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Modifying diatonic chests

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  • Modifying diatonic chests

    I saved a pipe organ from a church that was going to be demolished and I'm hoping that the organ will speak again some day at my home. The two manual divisions appear to be standard construction EP slider chests that have diatonic layouts with the bass pipes at the ends.
    Because of the shape of my music room I need to modify the chests so the bass pipes are in the middle. This is obviously not a trivial job with careful attention being needed when dealing with the reassembly of the to-be-cloven chests, but are there are gotchas that wouldn't occur to my uneducated mind? I'm a reasonably competent woodworker and a more-so competent electronics person, but my knowledge in pipe organistry is more theoretical rather than practical.
    I can envisage the re-wiring of the magnets, the joinery needed to repair a cut slider, the sheep leather needed to ensure air-tightness once the chests are back together, but I'm writing this post to see if there's anything that I may have missed.

  • #2
    I suspect you'll need to replace chests, at the very least. The channels, toe board holes, and sizes of pallets are specifically designed for the pipe they support. It would be a gargantuan task to rework the current chest, IMHO.

    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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    • #3
      I'm speaking off the top of my head on this, but would it be possible to simply cut the chests in half, and then swap the halves? Of course you would have to do some wood working to finish the now open ends, but you would otherwise just reuse the existing chests as they are.
      Mike

      My home organ is a circa 1990 Galanti Praeludium III, with Wicks/Viscount CM-100 module supplying extra voices. I also have an Allen MDS Theatre II (princess pedalboard!) with an MDS II MIDI Expander.

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      • #4
        My opinion is that cutting the slider is not a good idea, as it is a mechanical part with very precise fit that has to be adjusted, and trying to get it to work properly and reliably after cutting is going to be a nightmare. Better to make a new slider mechanism from scratch based on the old one, which also isn’t going to be easy! A lot of the other parts can be cut and reused. What about mitering the biggest pipes so they fit? That seems a lot easier than reworking the wind chest, which is the most complicated and difficult part of the organ to get right. If you don’t have the skills, you can get an organ builder to mitre them.

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

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        • #5
          You might want to consider using the chest as built and run a hose from the chest to the pipe mounted off the chest. The pipe can be mounted anywhere. Many large organs are set up this way. Good luck.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by m&m's View Post
            I'm speaking off the top of my head on this, but would it be possible to simply cut the chests in half, and then swap the halves? Of course you would have to do some wood working to finish the now open ends, but you would otherwise just reuse the existing chests as they are.
            Yes, that's what I'm thinking of doing.

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            • #7
              Since most chest designs have no pipes larger than a nominal 4 foot, (other than maybe a string or a dulciana 8 foot octave) on them, you really shouldn't have to remove too many pipes to offset chests.
              Because of wind stealing by larger pipes, most 8 foot octaves won't be on the main chest. If you don't have the room for a chest that is maybe 5 foot high with the pipes, how will you be able to give the under-space you will need for the maintenance of an EP chest. Please do not try to CUT THE CHEST IN HALF. If it is an EP chest you probably have the stop action in the center of the chest. Any sawdust that migrates into the multiple groves and ports will be disastrous, as are ELECTRICIAN droppings.

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              • #8
                I would strongly suggest against doing this. The chests are built to tight specifications and are more complex than you would think. Some chests have channeling that allows certain pipes to be spaced out. This along with multiple other reasons makes it a bad idea to cut the chest. I would either build a new chest or do what was suggested above and tube the bass pipes off of the main chest.

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