Airtight Uilleann Pipes

Airtight Uilleann Pipes

Is it possible to ever make a leather uilleann pipe bag fully airtight??
Having placed the bag that I use under water it was obvious that there was air escaping from it though thousands of tiny holes in the leather - this was despite the fact that I just had it returned from my local maker who had just sealed it from the inside using a latex solution. The amount of air loss was tiny, but I would still like to know if there is anything that can be done to prevent it.
Thanks

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

The best bag I’ve had for bellows based pipes was a double layered hide one. It was stitched with wire and was very airtight. I think there is always going to be slight leaks from any thin material. I wouldn’t recommend sticking the bag in water though you can do some real damage, make any leaks worse and dislodge any solution inside. What prompted you to try sticking it in water? I hope your stocks didn’t go in the water too?

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

See Ray Sloan’s Small Pipes Survival Guide: The full monty can be downloaded from his website in pdf format at:
http://www.ray-sloan.com the bag comes under section 2.

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

Pipes under water? Must look like an octopus.

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

You say the amount of air loss was tiny - so what is the problem? You might well be losing more elsewhere.

It is possible to end up worrying about something which might appear to be wrong in a technical sense, but which is not really a problem that needs to be tackled.

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

GHB Bags are very air tight, with corks in and blown up the bag will remain inflated and hard for a few minutes.
Might I suggest that you try using anhydrous lanolin (wool fat) that you warm up until liquid and apply as seasoning.
This is very effective for GHB bags except that it seals the bag completely not allowing moisture exchange, which would not be a problem for UPs.
PP

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

The bag is from a practise set so there was no stock, belows or chanter attached when I stuck in under water. So no octopus!!
I stuck it under water following a recommendation from a fellow experienced piper as to find out the source any air loss from the bag.

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

Dave!

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

Yeah, I noticed that as well…wasn’t gonna make a big deal - but wellcome back geez!

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

Slightly off-topic, but at a session tonight I heard someone say that "uilleann pipes" was Irish for "elbow pipes". It sounds reasonable. Can anyone confirm?

Trevor

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

Trevor wrote: "at a session tonight I heard someone say that ‘uilleann pipes’ was Irish for ‘elbow pipes’ Can anyone confirm?" Consider it confirmed.

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

Thanks, Jack

Trevor

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

Trevor

Further confirmation of ‘elbow pipes’ from Grey Larsen’s book: The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle" (page 37):

Quote: "The modern Irish pipes are referred to as the uilleann
pipes, the union pipes, or simply the Irish
pipes. Uilleann, apparently a form of an old Irish
word for “elbow,” makes reference to the right
arm’s pumping of a bellows which fills a bag, held
under the left arm, which in turn provides a continuous
supply of air to the instrument."

Cheers
Graeme

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

There is an aticle in the Pipers Review (spring04) where David Quinn talks about bellows stitching. He recommends a backing that is placed around the the edge of the leather to form essentially a washer to spread the load of the thread so it doesn’t pull through. I assume that is the source of your tiny leaks. I also assume that your bag is synthetic???due to your immersion testing. Is the smooth side in or outside?? The smooth side actually is the sealing surface, rather than the rougher side.

Two sources of my major leaks are the two valves that are in the blow pipe and clapper. I’ve taken mine apart, made new leather valves and solved some major leakage thanks to liberal application of bees wax and blue tac. Also the blow pipe fitting on the bag had to be retied as well.

I’ve had to fight leaks on my set all the time (like last Sunday nite). How long does the bag stay inflated if the chanter is fully on the knee on a popping apron and all holes are closed??? Short of getting a new L&M bag and remounting everything, the latex along the main seam should work. There are other sealants, murphys soap and melted beeswax (3/1) that seems to work. Check the C&F uiilleann pipe forum and do a search on murph’s soap- you’ll find my thread on leaky bellows and possible solutions (literally)

And to add fuel to the fire: the phrase Union Pipes were used as early as 1792 (An Piobaire, 2/2204)and could have been a corruption of something else. But then I’ve been wrong before, and continue to do so in the present.

PS- curious as to who’s the maker of the practice set?? private message is fine if you feel like you want to mention it in public.

