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lightning damage to organs

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  • lightning damage to organs

    Hi all,</p>

    It seems the last few years anyway, that I have to repair a number of organs that got hit by lightning. Sometimes you can tell that it was the speaker leads that brought in the damage, sometimes it is the AC line that brings in the damage. In any case, it is usually not the easiest to fix, especially if a number of areas were damaged. </p>

    I fixed one the other day, where at least 3 different areas of the organ were hit. First problem was no sound. Found a fried TIS74 transistor, which meant no 12V line to turn on the amps. Second, the combo-action board got hit. A logic chip on the inputs got toasted. Third, the digital reverberation board wasn't working. Haven't fixed the problem yet. At least the organ is functioning again. The church where the organ was had their phone system blown out, their PA system knocked out, elevator not working, something in the tower got hit, etc. Pretty obvious that something hit the church.

    Has anyone else had experiences with lightning damaged organs? Was it able to be repaired? Was the organ reliable after that? Sometimes when organs get hit, some parts may get damaged, but won't fail right away. Some organs after initial repair will get more failures over time. I call these organs the walking wounded.</p>

    Arie V</p>

  • #2
    Re: lightning damage to organs


    You've pretty well summed up my experience with lightning damage. The outcomes are as varied as the incidents are numerous. After I explain the "walking wounded" situation, a church will sometimes decide to replace the organ, whether or not the insurance company will pay off fully. But then there have been cases where I just fixed what was damaged and the organ went on playing for years.</P>

    About this time last year a Rogers T967 in a nearby church wasknocked out duringathunderstorm. Lightning was hitting all around town and the power went off and on many times. Several electronic items in the church were damaged, phones, computers, light controllers, etc.There was a wedding rehearsal going on, so the organ was powered up at the time.Turns out the reason it went dead was that the amplifier fuses all blew, probably just because of the rapidly flickering power. After I replaced the fuses it played normally, I thought.</P>

    A few weeks later, the organist began to notice that the organ wouldn't turn off unless she held the off end of the power switch down for 8 or 10 seconds. I had to get a new power supply from Rodgers. I also had to completely re-do the voicing as it seemed to have scrambled the memory when it was attempting to turn off but couldn't.</P>

    It's been several months now since the last repair, and no more problems at present. I hope that one is truly going to be OK. Odds are in its favor, since it's less than 5 years old.</P>

    But some organs have proven to be unfixable, just so many problems that the cost of repairs far exceeded the replacement cost, or at least the value, especially if the organ is an older one.</P>

    One job I turned down because I really didn't think it was ethical to do $10K - $20K worth of repairs on a 25-year-old organ. (A Rodgers 3-manual that would have cost $70K or more to replace.)But the insurance company brought in someone from out of state who fixed it, took their money, and left. AFAIK it is still playing after 3 or 4 years, but I still think they should have replaced it. The insurance folks couldn't see anything but dollar signs, of course.</P>

    By musical standards, that organ was due for replacement, and certainly was not worth what they put into it, and the church wanted a new organ. Didn't make much sense to me.</P>

    We just do the best we can and keep plugging along.</P>

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    *** 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!