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Renewing interest in reed organs

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    Renewing interest in reed organs

    Hello,

    I had recently posted my becoming disinterested in reed organs, until I saw an ad for one on Ebay that had been converted to wind power from a "Lee Silent Suction Unit" that had been installed.

    The organ is an Estey Parlor Pump Organ, #32557, and is intact except for the foot-pedal unit being disconnected.

    Do any of you have experience with a "converted" reed organ?

    Thanks,
    HiDesertHal

    #2
    Hal,

    My Estey 2mp reed organ has been "converted." However, a chain was put on the crank handle for the bellows, and the other end to a motor. In my case, it's a bit loud, but that's because of the nature of the conversion. If I still had the handle, I'm sure it would be MUCH quieter. It certainly eliminates the pumping!

    https://organforum.com/gallery/displ..._display_media

    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 & 6 Pianos

    Comment


      #3
      Maybe convert the chain to a belt? Pad the motor well, and even use a BLDC motor to avoid 60hz hum, though they are pricey.
      Allen 530A

      Comment


        #4
        Just my two shekels - I got a Lee suction unit for my George Woods when I was rebuilding it, as an experiment.

        Found that it provided excellent suction, pulling lots of air through the reeds and making a big increase in volume.

        But ... there was no nuance or expression in playing. The organ was always L O U D (and the Lee unit was always audible).

        Disconnected the unit and have been using the natural suction system ever since.
        Tom M.

        Comment


        • myorgan
          myorgan commented
          Editing a comment
          But ... there was no nuance or expression in playing. The organ was always L O U D (and the Lee unit was always audible).
          Good observation I hadn't thought of yet. I suppose you could nuance the knee swells, but that has limited effect.

          Michael

        #5
        I was wandering around a flea market a week or so ago and noticed two blowers sitting there looking at me. I did not ask what the prices were as at the time had no interest other than what they were used for. The fans were at a guess about 18" in diameter. After I got home I remembered my old Mannborg Tudor is fitted with the mechanics to accept a blower and I got to thinking...... Maybe I will visit the stall again when I can.

        Casey will confirm that to connect a blower to any pump organ is equivalent to something like sacrilege as it robs the organ of so many features that one might do a lot better not doing the evil deed. Tom has also confirmed this when he said that there is no varying of the expression and the organ only plays on top volume. This is totally uncharacteristic for any pump organ. My own feeling is that unless one has a problem in using one's feet or legs then better to stay away from blowers. Those of course are better meant for larger pipe organs.

        OK, now I have convinced myself to keep treadling those treadles instead....

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

        Comment


          #6
          I have one of those Lee suction units for my Kimball. By itself, it's too strong, and LOUD as Tom said, so I made a few different orifices to regulate the vacuum. I cut a 2" hole in a board and enlarged the hole in the center of it. I tried several sizes and settled for 3/8" and 5/8". I glued a ponytail retainer to the outside edge to make it fit the top of the bypass, which I have attached to the top of the pump.

          The unit doesn't mind having a load, as that's what a perfect organ would present when no note is being played.

          I still need to redo the bellows, but at least this lets me play it the meantime, and the partial boost keeps the pedal expressiveness.

          Hal, can you tell if the unit is installed inside the organ, thus getting rid of the bellows completely?

          -- 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


            #7
            You can see the details on the ebay page:

            https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Est...7/192738792228

            Internal Lee unit; original bellows system removed.

            Tom M.

            Comment


              #8
              Yes, Silken Path...the Lee unit is installed on the bottom floor of the organ in the rear. The bellows have been removed and the right pedal is missing.

              I'm not going to buy this organ after hearing that the vacuum unit is on "full afterburner" all the time, with no expressiveness as provided by manual pedaling.

              You may see this organ on Ebay by entering the stock number #32557.

              HiDesertHal
              Last edited by HiDesertHal; 04-09-2019, 03:24 PM.

              Comment


                #9
                Wow. I'd have to give the seller an "A+" for presentation. That's very similar to the Lee unit I have. Knowing what I know now, I'd put the inlet somewhere down low on the bellows side rather than the air box side. I can hear the "wind" where it enters now. It looks like they went into the bottom of the airbox. That's all right.

                Hal, that application would lend itself toward an orifice to control the vacuum level. (Nico has one that actually DUMPED part of the suction outside the organ.)
                -- 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


                #10
                Regarding the "strong suction" of the Lee unit. I'd think that even reducing the unit's suction would still result in having no control over expression. Fast pedaling for more air movement, slow or no pedaling for gradual reduction in sound - that can't happen with a constant suction unit like the Lee. It's either creating suction, or it's not.

                Tom M.

