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Rodger pipe organ interfacing

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  • Rodger pipe organ interfacing

    Made an inspection/visit to a local church this morning that has a 3 manual Rodgers 940 (I think this is the right number) from 1999. It is a very nice installation. The speakers are located in the old pipe organ chambers along with the 16 rank Kilgen from 1936! The console has controls for managing pipe organ ranks, but the congregation chose not to spend the money 20 years ago to combine the organs.
    Does anyone know the possibilities to simply and effectively make the Rodgers control the Kilgen ranks?
    (The Kilgen was rebuilt/releathered/rewired in 1978 and still looks to be in good shape. There were two new blowers installed in 1978 too.
    Hauptwerk 4.0 VPO
    Estey Style T reed organ
    Hammond M tonewheel spinet

  • #2
    Before getting too involved with the Rodgers console I'd be inclined to lubricate and fire up the blowers to check for wind leaks. The rebuild was 41 years ago many things may not have aged well if they have sat unused for 20 years after the Rodgers was installed.

    Then, if there is still a DC power supply on the Kilgen, test it and if it works use clip leads to activate stops and individual pipes from the spreader boards where the old console was disconnected to see if the magnet actions still work after all of these years of sitting. If the organ DC supply is gone or does not work, you can typically use a 12-14 VDC power supply for your testing. The polarity on the common bus should have been marked when the organ was rewired 41 years ago.
    Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Saville Series IV Opus 209; Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Gulbransen Rialto; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI.

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    • #3
      If the church went from a pipe organ of 16 ranks to a digital, there must have been some reason for abandoning pipes. Such a decision was, I'm sure, done for specific reasona. If there was an organ committee, it might be worthwhile to discuss the decision with members of the committee, if any are still around.

      That said, it would be useful to discuss this with the Rodgers dealer who installed the digital organ and get their assessment. You will likely need their support to do any interface, since some specific equipment and programming is likely required to get this done.

      Comment


      • tbeck
        tbeck commented
        Editing a comment
        If that Kilgen is anything like one I have played, which is about the same size and from the same time period, it might not be worth the effort.

        That particular Kilgen I played was all 8 and 4 foot stops (maybe one 2') with sub and super couplers. It was hooty, tubby, loud and ugly. I don't mean this as an aspersion to all Kilgen organs, but this particular instrument was the least artistic pipe organ I ever played

    • #4
      Our area elder organists recall this Kilgen as very nice and quite musical. It is a very good installation and placement in the room (flanking the baptistery.)
      There are two British Organ Blowers (one at each chamber) and they turn on when the Rodgers is powered up. They are winding the whole organ to allow the swell shades to move. There is a rectifier that looks to be from the 1978 rebuilt. The reservoirs are new from 1978 and still appear and feel to be in good shape. There is wind in the chests.
      I could not find any circuit board that would indicate an interface between the Rodgers console output and the chests. (I know that these were often put into a wooden box.)
      In 1999 this church was running 500 on a Sunday with a paid organist. In 2019 the church is running 65 and the organist died last year and has not been replaced.
      The Rodgers dealer has been out of business for over a decade.
      A friend who was familiar with the churches decision making process in '99 shared with me that the church had three upgrade options: 1. full combination organ with 3 manual digital console. 2. remove pipe work and install a 3 manual digital instrument. 3. Install a 3 manual digital instrument, leave the pipes and interface at a later time. Every indication is that they chose option 3 (lowest cost) but now that those in the know are gone there are many who think that they chose option 1 and are wondering why the pipes are not working.
      The paper work in the files do not indicate anything except a console, amps and speakers.
      Hauptwerk 4.0 VPO
      Estey Style T reed organ
      Hammond M tonewheel spinet

      Comment


      • #5
        Your additional description of this installation opens up a whole new set of questions.

        If the console was "prepared for" the pipe organ ranks with stops, then there is a certain amount of equipment and wiring already in the console to support a Rodgers pipe organ interface. But is such equipment still available for retrofit on an instrument that is 20 years old? Perhaps contacting another Rodgers dealer still in business might yield an answer to that question.

        If the organ blowers turn on when the Rodgers is powered up, how is this accomplished? What is the connection between the blower motor contactors and the power switch on the organ console? (Or is it a separate switch?)

