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Author Topic: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler  (Read 3899 times)

Offline Windsong

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A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« on: December 03, 2017, 07:34:01 PM »
Much thanks to Lisa for reminding me again of this fine gem that re-surfaced, and which I purchased.  Opportunity does indeed occasionally knock twice, it seems.  It arrived a few days ago, and photos will follow when time allows.

Believe it or not, this is my first wooden Pedler.  It's really not much different than my hard rubber models of similar vint and pedigree, but this is the first of which I've had that has (nearly flawless) silver plated keys.  I say "plated" as the keys are quite heavy--much heavier than nickel-silver, and while similar in weight to "junk silver" (40-50% silver, and a terrible name for a wonderful alloy), I know of no solid silver alloy-keyed Harry Pedlers or MBIC Pedlers.  That's not to say they weren't made, but I've not seen one, nor have I heard of one.  I've made no attempt to bend any of the keys, as they all align nicely, so I suspect a solid brass substrate, as brass is quite heavy, (though there is no wear-through).

This has the 17/6 configuration, 4 top-joint trill key posts, and the preferred Pedler Appliance, in lieu of a conventional crow's foot.

Curiously, the barrel is a bit odd.  It's the only piece not stamped with "The Pedler Co.", making it the first MBIC Pedler I have without one.  While not entirely definitive in and of itself, the curiousity continues.
The socket rings on the bell and lower joint are a nickel-silver alloy, as is standard, but on the barrel, they are most certainly aluminium.  That's right, and I'm certain of it.  No question at all.  Further murking the already silty waters is the fact that, while the rings share the same design (or a masterfully crafted "tribute" to the original) they are poorly fitted to the barrel.  The lower barrel ring sits flush to the joint, but the upper barrel ring stands proud a tremendous 1.5mm, creating extremely poor fitment for a mouthpiece.  It's entirely unsatisfactory, and while I made no attempt to play it (unusual for me, but it was filthy and the pads were falling out of at least 5 cups, so I didn't even bother), I'm nigh certain it would be a poor player in its current configuration.

I am led to believe that this barrel is not original, despite the fact that the wood it's made from resembles the rest of the clarinet identically.  I suspect this has far more to do with similar age and materials than it does to any claim to originality.  Neither Harry Pedler nor MBIC were this sloppy with ring fitment, even on novice models.  For now, I'll conclude that a master mettalurgist with a poor ability to fashion things to exacting tolerances made the rings and the barrel, to replace one that either went missing or failed miserably.  I'll never know.  While this issue is easily remedied by relieving 1.5 mm of wood from the barrel ring landing, I have no shortage of appropriate, period-correct barrels to try with it once the clarinet is sorted, so enough about that for now, though I'd be interested to hear from readers who have aluminium rings on a Pedler.

This clarinet was dry as a bone, yet un-cracked.  Frankly, I've not owned a dryer clarinet that was not a basket case.  I allowed the clarinet to settle to room temps, and then wiped the barrel and bell down with luke-warm, watered paper towels to remove 80 years of dust.  I then chased that with dry paper towels, and let them air-dry.  This morning, I fully saturated both in Almond oil, and within 2 hours, there was no oil residue left on the bore or outer surface, so I completely soaked them again.  They have nearly absorbed all the oil again, and I expect to have to repeat this process at least once more, before the wood is ready to be handled and used.  Poor, poor neglected clarinet, indeed, but I aim to have that remedied, shortly.  I also stripped the lower joint of its keys, and fully cleaned, dried and saturated it in oil, today.  The top joint will have to wait with my crazy schedule for the next week, but with the degree of neglect to the wood, accompanied by the quickly changing temps it's endured in its shipment to me over the past week or so, I was instantly concerned that it might crack on me, if not given an instant "salon treatment".
I think I may have a fine one here.  It has the makings of a solidly-made survivor, and I have high hopes, at present.

Expert bubblegum welder, and Pedler Pedler.

Offline Lisa

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2017, 07:40:54 PM »
I'm happy I didn't point out a compete dud to you. Keep us posted, I hope it turns into a real player for you.   :D
Lisa  Upper Michigan

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Offline Windsong

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2017, 08:00:49 PM »
Based upon my experience with vintage "licorice sticks", I think this one will pull through quite nicely.  Ashame about the barrel, but for what I paid, it's hardly a setback. 
Thanks again for the solid tip, "Eagle Eyes".
 ;)
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Offline Windsong

