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Old 05-06-08, 05:04 AM   #11
jsragman77
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"It's also true that any pipemaker who wants to survive, had best turn out a quality product...or risk being a subject for public ridicule in this forum & others."

Going to have to disagree. Pipers routinely buy poorly crafted pipes. I've found that a piper's willingness to accept a poorly crafted pipe is directly related to price, supply, and accessibility to the maker, regardless of frequency of ridicule.

Discussions where pipers ask, "What's the best glue for re-attaching the mounts, caps, ferrules, etc...on my brand-new McSlingblades?" attest to how far the market has allowed the bar to fall.

Mark
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Old 05-06-08, 06:26 AM   #12
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Mark :

With more discussions such as this, hopefully people will come to understand that a pipe is more than just it's decorations....however, since you bring up the mounts issue...

It could also be said, that cracked parts are not uncommon due to "tightly screwed together" dissimilar substances.

In 1997, I took my old (1930'ish) ivory Henderson pipe up to Jack Dunbar's shop to have it mounted with runic pattern silver...I was playing with the (gr2) City of Detroit P/B at the time.

Anyway, Jack & I had quite a nice visit for the better part of the afternoon & while I was there he showed me three parts from an old MacDougall pipe, that were in for repairs due to cracked wood.

You see, due to it's not being regularly played (moisture loss) & the mounts being threaded on tight, cracks had developed as "something had to give" (Jack's words..) & since the mounts were stronger than the wood, that was the result.

Threaded mounts (IMHO) would be a swell idea if substances remained constant (which they don't) & if wood would never be allowed to gain or loose moisture content (which it does) causing slight movements (over time) of the wood.

This is easliy proven by taking an ABW blowpipe out of the stock for a few days & letting it dry a bit & see what happens...you'll need to tighten the mouthpiece & likely add more waxed hemp (I always use waxed dental floss on blowpipes for that reason...it's not subject to swelling since it's nylon.)

The fact that they threaded mounts on in the old days (as I'm told) is because back then adhesives were not as well developed for this sort of application as they are today, and in Scotland it's always pretty humid, so it usually worked out well enough to get by for many years.

It's quite likely that the MacDougall's (& other pipemaker's who did this) never expected to have their pipes subjected to the conditions of very dry climates, such as (for example...) the S/W USA.

With all this in mind, I would not want a pipe with mounts that had been threaded on the wood, since I live in S/W Ontario & these days I'm no longer playing "constantly" like I was in years past.

A few winds of Johnson's waxed nylon dental floss (it's quite sturdy...) & a very slight amount of the right adhesive, makes the best sense (IMHO) to apply silver & projecting mounts to an ABW pipe.

P.
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Old 05-06-08, 03:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Ouellette View Post
Mark :

With more discussions such as this, hopefully people will come to understand that a pipe is more than just it's decorations....however, since you bring up the mounts issue....
I mentioned fitments as a means of illustrating how poorly seasoned blackwood (because the topic is about blackwood) creates an environment where fitments don't stay put. The blackwood withdraws from the fitment and the glue hasn't the strength to maintain its bond.

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Originally Posted by Paul Ouellette View Post
It could also be said, that cracked parts are not uncommon due to "tightly screwed together" dissimilar substances..
In my opinion, extremes of temperature and humidity have more to do with wood splitting than anything else.

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Anyway, Jack & I had quite a nice visit for the better part of the afternoon & while I was there he showed me three parts from an old MacDougall pipe, that were in for repairs due to cracked wood.

You see, due to it's not being regularly played (moisture loss) & the mounts being threaded on tight, cracks had developed as "something had to give" (Jack's words..) & since the mounts were stronger than the wood, that was the result..
If these three parts were made of ebony, I'm not surprised. One such pipe was played without incident for over 100 years. Recently, all three tops split near the shoulder - nowhere near a fitment. The piper travelled with some regularity between the U.K. and the U.S. He got off the plane, made it home, and opened his pipe case to discover the splits.

I've no doubt that extremely tight fitments on very dry wood coupled with extremes of temperature and humidity have caused a few pieces of wood to split.

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Threaded mounts (IMHO) would be a swell idea if substances remained constant (which they don't) & if wood would never be allowed to gain or loose moisture content (which it does) causing slight movements (over time) of the wood..
This is why superior instruments are, not surprisingly, made by truly skilled and knowledgeable craftsmen that are well aware of a material's properties and limitations. You don't find posts by clients of today's skilled makers soliciting glue advice - regardless of whether or not the fitments are threaded on.

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Originally Posted by Paul Ouellette View Post
This is easliy proven by taking an ABW blowpipe out of the stock for a few days & letting it dry a bit & see what happens...you'll need to tighten the mouthpiece & likely add more waxed hemp (I always use waxed dental floss on blowpipes for that reason...it's not subject to swelling since it's nylon.)

