DIYAPASON-L Digest #387 - Saturday, September 15, 2001
Re: [Residence Organs]  Questions about actions and chests
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(back) Subject: Re: [Residence Organs] Questions about actions and chests From: <> Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 01:46:08 EDT     In a message dated 9/13/01 9:39:01 PM, = writes:   >Hi Roy,   >Couple of thoughts for you from my experience. Moller Chests are good >AND BULKY! depending on the date they are fairly easy to re-leather and re-wire >but make no mistake this is a CHORE. Y   This was my reply I sent to the gent in part;     My Moller chest was 550# with the rack boards off it and I believe both primary boards and of course the wind plenum screwed to the underside. = These are not chests you can simply move around by yourself and flip over = andback alone while working on it.   Regarding dead notes;   dead notes can come from a variety of causes, often an electrical problem = or the pouch to the note has a hole in it. In any case, code requires if you remove the organ or alter it, all the = old cloth covered wiring must be replaced. Typically you will find green = colored cloth covered wires, hundreds of them bundled all together from the organ = to the console with no clue which wire goes where.   Pneumatic pouches;   It's not that the work is "difficult" and yes the pneumatic pouches come = out in sections, theres a foto on my web site of one with 3 pouches, it's delicate and tedious work and the other problem is the pitman chests have these little wood dowels called shifters in the rails between the various ranks inside the chest, a little leather disk goes on each end and = embedded in a small hole reemed into the wood, and sealed in with paper. The air = goes in that little cavity and "shifts" that dowel to one side or the other depending on which duplex stop is selected. There are lead tubes topside = that run all this. The dowels tend to get stuck, the little leather disks tends to dry out, = get brittle and not seal well. One of the things organ techs I know like to mention is how when (not IF) these shifters get stuck they can = *sometimes* unstick them by WHOMPING the underside of the chest with a large hunk of wood, mallet or whatever to loosen the stuck pitmans. If it doesn't then that means hunting down the one stuck by removing = bottom boards and the paper seals. This can be made worse by moving and torquing an old chest by carrying it = out of the chamber and down stairs, around corners, into a truck and the = truck ride, temperature and humidity change etc.   It takes a lot of time to rebuild one of these chests and their primary valves!   Here is what I ran into for this type of chest;   Mine had a 73 note primary valve section for the great and one for the = swell, if you don't know what primary valves are they are mounted in a board like = a 2x4 in size, the length of the chest, with bores and cross-bores in the = wood, two felt and leather disks and four leather nuts on a thin brass threaded = rod connected to a small leather pouch disk. The pouch inflates and deflates = and moves those disks in and out to control the air.   What you WILL find is the thin leather pouches will be very brittle, some =   may be leaking and also mice like to gnaw leather so there may be some = with actual holes in them. Replacing a few is a waste of time because at any = time any of the others can and will fail because they already have age on them, =   and once the chest is all up and all the pipes in, little room to work etc =   they can be a real pain to deal with.   The felt/leather disks you replace with new ones along with the 4 leather nuts and the little circle of pouch leather ( about 2" diameter) 146 = pouches and 392 disks, then adjust them for proper opening/closing clearances.   Costs for this phase I came up with;   The nuts are now made of plastic, they are about $5 / 100, the two = primary action boards will need close to 600 Leather pouches; about $60/100 the above will need 146 Fiber/felt/leather disks, about $88/ 100 you will need 146 90 OHM magnets if any are burnt out run $5   Then you rewire the magnets that control these, 73 on the sw and 73 on the = gt   The pouches inside the chest, there is one pouch for each pipe, they vary = in size, will average about $85/100 so assuming you have 7 ranks, and 2 or 3 are duplexed you might have about 500 pipes, or 500 pouches in other words.   