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Allen TC series 50 y.o. Pedalboard Retrofit to 100 y.o. Wangerin Pipe Organ Job

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    Allen TC series 50 y.o. Pedalboard Retrofit to 100 y.o. Wangerin Pipe Organ Job

    Well, since my part of the world is sorta shut down at the moment, I have a bit more time on my hands here. I figured it would be a good time to post about a project I completed recently. All things considered, it was not all that difficult to do, but it did take a good bit of thought, planning, and putzing around to make it all work. This is a church that I play for at least twice a month, and for most all the big festival services. I’ve been playing there for 2+ years now, and I’m also the curator, tuner, and fixer of the organ. During my entire time there, I have absolutely hated the existing pedalboard, because it clanked when played, and it is not a full size one in a number of dimensions. It is enough of a difference that I was hitting wrong notes way more often than my usual percentage.


    As you can see in the photos, it is a 32 note, radiating, concave board, but smaller in all dimensions than an AGO standard one. Not a Lot smaller, but just enough that at the outside pedals, your foot is not where you expect it to be. It is real close to the size of an Allen Princess pedalboard ( perhaps that is where Allen got the idea from ? ). The organ is a 1919 Wangerin, so it was built long before the AGO put out the standards. Later this year ( maybe Much later now ? ) there is a 100th anniversary of the organ service planned, and getting everything in good order is important for that. There are several really good organists committed to taking part in that event, and I thought they should have a nice AGO pedalboard to play, since that is what they are all used to playing. Rather than fixing the 100 year old clanking, wrong dimension pedals, I sold the church a job to replace the pedalboard on it. Once I had the go-ahead, I had to locate a decent used pedalboard for it, with the contact rail included.


    Doing a replacement job on the pedalboard had been in the back of my mind since the first time I saw / played this organ. So for the last many months I have been keeping watch on all the classifieds for one that was right. From the start of my search, I had my mind pretty much made up that I wanted an older, but still in good shape, Allen TC series pedalboard for it. Older, because I wanted one with the finger style contact rail with the removable plug under it. Allen, because I think they build the nicest, highest quality pedalboards in the biz ( and “I” like how they feel when played ). Also, having owned a TC-4 long ago, I knew the wiring would be relatively straight forward to do such a retrofit. Obviously it also had to be one that was still in really nice shape, because there is no sense in replacing one old clunker with another old clunker.


    Finding an Allen pedalboard that met all my requirements was not that easy. There are plenty of Allen modern style ( magnet / reed switch type ) boards available, but I did not want to go through the more extensive job of retrofitting that system to this console. It seems that most people who part out organs are oblivious to the idea that the contact rail ( of whatever type ) with a wiring pigtail, AND the pedalboard are kind of a matched set ! Ergo, they should be sold together. At least when I part out organs, that is how I look at things.


    After a lot of looking and communicating with various sellers ( and some who should not even bother putting up ads, if answering questions is too much trouble ! ), I found the prefect board. Of course it had to be in western Pennsylvania, about 680 miles from me. Lots of ways of getting it to the middle of WI were considered and rejected for cost or time reasons. A long time ago I used Greyhound Package Express to ship a Yamaha EX-42 bench out to New Jersey, and that was both economical and trouble free. I figured I would see if they could handle a pedalboard, but thought it might be too large. It turns out that it comes in under the maximum size with room ( but not much ) to spare. It was however right at the 100 pound maximum weight. After double checking everything, we decided to give them a try for this job.


    In the years since I had used last used Greyhound, things have changed so that they now only do Package Express shipping and receiving from actual terminal locations, and not all their bus stop locations. That means that the nearest station to me was in Milwaukee WI, about 100 miles away. Not a huge deal for me to drive down there to pick it up ( I like driving after all ), but the time and cost had had to be figured into the final price of the job. For the seller, it was only a 15 mile trip to the drop off terminal, so he was willing to do that with no problem.


    The seller and I worked out how he was going to pack / prepare the board for the trip, and he did an excellent job of it !! Although he had never packed a pedalboard for shipping, he knew what he was doing, as he is an organ guy. The photos show how it was done, and it arrived in fine shape, due to his careful packing job.


