Five years ago my dad bought a rather ropey Regal one-row melodeon with the intention of having a go at restoring it, but didn't get very far. Now I'm going to have a go.

To start if off, helped by a friend, I took it apart last night to see what needs doing, and today I've taken a few photos to help me plan.


So, it's a fairly standard three voice one row, with two bass buttons. The "Regal" brand was made by Hohner in the 1920s as a "budget" option, which is noticeable in some of the build quality, but it generally seems pretty sound. If I'd been more with it I'd have taken a quick recording of its existing sound - very quiet, quite leaky feeling, but with what seemed like a nice tone. I would also have taken a picture or two of it while still intact... here it is in pieces:

 melodeon parts laid out viewed from treble endmelodeon parts laid out viewed from frontmelodeon parts laid out viewed from bass end

 Looking inside the treble end, the cause of some of the problems was immediately obvious:some of the valve leathers were very curled on one of the reed pans, and on the other some waxed down at both ends as you can see from the discolouration in the photo:

 reed pan awith distorted valve leathersreed pan with signs of valve leathers being secured at both ends

So one thing to do will obviously be to revalve the whole instrument. I also want to check the set of the reeds, which would their volume and willingess to sound. I'm going to have a go at tuning them myself too, though I'll need to sort out a tuning table to suck/blow air through one reed at a time to do so.

Another issue on the treble end is that one of the stops isn't entirely secure in its connection to the slider that opens/closes the air holes for that reed pan. I'll need to take the reed pans and block out to get at this to resecure it more firmly, and make sure the others are okay.

Here are photos showing the connection between stop and slide when you pull the stop up, and the existing glue stretches so the slide only half opens, together with the half open holes; then the same when you push the slide up from the other end so the connection is correctly positioned and the holes entirely open:

stop misaligned with its slidepart open valve holes in the lowest row

stop correctly aligned with its slidefully open valve holes in the lowest row


The  keyboard and pallets seem basically okay, so once I've sorted the rest of the treble end I'll reinstall it as is, and see how it goes. If needed I'll have to reface the pallets but they seem like they close well.

The bass end felt leaky playing it, as though the air button were stuck slightly open, but looking inside the control box the valves all seem to close properly.  It looks there's  some kind of wonderweb/very thin synthetic felt on the join between control box and bass end in the past , so I'm thinking that using bellows gasket or thicker felt to face this join may be a good idea as it could be the source of that leak.

The control box should also have a left hand strap on it, but this disintegrated the first time dad played it, so I'l fit reuse the one I took off my Pokerwork as it just needs cutting to length.

 Looking inside the bass end control boxInside the bass end

 The bass end valve leathers don't look quite as bad as some of the treble ones, but still aren't great. Somthing I couldn't photograph was inside the pans and peering through the air holes the valve leather for the chord reeds seems badly curled. So again it'll be  revalve-and-tune for the bass end. The chords I may change to have a separate valve for each reed, rather than one big leather for all of them.

 That leaves the bellows. The decorative paper on the end frames is coming away; the intermediate frames are similarly shabby, with one missing a corner, and the bellows tape is in a pretty poor state. I think I'll need to remove all the metal corners and replace the paper on the frames and intermediate frames, then do a full retape. I'm hoping the corner leathers although dry are okay: I'm sure there'll be information on Melnet on if/how to treat them (dubbin? neats foor oil? who knows!).

 bellows, with paper coming away from the frameopen bellowsmissing corner on intermediate bellows frame

You may also notice te empty screws for the levers or straps that should be there to hold the bellows shut: I'll need to fit new ones.

The other thing I noticed is how thin the recent looking bellows gasket is, and I think this probably wants replacing with some that's a bit thicker. Then lastly (I hope!) I'll just need to fill/ensmallen the hole in the bellows frame that took an oversize screw that had lost its grip, and the corresponding one in the bass end, and tidy the surface mess made getting this out (and previously getting it in by the look of it), and use a smaller screw when reassembling. And I think that's it...

 end-on view of bellows


Plan of action // supplies needed:

  • remove treble reed pans/blocks and fix stop/slider // glue, wax/waxing bits
  • clean all reeds // cleaning stuff
  • revalve all reeds // valves, glue, wax/waxing bits
  • set and tune all reeeds // tuning table, tools
  • regasket the bass control box join // bellows gasket/felt
  • fit left hand strap
  • remove bellows frame corners, repaper and refit // paper, glue, new corner(s)
  • fit new bellows closure // parts
  • renew bellows gasket // bellows gasket
  • sort screw hole