DIYAPASON-L Digest #888 - Thursday, September 25, 2003
One more while we're at it
  by "Drew Taylor" <>
Residence Pipe Organ For Sale (X-Posted)
  by "Dave McClellan" <>
Re: Relays
  by "Jon Buchanan" <>
Re: [Residence Organs]  Re: Relays
  by <>
Re: [Residence Organs]  Relay System
  by "Bob Loesch" <>
Re: Relay System
  by "Larry Chace" <>
RE: [Residence Organs]  Re: Relay System
  by "atos" <>

(back) Subject: One more while we're at it From: "Drew Taylor" <> Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 00:49:14 -0400   Welcome to the new members! This list has been an excellent source of information for me as I run into problems when building. I started years ago in high school building and instrument from scratch, which started as a small 49 note tabletop organ and eventually evolved into a 5 rank 2 manual/pedal instrument with an expressive swell division and a MIDI playback system. The frame for the little tabletop organ somehow became the base for the manuals and the rest of the casework and whatnot was built around it. It is all electro-mechanical action including relays and switches, so being an electrical-engineering major helped somewhat. The pipework is mostly what I found on the organtrader or locally, usually sub-deal kind of stuff, but I lucked out and most of it sounds quite listenable. To start with almost all the wood was shelf quality pine which looked like a bunch of basement shelves made to hold wind and look like an organ. The blower(s) are three furnace draft inducers, two to up the air volume and one to bring up the pressure to about 5". Since I haven't found a blower locally, I'm still using them.   When I started I knew little about how things really worked (like thinking I could build a tabletop organ), but as I started thinking about what I wanted it to do, I started having to solve problems and eventually learned a great deal purely from problem-solving experience, and working at an organ shop. Many times I have spent months building windchests and other componets only to tear them up and rebuild them in order to get things working the way I want them to. As I learned how to do things the "right" way over time, I would junk whatever I built wrong and do it again correctly. The result was a functioning organ that is a conglomerate of aging parts that have been affixed to eachother to function in an organ-like manner. Not exactly a showpiece but a great project to learn on and can still fill the house with the sounds of the great classics.   I have been expanding and playing with this same instrument for years and have not yet purchased an instrument built by somone else (which I hope to do once I get more space). Most hobbyists I have met purchased an instrument when they were younger, got it to work and maybe expanded it. I haven't met anyone else who started out building an organ from scratch, is there anyone out there who has some early experience doing = this?   PS. That small blower which someone posted here as being listed on Surplus Center's website sold out in a ~week. Incredible!   Sorry for the excessive text!   -Drew Taylor    
(back) Subject: Residence Pipe Organ For Sale (X-Posted) From: "Dave McClellan" <> Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 07:25:26 -0400   I am retiring Friday 9/26 and we will be moving and downsizing. My = current 2/10 residence instrument is not part of our plans in the future. So we = are offering it up for sale, asking $4000 or best offer. The instrument is currently playing and being used every day for practice. It is located in =   Atlanta, Georgia.   Unlike in some other situations, there is plenty of time to remove it. It =   seems to me that lots of organs are lost because they must be removed at = the last minute. Also, this would be a very simple removal, since the organ = was never really installed - it is sitting in my basement, which has an = outside door. I would like it removed before we put our house up for sale after = the first of the year, but even that is negotiable. All components will go through a standard 32" door.   My web site has all the details of construction, photos, links to the specifications, history of the component "donor" organs, and even some removal pictures. See   The major components came from a 6-rank Hook and Hastings mortuary organ (1929) and a 3 rank Wicks chancel extension. The console is a 1978 Schantz 2 manual rocker = tab type with mechanical combination action (4 generals, 4 divisionals for Great, Swell, Pedal). Has toe studs for generals and pedal plus tutti and =   Great to Pedal. Has Swell pedal and Crescendo pedal. Operates on 3.75 = and 4" of wind - ideal for residence - gently voiced.   The blower is a 1HP Spencer, 220v single phase in an enclosure. The relay =   is electromechanical. The rectifier is a 50-amp Astron. The Wicks portion =   uses Direct Electric action. The H&H portion has been converted to electromechanical (Reisner 601's), and the larger pipes use Reisner or = Klann DVAs. The string and trumpet offsets are electropnematic.   All components plug together using 50-pin TELCO connectors. It is "Plug = and Play" - easily moved and setup.   This instrument is VERY compact. The Wicks 3-rank chest is about 2'x7. = The H&H portion uses 5 individual chests each about 1'x1'x7'. There are also two 16' Bourdon offsets, an 8' String offset, and an 8' Trumpet offset. These are mounted horizontally. The Bourdons are professionally mitered = to fit under an 8' ceiling. There are two reservoirs and two Arndt termolos. = One reservoir is a supply house type rubber cloth top, and the other is a Wicks that was releathered professionally about 5 years ago.   