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1899 Kimball Parlor Organ

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  • Silken Path
    replied
    Worn playing keys

    Here are some worn playing keys. I'm tempted to leave them as they are. For one thing, it's authentic, and I can tell this organ was well-loved, well-used. For another, I don't know what they're made of, but the color goes entirely through them - they're not covered in paint or indigo or indian ink.

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    I haven't been very busy this week, but I temporarily rigged up an old piano bench to be 21 1/2" x 23 1/4" high and sloped in order to mimic a Mason & Hamlin style 3 pump organ bench. For my trouble I got... a backache. It could be coincidence.

    In other news, I found that the horizontal board above the pedals - the one that has the cutouts for the rollers - has cracked a fairly large piece loose where the right-hand feeder spring fits into a notch in it. I placed the spring end just above the notch and it tried to push through again. Hmm... this board is part of the cross-spine of the organ. The boards for the platform that holds up the works, the bellows, and some corner angle boards all attach to it. It's not going to be great fun to get to even when the works and bellows are out.

    For the time being, I put a wooden stop in to prevent the pedals from going down that last inch or so where the springs exert maximum force on the cross board.

    I had joked in another thread that the Diapason and Principal and the Melodia and Echo Horn all sound alike. They basically do on this organ, so that requires some attention when I get in there.

    I've decided that I am going to put it back together so that it can be operated by the bellows or a pump. To familiarize myself with installing and using one, I ordered the smaller model (2.5" suction) from Arndt Organ Supply. It should be here this week.

    So... so far, so good. I haven't found any terrible problems with this old princess.

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  • SubBase
    replied
    That was one of the best M&H organ I ever owned. I'm grateful that Michael chose it and has done so much great music with it.
    Casey

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  • Pipeorganbuilder
    replied
    Thank you for the fantastic video! What a sound from a reed organ.

    Michael

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  • Silken Path
    replied
    Here is a picture of the original 1899 warranty certificate, which was folded up and stapled inside the organ.

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    In other news, I managed to glue the split lower surface and loose legs together on the claw-footed stool. Now I need to develop some confidence in it again. My plan is to construct the Mason & Hamlin bench #3 which has plans floating around.

    Here's one actually in use. This is Michael Hendron playing on his 1915 M&H in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, while not being sure to wear some flowers in his hair.



    Mr. Hendron is an impressive organist.

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  • Silken Path
    replied
    Alas... Plumped my rumpus on the claw-footed stool, and it split down the middle where the screw enters the lower platform, dumping me most indecorously in front of a listener who actually had a request... (that was not "stop playing").

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  • Organfella
    replied
    Originally posted by Silken Path View Post

    Has anybody worked with similar stuff like this before? Any suggestions?
    HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE! You have in your hands a piece of history - classic history and are indeed fortunate to own an instrument that has been preserved together with the documentation as you describe. Please try and preserve it well. And do not neglect to post some pictures.

    Thanks for keeping us updated.

    Nico

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  • Silken Path
    replied
    Instructions for Taking the Kimball Organ Apart

    I was able to take the pieces of the instruction label inside the organ and assemble them somewhat on a homemade light table. Here's what the label originally said:
    1. Remove two screws in the keyslip (fretwork in front of and below the keys), and lift it out.
    2. To remove the lid or fall-board, turn the buttons on the button-hinges in the frame.
    3. Disconnect all the connecting strips from stop-action to action proper, including grand-organ connections ; then take out the two screws holding the stop-action on the key-frame, and lift out the stop-action.
    4. To take up the action and reed-board, remove all the round-head screws around the edge of the reed-board, and the flat-headed screws in under side of wind-chest in the front, and lift out the action and the reed-board.
    5. After the organ has been taken apart, to put it together again, follow these directions in reverse order.


    Reassemble in reverse order of disassembly.

    Next I'm going to work on the warranty certificate. It was folded into quarters and stapled to the inside of the organ, so it's in four pieces now.

    I'd like to align the parts and frame it, since the date and receiving party's name is clearly visible. A problem I have is that the parts are trying to curl up (before I can press the glass down) and are fragile. What would be neat would be something slightly sticky that I could use to locate the pieces and then put them under glass, yet inert/inactive enough to leave for the next hundred years or so. (Or the second coming, whichever comes first.)

    Has anybody worked with similar stuff like this before? Any suggestions?
    Last edited by Silken Path; 08-19-2017, 07:29 AM. Reason: Kant spiel

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  • Silken Path
    replied
    Originally posted by Mark Carter View Post
    I would certainly recommend an original, sloped bench, as it automatically makes you adopt the correct posture. Enjoying your organ discovery: power to your elbow(s)! Regards, Mark.
    Wow, Mark. I see what you mean. After experimenting with getting the gothic-looking claw-footed stool high enough, I tried my Conn's bench with a couple of boards under the back of the lid. It's an inch or so too high, but it got me moving back on the Kimball's pedals, lower in and further back than I've been playing. This, um, quietened the hinges down a lot. (This live and learn stuff just kills me.) Thank you again, Mark.

    So, I'll need to find or make a pump organ bench. This evil stool can support a planter or something.

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  • Silken Path
    replied
    Interestingly (or maybe not if you're an old hand at reed organs), the Diapason and Flute forte stops do the same thing as the swell knee lever. One can even finesse them in and out to vary the loudness.

    Here's a video of a youngster playing a Kimball like mine.

    Last edited by Silken Path; 08-08-2017, 02:46 PM.

