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1920's Koch button accordion

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    Posted 7 years ago

    mcheconi
    (36 items)

    This little button accordion was made by the company Andreas Koch in Trossingen, Germany in the 1920's.

    It was in bad shape when it arrived, covered in grime, with missing keys, poorly made leather straps. The bellows had some small holes and the bellows tape was missing in some places. The first image shows the mess.

    I decided to restore it because there are not too many Koch accordions left. Koch Company was incorporated by Hohner in 1929 and after 80 years, few of them survived. These Koch boxes are not the best sounding musical instruments you can find but they look great with all its decorative presswood designs.

    I started by cleaning it and removing the old lacquer, bringing back the original honey color and making the beautiful decorative patterns visible again. This box has its sides, front and back covered with oak leaves and acorns. The treble side grille has a cutout pattern showing vines and a harp. The bass side cover has more vines and two birds. I didn't apply new lacquer and decided to use carnauba wax instead.

    I then removed the bellows carefully from the bellows frames, scrapped the old bellows tape, repaired the holes from the inside. The original bellows lining was in good shape after being cleaned. The bellows tape was replaced, and the bellows were reglued to the frames.

    The original grille lining was torn and when I opened the bass side there were mouse droppings inside it...disgusting! A mouse probably tore the bass grille lining and lived there for a while. The grille lining was replaced with the same gauze fabric used in those days.

    I cut a new leather bass strap and bellows straps and fixed them using the original metal hardware. I removed the thumb strap 'cause I don't like to play using it. I installed shoulder strap brackets instead.

    All the screws were replaced with new brass screws and washers. New mother of pearl button keys were cut by hand to replace the missing ones. After one and a half month of work, the little accordion looks like new.

    It doesn't sound like new yet, cause this is the next step: to rewax all the reedplates and replace the valves. I hope next month I can share a video of the Koch squeezebox singing again.

    You can see the exact same accordion at the Deutsches Harmonika Museum at http://www.museum-digital.de/bawue/index.php?t=objekt&oges=1324