        Do the swell shades move when the expression pedals on the console are moved? If so, how does this work? If not, it seems crazy that they powered up two blowers and winded the entire pipe organ for 20 years just to open the swell shades wide open when they could have blocked them open. If this was a visual thing to keep the swell shades closed when the organ was not in use there were certainly much easier ways to do this than running two blowers.

        According to a brochure for this model instrument that I found online it does have MIDI. So if there are no Rodgers interface boards installed for the pipe organ interface it might be cheaper/easier to buy 3rd party MIDI decoder boards to operate the chest and stop magnets using the MIDI output from the console.
        Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Saville Series IV Opus 209; Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Gulbransen Rialto; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI.

        Comment


        • #6
          Originally posted by AllenAnalog
          If the console was "prepared for" the pipe organ ranks with stops, then there is a certain amount of equipment and wiring already in the console to support a Rodgers pipe organ interface. But is such equipment still available for retrofit on an instrument that is 20 years old? Perhaps contacting another Rodgers dealer still in business might yield an answer to that question.
          Most Rodgers of this era had pistons engraved with "pipes off" etc... The software allowed some digital stops to be silenced and the appropriate ranks to speak. If the pipe were so far out of "tune" because of hot August Sunday they could be turned off and all the digital ranks would speak instead. Rodgers used a single, proprietary digital coax cable to allow the console to "speak" to an interface that would be placed in the pipe chamber. So being "prepared for" was not anything special to this situation.

          In this situation the organ speakers at full volume all the time and moving the expression pedal opens and closes the shutters. It works very well.

          I do not want to speak to a Rodgers dealer - life is too short. I am hoping someone on the forum has some experience or insight to what has been done previously in other locations.
          I cause trouble wherever I go. It's what I do.

          Jordan: To quote someone else, just click on the word "Quote" at the bottom of their post. I have fixed your quote.–Michael, Moderator
          Last edited by myorgan; 08-23-2019, 10:11 AM. Reason: Fix quote.
          Hauptwerk 4.0 VPO
          Estey Style T reed organ
          Hammond M tonewheel spinet

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by jordan312
            In this situation the organ speakers at full volume all the time and moving the expression pedal opens and closes the shutters. It works very well.
            But what is the mechanism by which this happens? Somehow the native Rodgers control of the electronic voices via the expression pedal has been subverted to control only the swell shades. That is quite... curious. What kind of output signal from the console operates the wind-operated swell shade engine? Is it a new engine with some kind of electronic input control signal? Surely it is not the original Kilgen unit.
            Last edited by myorgan; 08-23-2019, 10:12 AM. Reason: Fix quote.
            Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Saville Series IV Opus 209; Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Gulbransen Rialto; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI.

            Comment


            • #8
              It does appear to be the original Kilgen swell motors, rebuilt in 1978. It is currently not possible to "dig" into the console to find out the interconnections.
              Hauptwerk 4.0 VPO
              Estey Style T reed organ
              Hammond M tonewheel spinet

              Comment


              • #9
                Guys,

                Could you please use the Forum's Quote function (next to the Comment button) to quote someone else's post? It is time-consuming to go back and correct the quotes.

                Thanks in advance.

                Michael, Moderator.
                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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                • #10
                  It'd be worth checking to see if the 1978 "rewiring" included a solid state relay or not, or just replacement of old fabric-covered wiring as per code. Any Kilgen still on its original relay would have been electromechanical, and it would be exceptionally rare to find any digital organ driving an old electromechanical relay for a variety of reasons. I ask this because it's evident that there is some level of integration with the Rodgers console driving the swell shade motors, so that means at least some of the Rodgers interface is present. But this is the inexpensive part of the integration. A couple of Peterson swell shade motors is not a huge undertaking, but re-doing the relay would have been an exceptionally costly part of the job, and it may be that this was the obstacle at the time.

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                  • #11
                    Cannot find any evidence of either an electromechanical or solid state relay.
                    By appearances the old wiring was replaced in 1978.
                    Just learned today that there was a new Rodgers addition in 1989. What happened to this combo arrangement is unknown. It is reported that only 5 of the ranks were used with the Rodgers and as they failed they were abandoned.
                    This is a very odd situation.
                    Hauptwerk 4.0 VPO
                    Estey Style T reed organ
                    Hammond M tonewheel spinet

                    Comment

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