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add 3rd keyboard to 2-manual console?

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  • add 3rd keyboard to 2-manual console?

    I am slowly restoring a 31-rank 1875 Henry Erben organ, electrified in 1920s. It's in reasonably good shape, but c. 20 years ago the then-pastor decided not to spend money on maintenance, so bought a cheap electronic and sold the 3-manual console. I've found various used 2-manual consoles which are available. So I'm wondering how reasonable it would be to add a 3rd manual to the keyboard stack of a 2-manual console. I already am assuming that I'll have to redo stop mechanism of any console we obtain and that I'll need to run new telecommunications cable for each division. Thoughts? Any experience adding a 3rd keyboard? Thanks.

  • #2
    Going from two to three shouldn't be too hard since the AGO specs for the location of the lowest manual doesn't change until adding a fourth. I actually did this with my Hauptwerk instrument. Most two manual console shells should be able to accommodate a third manual, however you might run into issues if you're trying to preserve the roll top. One thing you might run into is not being able to match the key cheeks. The person helping me with the woodwork for my console was able to use excess material from the existing key cheeks because they went so far back into the console to create a matching set for the third manual. The only thing that really bothers me about the way that it turned out was that the third manual just doesn't match the other two. You might be better off getting a shell then replacing all of the manuals with matching ones. Depending on what you're planning to do with the control system, it might be easier to just build a midi console, then you can add stops from something like Hauptwerk if you wanted to.

    That said, 31 ranks doesn't really call for a three manual console and should fill out a two manual console just fine. If the instrument is clearly four divisions and you don't feel like you could collapse it into three, you could always make the fourth division floating and add options for how it couples for additional flexibility.

    BeforeAfter
    Mark
    At Church: Allen MDS-15
    At Home: 3 Manual Hauptwerk VPO

    Comment


    • Larrytow
      Larrytow commented
      Editing a comment
      Kinda off topic, but I can't really tell that your 3rd manual does not match. Looks pretty good from here. Also, what is with the piles of pipes in the first photo ? That is not a particularly good way to store them !

    • iPlayKeys
      iPlayKeys commented
      Editing a comment
      Larrytow Thanks! The swell is a Fatar manual, the great and choir are the original great and swell pipe manuals with real ivory. From a distance they look similar, but up close you can see the difference and they definitely feel different.

      The pipes laying around are from the swell division the organ that the console came from. The swell pipes were removed and sold to the congregation to raise money for the new organ. The great division of the organ is still intact, but not used and the new Allen sounded better than the Moller did and it was pretty expensive to refurbish them and integrate them into the new instrument. But someday, someone might want to do it. It's great chamber space, but the room really needs more like 30-40 ranks, which just wasn't in the church's budget. For reference, the Moller was 17 ranks, 7 of which were part of mixtures. The Allen that replaced it has almost 50 stops, 7 channels of audio in the main organ, plus an antiphonal (swell and positiv), and reflections (reverb) speaking from opposite the main organ.

  • #3
    Thanks for the prompt response iPlayKeys ! I definitely would want to keep 3 manuals. Here are the specs: Henry Erben organ, c. 1875; 31 ranks [originally 33]; St. Patrick Church, Waterbury, Connecticut. Built for St. Patrick Church, Hartford, CT; moved to St. Patrick Church, Waterbury in 1920s and electrified. Original slider chests retained. Console removed, but cable from organ to console intact. Blower purportedly in good condition. Pipes appear to be in decent condition, but most wiring is from 1920-1925. Names of most manual stops are found hand-written on the sides of wind chests, near the ends of each slider. (Need to re-examine some ranks to verify pitch of a few more stops; hence omissions on specification listed below.)

    Great: (Manual II), 8 ranks (originally 10), 58 notes?

    8’ Dulciana [or actually Open Diapason? It would be unusual not to have 8’ Diap. on Great]
    8’ Melodia [wood]
    8’ Gamba
    8’ Stopped Flute [wood]
    4’ Principal
    4’ Wald Flute
    3’ [2 2/3’] Twelfth
    2’ Fifteenth
    Space on chest, with 2 intact not-electrified sliders, for 2 additional ranks (which seem to have been removed when organ was relocated and electrified in 1920s. When comparing the specs for Old St. Pat's, New York City--the only nearly unaltered 3-manual Erben--the 2 missing ranks likely were an 8' Trumpet & 4' Clarion.)

    Swell Organ (Manual III) enclosed, 10 ranks, 58 notes?

    16’ Bourdon
    8’ Open Diapason
    8’ Stop’d Diapason
    8’ Dulciana
    8’ Celeste [Viol d’Amour?]
    Violina [4’?] [sp: Violana?]
    Violon cello [?]
    8’ Cornopean
    8’ Oboe [sp: Hautboy?]
    8’ Vox humana (on own wind chest)
    Chimes [1920s addition]
    Choir Organ (Manual I) enclosed, 8 ranks, 58 notes?

    Flûte harmonique [8’?]
    Gedeckt [8'?]
    Dulciana [8’?]
    Unda maris [8’?]
    Open [8'?]
    Octave [4'?]
    Piccolo [2'?]
    8’ Clarionet [actually a Cremona? Cf. Old St. Pat's, NYC]

    Pedal Organ, 5 ranks, 30 notes?