                Comment


                • myorgan
                  myorgan commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I'll again mention the presence of knee swells, if they haven't been removed. If the suction unit is too strong, it can cause notes to sound from stops that aren't selected (if you have leaks). That can be fixed, obviously, but be aware it's a possiblity.

                  Nico, are your organs pressure or suction sounding?

                  Michael

                • Organfella
                  Organfella commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Michael I have two suction types, both Mannborg's then there is the old Jilles van der Tak, Dutch built and pressure system, I believe there is or was a fitting for a blower but the pump handles mechanism as well as parts of the blower coupling are missing. One day when I grow up maybe I will set my mind to fixing that..... Nico

                #11
                Originally posted by nutmegct View Post
                Regarding the "strong suction" of the Lee unit. I'd think that even reducing the unit's suction would still result in having no control over expression. Fast pedaling for more air movement, slow or no pedaling for gradual reduction in sound - that can't happen with a constant suction unit like the Lee. It's either creating suction, or it's not.

                Tom M.
                Arndt sells a bypass valve that fits on top of the Lee suction unit for the express purpose of allowing it to be used with bellows. Interestingly, it relies on the suction FROM the organ being greater than the suction from the unit itself. It's actually a misnomer, too. There's a spring-operated shutt-off valve that sucks closed, preventing any suction from being added to the system. So this applies only to organs that have bellows AND the suction unit. One is actually adding additional suction to the system whenever one is pumping.

                I'm using a 5/8" orifice at the pump inlet and because of my leaky system, it only sounds a few reeds by itself. I still need to pump it...

                But when I tried it at first, with all the suction applied, it was loud and the vox humana hummed along like nobody's business.
                -- 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


                  #12
                  As an example, if you've got an electric suction unit running, how do you play a chord and let the sound gradually taper down to nothing?

                  To me, that's what is completely impossible using an electric suction unit - unless you manually switch off the unit.

                  I've learned how effective the "faster pumping, slower pumping, fade to silence with no pumping" is. You can't do that with an electrified vacuum system.

                  Tom M.

                  Comment


                    #13
                    By getting out of the pedals. I can't fade it down to nothing, but I can drop the volume drastically by letting both pedals return. All this is doing is removing my input...

                    I think you're right, though. A pure system could only wait for the pump's suction to collapse -- by being turned off.

                    Anyway, when I get a chance to clear some more space, I do intend to repair the bellows. But the plan is to give it to my mom, and she'll like the pump.

                    In the kooky ideas department, I've noticed that Camco makes cable-operated RV dump valves. This could make for operator position control of boost...
                    -- 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


                      #14
                      I just had a brainwave (this is extremely rare!)

                      Suppose one is to manufacture a butterfly type valve fitted inside the blower coupling connected by linkages and operated by a pedal similar to the expression pedal on electronic organs. This pedal can be made to open the valve by depressing and closing again when releasing. It can even be assembled so that the blower suction is completely shut off when the pedal is in the upper position. It would have to be spring loaded of course for this to be possible....

                      Now I am probably in the cross hairs of the true puritans as not only will such a contraption allow the installation of that evil blower, but also require the fitting of a (perhaps unsightly) extra pedal somewhere down there. (perhaps the right hand treadle could be converted for the purpose..?)

                      Please don't shoot me for this thought, I sometimes have a fertile mind!

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

                      Comment


                      • Valiant Farmer
                        Valiant Farmer commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I've been thinking of building one of those valves too...probably wont though. Great idea!

                      • Silken Path
                        Silken Path commented
                        Editing a comment
                        It could be linked to the left-hand swell lever....

                      #15
                      Originally posted by Organfella View Post
                      Suppose one is to manufacture a butterfly type valve fitted inside the blower coupling connected by linkages and operated by a pedal similar to the expression pedal on electronic organs. This pedal can be made to open the valve by depressing and closing again when releasing.
                      Nico,

                      That reminds me of a stovepipe flue control. They can be readily found here in the Northern USA. Too bad they're so large so they won't fit inline. Great idea, though!

                      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 & 6 Pianos

                      Comment


                      • Organfella
                        Organfella commented
                        Editing a comment
                        In this country the down pipes (leading rainwater from the roof) are about 80mm in diameter and ideal for connecting blowers to organs, in fact, the old Mannborg Theodor (Tudor) was connected in that fashion. The material used is hard plasticky stuff with about 6mm thick walls. One could easily make a butterfly valve that fits snugly inside a pipe section. The protrusions of the control shaft can be sealed with felt rings and the assembled valve section can be attached with normal pipe couplings that just push over the standard size pipes. To make the linkages would be simple.

                        I have almost convinced myself to try something like that - just need to build up enough gumpfff or something similar to get my behind off the chair and get to work!

                        Nico
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