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Old 06-04-2018, 07:06 AM   #29
Matt Willis Bagpiper
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Carrollton, TX
Posts: 542
Default Re: Polyester thread instead of hemp = game changer!

Originally Posted by Paul M Burke View Post
With regard to sewing thread on, say, tuning pins, if the condensation in the bore is not absorbed by this polyester thread does it "pool" in the bore? or find the area of least resistance and flow downwards? Will this flow of water erode the wood?
If you watch the YouTube I posted in the first post, you'll see that yes, the "water" does pool above the polyester thread. In this case, it was my practice chanter, and I had purposely given it a solid playing session without removing the top at any point to dry it out. There was a lot of spit and condensation built up and you can see it spill out when I remove the top. That being said, I was able to remove the top section with absolute ease as the polyester thread did not swell and caused no addition tension or binding (it's biggest benefit for me).

In my experience, you don't want the hemp absorbing *any* moisture, as that is exactly what causes the hemp to swell (the moisture has to go somewhere). A small amount of swelling of the hemp makes for a difficult joint to move (especially tuning chambers). A lot of swelling of the hemp could readily mean cracking your instrument.

That being said, I play my pipes *a lot*. I am fortunate enough to be a full-time professional bagpiper here in the Dallas area, and play my pipes for 60 to 90 minutes each day. Since re-wrapping my pipes in polyester, even after extended playing, there has not been enough moisture condensing on the bores of my drones to cause any sort of pooling of fluid.

I play a synthetic bag (the outlier here it would seem, preferring a simple Bannatyne medium bags to any sort of hybrid or leather bag), and I do use moisture control (the Highland Reeds MCS system to be specific). As Bruce Hitchings describes in his videos for this system, the moisture control also acts as a heat exchanger, so I find the cooler air getting to the drone is more constant regardless of outside weather and keeps my tone more stable. But in any case, I almost never have any real amount of moisture make it through this system into my drones; certainly not enough to cause any sort of pooling of fluid.

I purposely waited several months and played through a variety of weather and conditions before making my video and sharing this with everyone. Whether it's hot, cold, wet, dry... it simply didn't matter. The joints wrapped with polyester simply work better than any other material I've used. I've been playing and restoring/repairing bagpipes for over twenty years. I have re-wrapped well over a hundred bagpipes with hemp, be it real hemp, yellow unwaxed hemp, black waxed hemp, yellow waxed hemp, or some sort of combo. I've used dental floss. All sorts of different waxes. Teflon. You name it... None of these work as well as the polyester thread.

Originally Posted by Green Piper View Post
My concern would be friction of polyester on my pipesí 80 yr old tuning chambers. However, if it were waxed the friction would mostly be negated.
I wish I could go back and re-wrap some of the heirloom instruments I've had the opportunity to work on with polyester, as I can make a completely airtight fitting with less tension on the joint and no fear of future swelling to cause cracking. For these older instruments, instead of hemp seal (which has mineral oil in it, which cause impregnate itself in the wood), I use Doctor Slick cork crease by Bore Doctor, as it is a tallow-based lubricate and cannot damage the wood. It's not quite as smooth as the hemp seal (toilet ring wax), but still helps lubricate the joint.

That said, I have found no abrasive qualities to the polyester thread when wrapped as a joint. i will continue to monitor this, and will report *any* wear on the pipes should it occur. No dog in this hunt financially; I just want us all using the best materials we can for our intruments.

Yikes! Did I type enough?
Matt Willis Bagpiper
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