Additional equipment, which is included in the deal: o 6-stage swell engine, supply house type o Set of swell shades and frame, about 6' x 7' o Small Moller reservoir, excellent condition o Large box of 20' Telco cables with connectors o 3 50-pair 50' (I think) extension cables with connectors on both ends (Male, Female) o Extra 8-note offset chest, uses DVAs, planned to use for 8' Open = Diapason basses o 8' Open Diapason 1-6, not currently used (ran out of space) o Extra components (Klann large DVAs, relays, Reisner gang switches, etc.) o Supplies (clamps, cork gaskets, flanges, flex tubing, etc.) o Clear "organ wood" from dismantled windchests and bearers o Extra pipework from broken sets o Console platform (on castors)   $4000 or best offer before 1/1/04 takes it. I will also place it on eBay = if there are no acceptable offers by 12/1/03.   No parting out - take it all - my help with removal is included! Extra = help will be needed for the console and blower.   If you are within a reasonable driving distance, call me to setup a time = to come and play it.   Please ask questions OFFLIST. Email me at Telephone is 770-399-6704   Dave   _________________________________________________________________ Instant message with integrated webcam using MSN Messenger 6.0. Try it now =   FREE!    
(back) Subject: Re: Relays From: "Jon Buchanan" <> Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 07:26:05 -0400   Has anyone here tried or seen the Westacott relay system?   Seems like quite the system.... Judging by the telephone number, I'd guess they are physically near artisan...   ~jon    
(back) Subject: Re: [Residence Organs] Re: Relays From: <> Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 08:17:09 EDT   In a message dated 9/25/2003 7:31:22 AM Eastern Standard Time, writes:     > Has anyone here tried or seen the Westacott relay system? >   I just sent them my spec for a quotation - as well as Artisan.   Keith    
(back) Subject: Re: [Residence Organs] Relay System From: "Bob Loesch" <> Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 08:02:39 -0700   Hello John. Your 'YAPPI' system looks like it would do one of my projects =   quite well. I'm building a band organ from a bunch of leftover theatre organ parts, and was trying to figure out how to do exactly what you have done in your system: control each rank as if it were a separate instrument. Because band organs are so expensive (and I'm retired, and on =   a fixed income) I have opted for 'MIDI-only' control, no paper rolls. While this doesn't fall into the 'home organ' realm, it's definitely a pipe organ... ";-)   For Craig: I had a fairly extensive email correspondence with Artisan, = and have found them very responsive and willing to help. For my larger (2m/15rk) theatre organ project, I'm leaning toward them right now, as = they have been most willing to take the time to discuss and explain their product to my non-technical self.   At 02:25 PM 9/24/2003 -0700, John Haskey wrote:     >On Wed, 24 Sep 2003 wrote: > > > I was unable to really get consistent advice from anybody. So many > > amateurs seem to be standing in the right place at the right time for > > some great relay control system to simply fall into their lap for = free. > > I'm never that lucky. I'm looking into a used Peterson system now, = but > > it won't have the MIDI features - which have suddenly become so > > desirable to me - nor will it have the combination action. > >I've mentioned in the past what I'm using at the chests, admittedly it is >a home-brew system but my friend who developed it has had the prototype = up >and running for years. It is entirely MIDI based. > >I had planned to design and build my own MIDI console to drive it when I >luckily came upon almost *exactly* what I wanted on eBay of all places! >I am in the process of writing it up for my website but in short it is >a three manual and pedal drawknob console with combination action. The >console itself has small microcontrollers in it which handle various >tasks. A computer is completely optional although I will use one for >recording and playing back sequences. The gentleman that sold me the >console designed and built it himself using 'professional' components, >Peterson Manuals, OSI Pedalboard, Harris Drawknobs, etc. More info just >as soon as I get some free time to update my website. > >As time goes by I'll see how well all this works. So far so good. > >I'm a software engineer so I realize this route may not be feasible for >everybody but I'm happy to share what I know about this stuff. My friend >is also interested in finding a few more test sites for his pipe driver >boards before deciding whether to make them generally available. > >I've mentioned this before but a photo of my new (eBay) console is at: > > > >a description of the MIDI driver boards is at > > > >(Note that the email address for Craig is no longer valid I believe) > >Good luck in your quest! > > ---john.   Regards, Bob    
