I sure wouldn't want a plastic accordion, but the plastic rockers is definitely something I've pondered. Many other builders already use metal keyboard mechanisms, and if ever make another with more than one treble row or the base buttons on the frame, ti will be of metal mechanics, just due to the problems I had with wood. There's some inherent issues with wood rockers that could be avoided with a more stable material, and it would still have to be fit by hand, and once painted, no one would know it's not wood. No one seems to mind plastic or metal buttons.
I may be wrong, but I don't see a quality accordion not at least being fit and finished by hand. I think a more likely issue is some day the Chinese may decide to make better quality instruments, and if so, all American instrument builders are in trouble, because I'm pretty sure the Chinese are capable.
Look at Eastman guitars and compare them to the grossly overpriced Gibson archtops of far lower quality of fit and finish.
While China is not an "accordeon culture", they are credited with the sheng which was the great ancestor of all accordeons.
They may be credited with the shoeing, and rightly so.
But what have they done for us lately? I'll tell you what. They've done a whole hell of a lot of not very **** much.
The blame goes to the greedy businessmen who put dollars before quality and customer se4rvice.
The Chinese simply take the orders and make the stuff.
Here is a simplistic dollars and sense explanation why greedy business folks go to China. I have first hand and inside knowledge of this.
Take a $100 retail item made in China.... the landed cost.. that is the cost of the product, shipping and Customs/duty.. is roughly $16.
Step it up to a $600 POS Hohner Ariette one row made in China..
The landed cost is $96.
I have a friend who has artwork made in China. He was having prints made in the US at $380 per.....
His cost in China: $78 each. Landed cost is $128...They retail for $1100. He wholesales for 40% off and makes a killing.
G R E E D
The Chinese are simply filling the orders.. they are not the ones who are over here pushing the goods down our throats... and telling us they are keeping prices down so they can maintain quality..
Have you bought a pair of shoes lately or Levis made out of country.. what junk.
If the "plastic" was one of the later high grade types and machined and cut and drilled as well or better than wood and was black and did not swell or shrink.. why not.
Keep in mind.. those Mother of Pearl Buttons are plastic.. many of the leather reed valves are backed up with plastic.
What's the difference in milling plastic or milling wood, it's still craftsmanship and I don't see where the material converts that to assembly .
Delrin is far superior to wood in the right application.
Craftsmanship is mitered joints, Jr High wood working is butted joints.
Traditionally, boxes were mitered, only the lazy and less skilled, and cost cutters use butt joints.
I'd rather have a mitered chassis box with delrin rockers than a butt joint all wood box.
Tradition is also experimentation and improvement and evolution.
I don't want a plastic accordion either, but one made of plexiglass or perspex would be nice.
Of course with steel or brass reeds a mano
Then we can study the behavior of the air inside an accordion which was a subject earlier.
Than we have to search for a surrounding where smoke is to make it visible
There's a big difference between a plastic accordion, and one with some plastic parts.
How about torrefying the wood?
(basically cooking it for a while at high temp)
If I'm not mistaken, torrefying the wood makes it less sensitive to humidity changes (swells / shrinks less than wood dried in normal conditions). But I have no idea how significant the effect is.
"torrefying" has been done to musical instrument wood for at least 40 years I am aware. "Invented" in Finland.
It also involved heat them cold.
It is supposed to stabilize the wood.
I would consider it a waste of money.
I would rather spend a few cents on DELRIN. You could expect better results.
And speaking pf using modern designs and materials.. Bellows.
I was told that Larry Miller experimented with Delrin - as I understand it, he pressed delrin bushing in the rocker blocks for bearing on the axle. My late-model Bon Cajun has wood blocks without bushings, so I'm guessing this method didn't work out. Tim Reed also tried it without much success.
Possibly the solid Delrin is better than bushings. Seems like it would be simpler.
Interesting that Tim Reed tried this as he is a dyed in the wool Savoy fanboy copiest right down to the butt joints.
Butt joints are the key to the authentic Cajun sound. Picture frame joints let the treble out. Everyone knows that...
Tim apprenticed under Larry. I had given some thought to the delrin rockers after talking to Larry about his inserts. I didn't know he quit using it, he seemed happy with them when I talked to him. My one concern is I've heard delrin cannot be glued to. I didn't look into it enough to verify or disprove that.
What about stabilized wood? When that's done right it completely eliminates seasonal wood movement. I've seen some pretty substantial turning blanks that were stabilized with acrylic resin and the resin had clearly penetrated the wood entirely throughout.
I hadn't thought of that. That would probably work pretty well.
Bryan, I stand corrected on the Delrin rocker inserts. The rocker blocks cannot be inspected without complete dissassembly. I just took the keyboard off my Bon Cajun, and I can't see the axle contact, so I must have assumed that the blocks were solid wood, after diddling with the springs a while back. The key action is good year 'round, so whatever I've got is working.
Yeah, you'd have to take the rocker out of the slot to see.
I tried the delrin thing, but it was a pain, and as far as I know, I haven't had an axle seize yet.
Nedro I was about to ask you what year your accordion was made but I finish reading all the post, I was gonna say I've taking an apprenticeship with Larry for over a year now and he still uses Delrin in the rockers. Well has recently retired last July from building but he still doing repairs and tuning.. My first accordion I didn't use it, I said from now on I would. My opinion is the tolerance is tighter between axle rod and rocker than it is between rocker fingerboard. So to me if you gonna have any swelling the axle rod would be where to go the extra mile. Also Delrin is inexpensive. But on the other hand I haven't experienced any sticking so I havent decided if its worth it or not. Does anyone know if any other builders have use it?