    16’ (Open metal, e.g. Double Open Diapason)
    16’ (stopped wood, e.g. Bourdon)
    16’ (Open wood, e.g. Contra Gamba)
    8’ (Open metal, e.g. Violoncello)
    16’ (reed, e.g. Trombone; Cf. Old St. Pat's, NYC)

    Comment


    • #4
      That's an interesting spec...I'm noticing that three are no mixtures, and knowing about the space for two ranks...kind of makes me wonder if the twelfth and fifteenth were meant to be part of a four rank mixture? I would imagine being from that era that the wiring is pretty straight forward, you'll probably need to decide what control system you're going to use because some of them do coupling at the console and some do it in the chamber. I would also guess that some of the swell and choir might be meant for the pedal division?
      Mark
      At Church: Allen MDS-15
      At Home: 3 Manual Hauptwerk VPO

      Comment


      • #5
        It vary much depends upon the console design. Some 2 manual organs have a stop board that can be cut down to allow for the extra height of the 3rd manual, some do not. AGO specifies about 2-1/2 inches vertical distance between keyboards, so if you have an extra 3 inches in the stop board you can probably fit it in very easily. If not, you might have to raise the lid to make space, and then it becomes a woodworking job to make it look nice.

        A Rodgers Jamestown 725B has a very high stopboard, enough room for 2 rows of stops (though the organ only has 1 row), and the music rack is mounted on the stopboard, too, so it is extra high. It would be a good candidate.

        I would suggest sticking to Rodgers or Allen, since their stop controls are very similar to pipe controls, so you're not dealing with custom mechanical parts like with other brands (like Conn or Baldwin) might have.

        Comment


        • #6
          The great Dulciana is probably just that, the melodia on that division being the tonal base instead of an 8” Diapason. That was common at the time, and is also often seen on reed organs. Quite a nice spec! I like organ specs from this period.

          As for the original question, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to add a third manual, but many have done it. There are few three manuals available, and they are in high demand. It depends on the budget, and how you plan to wire the console. Maybe the easiest would be to buy three new Fatar manuals, say from classic midi works, and get a custom console made. That would be the most appropriate, because otherwise it’s going to be tough to get a console that will match the stops of your organ.

          Comment


          • #7
            If you post pictures of the ranks here we might be able to help identify the stops you aren't sure of.

            Comment


            • #8
              The issues with adding a 3rd manual are, of course, physical constraints. It is generally possible, but the concerns are:

              1. Does the stopboard/coupler rail have sufficient additional height to support losing about 2-1/2 to 3 inches of its height? If it is a drawknob console, then usually it will have enough space. If it is a stop tab console with 2 rows of tabs, you might have to reduce it to 1 row to get the height needed for the extra manual.

              2. The lid: a lid is usually set back appropriately to the top keyboard, and this means you might want to cut back a few inches--thus the issue with any roll top. The roll top might not be an issue if it is longer to cover any space that would be created by cutting back the lid. Another option is to have the 3rd keyboard inset into the console, so the lid is above it. To my mind, this is only practical if there is a lot of space between the top keyboard and the lid, so you don't hit your hand on the lid when moving it from manual to music and between keyboards.

              3. If a drawknob console, then moving the coupler rail into the console a few inches may expose areas of the side jambs that don't have any wood, as the wood frequently ends at the stop rail. You'll need some woodworking skills to extend them to cover the empty space.

              Pipe consoles are often modified to add a manual, so what you are doing is nothing that hasn't been done before. I would suggest using a skilled cabinetmaker or a pipe organ builder/restorer to do the work.

              Comment


              • #9
                I would think making a new manual operational would be just as much concern as getting one installed.

                David

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by davidecasteel View Post
                  I would think making a new manual operational would be just as much concern as getting one installed.

                  David
                  It requires some work, of course, but it is just more of what already exists--there is nothing new to be invented. It is work that is proven to be "doable". Fitting the manual in the console is the unknown.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by iPlayKeys View Post
                    That's an interesting spec...I'm noticing that three are no mixtures, and knowing about the space for two ranks...kind of makes me wonder if the twelfth and fifteenth were meant to be part of a four rank mixture? I would imagine being from that era that the wiring is pretty straight forward, you'll probably need to decide what control system you're going to use because some of them do coupling at the console and some do it in the chamber. I would also guess that some of the swell and choir might be meant for the pedal division?
                    I have no trouble at all believing that spec, or the o.p.'s speculation on the missing 2 ranks. I have more trouble believing your idea about the missing ranks. I used to play a Steere (John?) in a historic church in Downtown Brooklyn, NY from a contemporary period and with a similar spec. The 2' stop (fifteenth) on the Great ... that was your mixture!

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by toodles View Post
                      I would suggest using a skilled cabinetmaker or a pipe organ builder/restorer to do the work.
                      Something like that could be done badly for a couple or few thousand. I don't doubt it could cost $10K to $15K or even more to be done right. With that kind of budget, a diligent search could turn up a used 3M console built as such.

                      Comment

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