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Introduction and Advice on Purchasing a Reed Organ

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  • #16
    Eventually you need to take apart unto the last screw and mouse turd, but to get the bellows out, a simple disassembly is all.The things come apart in layers, starting at the stopboard, the keyframe, then the upper action; at that point you flip it on its side and undo the treadle straps and then the bellows should yank right out after withdrawing the 4 (or a dozen) screws holding it to the case.

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    • #17
      Well friends, I am the proud owner of a chapel reed organ now. xD I decided to go for that Hinners model. It's gonna need a fair bit of restoring though.. I keep running into more and more little things that need fixing. In general, it's not in awful shape though and the sound is great! More pictures and lots of questions inbound!

      Here I am playing it just after we got it off the trailer while it was still outside for some general cleaning.
      Click image for larger version

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      • #18
        Congrats. First things - do all the keys sound? If some don't and the keys DO come back up when you press them, it may be dusty reeds. My Kimball had VERY dusty reeds... Don't vacuum or use compressed air right around the reed beds. You can damage the reeds easily, and they are hard to find now. I pulled mine out an octave at a time and cleaned them with an ultrasonic cleaner and some magic watch cleaner solvent. A picture of the reeds before cleaning and the ultrasonic cleaner unit are in my famous Kimball thread linked below.

        Nice to see also that the organ fits you. No way I'd get my knees under mine. I have a similar stool. It split where the platform under the seat has the metal collar for the threaded component. Dumped me indecorously on my keyster. Now I use an old piano stool propped open one one side and sitting on planks.

        If you want, PM me with your email address and I'll send you a diagram with plans for a real reed organ bench. (It tilts toward the organ and puts you in the correct position to pump. That's what my piano bench is currently emulating.)

        By the way, you might want to raise that stool once you get the organ situated. You'll want to have your arms level with the keyboard from the elbows to the fingers. I'm beginning to play with my hands raised higher and with more of an arch in the fingers, which I never needed to on the piano. I'm a horrible organist as well as pianist, though. No kidding - I sent another forum member a recording of me playing the Rodgers, and he wrote back, "I didn't hear any wrong notes. Not bad, considering you have no discernible sense of rhythm or time."

        I do try to keep it at least joyful (as in noise).
        Last edited by Silken Path; 11-25-2017, 12:03 AM.
        -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
        -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
        -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
        -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
        -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

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        • #19
          Hi Joshua and welcome to the mob of pumpers!

          Nice piece you got yourself there - I bet the neighbors had a good peek at you once they heard the sounds coming from that one right there on your driveway!

          If you are the kind that likes to do some labor of love - and you do sound like one - you are going to have a lot of fun and satisfaction at the end. Take things slow and ask questions - we all learn by the questions and answers we get on this forum. And a pretty pleasant and helpful bunch they are too!

          Enjoy - and do let us have some sound files when you are ready.

          Nico
          "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

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          • #20
            Just curious, were all the stops pushed in when you first saw it? I've read that leaving the stops open lets air circulate and can lead to corrosion in the reeds and dried-out bellows over a long period of time.
            -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
            -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
            -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
            -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
            -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by Silken Path View Post
              Just curious, were all the stops pushed in when you first saw it? I've read that leaving the stops open lets air circulate and can lead to corrosion in the reeds and dried-out bellows over a long period of time.
              Hmmm. I've never heard that before, but it does sound reasonable. I would think an especially moist environment would speed up the oxidation process in such a case. Now, you've made me curious about the veracity of such a statement.

              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)
              • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

              Comment


              • #22
                Now you've made me wonder where I read it...
                -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
                -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
                -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
                -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
                -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

                Comment


                • #23
                  Thank you all for the warm welcome and replies! I will try to answer everything as quickly as I can, and a writeup of everything that needs fixed will be coming soon.

                  Originally posted by Silken Path View Post
                  Just curious, were all the stops pushed in when you first saw it? I've read that leaving the stops open lets air circulate and can lead to corrosion in the reeds and dried-out bellows over a long period of time.
                  I'll answer this question first since it's the easiest. This organ had been in a guy's wood workshop for over 20 years and when I got to it, all the stops were closed which I was mighty thankful for. His shop is a very dusty place so the fact they were closed probably saved the reeds from needing extreme cleaning. That being said, I forgot to close the stops when I left after taking a look at it a week ago, but that wasn't long enough for anything to happen.

                  One nice thing about CO is that humidity is almost non-existent and rats aren't really a problem. There are mice here and there depending on what part of the state you're in, but so far in opening the organ up, I have yet to find any evidence of those either. We'll see if that changes when I get into the bellows.

