Seasoning Bags and Bellows


Older sets can eventually start to leak as the leather bag or bellows becomes more porous.  Often this can be solved by re-seasoning them.

The seasoning used for Northumbrian pipes is easy to make and apply. When repairing older sets the recipe I use is-
  • 250ml mineral oil
  • 25g beeswax
  • 25g vaseline

Making the Seasoning

Gently heat the ingredients together until they melt. You can do this in an empty beans tin.  Take care, as the mixture is highly flamable and can also scald if you splash it onto your skin.

Once the ingredients have melted and mixed, it's worth leaving them to cool and set to check the final consistency.  For bellows, I like it to set like soft butter or margarine.  For bags, I like it to be softer and slightly runny, like double cream.  You can achieve the consistency you are aiming for by re-heating the mixture and adding in more oil or more beeswax.

How to season the bag or bellows

For bags, remove the bag cover, the chanter, drones and bellows connector.  Seal the bellows stock and drone stocks closed.  You can use corks or blutac to do this.  Melt your seasoning mixture and pour about a cupful in through the chanter stock.  Just before, and then as soon as you have poured it in, blow the bag up a little to allow the seasoning to spread around the inside of the bag easily.  Once inflated and with the seasoning poured in you can add a bung to the chanter stock to keep the bag semi-inflated. Take care not to get any of the mixture on your skin.

Work quickly to massage the mixture around the inside of the bag and along the seem.  The mixture will cool quickly.  Once thoroughly massaged, I then refit the bellows connector and inflate the bag.  I like to massage the seem again now to work the seasoning into the stitching.

The method for seasoning bellows is simliar - remove the air inlet valve and pour the melted seasoning in through it's hole.

Test to see if this has solved the problem and repeat if necessary.