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Seasoning Bellows with Hardie's Airtight - anyone in the EU?

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  • Seasoning Bellows with Hardie's Airtight - anyone in the EU?

    Is there some pipemaker or piper in Europe with good experience and knowledge about bellows seasoning with Hardie's Airtight?

    The maker who made the bellows actualy seasoned them with Airtight soon after he made them and suggested to me the seasoning again, since it apparently dried out and that's probably the reason why I have problem with the bellows leak somewhere, hard to detect. Since the original maker lives overseas about 8000 km from me, I am looking for someone in Europe to do the job.


  • #2
    I don't really think Airtight is a suitable seasoning for bellows leather, and I wouldn't recommend using it. How long have you had the bellows? I would do your best to trace the leak, looking especially at the inlet valve which is often problematic. If you're quite certain it's the leather, I would honestly recommend re-leathering or replacement.

    If the Airtight was actually sealing the bellows, you should be able to fix it by adding a small amount of hot water, sloshing it around, and pouring it off - the amount should be small so that the amount poured out is very little.
    -- Formerly known as CalumII


    • #3
      I don't have a huge amount of bellows experience, but I have plenty with Airtight, and I know it's designed to help soak up moisture. If it doesn't have regular contact with moisture, it drys up and goes flaky, so I'd agree with Calum about it not being suitable for bellows.
      In the maintenance section of the LBPS book, More Power To Your Elbow, it recommends using a mixture of melted beeswax and neatsfoot oil, but, as Calum says, check the inlet valve first, where most leaks occur.
      I had a set of bellows seasoned for me by Iain Kinnear, (as I say, I've not much bellows experience, so I went to a professional), but he was pretty direct with me that if the actual leather needs seasoning, (which it did), it's a temporary fix, and you're probably going to have to get new bellows or get them releathered in the not too distant future.
      Good luck with them.
      Callander Pipe Band FB page Please click and "like". Thanks
      Lowland and Borders Piper's Society


      • #4
        I have used beeswax in turpentine to touch up the bellows for my Scottish Smallpipes. I rather like the idea of the beeswax in in neatsfoot oil…not quite so smelly.

        if you have have to re-leather the bellows, I would reach out for assistance to a known builder. You don’t want to end up with too thin leather or leather that is porous and not airtight.


        • #5
          Thank you very much for help. I will try your suggestions.


          • #6
            I've been using pure neatsfoot oil for decades, at least five years or more between applications. Can't imagine that Airtight would be suitable or recommended for bellows.



            • #7
              Neatsfoot oil and bees wax seems to be the old standard approach but it can seep through the leather and stain your shirt. I am not sure of the recipe but I have heard that some makers use a dry bellows set up and seal it with silicone caulking thinned with methyl alcohol. It sounds messy and I would be concerned about gluing my bellows shut, so I second (third) the recommendation to ask a maker. You might also find some suggestions on a bellows pipe maker's website.

              Good luck with it.


              • #8
                A couple of years ago I tried to learn Northumbrian piping. I bought a secondhand set of Burleigh pipes. The bellows leather and bag leather were saturated with oil to the point that the previous owner had wrapped the bag in plastic film. Overall..a greasy mess that stained clothing, skin, …

                All because someone was a bit heavy handed with trying to treat/seal the leathers..


                • #9
                  I should have thought of this before, but once again, the Lowland and Border Piper's Society is your friend. Here is a collection of expert opinions on bellows maintenance for your consideration

                  Last edited by Kevin; 09-30-2021, 12:16 PM.