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                  • #24
                    Secondly, most of the keys sound. Unfortunately there are some that don't though. There's only one key that doesn't sound at all, but there are different keys here and there with each stop where there's no sound. As I expressed earlier, the top 7 (or so) keys don't work at all except for the top 6 only on one stop. The one key that doesn't sound at all no matter what stop is open is that top C at the very end. I definitely anticipate needing to clean at least those reeds if not all of them.

                    Another problem I've been running into that it takes a dreadful amount of time for some of the reeds to sound. The delay is pretty bad at times and can really throw me off while playing. Admittedly, some reeds are dirty and the bellows are weak so that could be causing some of that I think, but is there anything else that could be contributing to it?

                    Originally posted by Silken Path View Post
                    I pulled mine out an octave at a time and cleaned them with an ultrasonic cleaner and some magic watch cleaner solvent. A picture of the reeds before cleaning and the ultrasonic cleaner unit are in my famous Kimball thread linked below.
                    That's interesting. My family has a home business where we ultrasonically clean blinds for people in a special bath in our truck. Do you think cleaning the reeds using that would work?

                    That stool really isn't ideal. xD I've had it for a while because it was an antique my grandma had, but it's so squeaky that it makes a loud sound whenever you move and it's really not ideal for playing organ with. I was just using it because it's what I had on hand. I was trying to move as quickly as I could so the organ could be inside before dark. I might be interested in getting those plans for the real organ bench though. We'll have to see if I'm able to build something that involved, but I'll PM you when I get the chance.

                    - - - Updated - - -

                    Originally posted by Organfella View Post
                    Nice piece you got yourself there - I bet the neighbors had a good peek at you once they heard the sounds coming from that one right there on your driveway!

                    If you are the kind that likes to do some labor of love - and you do sound like one - you are going to have a lot of fun and satisfaction at the end. Take things slow and ask questions - we all learn by the questions and answers we get on this forum. And a pretty pleasant and helpful bunch they are too!

                    Enjoy - and do let us have some sound files when you are ready.
                    Yeah, there's no telling how many neighbors saw me doing that, haha. xD

                    You can be sure that I'll be asking loads of questions since I'm very new to this. Before I really get into restoring (other than thoroughly cleaning those parts which I can get to without disassembling anything) I think i'm going to try and read the book Restoring & Collecting Antique Reed Organs by Horton Presley that I've requested from interlibrary loan because our library doesn't have it. That combined with the help from people on the forum and all the research I've done up to this point should get me going pretty nicely.

                    And yeah, I'm planning on recording a clip of what it sounds like before it's restored so I can compare that to what it sounds like after. I'm sure you guys will get to hear it at some point.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Silken Path View Post
                      Just curious, were all the stops pushed in when you first saw it? I've read that leaving the stops open lets air circulate and can lead to corrosion in the reeds and dried-out bellows over a long period of time.
                      It can't dry out the bellows, but is can allow moths to get to the pallet valves.
                      It will also keep the mutes and mute springs at their fully-torqued position,which is more stress than closed.
                      It allows moths to nest in the reed cells, once they have feasted on the felts.
                      It exposes the mute leather to more air, will dry them out more fully, then they slough off fibers which can clog small reeds.
                      Never leave stops, swells or full organ on.

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                      • #26
                        Congratulations

                        Originally posted by ColoradoJoshua View Post
                        Well friends, I am the proud owner of a chapel reed organ now. xD I decided to go for that Hinners model. It's gonna need a fair bit of restoring though.. I keep running into more and more little things that need fixing. In general, it's not in awful shape though and the sound is great! More pictures and lots of questions inbound!

                        Here I am playing it just after we got it off the trailer while it was still outside for some general cleaning.
                        [ATTACH=CONFIG]28072[/ATTACH]
                        Joshua, congratulations and welcome to the forum! Just like you I bought my pump organ (first keyboard instrument) just after HS graduation: an A.L.Swan and now at age 75 would not want to part with it. I understand it was built prior to the Civil War; I have no other historical information. So glad for your interest in the instrument and now have your very own! Eventually I did extensive work on the bellows and replaced all the cloth material. The organ is always an interesting conversation piece when friends visit my home. I wish you many hours and years of enjoyment and fun. May God bless you at this Advent season with Christ's peace.
                        Lloyd

                        Happily retired organist/pianist from the Church of the Brethren...Allen ADC-4300-DK.
                        Home...Wurlitzer (ES) Orgatron Series 20 Serial #11608 (retrofitted with MIDI and VPO-Hauptwerk) with Leslie 44W (shorty).
                        Hammond BC Serial #5070 with Leslie 31A (tallboy) tone cabinet
                        A.L. Swan antique pump organ (C.1852) Cherry Valley NY
                        Member of the Lutheran Church (LCMS): traditional worship. Cleveland Clinic Spiritual Care volunteer with the chaplain's office.

