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Swell shades... Why open them?

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    Swell shades... Why open them?

    I've been taught that when you're done with an organ, you should leave your swell shades open... NOT closed.

    I was playing in an organ recital with other people, and the person in charge, Stephen Morris, told me to make sure the shades were open when we were done playing for the next person... (I used the shades closed throughout most the song, including the ending, and forgot to open them when I was done!)

    I played on an organ in Gainsville Tx at a Methodist church... an organ from the late 1800's, but I remember noticing a note taped to the music stand that specifically said to leave the swell shades open... at a church in Dallas Tx, the shades would even automatically open as soon as you turned it off, despite the pisition of the "shoe".

    Why is this? It seems to me that you would want them closed so that it sorta "protects" the pipes... ya know? I mean, if there's a heated argument in the church with hymnals throwing everwhere (ok I know it's a little dramatic), you'd want as many pipes to be safe as possible...

    Ideas?

    #2
    Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

    Ahh I have the answer to this one....my first organ teacher (technically second, but that's another story) told me that one....I wondered why...he said I'll find out soon....so he gave me a tour of the pipes (praising the catwalk they built 4 years before, before that tuning meant walking along thin rafters) I went into the swell box....it was INSANELY hot in there....in fact, believe it or not, 1 pipe looked like an arch....180 degrees. It bent, and the top was a few inches from the ground. NEVER EVER leave them closed. The guy before Mr. Anderson there did....I believe those 2 pipes (there was one bent too, not near as bad though) have been replaced since.

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      #3
      Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

      While the example given by M1994 is an extreme one, it's valid. If your swell box is high in the church, or if it's close to the blower, or if you just live in a warm climate, you've got the possibility of doing damage to the pipework. On a more common note, the difference in temperature between the unenclosed divisions and the enclosed divisions, while usually not enough to damage pipework, IS enough to throw them out of tune, leaving a massive headache and a long wait for the next organist. I'd love to see hymnals thrown at a church... it might mean that people are paying attention!

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        #4
        Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

        Really? I don't remember it quite so hot in the swell box... I suppose it depends on the place it's in.

        > 1 pipe looked like an arch....180 degrees

        I've seen a pipe all crumpled up into a little ball... it was quite sad, but he was demonstrating how the metal used is bendable... but bended because of heat? I suppose it's possible... especially if it was a reed... those things are tied to supports to keep them from sagging aren't they?

        And keeping it in tune as much as possible would be a great reason to keep the shades open...

        Hymnals flying everywhere would be quite a sight wouldnt it...

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          #5
          Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

          The organ that I practice on, in First Methodist in McKinney, Texas, has notes taped all over the place, to leave those shades open. They are very lax about that organ, which is odd, the shades are the only thing they are picky about. They dont even close the cover on the console when they are done with it, they just leave it open. Which organ did you play on, that automatically opened the shades?

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            #6
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            Post deleted by author

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              #7
              Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

              First keeps theirs open, to allow for normal expansion and contraction. The pipes not in the box, certainly do alot of expanding and contracting. The temperature fluctuates alot in the santuary, and since the santuary is from 1900, and has single pane stained glass all over, when it is cold outside, it is cold inside.

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                #8
                Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

                > Which organ did you play on, that automatically opened the shades?

                I haven't actually gotten to play on it... yet... the organ has sinse been restored, but I remember being shown the organ and when he turned it off the shades opened...

                I can't remember now what kind of organ it was (I found it somewhere online), but it's at St. John's Episcopal Church in Dallas. It was a 2 manual something and then the Range Organ co. combined it with an Aeolean Skinner (making the 33 ranks 66).

                >They dont even close the cover on the console when they are done with it

                Man... I always take good care of my organ... always make sure it's turned off, stops all "off", cover closed... you know?

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                  #9
                  Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

                  Well, I always shut the shade, when I am done. I set a good example for everyone else using it. When the organ is shut off, a few of the stop tabs have to be flipped down, so that the music rack can fold down. However, I put a little note on there, that says "Turn the organ off first, and then filp down the tabs, to store the music rack." And I also donated another vital item, that every organ should have, withen a short reach...a box of kleenex, errr, tissues.

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                    #10
                    Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

                    haha tissues?

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                      #11
                      Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

                      Tissues, very important. Any nice music that is being played by the organist, will be cancelled out, if the organist sits there going *snort snort snort*. I dont like playing with a shtuffy nose.

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                        #12
                        Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

                        Church pipe organs usually have a combination of enclosed and exposed divisions. To keep the pipe work at a constant temperature (and thus the tuning) the same between divisions, the enclosed pipes must be at approximately the same temperature as the exposed pipes. To accomplish this temperature equilization, the shutters must be left open when the organ is not being played. Many organs have springs attached to the shutters to cause them to be open when the wind is off.

                        Theatre organs are arranged so that the shutters are closed when the wind is off. Heaters are usually enclosed inside the swell boxes to keep the pipes at a constant temperature so that all divisions are in tune together. Note that theatre organs almost never have any exposed pipes except possibly the largest 32 ft pedal pipes.
                        Allan

                        My home organ
                        Style D Wurlitzer pipe organ
                        http://bluemoonwalkinghorses.com/Sty...tion5_rev3.htm
                        Five Newfoundland dogs
                        Sixteen Tennessee walking horseshoes

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                          #13
                          Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

                          Speaking as an organ technician, some might be unaware that virtually all electro-pneumatic and electric servo shade engines (except some Wurlitzer I have seen) are designed to open when the wind is off -- no matter where the pedal is. You need only worry about this if you have mechanical shades. Note also that there exist EP organs with mechanical shades and vice versa.

                          Martin Hill
                          Chicago

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                            #14
                            Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

                            Thank you for answering this question and informing many of those who don't realize that most shades open automatically when the organ is shut off.

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                              #15
                              Re: Swell shades... Why open them?

                              Here's my question: If I turn my organ off with the shades closed, then move the shoe to open and turn it on, will the shades open or will the console explode or something?

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