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2017, 09:04:38 PM »
I pulled down the upper joint today, after returning home from work, and swabbed the inside and outside with lukewarm water, several times.  I removed many years of cigarette tar from the surface, and kept going until the wood was clear.  This wood seriously needed a bath, but my goodness!  How dry it is.  I waited 4 hours before soaking with oil, in order to allow the joint to fully air-dry.  In the following photos, you can see the UJ and LJ.  The LJ is ahead of the UJ by a day, which is still quickly pulling in almond oil.  The lower joint seems to have stabilised, and will be ready for key fitment within the week.  The pads on this clarinet were held in with shellac, and all pads are original bladdar pads.  They look burned. This is not something I've seen before.  They look singed, quite frankly.  (Attic heat, perhaps?)  All but two pads simply fell right out, with the gentlist nudge from my flat-blade screwdriver, and 5 had already freed themselves. (I'll post pics of them later). 
Not terribly interesting photos, mind you, but part of a 21st century resto:
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Offline Lisa

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2017, 11:01:19 PM »
It's nice that all the keys came off.
Lisa  Upper Michigan

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Offline windydankoff

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2017, 05:39:53 AM »
I see the register key stem has a very large hole showing. Does it taper down to a much smaller hole on the inside?

-- I wonder, because my Pruefer Silver Throats have that feature, and I think it is part of an effective thumb-Bb strategy.
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Offline Windsong

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2017, 02:24:43 PM »
It's nice that all the keys came off.
Yes, indeed it is, but this ain't my first rodeo.  Several of the screws were so covered in filth that I could not even find the drive point.  I removed a waxy substance (?)  that had filled the post holes--first by soaking the heads with a cotton swab, doused in denatured alcohol, and then carefully excising it with the smallest flat-blade I own, and chasing thst with a cotton swab.  I then let them saturate in mineral oil for a while before even attempting their removal.  The pads are original, and only 2 of the screw heads had been "tampered with".  I believe this to be accurate, as the others had no "slip marks", and the green'horn who attacked the aforementioned two would have done the same to the others, I suspect.  Thankfully, the marks are mild enough that I can re-surface the heads, polish them, and re-use them, as most Pedlers have a rather unusual, deep oddball screw.  I don't have any extras, and would have to rob Peter to pay Paul, currently, which I won't do if it means incapacitating a "player".
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Offline Windsong

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2017, 03:17:25 PM »
The upper and lower joints are soaked, and have cried "No more, no more!"
I had to actually remove the excess this evening, which is where I stop.
They should be good for a while.  I know we all use different bore oils, but I really love Almond oil, as it's extremely thick, and hovers on the wood, waiting its turn.  It is easy to work with and extremely stable.  I suppose I trust it more than some other "secret blends", though some thinner oils are also good.  It's not an exact science, folks.  It's sort of like motor oil, in that you use what has never given you trouble, and you use it faithfully until it proves you wrong.  You then question whether the characteristics of the oil, type of treatment, or a component beyond your easy reach had to do with its failure.
As it stands, I will continue to use it.  
This clarinet had dangerous-looking striations on the surface, where the grain was perking a white residue and I was very concerned about its rehab.  I don't often rush a restoration, but felt it prudent on this clarinet, and frankly, I'm glad I acted quickly.  We'll never know if it mattered.  Allegedly, this clarinet has been neglected for a long enough time that it may have cracked well before now if it were going to.  I know how to read a grain, but different manufacturers used different blanks, based upon economics and experience.  While Harry Pedler was not a glorified proponent of wood, he certainly had plenty of experience picking blanks that were well seasoned, and bored correctly, in his early tenure as a builder.  I tend to believe that he dictated an imperative to MBIC at some point, and I would like to believe that the reason a severely neglected clarinet survived without cracking had something to do with management's ability to listen, or their own experience--and likely a combination of the two.  I'll never know, and these are just theories, of course.
What I do know is that professional-level MBIC Pedlers are among the most under-valued instruments on the market.  The routing of the spring pockets is much better than on a lot of high end clarinets (and most players will never even see them, so why the trouble?)  And the fit and finish of the keys is extraordinary--especially on this one. 

I even have a student model hard rubber "American" that is much better built than most student instruments I've worked on, made after the war (both American and French), in terms of fit and finish, and clarity of sound and intonation is on par with more advanced horns.

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Offline windydankoff

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2017, 06:51:10 AM »
drill bits are fine. I'm not looking for precision. Also, the depth of the hole, or a picture of how much it protrudes into the bore.

This may be interesting to compare with Pruefer when it's up and running. Thanks!
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Offline Windsong

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2017, 06:35:30 PM »
For those who may have caught the post I listed last nite (and deleted this morning), regarding the 55.5mm barrel, and beginning a WTB thread (which I also deleted) you'll understand why I did so as you keep reading, and hopefully you can laugh with me, instead of at me, though I certainly deserve the latter.

While I'm humbled to have to admit it, an amature repair duped me into not examining the barrel closely enough in good light, and led me to draw erroneous conclusions. 

I was CERTAIN that the barrel was an unoriginal, cobbled-together "grandpa special"; a barrel that looked the part, but was essentially an unsuccessful, backyard attempt made by someone with intermediate woodworking and mettalurgical skills to restore playability to a clarinet whose barrel either got damaged or went missing. I now believe quite otherwise.