(back) Subject: Re: Relay System From: "Larry Chace" <> Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 13:53:06 -0400   It's been interesting reading the various notes about relay systems and their prices. As a home organ builder myself (1 rank and counting!), I = can well appreciate the difficulty in finding a control system that does what is needed and is also affordable on a hobby budget. I've designed and built several different types of relay systems, MIDI-based and otherwise, and I know that for people with the experience and facilities to do so, it can be a very interesting and satisfying type of project. (As can = building your own pipes or windchests or whatever.)   I've also been involved in the design and production of some portions of a commercially-available control system, and from that viewpoint things look somewhat different!   It is one thing to design and built your own system, but to do so in the context of actually selling a product, providing support for a wide range of types of customers (and making a living doing so!), is quite another thing. Some folks here have commented on the high price of some vendor's offerings, something that, most likely, reflects the vendor's actual costs of doing business (such as providing quotes on jobs that turn out to go to other vendors! ;-). I know of no vendor of organ control systems who is getting rich in that line of business -- the systems are often customized and are built in such small numbers that there is no way to provide the low-costs components that we are used to seeing available in retail = stores. No vendor (that I know of) makes circuit boards in runs of 10,000 or 100,000 (off-shore, of course, using very cheap labor), so that they can sell of $9.95 each. I'm actually amazed how *low* the prices really are, given the low volume and high cost of production and development.   None of this is meant as an excuse for the vendors' pricing but is = intended only as a possible explanation. As organ hobbyists, we can often (well, *sometimes*) find used pipework that suits our needs or can be re-voiced. Other components such as windchests and reservoirs can also be found at = low prices, though they might need some work. The technology of these items hasn't changed much in the last 20 or 40 or 60 or 80 or 100 years, and so the items are pretty much "up to date" and meet our expectations.   Control systems (stop-switching and combination actions) that are = available on the used parts market are usually of an older technology than many of = us want (or need). Only a handful of "multi-level memory" combination = actions were ever built in the old days (the ones with dual setterboards and a big switch to select which one was to be used). No old techonology player systems exist that will do a real-time performance recording, ready for immediate playback (EXCEPT for the existing Austin roll perforator!), so = if you want that feature, you'll need modern technology. If you want to control MIDI sound modules, you'll need new stuff.   Keith Zimmerman mentioned some of the quotes he got for a system for his 2-manual instrument, ranging from about $2,000 to 5,000 (but some of those not include MIDI or the combination action). By comparison, if Keith were to buy the note relays and stop switches brand-new (the well-known Reisner items), they would run to more than $5,000, and this also does not provide MIDI or a combination action. Keith would also have to become an expert = in wiring those switches! ;-) So, it's perhaps the *new* aspect, rather = than the *technology* aspect that drives the cost so high.   Another aspect of the modern systems is that most of them are intended for sale to professional organbuilders, who (the vendors hope!) will buy many systems from the vendor and who will therefore need little help in = ordering the system, installing it, and fixing any problems. We home builders probably will construct only one or two instruments, and so we will be "newbies" to the control system vendors. We also do not represent much in the way of potential future business (except, perhaps in the sense of word-of-mouth advertizing!).   Those professional organbuilder have some requirements that we home = builder do not have, things related to the control system's ability to operate for many years and without any service calls (which cost the organbuilder money). These considerations also affect the vendor's costs in producing and supporting the control systems. (A few of the solid-state control systems have been around for 20 or 30 years, but most have yet to prove themselves in the long run.)   As usual, I've blathered on for way too long! (Back to writing documentation...)   Larry      
(back) Subject: RE: [Residence Organs] Re: Relay System From: "atos" <> Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 22:42:53 -0500   Aside from the cost factor of a relay, there is the aspect of proprietary vs: off-the-shelf technology. I have dealt with process and office = building automation computers for many years. The main drawback to the console/chamber computers offered today is that the parts will be obsolete at some time in the near future. Correlating to building automation, the Johnson Control and Honeywell computers we were installing in office buildings in the late 1980's are now obsolete. The TI processors have not been available for quite some time. Most of the projects are being retrofitted with the next generation Metasys or whatever, at a hefty cost. The computers used in organs use the same basic technology, motherboards = and chips as automation computers. For the average home organ builder, a $5000 investment every 5-10 years, just for the relay, is a big item. This is = why I elected to stay with a diode matrix relay. If need be, I can get parts = at Radio Shack and recreate the entire thing on a hand-wired board. I know = that companies like Artizan and Peterson have provided a good product and good support, but if the chip manufacturer stops making the parts, these companies are up the creek and so are you, unless you want to purchase the new upgraded technology.     -----Original Message----- From: []On Behalf Of Larry Chace Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2003 12:53 PM To: Residence Organ List Subject: [Residence Organs] Re: Relay System     It's been interesting reading the various notes about relay systems and their prices.