The fact that they threaded mounts on in the old days (as I'm told) is because back then adhesives were not as well developed for this sort of application as they are today, and in Scotland it's always pretty humid, so it usually worked out well enough to get by for many years..
Cyclic expansion and contraction (stress loading and unloading) is all the more reason to thread-on fitments as there's a much larger surface area over which the force is distributed. Just so you know I'm not absolutely opposed to friction-fit mounts, here's an example of one of my faves: http://www.cekron.com/archive/mcdonald_gallery.htm
Friction-fit mounts, hide glue, blond shellac - all original. Made on a treadle lathe, this was the least expensive pipe offered by D. MacDonald. I'd be happy to never own another if they were all made to this high standard.

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It's quite likely that the MacDougall's (& other pipemaker's who did this) never expected to have their pipes subjected to the conditions of very dry climates, such as (for example...) the S/W USA..
Ironically, we find vintage advertisements offering instruments made of other than ebony for "markets abroad." J. Robertson and Thow are two examples. Scots Guards and Gordons books provide ample photographic evidence that makers certainly were aware their pipes were being played in climatic extremes. Give them a little credit. They weren't isolated, disinterested cretins oblivious to the world in which they lived.

Mark
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Old 05-06-08, 04:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Ouellette View Post
Mark :


It could also be said, that cracked parts are not uncommon due to "tightly screwed together" dissimilar substances.

Threaded mounts (IMHO) would be a swell idea if substances remained constant (which they don't) & if wood would never be allowed to gain or loose moisture content (which it does) causing slight movements (over time) of the wood.


P.
The several pipemakers I know of who thread mounts would never, ever "tightly screw together" those pieces. You've got to give them more credit for brains than that. I've threaded unglued mounts off and on some of these pipes and there is lots of play for swelling. The reason they don't move after being screwed on is not because they are tight; it's because they've been glued. And contrary to what you've said, snug, threaded mounts actually prevent cracks, it doesn't cause cause them. Ironic that Dunbar is brought up in this discussion since that company has been a pioneer in threadng mounts.

JM
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Old 05-06-08, 04:23 PM   #15
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The vast majority of bagpipes that most people have been exposed to over the last 100 years have had friction fitted mounts (glued) and in the case of silver - mostly nailed on or glued on. It seems to work. I suspect that the glues being used over the past few decades might not have the same properties as the old animal glues, but that's just a guess. Most old pipes also had a hard finish on them, and this I suspect had allot more to do with the survival rate of these pipes and their mounts. Prevent moisture loss and absorption from both inside and out.

I've seen Pakistani made pipes where the mounts were threaded on. Mounts still came loose. So personally, I don't count it as the most significant hallmark of quality. Yes it is a nice feature to incorporate. Those catalogues that survive, do illustrate that the scottish pipe makers were becoming aware that the differences in climate were having an impact on thier products.

Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I recall reading that sleeving drones with brass was mainly as a result of british army pipers going to and coming back from Africa and India campaigns and having their pipes ravaged by rot and insects? I never really studied it much. If so, they learned from their experiences and adapted. Personally, I would think that a brass lined pipe won't sound anything like the original. Same with the growing market in North America over the past 60 -80 years, they discovered that the differences in climate were wreaking havoc with the wood expanding and contracting more than they were used to. Different materials expand and contract at different rates under the same conditions. That's a well known fact and there is no perfect answer to that problem yet.

Last edited by Bobby; 06-06-08 at 10:10 PM.. Reason: highlighting relevent sections
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Old 05-06-08, 04:41 PM   #16
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It seems like a threaded mount would be less likely to split an un-played pipe. When the wood dries out, it contracts. The mount doesn't. So the wood will pull away from a threaded mount. If the mount is glued on, then the glue will work against the wood's desire to pull away from the mount. If the glue joint is stronger than the wood, cracks will result.

Luthiers have always used hide glue to put ebony fingerboards on violin necks (and to do all the other assembly on a violin). Hide glues are really strong.
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Old 05-06-08, 05:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
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The vast majority of bagpipes that most people have been exposed to over the last 100 years have had friction fitted mounts (glued) and in the case of silver - mostly nailed on or glued on. It seems to work. I suspect that the glues being used over the past few decades might not have the same properties as the old animal glues, but that's just a guess. Most old pipes also had a hard finish on them, and this I suspect had allot more to do with the survival rate of these pipes and their mounts. Prevent moisture loss and absorption from both inside and out.
Yikes. I see far too much “I suspect” in these posts for my liking given that we're recomminding how people spend thousands of dollars.

If you go to the link below you’ll see on the right a tenor drone with the bushing removed. This is a Duncan MacDougall tenor top circa 1875. It clearly shows threading. That is to say, not only did the guy thread, he even threaded the bushes.

http://www.piping.on.ca/myimages/Ima...inside-950.jpg

Not threading mounts has become commonplace relatively recently as a simple way to cut down man hours, save costs and be more competitive in a very competitive market. Threading is in fact traditional and I’ve seen countless pre-1900 pipes with threaded mounts. Often metal mounts were not threaded because the makers were at the mercy of the metal-smiths, but in most cases, if the pipemaker made the mount, it was threaded on. In fact, not threading mounts is a more modern tradition.