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  • Silken Path
    replied
    Could be - I do like my vittles. The thing is that those notches represent the right-hand lever being moved right another inch or so, and, judging from her foot print, she wasn't a large human. Interestingly, that first notch position barely opens the swell shutter. There are no corresponding marks on the crescendo side, so I think she may have routinely pushed toward the right, maintaining some pressure on the swell shutters. (Maybe her room was a lot bigger than mine...)

    The levers are in the correct places - mounted on the cover over the pedals at the extreme edges. I'll get this down.

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  • Organfella
    replied
    Perhaps they were meant to be operated by one knee only. In such fashion the one knee will be between the levers and the other on the outside. You might want to check if the levers are dead center with the pedals, that might give you an idea of which knee goes where.... Or maybe the levers were meant to squeeze inwards? Either that or the old folk were a lot smaller that us giants of today.... They fed us well.

    Nico

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  • Silken Path
    replied
    Knee levers revisited

    I'm still a little bemused about the knee levers. They are 10 3/4" apart when just touching the hooks on each side. My knees together are about 9 inches wide doing that Huckleberry Finn thing...

    Speaking of dresses, here are some notches in the windchest made by someone, most probably the possessor of those size five feet that left the imprints in the carpet shown on the first page, routinely holding the volume lever open to two particular positions...


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    I suppose I will be able to learn to keep my knees somewhat together when pump, pumping... but that (1) still seems mighty close together, and (2) makes for aiming at the insides of the pedals.

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  • Silken Path
    replied
    Pedal repairs

    This part of the project was aimed at the loose, noisy, and too short pedals. I found an oak board that only needed a little trimming and fashioned new pedals from it. I could only add about a half-inch in length in order to avoid hitting the bellows at the bottom of the stroke or the floor at the top. In the picture below, I have the organ tilted back to work on the pedals. This protrusion for the pedals is actually suspended off the floor a small amount, by design. I've been using some thin board stock to support it when I'm playing. The straps are NOS synthetic hold-down straps for the trucking industry. Above them, not pictured, is a board with the cutouts for the strap rollers. It was was flexing and squeaking when the bellows were opened. A couple of two-inch machine screws through the front and through this board fixed that.

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    I'm not perfectly happy with the piano hinges. They have some slop and are noisy/clunky in certain positions. Although the pedals look pretty good, and it's a definite improvement, they're not as silent as I had hoped. I'm thinking about changing them for 4-inch door hinges, which are certainly made to be durable, and may be more rigid. Also, the oak board I used for the pedals is heavier than the original (southern?) white pine, so that contributes to stress on the hinges, I imagine.


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    The hinge stock shown above is 403 stainless. The mat is from Rubber Cal (US) and is a part of an industrial floor mat. (I have a life-time supply of this stuff now..)

    So, I may be moving sideways and give another try to improve this hinge action...

    On another front, the ringing C above middle C has stopped ringing... and the B-flat below it has started. I don't know what actually fixed the first one, but I did take it out and look at it and look in the reed cell. I theorize that it just wanted to re-seat.

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  • Organfella
    replied
    Good going Lamar! Thanks for keeping us posted. I wish I were closer to be able to hear the beautiful sounds.... Do post some clips when you are ready.

    Nico

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  • Silken Path
    replied
    Utrasonic cleaning the reeds

    Here's the ultrasonic cleaner that I used. It's a Flexion that I purchased from Amazon. The cleaning fluid is "Zenith #777" from esslinger.com.

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    Some of the things I discovered include that the quantity of fluid helps determine how much heat will be generated. When I just covered the tops of the reeds, they got very warm in five or six minutes. At first I was giving it thirty minutes to an hour to cool down between runs. Then I had the bright idea to add another pint or so of fluid, and that helped immensely at keeping the heat down.

    I also found out that leaving the reeds in the cleaning fluid after running, like when going to lunch, for example, will make them sticky when they come out. The solution there is to put them back in and run the cleaner for a minute or two.

    This model cleaner is at the bottom end of a larger series of commercial cleaners. Compared to the precious little clam-shell-like home cleaners used for jewelry and dentures and such, it's uncouth. It buzzes and shudders and hot mist escapes from around the chattering lid. Because the fluid has contact and breathing precautions, I used it in the garage and used chemical-rated gloves (from Lowes paint department) to handle the reeds when they came out. Patting them gently with a microfiber cloth removed most of the fluid, and the rest evaporated in a minute or so.

    It worked great for removing dust and dirt from the reeds. I saved the used fluid to a mason jar. The Zenith #777 went from clear to a deep purple color. A slick of dark particulate matter was on the bottom of the cavity. In 24 hours so far, nothing has particulated out of the solution. So... this stuff was $46/gallon and $20 or so for ground shipping. I used less than a quart of it for the 61 x 2 reeds in this organ, and it was pretty dark and dirty when I finished. It was ready for changing.

    The ultrasonic cleaning didn't touch the area of the reed that was exposed to the room air, i.e. where the note stampings were. I still had to go back and clean them by hand. I used Eagle Never-Dull for that and worked it just long enough to read the stamps.

    The cleaning solution brightened the reeds some. The bottoms, which are away from the room air, were shiny-clean, and the machining and tool marks where clearly visible.

    So what does the organ sound like now? This simple procedure woke it up. The bass is now growly and a pleasure to play around in.

    Onward and upward. My next project is to fix the noisy pedals.

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