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  • Measure of force to depress keys

    Hey everyone,
    Is there a standard measure of the force/weight for depressing a key on a reed organ which is considered the ideal?
    Thanks
    Darragh

  • #2
    I had an Estey H (we were talking about them on the FB group) and I measured the weight at 6 ounces, IIRC. So a 4-note chord with the coupler on was over 2 lbs of pressure (well, the frictional loss of the coupler meant it was a little more)
    Those actions had 2 springs per pallet!
    I bent the springs so the action was at 3oz. and adjusted the safety valve to open before it ciphered.
    You can make a weight from metal weights. I have used a roll of 18 nickels as the standard for many years. A nickel in the US (5 cent coin) weighs 5 grams.
    Casey

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    • #3
      Thanks Casey. The model O has 3 pallets per key with a spring acting on each. So the action is a bit heavy right now. I'll have to stretch the springs a bit to ease the pressure.

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      • #4
        One needs to trade off the touch, or playablility, of the keyboard with the pressure exerted by the pallet spring necessary to keep the pallet sealed against the vacuum in the wind chest while simultaneously supporting the weight of the pitman rod and key on top of it. I recently restored an 1894 Packard chapel organ, and found that setting the pallet springs to apply 9 oz. of pressure to a pallet at rest was adequate to eliminate ciphers while keeping the key touch from being too heavy. If one likes a heavier touch, one can adjust the springs for more pressure (within reason). Too light a pressure can result a reed sounding accidentally when barely touching a key, or random ciphers when the bellows relief valve is set to open at too high a negative pressure (with respect to atmospheric). I recommend using a calibration setup where the fixed and moveable ends of a pallet spring being checked are at the same offset height as they would be when installed, with the moveable end resting on a scale (I use a digital postal or nutritional scale). Be careful not to bend the spring beyond what it would experience in action on its pallet when installing it or the pressure obtained in the calibration setup could be thrown off significantly. These springs only maintain their as-calibrated pressure through a narrow range of bending. Another thing to think about is whether you want the touch pressure/weignt on the black keys to be the same as on the whites. The black keys, since they are shorter, have less leverage and therefore would require greater touch pressure than the whites if their respective pallet springs were all set to the same pressure. In practice this difference isn't much, but a skilled organist might insist on equal touch. This would require establishing a minimum spring pressure for black keys to avoid random ciphers and accidental note sounding when just touching a key, and then setting a higher pressure for pallet springs for the white keys that would result in the same weight being necessary to depress either type of key in order to sound a note. Personally, with my big, fat fingers this nuance isn't an issue. I'd be interested in whether there's a commonly accepted practice (equal key touch pressure/weight or equal pallet spring pressure) for regulating a reed organ keyboard . . .

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        • #5
          This is why the mason & hamlin pallet springs are so much better; the highest resistance is at the top, once that is overcome, the force to hold a valve open is less. So there are no false notes from fat fingers!
          All Esteys are like this:you can glissando by brushing one finger lightly up the keyboard w/o even depressing the key more than 1/16". It demands that you clean up your accuracy, I'll say that.
          The M&H springs are regulated by simply turning a screw. Note to self: make a demo video about this detail.
          Casey

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