hopefully you might be able to source a set.
Attached are photos of the air-valve lever extended by John Crawford on  one of my Shand Morinos.
Good luck with the air-valve modification.

Regards,

John

Alex Houston

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Re: Shortened Air Bar on my Shand Morino
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2020, 07:43:28 PM »
Hi Derek , i would be very surprised if it wasn't John Crawford who adapted the airbar and took the reed block out too.  The previous owner of your Morino was good friends with John. The reason behind taking out the extra set of reeds was to reduce air usage . I tried blanking off the reed block with masking tape a while back Johns suggestion but i could see no difference to air or the sound so I took it off . John Crawford is a true gentleman and Im sure he could answer your questions . Hope this helps Regards Alex

John Macrae

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Re: Shortened Air Bar on my Shand Morino
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2020, 09:22:50 PM »
Hi,

I would be surprised if John Crawford removed the reeds from the reed block. He was actually very surprised that the bass reeds had been removed from my Excelsior and was not impressed that it had been done and the reed coupler slide closed. Provided there are no internal or external air leaks which impair compression, the full 5 voice bass should not cause "excess" air usage if played correctly with staccato fundamental and chord playing. A combination of dragging and sustaining either the fundamental or bass chords together with a "fast" air-valve which increases bellows excursion and not using the appropriate alternatives on the treble side can together give the false impression of excess air usage. Blocking off the pallet ports under the row of even the large bass reeds will have an absolutely minimal effect on the air usage but it will indeed reduce the depth and quality of bass sound. Partially occluding the air-valve opening as previously mentioned is helpful in providing better bellows control particularly when the treble alternatives are used to limit large bellows excursions by equalising press and draw notes.

Regards,

John

Derek Lockhart

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Re: Shortened Air Bar on my Shand Morino
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2020, 10:28:49 PM »
Hi John

Thanks again for your replies.

It sounds like over the years that you have "fine tuned" your boxes to get them all playing similarly and just to your liking, a journey that I'm just starting. As you suggest it may be the same individual who removed the reeds from your Shand Excelsior and my Morino however we may never know, as Alex suggests it might be worth speaking with John to see if he can enlighten me.

I'll hopefully manage to change the air bar after I receive the rod in the next few days then I'll be able to use it properly, but given my level of experience using it properly may take a while! I'll keep you updated. Tracking down a set of bass reeds may be a bit more problematic, however I will try to find a solution so that I can judge for myself if it both plays and sounds differently.

Kind regards

Derek
Derek

 

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