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    Comments

    1. racer4four racer4four, 7 years ago
      Thanks for this post and congratulations on the restoration.
      I really enjoyed reading all the steps and parts needed to repair it.
      It now looks just wonderful!
    2. mcheconi mcheconi, 7 years ago
      Thank you recer4four! I intend to create a blog with the step-by-step guide for this restoration. There is not much information on Koch instruments out there.
    3. mcheconi mcheconi, 7 years ago
      Hey Phil! You were the first person with whom I shared my plans for this restoration and it is always great to have your sensible, creative advice. And your sense of humor too! Thank you for your kind words. I am very happy with the first results of this job and I guess the little box feels happy too.
    4. mcheconi mcheconi, 7 years ago
      Thank you guys, for the love., Sean, vetraio, Manikin, antiquerose, kerry, geo, lourdesmello, aghcollect, pops52
    5. mcheconi mcheconi, 7 years ago
      Thanks nutsabotas6 and Radegunder for the love!
    6. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      You were wise to use the carnauba wax as varnish goes bad with age & has to be removed & redone. Another trick I found in my yrs working with wood is, use creosote 1st (can't get it here so I get asphalt from freshly paved roads & soak in a solvent). Once done, you can lighten the colour by wiping the wood with a rag & solvent till you get the colour you want & let dry well. The wood is now preserved & then apply the carnauba wax. The wax can be removed easily & reapplied if necessary instead of stripping varnish. Try it on a few samples & see what you think.
    7. mcheconi mcheconi, 7 years ago
      blunderbuss2, I agree with you about the carnauba wax. I use it for almost everything from metals to wood. It can be applied in two or three layers and can be buffed. It forms a hard surface when dried. We can find bitumen or tar here, sold in sheets covered with aluminum foil and polymer to be used in waterproofing jobs. I guess it could be disolved with thinner or some mineral spirit. I initially thought about adding some wood stain to the wax then got affraid it could change the original wood color in a way I would not be able to revert. I will make some tests with the creosote/tar. Does it dry without getting sticky?
    8. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      Thanks for the tip about using carnauba on metal & I will try it out. We look for things that will keep out sea salt from the air as it will even penetrate thru a layer of grease.
      Apply the creosote thinned out. It will leave a reddish mahogany colour but it will penetrate & preserve the wood. The more you wipe with solvent, the lighter it gets to a point without removing the preservation on cured wood.
      Any where they are paving a road, just ask for a glob of asphalt or pick up spilled pieces on the ROW. It is what has been used on military wood stocks etc. for a couple hundred yrs..
      It will dry slightly sticky but buffs with a rag like wax.
    9. mcheconi mcheconi, 7 years ago
      Thank you geo26e!
    10. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 7 years ago
      Great restore you are doing. When it comes to instruments I stick to trying to play the radio and do fairly well.
    11. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      I forgot to mention this. The owner of a furniture factory in the Netherlands who comes over every year is the one who turned me onto carnauba. He said that when they had pieces that didn't quite match, they used the different colours of shoe polish, which is carnauba wax. I checked, and it really is. Does that solve your colouring problem? Sometimes things are so obvious, that we "can't see the forest for the trees".
    12. mcheconi mcheconi, 7 years ago
      blunderbuss2, this would solve the problem I think. It makes perfect sense. The new problem is: carnauba wax is extracted from a palm tree, here in Brazil, and it is exported to companies all over the world. I would probably have to buy the shoe polisher from an American company 'cause here in Brazil our lousy industry give us four color choices only: clear, white, brown and black LOL!
    13. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      Yeah, we have the same situation here. Sugar on the shelves come from the States & even pineapple comes from Hawaii, even though you can buy whole ones on the street everywhere! The world's ironies! "And the beat goes on".
    14. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      Yeah, we have the same situation here. Sugar on the shelves come from the States & even pineapple comes from Hawaii, even though you can buy whole ones on the street everywhere! The world's ironies! "And the beat goes on".
    15. mcheconi mcheconi, 7 years ago
      Thank you Windwalker and fhrjr2!
    16. parapatton, 7 years ago
      Very nice restoration. Some of these antique accordions have a refinement to them that is lacking in modern accordions. Usually this can be seen in the designs of the grills that can be very ornate, delicate and beautiful.
      This Koch is a good example with it's fancy and refined grill design.
      Where did you get the grill lining gauze fabric? Do you know what type fabric it is? Mostly, I've seen 100% white cotton gauze fabric.
      I have an antique button box that has a linen grill lining that is a sheer linen fabric with a tan/beige color that is somewhat see through, but nothing compared to the gauze. Another of my antiques has similar grill lining gauze as your Koch, except the gauze has a pink color which compliments it's red bellows.
      The gauze lining gives it a different look and may give the grill a more 3-dimensional appearance. What do you think?
    17. mcheconi mcheconi, 7 years ago
      Hello parapatton, thank you for your comment. I agree with you about the looks of the old gauze. I chose the gauze based in the "remains" of the original one. There were parts of it still glued to the treble grille, as well as to the bass side cover. I found some asian sellers at ebay that offered cotton gauze both bleached and unbleached (or tan/beige as you mention), very cheap and sold by yard, but it was difficult to see if the material would look right 'cause the pictures were not good. I then searched for "cheese cloth", which is a cotton gauze as well but it was offered mostly bleached. Still on ebay, I found a seller offering "new old stock" of something called "tack cloth" (I didn't know what this meaned at that time, I'm from Brazil, you know). I ordered some sheets of it. When the item arrived, packed in plastic bags and looking kind of "wet" and then when I opened the bags and felt the odd smell and the tacky substance it was covered in, I tought it was "new old stock" saved from a flood or something. I then googled "tack cloth" and saw that this was exactly what I should expect...you know, I didn't know what "tack" meant at that time and here in Brazil we don't use anything like this to clean dust from sanded wood. We use regular rags. I wonder what the seller thought "So there's this guy in Brazil buying FOUR pieces of tack cloth for $3, paying$9 for shipping...he must have a very small project going on AND HE IS COMPLETELY NUTS" LOL...OK, so here I am with these smelly, tacky pieces of cloth THAT LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE the original 1920s grille cloth I had in the Koch box. Being tacky didn't help on anything, so I glued it with PVA glue and it looks perfect. The smell and the tacky substance will probably keep the mice away and help protect the cotton cloth. It is now dry and the smell is gone.

