The Theatre Organ Technical List

TPOTech List Charter and Guidelines

Purpose:  TPOTech is a discussion list primarily for the technicians, owners and builders / restorers of theatre pipe organs, and for those that desire to increase his/her knowledge of the proper way of restoring, installing, maintaining, and repairing these instruments.  Other subscribers may include suppliers and those who are interesting in getting more information regarding personal and/or organizational theatre organ installations.

For the mighty theatre pipe organs of the 1920’s and 1930’s to survive and maintain at least a semblance of originality, knowledgeable technicians and repair personnel must be available.  It is recognized that quality professional organ building firms exist, but in many cases either financial or geographical constraints require local individuals to undertake repairs and installation of private or organizationally owned organs.  It is the goal of this list to provide educational opportunities for its members so that installations will be in accordance with accepted professional and original techniques.  Also, technical approaches used in theatre pipe organ building are occasionally quite different than those used in pipe organs used in churches, auditoriums, concert halls, etc.  This list will help provide information and direction aimed specifically at theatre pipe organs, per se.

Membership:  The membership of TPOTech is comprised mainly of professional organ builders / restorers and knowledgeable non-professionals well known in the Theatre Organ technical world.  Due to the makeup of the list we expect a “professional” attitude and conduct from the members of the list.  This is not a “Chat” list, but one where information can be shared and questions can be answered in a “professional” manner.  Since a number of the list members are also members of the American Institute of Organbuilders we suggest that everyone read the AIO “Code of Ethics”, available at, and apply those ethics to their conduct on this list.

For those interested in installing their own Theatre Organs, this list is a place to ask questions and share information that will help others in their own projects. It is a place to share what we have done, what works, suggestions for what might be an "easier" way of proceeding on a specific project, where to go to for new and used ("experienced") parts, and, in some cases, where to avoid getting parts.  Members of the list are expected to post using their real names rather than hiding behind "handles". There should be no need for bashfulness!

Information Resource:  TPOTech is also a place where individuals can ask questions without being belittled or ridiculed.  It is hoped that postings to the list will be of a thoughtful and well reasoned nature and for the most part will discuss the technical side of building and repair of theatre organs. While it is recognized that opinions will differ on the way or suitability of accomplishing a repair task, it is expected that all list members will have the ability to disagree without being disagreeable!  One-line replies are discouraged, as is excessive quoting. “Freedom of speech” is not applicable to this list if such speech belittles, attacks, or insults the person or opinions of another list member.  Absolutely no flaming will be allowed - any person flaming will be removed from the list immediately and permanently without any recourse.

Advertising:  Suppliers and professional organ builders are encouraged to be members of this list. Their technical “know-how” is greatly appreciated by those of us who are amateur builders. However, it is requested that folks in these areas do not use this list as a forum for advertising. A one-time announcement of a new product or service is welcome but repeated advertisements are prohibited.  Bashing of fellow builders or suppliers is prohibited. Likewise, list members who may have had a bad experience with a professional should recognize that it may have been a one-time experience.While generalizations about a particular builder or supplier is not appropriate for this list, a factual commentary on a less than successful result using a particular approach, technique or part is appropriate and likely of interest to the other list members.

Suitable Topics:  Theatre organ building and repair is a fairly narrow topic, but should provide educational diversity for the list membership.  Examples of topics suitable for exploration include:


1.        Variances among manufacturers in pipe and chest design.

2.        Desirability of and consideration in re-specification

3.        Metal vs. PVC winding conductors

4.        Hide vs. fish glue

5.        CPL vs. zephyr for primary pneumatics

6.        Wood patching and repair

7.        Releathering techniques for all sizes of pneumatics and regulators

8.        Sources for restoration parts

9.        Pneumatic vs. electronic relays

10.    Refinishing and décor techniques

11.    Pipe repair and voicing

12.    Tonal finishing and regulation

13.    Pipe chamber design and layout

14. Necessity for excellence in craftsmanship with attention to the historic details of the manufacturer


Historical aspects of the Theatre Organ are also appropriate for this list as many of the members have historical knowledge that needs to be archived and passed on to newer, younger people in this field.  And we may “stray” slightly off-topic at times with subjects such as recording techniques, etc. that are of interest to members of the list  Performance technique discussions are outside of the range of this list.


Discussion of electronic augmentation of theatre pipe organs will be permitted, but discussion of fully electronic instruments is better handled by the EORG-L list.  Discussion of topics other than theatre pipe organs are better handled by one of other organ chat lists on the Internet including, but not limited to:


EORG-L  - Electronic Organs

PipeChat - church and classical organs

PIPORG-L, the "grand-daddy" of the organ mailing lists

Theatreorgan-L – un-moderated list of Theatre Organs

Organchat – church and classical organs

List Traffic:  Due to the nature of the discussions we do not expect this list to be a “heavy traffic” list such as some of the “Chat” lists above.  We do not discourage members from posting to the list but we also realize that we may go for some days without any postings. 


Please DO NOT cross post with other lists as much of what it covered on this list may not be of interest to the other lists and most of the members of this list are also subscribers to at least one of the general organ mailing lists.


List Format:  This list is available as both individual mailings and as a daily digest. Postings will be archived and available on a private web site available only to the members of the list.  The default REPLY is set to send your replies back to the list since not only a person asking a question will be interested but also others on the list may benefit from what you are saying. This way, the reply will also get into the list archives as a source for future reference.  Because of the archiving of the posts, please change the subject line in your postings when the subject has strayed away from what it was originally. This will aid anyone of us who are looking for something specific in the archives.

Attachments: Please be aware since most people use fairly recent email clients that will handle photos and other graphic formats, attachments are allowed on this list. We hope that they will only be used on occasion but we do realize that in the process of explaining something a photo or a PDF file could be of great help. Members receiving the Plain Text Digest version of the list will find a URL to the attachment as part of the posting in the Digest. The Plain Text Digest will not be filled with "goobly-gook" from an Attachment as happens at times on other lists.

Subscriptions:  To Subscribe go to the Subscriptions page.  Please note that the "Subscriptions page” is actually the sign-up page for the list on the list server.  Besides signing up for the list using the form on the list server page new members MUST also send an email to requesting admittance to the list.  In this email you must verify that you have read these guidelines and agree to comply with them.  New members must also give the reasons for their interest in joining the list.  Posting from new members will be MODERATED for a period of time until they become “known” to the other members of the list.

These guidelines have been written by: Bob Acker, David Scribner, Tim Bovard with suggestions from Doug Powers and Carlton Smith.

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9/18/2005 - ©