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Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?

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  • Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?



    Would organs last longer/be cheaper/more compact if organ pipes were made by an environmentally friendly cheaper material? Could pipes be made out of moulded plastic, like they make recorders?



    BTW, I'm only asking a question not saying that we should, before the organ builders drop their 32 ft Violones on to my head.


  • #2
    Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?

    I suppose they could make pipes out of Molded plastic, but I think that tone quality might suffer. Pipes might also be harder to voice that way.

    As for the 32' Violones, those would hurt.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?

      The only advantage of a plastic that I can think of would be weight; but then, of course there would be the issue of the smaller pipes flying off the chests.  There's nothing wrong with the current materials.  Lead, Tin, Zinc, and wood are tried and true.  People always make such a fuss about lead, but it's just fine as long as you're not ingesting it.

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      • #4
        Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?

        I have a book about building a home pipe organ which explains how to make organ pipes out of paper. Apparently, they can sound pretty good. I don't know if the paper pipes would hold up well for a long time.

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        • #5
          Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?



          Some organbuilderstakegreat pains to specify the exact composition of metal pipes. If small changes in the ratio of lead to tin can cause an audible difference, then you can be sure something like plastic will have an effect.




          A sonic detriment is enough to be a show-stopper, but I'll continue. [8-|]




          There is the weight issue... Heavy pipes are not a bad thing (other than when they need to be moved, orcause occasional problems to the chest or at the foot).A flimsy metal pipe cannot produce the same quality/quantity of sound as a sturdy, heavy metal pipe. Most plastics seem as if they would be even more flimsy, and thus more likely to absorb the energy of the sound waves within.




          A plastic pipe can be made to be heavy, but that would seem to go against the benefits of plastic materials.




          The other issue (as has been noted) is one of tuning and voicing. Pipe metal is malleable and is relatively easy to manipulate for the myriad details of pipe voicing. Plastic seems as if it would be quite difficult to work. Metal seems as if it would be more likely to stay put, once it has been shaped by the hand of the voicer.




          Tuning is another issue; metal-on-metal tuning slides are nice because they move, but not too freely. Plastic would have to be specially treated in order to have this quality. A metal tuning scroll cannot be duplicated by plastic. A cone-tuned metal pipe cannot be duplicated by plastic.




          Now to the 'ecologically-sound' part...I'm not sure"plastic"and "ecologically sound" belong in the same sentence! At least an organ pipe will bio-degrade over time (even if we don't necessarily want lead in a landfill). The wood used in building organ pipesoften comes from sustainable growth forests, which are replanted. [8-|]

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          • #6
            Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?


            There is the weight issue... Heavy pipes are not a bad thing
            Well, they should be reasonable "dead" and self supporting, which in the materials traditionally used means heavy. I think it would be perfectly possible to make comparable plastic pipes. But would they be "better"? Plastics often stand less up to heat, they expand more when heated (so less stable tuning) they won't be as rigid for the same weight unless you add a lot of fibers (making production/working difficult). And you would have to evolve a completely new production technique, both for the pipes and the plastic. Molding a rank would need a lot of moulds, bending plastics like metal would have to be done when heated, you could weld them together. Maybe someone needs to try it.

            The other issue (as has been noted) is one of tuning and voicing. Pipe metal is malleable and is relatively easy to manipulate for the myriad details of pipe voicing. Plastic seems as if it would be quite difficult to work. Metal seems as if it would be more likely to stay put, once it has been shaped by the hand of the voicer.

            Tuning is another issue; metal-on-metal tuning slides are nice because they move, but not too freely. Plastic would have to be specially treated in order to have this quality. A metal tuning scroll cannot be duplicated by plastic. A cone-tuned metal pipe cannot be duplicated by plastic.
            I'm not so sure about that. You would need to adapt the tools and method but it can be done. Gently heating plastics makes them amllable and they stay put once cooled. Maybe just as good as metal. Cone tuning can be done the same way, you would only needed a heated tool. You can cut it like wood or metal. Only issue I see is that types of plastic that have these qualities (mallable at heat, can be cut etc) don't have the other properties needed for pipes: rigid, stable, etc.

            My take on it is that plastic pipes would be more made/voiced/tuned as wooden pipes than as metal ones. We may think of plastics more as tubes but that is only so when you have to make thousends of km of the same diameter. (or small number of diameters) This is not so for the organ pipes.

            Now to the 'ecologically-sound' part... I'm not sure "plastic" and "ecologically sound" belong in the same sentence!
            That however is the biggest point. Apart from any (unneeded) electronics traditional organs can be 100% recycled/re-used/composted. Something impossible with plastics.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?



              [quote user="Havoc"][quote user="soubasse32"]Tuning is another issue; metal-on-metal tuning slides are nice because they move, but not too freely. Plastic would have to be specially treated in order to have this quality. A metal tuning scroll cannot be duplicated by plastic. A cone-tuned metal pipe cannot be duplicated by plastic.[/quote]I'm not so sure about that. You would need to adapt the tools and method but it can be done. Gently heating plastics makes them amllable and they stay put once cooled. Maybe just as good as metal. Cone tuning can be done the same way, you would only needed a heated tool.[/quote]But there's the rub. Pipescan onlybe tunedin a relatively stable ambient temperature. If you are heating any part of the pipethen the temperature (and thus thetuning) will never be stable. Metal pipes react to unbelievably small changes in temperature, such as when the tuner stands too close to the pipe.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?

