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EP unit chest to augment 19th century tracker?

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  • EP unit chest to augment 19th century tracker?

    Ok gang, you are the only group I know that can give us an intellegent opinion on this proposition.[Y][N]

    A small congregation I have some contact with is thinking about replacing an older toaster with pipes, so far so good, right? However no communicant as died and left their estate to them yet, and funds are minimal -nothing new, not even a 4-5 rk unified is comming down the line soon. The chancel holds about 250-300, and has great acoustics ( for the preacher = dead). They already know that has to change!

    My suggestion is to obtain a small older tracker and modify it to as minimal a dergee as possible., but still widen the range of playable music. I would transfer some ranks to an electric [li]or electopneumatic[st] chest, and add some additional ranks. My questionsare: How well should such a hybrid work, both physically and tonally, and Would the cost compared to the result be better than some other alternative.

    Here goes. Let us start with a typical 9 rank tracker from the end of the 19tgh century.


    Open Diapason 8' -56 pipes

    Common bass 8' -12 "

    (tc) Melodia 8' - 44 "

    (tc) Dulciana 8' -44 "

    Octave 8' 56 "

    Sw-Gt. Unison


    Common bass 8' - 12 pipes

    (tc) Violin Diapason 8' - 44 "

    (tc)Stopped Diapason 8'-44 "

    (tc)Salicional 8' - 44 "

    Flute d’amour 4' - 56 "



    Bourdon 16" -30 pipes

    (on a separate chest /Pneumatic action)


    We would take the pedal Bourdon and swell Flute d'amour and put the on a unit chest, with a new octave added to the top. Key switches would then be added to both swell and pedal, and the appropriate unit board in between switches and chest

    The Dulciana would be tunned flat (if it wasn't already0 to act as a celeste for the swell voices, and placeC in the holes of the Violin Diapason. The bottom 30 notes of the V. Diap. would become a 4' Choral Bass on the pedal, in the holes of the 16' bourdon. A new 2' principal (actually TC because of the common bass) perhaps using the leftover 14 pipes of the V.Diap. revoiced,wouldgo into into the holes the Dulciana came out of.

    Probably the most expensive addition would be a new, or rebuilt trumpet-type oboe that would go into the Fl d'am's holes.

    the result would look like this: Revised with unit flute and additional ranks - (*= Unit Flute, += modified existing rank, # = new or mostly new pipework)


    Open Diapason 8'

    Common Bass 8'

    (tc)melodia 8'

    Octave 4'

    (tc)fifteenth 2' (#) (new pipework, possibly inc. parts of V. Diap)

    Sw-gt unison


    Bourdon 16' (*)

    (tc)Stopped Diapason 8'

    Common bass 8'

    (tc) Salicional 8'

    (tc)Unda Maris I 8' (+) (from dulciana tunned flat)

    Flute d’amour 4' (*)

    flute twelfth 2 2/3'(*)

    Flute fifteenth 2'(*)

    Flute tierce 1 3/5'(*)

    oboe 8' (#)



    Bourdon 16' (*)

    Bourdon 8' (*)

    Quinte 5 1/3' (*)

    Choral Bass 4' (+)(from violin diapason)

    unitoboe mixtureIV (*)

    Gt -ped, Sw-ped

    Thus a great deal of the original is retained, and available for the purist, while it can play other than victorian music reasonably well also.

    Will it fly?[^o)]


  • #2
    Re: EP unit chest to augment 19th century tracker?

    If you haven't purchased this theoretical 19th century organ yet, you are putting the cart before the horse! If you don't have a specific organ in mind, how will you know if it needs any improvement or changes?

    In my opinion, an old tracker should be taken at face value - if it plays "Victorian" music well, then play the music that suits it best. Besides, it will be much cheaper to keep it as is, and not start adding chests. The modifications you suggest represent a significant expense!

    Turning an old tracker into a unit organ does not improve it - especially adding a bunch of mutation stops. Borrowed mutations are out of tune, and will be improperly scaled in relation to the other pipework.

    Bear in mind: the added stops do not necessarily make the organ more suitable for baroque or contemporary music. You will still likely have a tubby diapason, hooty flute, and scratchy string as the foundation. The pipes will be spreadacross two different types of chests whichmay cause speech and ensemble difficulties.

    My advice:

    1. Buy as much organ as possible within the stated budget. It would be good todetermine and summarize the congregation's musical needs and the needs of the organist prior to 'shopping' for an organ.Is a Tierce really important? An Oboe? Upperwork? If so, look for used organs that already contain these things! [;)] They are not so hard to find...

    2. Live with it for a while.

    3. If it still does not satisfy the musical needs of the congregation over a period of time, then consider augmenting it - but only if it has been determined that the instrument has no historical value worthy of preservation. If adding mutations, keep them independent.

    4. Seek the services of an experienced organ builder who can make the additions in a way that is consistent with the fabric of the original instrument.


    • #3
      Re: EP unit chest to augment 19th century tracker?

      there is a Reuter unit organ in Georgia that has been for sale for a long time. I believe it is 5 or 6 ranks. Very similar to mine. They are asking 4k for it.

      I've seen photographs of it, it looks pretty rough, and was Wickerized to get rid of the leathering issue, but who knows. If interested email me and I'll get you the contact info.