The best glue on the planet today will not necessarily do a better job than the best glues of 200 years ago, and museums are full of centuries-old instruments that bear this out. No amount of space-age glue will make up for the space that appears between the wood and a mount when unseasoned wood begins to shrink. That’s why you often have to wrap a bit of hemp around the tenon before you glue the mount back on. That space wasn’t there when the pipes were made. And it happens because the wood is seasoning after the pipes are made. And you know what? That’s okay if people want more affordable pipes. Just don’t go around saying these are the best pipes and that this is the way it should be done!

Certainly threading is not the only consideration of quality, but it shows a respect for tradition and a commitment to providing a piper with a set of pipes that will stand the test of time.

Name one other instrument that falls apart with the frequency of many of the Highland pipes made today. Name one other instrument where so many dealers know that if their level of service was 100% they’d be sending glue and instructions for fixing mounts out with every set of budget-oriented pipes they sell.

JM
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Old 05-06-08, 06:11 PM   #18
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OK...

I knew I was poking a nerve when I posted that message...but hey, the forum has been pretty slow lately !!

This issue could certainly be the subject of debate for a long time yet, so perhaps we simply need to just agree on disagreeing & leave it at that.

Apparently both types of applications are commonly used & no doubt whatever a pipemaker decides to do, they must have their reasons.

Of course...with this in mind, I'd like to ask for a little survey...

What pipe makers do what ?? (pls forgive if I missed anyone, these are in no particular order... & pls feel free to amend the list...)

Present day pipe makers...

MacCallum...
Nail............
Gibson........Glued
Dunbar.......
Atherton.....Threaded
Shepherd....
Kron...........
MacLellan....
Cushing......
Hardie........
Kintail........
Sinclair.......

Past days pipe makers....(I know there's lots of others, but here's a quick list of the main ones...)

Henderson...............
MacDougall..............
Center....................
Robertson...............
Alexander................
Grainger & Campbell...
Gillanders................
Lawrie....................

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Old 05-06-08, 06:30 PM   #19
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I'm not sure what is wrong with my use of the term "suspect"....but if it reads better to say I "believe", then by all means substitute it.
A number of people, yourself included by your last post, seem to concur with my suspicion. I wouldn't consider stating it as fact unless I had a chemical analysis and structural engineering report in my hands stating that it was.

I do believe that the hard finishes of yesteryear have much to do with the survival rate of those wonderful antiques. I guess we'll have to come back and have a look 100 years from now to see if modern pipes by any maker with the oiled/waxed finishes have survived as well. It's also my belief that much of the wood that was being used 100 , 150 yeas ago was from older growth trees, took longer to get to the pipe makers, and was being stored in somewhat primitive conditions by todays living standards, probably drying it out that much quicker. It all adds up to produce a stable product.

"...Just don’t go around saying these are the best pipes and that this is the way it should be done!..." Not sure where you think I've said that, or where I've said using unseasoned wood is good. I certainly haven't.

I did say that threaded mounts is a nice feature. I wouldn't describe it as "tradition" I'm sure that there were other methods before it. I do recognize it as a desirable trait and have said so. What I do take issue with is blind assertions from anyone that threaded mounts are what indicate the best quality sounding bagpipe. That is quite frankly not true, and everyone in the know, knows it.

I don't see anything in what I've posted above that is incorrect. If it is, please tell me what it is and I'll do my best to explain what it is I'm trying to say.

I've always been puzzled by the use of the term seasoning. Conjures up images of someone standing in an apron over a wood pile and sprinkling montreal steak spice on it.

Quite frankly I'd like to see a bunch of pipe makers try to duplicate the best sounding MacDonald pipe using the same tools that they had to use and in the same conditions they had to work in, and do it day in, day out..... hand chisels, foot powered treadle lathes, hand cut saws, blades, and drill bits. For that matter, what about before the lathe? T'would be fun to watch, but a terrible waste of wood I suspect.
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Old 05-06-08, 07:28 PM   #20
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Mark :

Back to thoughts about wood...what you said here made me curious...

If these three parts were made of ebony, I'm not surprised. One such pipe was played without incident for over 100 years. Recently, all three tops split near the shoulder - nowhere near a fitment. The piper travelled with some regularity between the U.K. and the U.S. He got off the plane, made it home, and opened his pipe case to discover the splits.

I've no doubt that extremely tight fitments on very dry wood coupled with extremes of temperature and humidity have caused a few pieces of wood to split.


Would it be fair to say that some varieties of wood would be better than others for certain climates ??

And if so, is ABW & ebony really the best choice for pipers in places like Tucson Arisona ? (or should they just resign to stay with Dunbar poly's ??)

P.
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