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Susan Morley

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  • #76763
    fred-lockett
    Participant

    Well what can I tell you? I’m new here but old. My old harp is even older than me, and was made by someone who stamped “Morley” at the bottom of the sound box, in the back. I’m desperately seeking to restore her. I’ll call her Susan for now.

    Susan-my-Morley is made of mahogany. Her bent and broken neck is two ply, just over an inch in thickness – same for the pillar. The lap-joint that held the two together failed as did the neck block on her shoulder! With 30 strings and bridge pins, and 30 sharping blades (yes blades) some of which are bent or missing, as is one string… I’ll need new, vintage parts, new strings too… But what to buy and from where? Newbie questions!

    How important is restoration as opposed to modernization to make it more fun to play? Where does one source scarce parts like blades? Or would it be better to purchase used and perhaps vintage, older design parts like levers suitable to this old harp? Is this harp valuable? Will the restoration process be something I’ll both value and enjoy?

    And finally, (and in this case to begin with), what about making a new neck? I have price quotes from various guys who claim to be good with wood. How hard can it be to make a neck?

    Ah the joy of restoration! 🙂

    #76764
    Sherri Matthew
    Participant

    Hi there Fred,

    There’s a lot of helpful people here that can offer better advice than me, since I’m not a harp builder, but those sharping blades do look a lot like the blades on my wire harp. Mine was built by Triplett Harps in CA in 2009. I don’t know if they sell parts or not, but it might not hurt to ask. Their web site is: http://www.triplettharps.com/, with contact info at the bottom of the page.

    I bought a complete set of replacement strings for my Paraguayan harp from Vermont Strings. http://www.vermontbiz.com/company/vermont-strings. They were very helpful, because my harp didn’t have a builder name, model or anything I could refer to, so they gave me advice on how to measure it and then worked up a set of nylon strings appropriate for my instrument.

    Beyond that, I don’t know much about neck repair, etc. Hopefully someone else here will be able to chime in and advise you.

    Best of luck to you getting your harp fixed!

    #76765
    Tacye
    Participant

    Firstly, Morleys are still in business and may be able to help with blades from their part box, if that is the way you want to go. http://www.morleyharps.co.uk/

    I can’t tell from that picture which vintage or model of Morley you have – they made small harps with blades for most of the 20th century and say the design changed in the 1960s. I am pretty sure that this is a picture of a Morley for instance http://www.raretunes.org/performers/patuffa-kennedy-fraser/

    Your harp is not valuable, and anything you can do to make it playable would be fair game. If you are replacing the neck, I would suggest at least 2 ply, use the old one as a pattern and place the blades or levers only after stringing her up. I too have an old Morley in pieces – called Richard III as there was something going wrong with its shoulder…

    #76766
    fred-lockett
    Participant

    Wow thanks Tacye for that photo of a circa 1915 Morley which was apparently strung with gut. I had no idea my harp could be that old! Unfortunately Clive Morley Harps was unable to provide drawings, photos or parts for mine.

    I discovered another that looks very similar on display at the Historical Harp Society of Ireland, but theirs has a round back. Mine is a trapezoid in cross section. http://www.irishharp.org/barra/barra.html

    Fitting blades from a wire strung harp might be something to explore! Thanks Sherrie!

    #76767
    Tacye
    Participant

    I’m sorry but the square box makes me think yours might not be among the more venerable of Morleys. Mine is an ex-Clarsach Society (founded 1932) rental harp and has the round back.

    A few more pictures for you!
    http://www.scotiaphilately.com/site/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=741
    http://www.music.umich.edu/research/stearns_collection/Collection_item.php?id=1058
    http://archive.org/stream/simplemethodofle00prae#page/n0/mode/1up

    And another model:
    http://metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections/180015447
    http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/15565/lot/252/ (nb the brace under the neck)

    This says it is a Morley, but I suspect a Morley repair putting a new soundbox to an older (Briggs style) neck and column.
    http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/16041/lot/452/

    #76768
    Tacye
    Participant

    I make yours a 30 string harp.

    #76769
    fred-lockett
    Participant

    Eureka! . I’ll revise my posts… the person I bought it from advertised it as having 29! I can only count to 24 with shoes off! 🙂

    #76770
    fred-lockett
    Participant

    More(ly) help needed!
    I borrowed a modern #5 tuning peg and now I’m stumped. It is too large in diameter – doesn’t go into the holes drilled in my neck! There are also detail differences around the string hole area. I’m wondering if there are other types of pegs available you folks use when restoring old harps?

    #76771
    Sherri Matthew
    Participant

    I don’t know… would it be possible to use something like a Dremel tool to get the rust off the old peg and still use it? Not sure if that’s a good idea or not. Anybody else know?

    #76772

    Try this website. i think they can help you find the appropriate size.
    http://www.argentfox.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19&Itemid=10

    #76773
    fred-lockett
    Participant

    I just sent them an email, thanks! I’m thinking my pins are #4’s not 5’s as I had thought. Now it’s a question of materials. Mine must be iron, hence the rust! I’d rather have something that won’t rust.. even if it’s not of the same vintage.

    #76774
    fred-lockett
    Participant

    @Sherrie, I might have a go at them and just replace the missing, wrong size and bent ones now. That will save $50.00 or so in the short term. Eventually I’ll want them all new! 🙂 (It’s a shame to have old pitted pegs fitted into a brand new neck.)

    #76775
    Sherri Matthew
    Participant

    Hi Fred,
    That’s great, if you can make do for the moment! But yes, probably best to get new ones eventually, if they’re available. It will be nice when you have a playable instrument again. 🙂

    #76776
    Tacye
    Participant

    If you’re going to have mismatched pegs it can be helpful to put the odd ones on the Cs and Fs to help find them for tuning. Someone advised cleaning them by putting the peg into a slow drill and holding against the steel wool or whatever which seems a very good suggestion.

    Salopian strings might be able to sell you the right strings or Pilgrim. From my experience of old small harps made in the UK it will probably take something quite standard.

    #76777
    fred-lockett
    Participant

    I went out this morning to greet a flat tire! It seems a new tire is about $700.00 and I should buy four! I think the harp project is on hold for a little bit! But yes, I will try to clean up the old pegs with a drill and steel wool, or a Brillo pad and see if they shine up some. I really only need to find two to five old used #4 pegs 2,5″ or 2.75″ long. I’ll check into Salopian… I haven’t met them yet! I wonder if anyone has a lead on a nice set of 275 40 ZR 19 Pirelli tires for a Bentley? ;(

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