Happy piping-if they were easy, everyone one would have a set=somehow that doesn’t read correctly ;-)

from another leaker-Fel

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Re: Double Dog Pipes

I heard a radio program about some Eastern European piper who maintainted that dogskin made the best bags and his bag was made out of a double dog-skin - one inside the other. (the mind boggles - did he leave the head on? Had he tried a cat-skin inside a dog-skin?).
He added that people complained about the dog-skin so he put a goatskin on the outside.
Triple bag - that must have been airtight?

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

Your best bet is to get a new bag. I recommend Mike MacHargs pipe bags. They are made from chrome tanned elkhide (the chrome tanning procces is vital to making leather airtight). The seams are glued and then riveted. They are absolutley airtight and do not require seasoning….ever. Kirk Lynch just got a new bag for his own personal set, his original MacHarg bag lasted almost 20 years I believe with no maintenance. After messing around with bag seasoning 1-2x/year on my origianl makers bag, I got a macHarg and have never regretted it. The L&M pipe bags available from NPU also use chrome tanned elkhide and are comparable to Mike Macharg’s bags.
http://www.vermontel.net/~weepiper/

Jeff
Kansas City

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Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

I second Jeff’s comments about MacHarg bags! Absolutely trouble free. I have one on my UP that’s 9 years old and it’s still working great. I replaced a smallpipe bag that was made in the UK with a MacHarg bag and it totally transformed the the way the smallpipes performed. Outstanding!!!

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

thanks for the macharg site. what kind of knot do you use to do the final tye off on the stocks??? I’m thinking I want to get a new bag as well, PM is fine so the we won’t choke the bandwidth. Due to the euro exchange rate, the macharg bag is a great buy,

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Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

GHB Pipers tie off as follows.
Cut 1 foot piece of the twine your using, fold it into a loop and lay it across the windings on the stock at a right angle, leaving about an inch of the loop above the end of the twine. Now add a few extra turns to the stock over the loop and tie off by threading the end of the twine through the loop and pulling the two free ends of the loop until the end of the twine appears under the binding.
Trim, and jobs a good’n.

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

I was reading through ‘The Session’ older discussions and felt I had to comment on this one. I have been making pipe bags (hide) for all types of bagpipes mouth and bellows blowen(Highland, Lowland/border, smallpipes, Uilleann, Le Biniou, Czech dudy, Veuze and many more) and all my bags are 100% airtight! I have the hide double sealed at the Tannery before I receive it. I don’t season the bags after they are sewn and you don’t need to use ‘wire’ to sew them! The glue to stick the bag is important, some glues come apart after time, the size of the awl hole is to be smaller than the width of the waxed end which needs to be ‘well’ coated in a mixture of bee’s wax and another formula I prepare so as to prevent any leaks. Last if when sewing, every stitch is kept tight (not machine sewing) there should be no escape of air. When the bag is tied-in, that is when you could possibly have a leak if not tied in properly so if needed, season the bag and always rub the seasoning well into the tying around the stocks. I take time in preparing and sewing all my bags after all I wouldn’t want to start to play my pipes with air going everywhere but were it is meant to go, besides one leaky bag gets more publicity than a dozen airtight bags. (www.pipebagmaker.com) So yes, it is possible to get an airtight uilleann pipe bag.

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipes

I can certainly confirm that Jackie, I have one of your bags and its a top quality piece of work and solid as a rock. :-) Best deal out there IMHO .

Re: Airtight Uilleann Pipe Bag

The only bag I have played that is almost airtight are the David Daye bags. His bags are not leather.
He tests his bags by inflating, stopping the neck I believe with a clamp, then placing heavy weight on it for a day. It it holds air, it passes.

I have had leather bags so porous it filled the bathtub with bubbles like a wet wash cloth with trapped air. Sealing the bag helped, but it soon leaked again. Some leather is much more porous than other leather.
You can buy a bag and follow directions to cut the bag and tie in the mainstock.

~ Gary ~ playing a B flat Brad Angus set, a D 3/4 set by Kirk Lynch, and David Daye practice chanter that has been trouble free other than when I was starting and wrecked the reed.