Next, the bottom boards on the chest used cork or more likely leather gasketing, if it's still good and seals you are fortunate, if not then you =   have a lot of leather to cut to size AND then you need those hole punchers = to punch holes into the leather where the air holes and screws go through. = You may find screws for bottom boards all stripped out from overtightening to stop leaks, mine had several like that and several that were probably lost =   and replaced with other scrwork properly in the end!   It becomes in my opinion a case of a total rebuild or a replacement, because once you start piecemealing parts that are bad and leaving any = that are marginal you are begging for trouble down the road, and it can be a = real pain having to tear stuff apart to get at a leaky or non working internal part while laying on your back under a big chest.   With mine I had a romantic notion on a restoration of the pitman chest, I =   got as far as re doing the Great primary pouches and buying some of the pitman retainers and shifters before It occurred to me how annoyingly = complex this chest was and how many potential problems, leaks, cracks and other problems could develop.   It also had a cracked end rail and some other problems.   It was a factory produced item, of no historic value, so, In the end I replaced it, saved the 146 magnets and the toeboards/racking and built 4 = new 2 rank chests from the lumber so they would be easy to work on and move = by myself if need be, AND I could put two in one side and two in the other = side and have separate expression on the Gt and Sw and walkboards between each chest which was impossible with the original chest. I can lift each chest by myself, two large bung boards on them come off = with a few wing nuts, none of the rows and rows of 4" or 5" long slotted screws =   like the original bottom boards had!   This is not to say building new is cheaper, but what you build WILL work = and since it's all new it will work reliably for a long time to come. You may go with a DE action as the most simple, I chose a different way = and kept the pouches.   It's not easy to describe my modification to the original design using the =   pouch boards in email either, it's something you have to see, but the = pouches are all to be exhausted by chest magnets, no pitmans, shifters, duplexing.   As far as getting an old organ and then extensively revoicing and changing =   all of the pipe work to do what they were never designed to do, It almost sounds like buying a used car and then replacing the motor, changing the transmission, painting it a different color because the pink is ugly, replacing the rims with chrome, replacing the radio with a CD player and = so on. One winds up spending more doing that than just buying the car they wanted in the first place instead of trying to make something into = something else.     Lowering wind pressure on the above pipes;   Lowering wind pressure is very difficult! My pipes were voiced on 5" and I =   hoped I could go with a smaller blower and 4" but when I tried some on 4" they didn't work, on 4-1/2 they were windy and weak, it became clear they = HAD to be at 5" or would have to have complete revoicing. The problem with lowering pressure is you have to lower the pipe mouth cut-ups, now that is a neat trick because the metal or wood is GONE so to lower the cut ups of the mouths you have to "add" metal, what is done at = my shop is the pipe is cut at the seam of the languid, a small amount of the pipe is cut out and the pipe is resoldered to the foot. You can't do this with wood pipes, so a piece of wood has to be glued in, shaped etc. at BEST I bet you can only lower maybe 1/2" pressure without doing this work, but 4-1/2 down to 3-1/2 is just too much and can start to run into scaling and other problems since pipes are really built to work on a specific pressure, and if you are trying to get a "smaller" sound out of big pipes it just doesn' t work = well. It's like driving a car 10 MPH in 5th gear/overdrive.   The amount of labor involved with all this is in my opinion about as much = as simply having a new rank made or finding one that was made to work on a lower pressure.   RAISING pressure is a whole other thing, MUCH easier!   You could add by adding ranks on offset chests, using DE as the easiest = and simply wire the magnets in and add the air line.   Brand new pipes run about $2000 to $3,000 a rank, but as a comparison I = was quoted (by a top notch voicer) $2,400 to completely clean, repair, = revoice, with new tongues, new tuning wires, new tongue wedges for my 73 pipe Oboe rank, plus shipping to him and shipping back. I can't afford that or to = pay someone to wash, relacquer, undent and repair pipes which I can do = myself, but his policy was he had to do ALL of that work himself.   So the question there is do you buy used and spend $1000 to $2400 to make them like new or spend $2000 to $3000 to buy new to begin with...