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Black Pedalboard Finishes


stewartt
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I am assembling the bits for a house organ and have acquired a beautifully made R&C pedalboard. It looks like Willis or Compton work and has the frame and the sharps finished in black. It's in excellent condition but the black finish is wearing off in places. I am sure there will be some experts here who can advise me as to how to restore these parts to their former glory. I am very familiar with using shellac varnishes - is this how it was done?

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I am assembling the bits for a house organ and have acquired a beautifully made R&C pedalboard. It looks like Willis or Compton work and has the frame and the sharps finished in black. It's in excellent condition but the black finish is wearing off in places. I am sure there will be some experts here who can advise me as to how to restore these parts to their former glory. I am very familiar with using shellac varnishes - is this how it was done?

 

 

It's black french polish, and almost certainly from the house of Willis. Applying french polish is a painstaking business, and if there's major refinishing to do, you might consider using a modern paint instead. Some of them will give you very nearly the same result.

 

As for the sharps, whatever treatment you apply, it will begin to wear through if you give the board serious use. If you want a handsome look that will last, you might make yourself some new sharps out of mahogany. African Blackwood would probably be prohibitively expensive. You only need two tools - viz a bandsaw to cut the basic shape from your new plank and a router to put that gentle curve on the playing surface. Just why any firm expected that a painted or stained sharp would remain a coloured sharp is beyond me. Mind you, in the real heydays of churchgoing, every organ of importance could expect to be overhauled or rebuilt every twenty to thirty years.

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