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  • 1826 organ restoration?

    Good morning all. Our museum wishes to restore, and play on a monthly basis, an 1826 Henry Pratt church organ. Photo:

    Click image for larger version

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    It needs lots of work internally, but my question is:

    Do you think the instrument should be restored to "historically accurate" with hand powered mechanical wind system? or should it be restored to "historically accurate but with an electric wind system"? (It is not currently playable, due to wind system problems.)

    The instrument was of course originally "pumped" by hand. A long handle at the back or side of the instrument would have been worked by a member of the religious society (the "congregation") back when the organ was first built.

    In 1963 the instrument was modified to use an electric blower/bellows system; the motor unit was updated to a Ventus in 2007.

    I'm asking from the standpoint of performance. As we'd invite area organists to perform on a new concert series, I wonder if hand pumping would be a negative in any way. We'd like to restore the instrument to early 19th century condition.

    Excited that this restoration might take place, if costs and funding permit.

    Thanks.
    Tom M.
    Connecticut

  • #2
    Just my opinion here. I, myself, would probably consider restoring it to what it was originally for historical purposes. There is a local church here that has a David Tannenberg organ, that is supposedly one of the oldest Tannenberg organs in existence. It had been repaired and modified several times and in the last several years was restored to what it was originally. It is played on certain occasions.
    Here is the link regarding the organ. http://davidtannenberg.com/Tannenber...em_Springs.htm
    Last edited by you795a; 08-09-2021, 11:51 AM.

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    • #3
      There's no harm in restoring it to do both! For instance, have a hand pump that can be pumped automatically. The bellows pumper can actually contribute to the performance to help add expression with their pumping, sort of like a pump organ, so I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to have access to that. However, pump organ builders have devised clever contraptions to let you do both, so I would at least investigate the options!

      Current: Allen 225 RTC, W. Bell reed organ, Lowrey TGS, Singer upright grand
      Former: Yamaha E3R
      https://www.exercisesincatholicmythology.com

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      • #4
        Interesting. I've heard about "pump or electric" systems on reed organs, but didnt' know it was feasible (or practical) on pipe organs. Wonder if anyone here has experience with such a critter on pipe organs.

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        • #5
          I'm with Larason2 on this one. For historical purposes, it should be restored to have a working pump system. The only drawback I can think of is the noise created by hand pumping, however, that is original and can be mitigated by training of the pumper and enough felt to keep the noise down.

          A blower can make too much noise as well, but it does make it possible to rehearse without having to hire a person to pump the organ.

          Bottom line, I'm sure both can be accommodated by a restorer who can retain the historic nature of the organ. I think a shut-off valve could be created to cover both eventualities.

          Regarding recommendations, I've heard good things about George Bozeman in New Hampshire (http://www.tneorg.com/bozeman/welcome.html), and more recently David Wallace in Maine (http://www.wallacepipeorgans.com/index.html). Either one should be able to meet your needs.

          Michael
          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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          • #6
            Thanks Michael. A local organist I just spoke with asked me (!) - with a hand-pumped bellows on a small pipe organ, is there an effect on timbre and/or volume as the pumper goes faster or slower? You can hear a difference on a reed organ - but I've never heard a hand-pumped pipe organ in person before.
            Tom M.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by nutmegct View Post
              Interesting. I've heard about "pump or electric" systems on reed organs, but didnt' know it was feasible (or practical) on pipe organs. Wonder if anyone here has experience with such a critter on pipe organs.
              We have pumps on some of our larger 2MP reed organs, and one of those has a "check valve" that allows you to still manually pump with the motor off. Its nothing really complicated. Just a large one-way valve. I'm sure the same thing could be done for a pressure-system....

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              • #8
                Traditional Spanish and Mexican pipe organs had manual bellows systems. Under normal operation, you lift the bellows handle up to refill it with air, then let it exhaust on its own. To highlight a certain passage, however, the calcant or pumper can pull down on the bellows that is currently being exhausted. This will temporarily increase the wind pressure. For flue pipes, this will make them louder and brighter until they overblow. For reeds, it depends on whether they are free reeds, or have a closed shallot. Free reeds will just get louder, whereas closed shallot reeds will get louder, but also go up in pitch.

                Current: Allen 225 RTC, W. Bell reed organ, Lowrey TGS, Singer upright grand
                Former: Yamaha E3R
                https://www.exercisesincatholicmythology.com

                Comment


                • Larason2
                  Larason2 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  The other effect that's possible on Spanish and Mexican traditional organs is to pull down and let go, or push down the bellows lever of the bellows that is exhausting from the top repeatedly. This produces an undulation of the air supply that is a bit like a tremulant.

              • #9
                My favorite historically informed organ - Fisk opus 72 - has both. A blower is necessary really, to be able to practice without having to find a couple of buddies to pump for you. Also having the bellows available for performance would be amazing. Here is CB Fisk's essay on the topic: http://cbfisk.com/writing/the-organs-breath-of-life/
                Last edited by lizny; 08-09-2021, 01:39 PM.
                Home Organ: VPO Home-Brewed from a former Klann pipe organ console

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by nutmegct View Post
                  ...with a hand-pumped bellows on a small pipe organ, is there an effect on timbre and/or volume as the pumper goes faster or slower?
                  The general answer is no, it won't affect the timbre and/or volume unless the reservoir runs out of an adequate supply of air. The reservoir holds the air, and is generally regulated by weights or tension on the reservoir. Someone also mentioned a check valve, and that generally prevents over inflation of the reservoir. There are other ways as well.

                  Bottom line, except for an insufficient supply of air, a pipe organ won't be affected by the air supply.

                  Michael
                  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

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Gents - I really do appreciate your comments. If at all possible, we're going to try for a dual system; motor/blower for practice, hand-pump for public concerts. This will also allow us to demonstrate the usefulness of the two systems.

                    Thank you! (and now ... back to my regularly scheduled preparations for the Alexandre harmonium)
                    Tom M.

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                    • #12
                      Since it's a museum installation, I'd think that including the hand-pump option would add credibility to the museum. A museum that takes historic artifacts and modifies them so that they aren't really historic anymore??? Just sounds odd.

                      In another installation, I'd easily consider the dual system. Here, I'm not sure how comfortable I'd really be with that. Have to admit to sitting on the fence a bit.

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                      • #13
                        I looked up some information on old, hand pumped pipe organs, (It's amazing the amount of information out there in the Internet) and there is a significant difference in the air reservoirs of hand pumped and blower fed pump organs.
                        Hand pumped organs have an indicator so the pumpers would know when the reservoir is full and they could stop or slow down their pumping. If the pumpers ignored the indicator and kept pumping, there is a spill valve on the reservoir to dump the excess air.
                        Reservoirs on blower fed organs do not have spill valves, instead they have shutoff valves to block the air from the blower when the reservoir is full.

                        Here's my thoughts, which would need some refinement;
                        First, I would restore the hand pump bellows and reservoir. This gives historical accuracy.
                        To add an electric blower, give the blower it's own reservoir which sets the pressure a bit below the level that activates the spill valve in the original built-in reservoir. Feed the regulated, blower produced air into the organ's wind trunk through a one way valve which would allow the hand bellows to be used if desired. Other than the spot where the air is fed into the wind trunk, and perhaps where the air duct enters the organ case, the electric blower modification is completely reversible.

                        Pictures of the inside of the organ's wind system are always appreciated and helps us give more accurate ideas and proposals.
                        Ed Kennedy
                        Current Organ - Conn 645 Theater

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