O.K. I've been reading this thread & find it entertaining & educational, so I'll add my 2 cents to the original question. "To push and pull takes just about all my effort" "Is this just because it's new?"
Yes. The accordion and bellows are new & probably require more effort.
"I don't play much at all, just learning"
If you are just learning & not playing much than this is also a reason that playing is difficult.
I started learning, for real, on a new accordion. I found the bellows to be stiff. The solution for me & the bellows is to PLAY MORE. I found myself getting tired after playing for 1/2 hour. I found that doing push ups helped me get in better shape to play this instrument. Playing the instrument helped get it into better shape to be played by me.
I had asked for suggestions, about 3 years ago, on caring for a brand new accordion. It was suggested that I not hang it up by it's B-ass. (I believe David Sousa told me that, thanks David!) I had never heard of doing that but readily agreed not to try it. Playing is the key. Play play & play. For me, anyway, that's what's it's all about & ends up answering most of my questions about how to do it. No need to be hanging it from a tree or obsessing about it's corners & such. (unless your into that sort of thing) Enjoy Daniel!