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Old 10-27-2019, 03:17 PM   #1
MacTallanambeann
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Default Black Casein drone bells?

Hi all,

Some time ago I posted pics of an old set of pipes on here to see if anyone knew what they were. They were imitation ivory and metal mounted. At the time it was pointed out to me that the drone bells didn't appear to be 'of a piece' with the top drone sections. At the time I assumed they were simply separate pieces of wood.

Having since acquired a couple of nice bright and shiny new sets I passed the set on to a pipe maker friend to see what he could make of them and he is in the process of remodelling them. He tells me the pipes are definitely blackwood and not of Pakistani origin but that they have been mucked around with and outfitted with very cheap and nasty imitation ivory and alloy mounts that are ill fitting and were heavily glued at some time in the distant past. The mounting, he says are probably themselves off of some Pakistani made pipe.

In addition to this he tells me that those separate drone bells were actually made of black casein. He reckons this was done professionally but is baffled as to why. Has anyone come across this as either a manufacturing or repair technique in bagpipes?
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Old 11-17-2019, 02:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Black Casein drone bells?

Looking for ideas opinions as to why on Earth this set of pipes would had been given plastic drone tops. My pipemaker friend is of the opinion, having thoroughly looked them over, that the pipes are actually made of Cocus wood and reckons they are very possibly 19th century, perhaps MacRae's, but that someone in the not too distant past bodged a mixture of cheap ill-fitting alloy and imitation ivory onto them and replaced the drone bells with what he believes to be casein. He thinks that whoever did the drone bells was a capable and possibly professional craftsman but why would you not use blackwood?
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Old 11-17-2019, 03:53 PM   #3
CalumII
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Default Re: Black Casein drone bells?

Are the drone bells threaded on? This was a feature of some MacRaes, so it's not impossible the casein is original.
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Old 11-17-2019, 05:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: Black Casein drone bells?

My friend has removed the casein and replaced it with African blackwood and he told me that the drones were threaded but that the casein tops weren't and had been glued on. He was particularly impressed with the quality of the bores of the drones and they had, from personal experience, that variance in tuning which is mentioned in regard of the replicas of Stuart Liddels pipes.

As I understand it as well it was only the bass drone on MacRae pipes that was 'tuneable', does anyone know if this was always the case or were there examples with all drone tops being adjustable?
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:34 AM   #5
CalumII
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Default Re: Black Casein drone bells?

I've seen a set where all three drones had threaded bells, FWIW. There's so much variance in his work it's hard to tell what "normal" was for him!
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Old 11-20-2019, 05:36 AM   #6
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Default Re: Black Casein drone bells?

Thanks for that information Calum. One other thing I noticed about this set and I don't know if this confirms that they were MacRae's or not is that, under the cheapish slides that someone had put on them, the tuning pins have the 'threading' that I have only normally ever seen in the hemping area, all the way down to the mounts. I say 'were' as I reckon that, without the original mounts, original drone bells and no markings to exactly attribute them they are just a fairly old set of cocuswood pipes.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:14 AM   #7
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Default Re: Black Casein drone bells?

I seem to recall there was a maker - not sure if it was MacRae - who experimented with threading the tuning chamber, so you would tune by screwing the top on and off. I've never seen such a set though. Not sure how practical it would be.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: Black Casein drone bells?

Ah no the tuning chamber on these isn't threaded but I recall that MacRae had a 'hempless' tuning pin system where the slide had a sort of sprung affair at the top and I wondered if these slides were securely mounted onto the tuning pins with a 'thread'.
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