At some point, a barrel socket ring fell off, as they often do, and was fitted in reverse, and re-anchored.  Reverse fitment is common by non-technical folks, but typically this is easy to spot, as a good many manufacturers' rings flare up just a smidgen on the inside lip, and chamfer at the edge of the barrel.  These do, as well, but only minimally and are nearly symmetrical.  

Because the ring land is bevelled, the ring would not slide up the whole way, so the previous owner filled the 1mm+ gap in with something resembling hard wax, perfectly color matched--instead of determining it had been installed in reverse, himself.

Due to my lack of initial scrutiny, I took the overhang of the ring, the non-standard aluminium ring construction, the unusually short length, the slight off-center boring and less-than-stellar chimney machining as solid indicators that there could be no way this was the original barrel.

I WAS WRONG, and here is how I realised it:

This AM, just to be sure what length replacement barrel I would need for certain (I'd assumed something in the 63-66mm range), I fitted the current 55.5mm one to the top joint and took the measurement from the top to the dead centre of F#.  I got a reading of 6 15/16"-- a hair short for a LP Bb, but within range of the standard of 7-7.25".  I was stunned, and knowing I had made a premature declaration, but not yet having the facts, I deleted the erroneous hypotheses and set about formulating new ones and trying to find my error.

It was at this time that I began very close inspection of the ring, and realised that it appeared as if it had been installed upside-down.  I freed the stuck ring with mineral spirits, excised the waxy filler, and flipped the ring, and it fit flush.

I still think I may need a slightly longer barrel (59mm, perhaps), but I'm confident that the barrel may be original, even if the rings are not.  I attribute the slightly off centre boring to just that--"Monday or Friday's work", the less-than-stellar chimney "machining" to be anything from careless removal of food debris by metal tools to rough separation of a once-stuck barrel, or a combation of factors.  Who knows...and right now--who cares.

The lesson for me here today is that it's easy to drive off the side of a mountain if you drive around, hot on the throttle and with faulty brakes.

Expert bubblegum welder, and Pedler Pedler.

Offline Lisa

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2017, 08:24:18 PM »
Well Windsong, your learning lesson is my learning lesson, as I had no idea that a ring had a right was and a wrong way.  i'm glad you took the time to write all that up, so I learned something without having to learn it the hard way.  Thanks!
I'm definitely laughing with you, and not at you.  it'll be interesting to listen to its intonation once you get it all put back together, maybe it'll just work the way it is, and you won't need a slightly longer barrel.  fingers crossed for you!
Lisa  Upper Michigan

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Offline windydankoff

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2017, 08:34:22 PM »
I had a hard rubber Pedler made circa 1950. It also had a shorter than normal barrel, about like yours. It was the original. And it was correct overall because the upper joint had extra length on top. I donated the horn to local school because it didn't sound like anything special. But, the intonation was superb.
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Offline Windsong

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2017, 07:37:12 PM »
Well Windsong, your learning lesson is my learning lesson, as I had no idea that a ring had a right was and a wrong way.  i'm glad you took the time to write all that up, so I learned something without having to learn it the hard way.  Thanks!
I'm definitely laughing with you, and not at you.  it'll be interesting to listen to its intonation once you get it all put back together, maybe it'll just work the way it is, and you won't need a slightly longer barrel.  fingers crossed for you!
Lisa,
This barrel should clean up nicely.  I can remove tool marks, and smooth things up a bit, and the outer wood and inner bore, themselves, are both quite nice.  The length of the barrel creates a 1/16-5/16" deficit from other low pitch Bb sopranos I've recorded the lengths of, but as I mentioned in the sticky thread, there are other factors that influence pitch, like tone hole size.  Since this one has a few oddball tone holes, perhaps it cheats the standard formulas.  Once I fit it with new pads and key corks, and return it to play, I'll spec it up, and report back.
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Offline Windsong

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2017, 07:33:13 PM »
I got the triple bladder pads in tonite, and will spend time within the next week fitting, floating and regulating them.  We'll see if they are any better than double bladder pads, or whether the extra 30c per pad is merely "snake oil".  Even at $5.10 extra, what's the harm, right?  One has to try out the new "merch", from time to time, and I cannot buy a sandwich for that paltry price.
Last night, I spent a little time removing flat springs and regulation corks, and polishing a couple of the keys. 
These keys are going to be absolutely beautiful.  This clarinet was not played much, as there is no discernable wear on any of them.  What a find...
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Offline Lisa

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Re: A New Aquisition: Mid 1930s MBIC Pedler
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2017, 08:30:58 PM »
I’m interested in how the triples work for you.  I have many clarinets needing new pads.  I’ve got some die cut synthetic ‘leather’pads, and some simple bladders that came as part of a package deal with repadding tools i bought.
A little over five bucks certainly isn’t a big deal, it would be money welll spent if they’re an improvement over normal bladders.
Lisa  Upper Michigan

Everything will B(b)-Fine, at The Clarinet Pages

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