Recovering the Pneumatic
Written by Durrell Armstrong
This method is limited to using only pneumatic cloth and Titebond glue (aliphatic resin type). (However, with a little practice, the original animal hide glue can also be used, and is recommended over white or yellow glues.) This can be applied with a roller, and is recommended for beginners that may tend to get too much or too little glue on the edges of the thin pneumatic boards. It is a method also used by professionals, since the speed is as quick as any other method, and the ease of glue application from a foam roller to distribute glue evenly is as easy and neat as painting a wall similarly with a roller.
The pneumatic covering jig is designed specifically as an aid in using this method. It allows spacing and squaring of the hinged pneumatic boards with a temporary wedge placed inside. This is held by finger pressure while the glue is being rolled on the edges of the open end and sides, and still, while the feet are planted on the strip of pneumatic cloth and rocked over to one side. The wedge is plucked out while In this position and before the pneumatic is rolled over to the other side to press the remaining glued area Into the cotton side of the pneumatic cloth.
The aliphatic resin glue has the properties of spreading heavy and tacky. The quick set up time allows gripping of cloth and going immediately to the sides after the feet are glued. The stock plastic glue, used in other methods will not respond quite this fast; however, the main problem is that It cannot be laid on heavy enough with the roller transfer. Another feature of using the stock material is: cotton absorbs the glue, making its contribution to the fast set up time after contacting the glued edge of the pneumatic board. The nylon or rubber sides on other suitable materials, are non-absorbent.
So, either way, you are limited to one choice of glue and cloth covering, which will produce reliable results. However, plastic glue is used in the final step of gluing the hinge lap over, and is still the best for this purpose. This step is not continuant with application of the roller method. The pneumatic cloth is the traditional pneumatic cloth used almost exclusively by the player industry on the original instruments.
Instructions for Using
1. To prepare strips of pneumatic cloth, measure length of strip required. Cut this same length or distance into the material. It should take about three such pieces. Down the center of all, mark a line, to which the pneumatic board is centered to. Then stack these together. On the top section of material, mark at the long edge a space 3/8" greater than the outside span of the pneumatic. For example, if this full span measurement was 1-1/8", then the marks for cutting would come every 1-1/2". Cut through all three pieces with scissors about one inch back, then tear the remainder and lay each threesome in a fairly neat pile. This can be jogged evenly when finished by looping cloth loosely on edge and patting.
2. Adjust spacing on jig.
3. Shove pneumatic to stop collar and insert wedge. Pneumatic is now ready to grasp by the hinge end and pull out and apply glue with roller.
4. Pour the Titebond glue on a pallet on non-porous material; something you can dispose of later, such as a tin can with both ends out and flattened. Saturate roller with glue and remove spaced pneumatic. Hold pneumatic by hinge end and roll glue on the other edges.
5. Keeping same grip, plant the feet of the pneumatic across the center line of the pneumatic cloth. If you will maintain at least a dozen strips of pneumatic cloth under the strip you are gluing, these will serve as a soft padding to compensate for spread edges of the feet not being at a right angle. Also the next strip will be in position.
6. Apply pressure with the palm of your hand over the hinge end. Next, lay over on side. With the spacer still Inside you can grip sides with both hands and press down hard. At the same time try to push the pneumatic slightly, in the opposite direction of the tail.
7. Remove spacer and flip over to opposite side, still working on top of the pile of pneumatic cloth strips. This time place plexiglass block on top side, and as you press down with the palm of your hand over this block, use a finger on your other hand to roll against the hinge end of the pneumatic and the bottom tail flap of the pneumatic cloth to pull it tight at the same time. The pneumatic should not move because of the downward pressure of the plexiglass block, but the friction of your finger braced against the hinge of the pneumatic will allow the cloth to slip in the glue and pull corners tightly on the open end, as was done for the other side.
8. Stack in groups of twelve. After doing twenty-four, go back and trim the first stack of twelve: otherwise the glue will become too hard to trim easily with the scissors. After the next dozen, stop and trim the previous dozen, and so on.
To trim: Hold the pneumatic with hinge tails toward you. Open the scissors and roll them over the lower right hand corner of the hinge end with the blades converging at the corner, with the thumb driven blade against and parallel with the top side corner; the other blade crossing over the excess pneumatic cloth. Start cutting along the edge at the hinge corner, around the front and back up to the hinge from the other side, turning the pneumatic to accommodate the scissors. Make the last snip with the very tip of the scissors lined up over the hinge corner. Then reach around with your index finger and bring the unglued flap against the hinge. Make the final scissor cut with points up, at a right angle to the edge just trimmed. Now, repeat this trimming sequence after flipping over to the opposite side. What you will have done, is to limit the corner resistance of the cloth to the minimum. This is in preparation for gluing the hinge and lap over with plastic glue, later. However, this will be done when finished with the Titebond glue, when the foam roller will be changed.
9. Place a new foam roller on the handle. Pour out some plastic glue on a new pallet. Roll on this glue over the hinge area of a pneumatic. Bring a flap of the cloth over into the glued area and press it down with your finger. Immediately lift it back out of the way. Go over the hinge with roller again to replace glue transferred to this flap. Bring down the other flap into the glue, smoothing hard with your finger. Lap over the other glued flap and you are finished with this pneumatic. Do the complete set and let it dry overnight before trimming off the overhanging cloth.
10. For a particular nice looking job, you may sand the exterior wood surfaces of the pneumatic on a belt or disc sander. Blow dust out of the supply hole with compressed air. Brush on shellac, lacquer or whatever finish you desire. The stationary side of the pneumatic may be sealed around the edges and overhang area with the finish, but a good area of the raw wood must be left around the supply hole, because the "hot glue" will not stick to sealed wood.
For covering Gulbransen pneumatics, with the built in finger, you will notice a notch on the side of the jig base. Lay one strip of pneumatic cloth flush with the edge. Cut along the inside of the notch with a razor knife, while holding cloth taunt with two fingers across this notch while cutting. Leave the strip in place. As the glued pneumatic comes down, push pneumatic finger to back of the notch cavity at the same time. After pulling up, examine the inside for excess glue. A screwdriver blade can be used to skim this off by running along the inside of the board, next to the cloth.
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