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                        • #27
                          Joshua, I suspect you'll get a lot of the keys working again just by cleaning the reeds. The cover under the keyboard should be removable. You can then operate the levers and see what happens. The Presley book will help. Don't bother with the Milne book, other than for entertainment.
                          -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
                          -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
                          -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
                          -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
                          -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Silken Path View Post
                            Joshua, I suspect you'll get a lot of the keys working again just by cleaning the reeds. The cover under the keyboard should be removable. You can then operate the levers and see what happens. The Presley book will help. Don't bother with the Milne book, other than for entertainment.
                            Unfortunately a good deal of the action will have to come apart too though... Some of the keys are very difficult to press. One in particular and it's one of the A's I use all the time in the middle of the keyboard.

                            I was able to get that front panel off the other day, but inside is a swell damper and inside of that are the actual reeds. I have yet to figure out how to actually get to the reeds themselves. This organ is built very differently to all of the others I've seen online so I'm planning on posting pictures of everything with detailed descriptions and whatnot when I go to make my thorough list of all the problems it has. Question about cleaning the reeds: If I clean one reed, do I have to clean all of them for everything to still be in tune?

                            And thanks for the tip on the books!

                            - - - Updated - - -

                            Originally posted by lcid View Post
                            Joshua, congratulations and welcome to the forum! Just like you I bought my pump organ (first keyboard instrument) just after HS graduation: an A.L.Swan and now at age 75 would not want to part with it. I understand it was built prior to the Civil War; I have no other historical information. So glad for your interest in the instrument and now have your very own! Eventually I did extensive work on the bellows and replaced all the cloth material. The organ is always an interesting conversation piece when friends visit my home. I wish you many hours and years of enjoyment and fun. May God bless you at this Advent season with Christ's peace.
                            This organ has already started to be a conversation piece with my friends, haha. I can't wait til it's working properly. And thank you.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Joshua, my Kimball has two layers - opening the swell gets the long shutter, and then pulling, in this case, the Celeste, lifts the "mute" that keeps the reed from sounding, thus exposing the reeds in their beds.

                              The wood dowels that go between the keys and the lower part can swell and become difficult to push. I've heard of people sanding them lightly and putting them back in. You'd need to pull the top mechanism to get to them. When you do, be careful to put em back in the space you got 'em.

                              We're all looking forward to seeing the pictures. I'm curious about how the multiple sets of reeds are arranged.

                              I got lucky and found a reed puller in the organ. Presley says that every organ originally came with one. May you also be so lucky.

                              A nail with a file handle (hard plastic handle that screws on a flat or triangular metal or wood file) can be used. You may need a couple of sizes for the different size reeds.

                              To answer your question about the cleaning method, you need to find out if the cleaning solution is compatible. You might find copper, zinc, lead, who knows what, in brass metals of this era. By the way, the little ultrasonic cleaners made for dentures and jewelry should have enough space for an octave or reeds.

                              I did pull out a pair of reeds individually. I read somewhere to "pull the reed right below the key and the same one on the opposite side." I got it working (it was the back one, of course) by lightly dragging it on a microfiber cloth. It left an impressive smudge.
                              -- I'm Lamar -- 1967 Allen TC-4 Project (forum thread)
                              -- 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ (forum thread)
                              -- 1999 Rodgers W5000C and Hauptwerk - spare W5000C for spares
                              -- Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3 and E-112 - Roland RD300nx stage piano
                              -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Silken Path View Post
                                I got lucky and found a reed puller in the organ. Presley says that every organ originally came with one. May you also be so lucky.

                                A nail with a file handle (hard plastic handle that screws on a flat or triangular metal or wood file) can be used. You may need a couple of sizes for the different size reeds.
                                Hopefully, your organ came with a reed puller. However, in the absence of a reed puller, you may be able to use a crocheting hook to pull the reeds. Personally, I've never done it, but I've heard of others who have had success with that method. I'd recommend one with a rather flat (rather than round) shank where the hook is.

                                I also look forward to the photos.

                                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)
                                • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

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