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  • Allen 301-C at Upperville, VA UMC

    Just thought I'd talk a bit about the church where I am music director, and its organ.

    Upperville United Methodist Church was built in 1833. It is a one-room church and does not have plumbing or air con, so there is no bathroom or fellowship hall. Only a porta-potty outside. The church, like many other local churches and buildings of that time, was used as a union hospital during the Civil War. The slave balcony, which used to wrap around the whole sanctuary, was destroyed and used for firewood and lumber. It was partially rebuilt later on.

    Today, Upperville UMC's congregation is seldom larger than 20 people. Usually only about 10. But, thanks to some wealthy members, it is doing OK financially. Still, we want to make sure it has a bright future ahead and have made some slight improvements after Pastor John came this summer. One of which was replacing the 1956 Hammond C3 organ, which was seldom used after being donated from a sister church in 1994, with a 1974 Allen 301-C MOS-1 digital computer organ. The C3 did not work well and we are very happy with the Allen. Its piston system is broken but that isn't a problem for me as I seldom make extreme registration changes during hymns. We aren't all that worried about it either.

    The organ only has two speakers in a corner of the balcony. But the church is acoustically perfect, so no matter where you are in the room, it is just as loud. Even though the speakers are not central.

    Upperville UMC, its sanctuary, the Allen 301-C organ (as well as its speakers), and the Hammond C3 which it replaced.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    I bet it sounds like a million dollars in there. That room looks like a wonderful place to play an organ, all hardwood and plaster and such. This is the kind of room where I have heard MOS organs that sounded so good you'd have to wonder where the pipes were hidden.

    Your speakers are probably the original HC-10 type, which had a foam woofer, or else they are newer HC-12's with foam woofers and mids. Either way, I trust that the foam woofers and/or midrange cones have been replaced or repaired by now.

    That organ has the old "sequential" or "North American Rockwell" capture system, otherwise known as clakity-clak because only 10 tabs at a time could be activated, and it would take a half second or so for all of them to arrive where they were going when you press a piston. But it was a real capture action and a vast improvement over what they had before it came out.

    Those actions are pretty durable, and often there is nothing wrong that can't be fixed -- new batteries, clean relays, replace the on/off switch, hard reset, etc. However, I do see one now and then that has developed a problem on the memory board itself, and that requires sending it off to Allen for repair, which can be pricey. If you are getting along without the action, then don't worry about it. Hand registration is a fine art anyway that is too little practiced in this day of elaborate combination systems. And you do have a crescendo pedal anyway, for quickly jumping to a big sound if you need to.

    Even if they are few in number, if the people are dedicated and if they love traditional music there will be some wonderful worship going on there! Keep up the good work!
    John
    ----------
    *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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    • #3
      I too like those little, old time sanctuaries. They offer so much color for a small instrument to sound big. That new machine looks just like the ticket that you need, and not a big a financial investment to make it all come together. I call that a win!
      Until The Next Dimension,
      Admiral Coluch.

      -1929 Wangerin Pipe Organ Historian
      -Owner 1982 Rogers Specification 990

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      • #4
        In the image of the speakers you can see the woofers have an accordion surround. Not sure if this means they are a different model speaker than what jbird suggested but it's worth pointing out.
        Viscount C400 3-manual
        8 channels + 2 reverb channels (w/ Lexicon MX200)
        Klipsch RSX-3 speakers and Klipsch Ultra 5.1 subwoofers

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        • #5
          They are HC-12s I believe but they didn't come with covers. The technician put the current covers on.

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          • #6
            I see the accordion surrounds, now that they've been mentioned. Those must be some late-production HC-12's after they stopped using the foam woofers. I have a few of those in the shop and I find that they sound every bit as good as the originals with foam. Glad to see that you don't have to worry about the foam issue.
            John
            ----------
            *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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            • #7
              We actually had the speakers repaired as well. Not sure if the components were replaced or not but they may have been. Or they could be late production.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by rjsilva View Post
                In the image of the speakers you can see the woofers have an accordion surround. Not sure if this means they are a different model speaker than what jbird suggested but it's worth pointing out.
                When I purchased my 505B, I needed to replace 2 of the woofers almost immediately. The replacements Allen sent had accordion surrounds. My guess is that the entire driver was replaced rather than just the surround.

                Originally posted by AllenMDS View Post
                They are HC-12s I believe but they didn't come with covers. The technician put the current covers on.
                It looks like he screwed them down too! I have a speaker like that, and I wonder if that wasn't a suggestion by Allen at one point. Only that HC-12 has the grille screwed on, and I've never seen one like it--before or since--until yours.

                Too bad I wasn't closer. It would be worth it to hear a MOS-1 organ in a nice acoustical environment.

                Michael
                Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

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                • #9
                  So happy to see some positive replies in favor of the Allen. On FOA I got so much criticism when I said the Hammond was being replaced with the Allen. Yes, it sounds great with the perfect acoustics, and we gave the speakers hidden so people won't know where the sound is coming from! It's a wonderful historic little church, and despite looking so simple on the outside, it is just beautiful on the inside. If only more people knew about the gem of a church called Upperville UMC!

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                  • #10
                    What is FOA? Anyhow, I'm glad you have an improved organ in your church.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by circa1949 View Post
                      What is FOA? Anyhow, I'm glad you have an improved organ in your church.
                      Facebook Organists' Association and yes we are too. Everyone who has heard it compared to the Hammond at its sister church has admitted to me that the Allen sounds much better!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by AllenMDS View Post
                        . . . Its piston system is broken but that isn't a problem for me as I seldom make extreme registration changes during hymns. We aren't all that worried about it either.
                        The NAR capture system, at times, would go to sleep and had to be awakened. This was accomplished by simultaneously pressing the "set" and "cancel" at the same time and holding for a second or two. Something to try anyway.

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