Its all about the wax

We are now busy re organising and checking stock we have a list of repairs and services to get done after the busy Easter Holidays. Our repair room is full with tools engineering machinery and on the side of the work shop bench there is a little pot of wax gently bubbling away. The wax heating gives a slight fragrant smell of honey, rosin and oils.
We make all our own wax on site, the wax we buy in from Hereford from a local Bee keeper which comes in huge circular round disks weighing around 5 kg.
The way we set out our recipie is important to get right and with knowledge added over the years we have been developing a good strong wax which is still both pliable but strong enough to resist extreme temperatures from the sun when leaving your accordion in the car or in a hot room for a set amount of time.
We have had customers bring in accordions where the reeds have all dropped out and the wax has melted away, this is due to repair shops using pure wax only or in some cases just candle wax!!!
Our work shop has always used a mixture of bees wax rosin and oils to produce a stable product to use on all our repairs.
The formation of mixing wax along with other products like rosin has been ongoing for around 80 years.
It is essential to obtain clean non sticky yet easy to melt wax but able to bond the wooden reed blocks and the metal alloy reeds.
I remember a guy who came into our work shop which had recently been re waxed and tuned by another company. He came to us by chance as there was a festival near to us and had developed problems we realised that it was badly out of tune, notes were not responding properly, How could this be wrong as this gentleman was upset by the problems that had occurred and after it was so recently tuned….
We carefully took away the pins, (always use padded pin extractors ) this accordion had many scratches on the case work which shows carelessness. When we took a look inside we saw the results of spotting over the valves with wax, these spots of wax which had fallen from the soldering iron had stuck the valves to the reeds and in some cases had made the valves heavy and had altered the sound and tuning. Without the correct tools and knowledge so much money can be wasted by doing this yourself or have an amateur repair your accordion.
We had to start from scratch, clean the wax off with a chemical and in some cases had to re valve certain effected areas. The gentleman did not check the accordion before he left ( this is a must to do and is something we always check with our customer’s at the Accordion Centre Birmingham, we also offer a full guarantee on our work )
We found wax everywhere even inside the cavity blocking air even under the pallets and had run down and the wax had damaged the felts making them hard. After we repaired and corrected errors we told him to go back to his original repairer to sort out the issue also.
The moral of this story is simple…. It takes just one simple error to make and the knock on effect can take seconds to ruin an instrument and hours worth of work to rectify it.
The stages of tuning often involve removing old wax and replacing the valves before tuning begins, so a simple job often involves doing the fundamental re work of old wax old valves…. Perfection comes with strict work practiced and a clean environment and years of experience