      Check the pictures of the restoration here:

      http://www.pinterest.com/checoni/restoring-old-koch-boxs-grille-cloth/

      If you want to follow the Tack Rag Saga, the seller still have them but now he sells a minimum of 24 cloths (I wonder why...)

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/100-Vestas-TACK-RAGS-24-x-26-Cotton-Mesh-Cheese-Cloth-Auto-Body-Woodworking-/121126849374?hash=item1c33b90b5e&item=121126849374&pt=Motors_Automotive_Tools&vxp=mtr

      By the way, I would love to see pictures of your old boxes!
    18. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Phil, I am travelling to the South of Brazil on Thursday and will take the Koch's reedblocks with me. I will take them to an accordion repair expert to have them tuned, the valves replaced and rewaxed. I'm actually taking two sets of reedblocks with me. I will repair the Hummingbird box too. And will meet my accordion teacher YEY!
    19. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Hello guys, hope you all have a great 2015! The old Koch accordion went back from tuning and I posted a video for you to check out how it sounds. Hope you like it :)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrlPzmeCJLU
    20. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Olá PatSea...sim sou brasileiro...deve ser por isso que a música lhe soa familiar...vi que és de Lisboa, cidade que amo muito! Obrigado por seu comentário e pelo love&like!
    21. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Que bom saber sobre seu bisavô...ele viveu no Rio de Janeiro em uma época linda! Espero que um dia tu venhas a conhecer o Brasil. Eu fiz a viagem contrária e me apaixonei por Portugal...de repente tudo no Brasil fez sentido para mim...foi uma viagem emocionante. Um ótimo 2015 para ti também!
    22. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Hello guys, hope you all have a great 2015! The old Koch accordion went back from tuning and I posted a video for you to check out how it sounds. Hope you like it :)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrlPzmeCJLU
    23. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Thanks for the love trunkman!
    24. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Thanks Jewels for the love!
    25. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Hello Manikin, thank you for the love!
    26. Jewels Jewels, 6 years ago
      I watched your video btw, very cool! :)
    27. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Thank you Jewels! I am extremely happy to see this 90 year-old instrument singing again.
    28. Jewels Jewels, 6 years ago
      Oh yes, I agree! Wonderful! Thanks for sharing, you're good at it too! :)
    29. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Hello guys, hope you all have a great 2015! The old Koch accordion went back from tuning and I posted a video for you to check out how it sounds. Hope you like it :)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrlPzmeCJLU
    30. Manikin Manikin, 6 years ago
      Amazing I love the tune your playing too ! Feel in love with my old accordion and going to go dust it right now ! How did you get bellows purple may I ask ? Mine still plays but I don't :-) I thank you for youtube so I could actually hear one play ! Love love it !
    31. Manikin Manikin, 6 years ago
      Here is mine and it pales to yours
      http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/42997-vintage-age-unknown-hohner-accordion
    32. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Thanks Manikin! This is my first video playing the button accordion, as I am having classes for almost one year now. This project took a lot of work and I am proud of the results. The purple bellows' tape is actually burgundy and replaced the original one that was too dirty and worn out. I removed the old tape and reglued the new one following the method showed here:

      http://www.accordionrevival.com/ACCORDION_REPAIR_2.php#Replacing_bellows_tape

      George Bachich's website is a unvaluable source of information for mental cases like me that want to resurrect 90 year old instruments. Give it a try!

      There's also a video showing the bellows taping:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbUIot6x10M

      Your accordion is a jewel. Is was made by Koch too, right after the Trossingen factory got incorporated by Hohner, in 1929. And it has 12 bass keys, which is kind of rare.
    33. Manikin Manikin, 6 years ago
      wow thanks for looking at mine and giving me all the great info , it just sits on dresser and I wish it would get up and play a polka :-) Many thanks and again I so enjoyed hearing one play .
    34. mcheconi mcheconi, 6 years ago
      Phil! Ready for 2015? I'm sorry to know about your father's accordion :( The bright side: now you can buy yourself a nice art deco squeezebox like this:

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/HOHNER-OUVERTURE-diatonische-Handharmonika-10-Basse-C-F-/181633792439?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_77&hash=item2a4a37b9b7

      Don't forget to check my video Phil!
    35. Celiene Celiene, 5 years ago
      Loved listening to it!
    36. mcheconi mcheconi, 5 years ago
      Thank you so much Celiene, I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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