    I highly recommend Greyhound for these sorts of organ parts shipping jobs, if the terminals are close enough to you. It’s not door to door service, but it is quite efficient if you can go fetch or drop off things. And it is Economical. On this job it was Pittsburgh to Milwaukee, and the total for GPX shipping was $89.68 !! Can’t really argue with a price like that, especially considering that any other package delivery Co. would not even take a pedalboard. The time in transit was 2 days; way under the 5 day estimate.


    Here is the Tip Of The Day, if you should ever want to use GPX for shipping : Do not go directly to the Greyhound site to set up and pay for the shipment. Instead, go to Busfreighter.com and set everything up with them. They are a wholesale GPX shipping consolidator, and the process is essentially the same. However, the price is substantially less for the same shipment. On the Greyhound site this job was $130.04, compared to $90.00 from Busfreighter . Ya, I’ll take a $40.00 discount – thank you !


    Once the pedalboard got to my shop, I had to sort out the wires in the cable ( all brown except the B+ ) , and that is no big deal with a test lamp. After sorting them, I tinned the ends and made up a junction block strip and attached them. I realize that a true pipe organ guy might use copper nails on a block of wood to solder the leads to, but I prefer screw terminal blocks ( guess that is my truck mechanic experience showing ). That way if it ever has to be taken apart, it goes easier. I also adjusted a few of the contacts, and tightened up some note springs so they are all at equal tension.


    Now all I needed to do was make a 50 year old Allen AGO pedalboard fit into a 100 year old Wangerin console, that had a smaller board. The Allen board is just over an inch wider at the very front tips of the frame. We got the belt sander out and took a bit more than a half inch off of each tip, and back two inches. Worked out real nicely, and because it is such a well constructed pedalboard, it will cause no problems – plenty of frame left.


    The Allen pedalboard frame is a little over an inch higher, so console side panels had to be cut for clearance. Some measuring and careful cutting, and we got it fitting in like it was built that way.


    The playing surface of the “new” pedalboard is also 1” higher at middle E. To account for that we made a 1” spacer for under the console base. That got everything back to the standard distance of 29 & 1/2” between the lower manual and pedal playing surfaces.


    Wiring the organ to the pedals was no problem, as it was just a matter of cutting off the leads from the old pedalboard contact rail and attaching them to the junction block I had made. There is quite a bit of time involved in making the wiring look nice and neat, but one needs to do that since you never know who might look at it next. I thought about replacing the linen / wax covered pedal cable in the console with modern wiring, but as the rest of the console has it throughout, there was no compelling reason to do so.


    Now this 100 year old Wangerin has has a new ( well, 50 years newer anyhow ) AGO pedalboard that plays excellently, and looks beautiful to boot. I am very pleased with how this job worked out, so please forgive me if it seems like I am bragging a bit. Some people had told me “you can’t do that – that will never work”, but it really was not that big of a job to make it happen.
    Attached Files
    Regards, Larry

    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

    #2
    More Photos :
    Attached Files
    Regards, Larry

    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

    Comment


      #3
      And some more photos :
      Attached Files
      Regards, Larry

      At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

      Comment


        #4
        And the rest of them. I took more, but I take LOTS of photos of any job. These tell the process pretty well though. I hope it might help someone contemplating such a swap.
        Attached Files
        Regards, Larry

        At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

        Comment


        • Larrytow
          Larrytow commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, speaker shipping via GPX has certainly occurred to me too. Have not had a need to do that lately, but will be a first choice if and when. And the 100 pound limit is per piece, not per shipment.

        • myorgan
          myorgan commented
          Editing a comment
          Larry,

          Thank you for the clarification on the GPX. I thought it was per shipment. Now I'm getting ideas, and maybe I can buy things from the left coast now.

          Michael

        • Larrytow
          Larrytow commented
          Editing a comment
          Michael, I'm almost certain I am correct about the 100 pound per piece thing. But I did not check to be Sure, Sure when I wrote that. So check the site before you buy anything LOL . With the pedalboard I only had the one item, so the rest of the policies were not thoroughly looked into., as I had no need to do that.
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