                Didn't say it would be easy, only that it could be done [6] Best think of plastic pipes as wooden pipes. So use the same methods to tune like a slide with a couple of screws, or a metal plate.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?

                  My point is not to look at what is available now but what could be researched and developed for the future, particularly as to the materials.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?



                    I suppose it boils down to what "ecologically sound" means to you. Almost all plastics are derived from oil and I don't think most environmentalists would consider changing to plastic to be a step in the right direction. I consider wooden pipes to already be "ecologically sound" as they are made from a renewable source and are biodegradable. It also depends on just how much of the traditional tone qualities you plan to continue using--wooden principals don't sound like metal ones, for example, so some sounds would appear to require metal pipes. As pointed out above, even small changes in the metal alloy composition can make significant differences in the tone quality, and organ builders carefully choose the alloyswhen they are planning an instrument.




                    The Europeans are now rapidly phasing out lead in anything, but do have an exemption (for now) on organ pipes. No doubt this is because organ building is a major business in Europe and one that is very traditional and rooted in history. How long the environmentalists can be held in check is not known, but I suspect it is problematical. There are other metals that can be used, of course: zinc and tin are already in use, either pure or in lead alloys, and it would be possible to move entirely to those metals. Probably some loss of tone colors would occur. I suppose that bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) could be used for organ pipes, and perhaps bismuth/tin alloys might work. Shot for shotgun shells are now being produced from bismuth in an effort to reduce wildlife ingestion of lead; bismuth is a non-toxic element similar to lead in its properties, and is actually used in some medications (Pepto-Bismol, for example).




                    However, I agree that there should be no problems with lead or lead/tin alloy pipes once they are made and installed. The only hazards to animal life are during their construction and working with them. The average battery shop poses much more hazard than a complete pipe organ. The environmentalists don't agree, though--any threat at all is considered to be unacceptable to them. A pox on their houses!




                    As to the original question, my answer would be "because there is no need to do so". What we have is working, is well understood, lasts almost eternally, and is posing little or no threat to mankind or wildlife. What is the incentive, other than the ranting of some ecological Nazis?




                    David

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                    • #11
                      Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?



                      David,



                      I like your ecological Nazis. Lead is only a problem in disposable electronics where computers using lead solders are dumped in land fills. Organ pipes are best made of a tin-lead alloy with small amounts of added metals such as antimony added to prevent sag with age. Solid pipe walls that do not vibrate excessively are needed to prevent hearing the metal ring instead of the pipe sound.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?

                        It would be interesting to try to calculate the total contribution of waste and  hazardous materials of the pipe organ industry as compared to, say, the Roland corporation.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?

                          The Europeans are now rapidly phasing out lead in anything, but do have an exemption (for now) on organ pipes. No doubt this is because organ building is a major business in Europe and one that is very traditional and rooted in history. How long the environmentalists can be held in check is not known, but I suspect it is problematical.
                          Actually this is more a side effect of badly written laws than an environmentalist ploy. The issue at hand is that through some overly broad definition of "electronic device" pipe organs are considered "electronic devices". The issue with lead is to remove it from things that are likely to be dumped. It is rather clear that pipes can be 100% controlled recycled (and always have been). And with the current metal prices very liklely to be so. But as that law is passed and nobody ever took it serious that pipe organs be part of it is almost ended in a drama.

                          So I don't think that there is much to fear but it can be taken as a warning not to take things for granted. Certainly not with the intelligence of lawmakers and politicians at the level it is now.

                          The biggest problem of it all is that this is now used by the toaster makers as a reason to get rid of real organs.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?



                            [quote user="Austin766"]I suppose they could make pipes out of Molded plastic, but I think that tone quality might suffer. Pipes might also be harder to voice that way.

                            As for the 32' Violones, those would hurt.[/quote]



                             



                            Plastics could be the worst place you'd want to go.  Maybe make them out of cornstarch :)



                            What isn't ecologically sound about tin and wood?  I suppose lead could be a problem, but I wouldn't allow my kids to chew on pipes in an organ loft anyway :)



                            The biggest problem of it all is that this is now used by the toaster makers as a reason to get rid of real organs



                            I think we need a bit less of the inflamatory.  It's really REALLY tiring listening to the faithful on this issue. 

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Why haven't ecologically sound organ pipes been invented yet?



                              One could make pipes of copper or brass but expense would be a factor. There are lead-free solders that can be used.




                              Aluminum also could be used however soldering must be done in an oxygen-free atmosphere. There are various alloys that should be sufficiently workeable. The builder will have to invest in a heliarc welder.




                              Perhaps some ABS or PVC plastic could be utilized. Problem is pipes require diameters changing in small increments whereas plastics are usually molded or extruded. This would require a major expense in tooling. Perhaps heat forming sheet plastic is a possibility.




                              Another idea is forming epoxy and fiberglass around a mold like a boat hull or surfboard is fabricated. The molds could be reused over and over. Newer epoxys maintain stability over a large temperature range and are used everywhere. Maybe this could be quite practical as no special equipment is required for fabrication. These molds would be simular to pipemaker's patterns.




                              Al




                              .


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