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Rebuilding the Beatty Beethoven

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  • Rebuilding the Beatty Beethoven

    Since there was some interest in my other thread, here’s where I’ll be posting my adventures in rebuilding my new Beatty Beethoven organ.
    So first, some starting info on the organ. To my knowledge, Daniel Beatty started producing the Beethoven like mine in 1882, and stopped in 1884 when he was arrested for mail fraud. The model continued after the restructuring of the company, but the name on the stop rail read Beethoven Organ & Piano Co rather than Daniel F Beatty Organ Co. Thus, my organ dates to somewhere between 1882 and 1884.
    The organ is a 5 octave instrument with 22 stops and 3 knee swells. From those 22 stops, there is an octave coupler, 4 dampers, a clapper type vox Humana, and the rest are divided up between full stops, half stops, and a couple combination stops. The organ contains 10 sets of reeds, but only 3 ranks. The front two ranks are broken up into 8 mutes, most are only one octave. The back contains the Diapason foundation reeds.
    Now for the organ as I found it. It was loaded with dust and moth remains. Most of the felt in the back is gone, having been eaten, and unfortunately 3 of the pallet valves need to be redone because the moth larvae got to them. There’s some mouse damage, so one of the dampers need a piece scabbed on. Looks like the mice mostly lived under the organ thankfully, and they did so without touching the bellows so the bellows dont need any work. The keys are badly yellowed so I will try cleaning them up a little with some 0000 steel wool or a magic eraser. I know they won’t be white again but there a lot of room for improvement anyway. The reeds are in good shape with just some black corrosion on the frame and I verdigris. Unfortunately one reed has a broken tip, it’s the high E in one of the front ranks so it won’t be missed that much, but if anyone has any leads on repairing or replacing it I would appreciate it. I do have a machine shop so I could possibly attempt machining a new reed tongue.
    That’s all I have for now, but I look forward to seeing what you guys think and recommend as I move forward with the restoration.
    I will have to upload pictures later. I can’t seem to do it from my phone, the server throws an error.
    Note for the admin: I cant upload pictures at all. Even from my laptop I get an error writing a temporary file.
    Last edited by myorgan; 06-27-2020, 07:57 AM. Reason: Fix extraneous tag.

  • #2
    TPLeavitt,

    You should be able to upload photos, however, have you resized the photos? If you take your photos with HD resolution, they may not upload due to file sizes. You should no longer be on moderation status, so your photos should upload.

    Another thought, I've sometimes had to transfer the photos from my phone to my laptop and upload them from there. It shouldn't be necessary, but it might work. I look forward to this thread with great interest.

    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
      There we go. Resizing did the trick. I’ll make a note to myself about that. Would be helpful if the server error message mentioned that too.

      Click image for larger version

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      Heres the organ as purchased. I didn’t think to get a picture of the back at the time, but just imagine lots of cobwebs and moth larvae remains behind the fall board.

      Click image for larger version

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ID:	732676Here is the action after the key frame was removed. Removing the keyframe was tricky, I had to take the key retainer board off to remove a couple keys so I could get at some screws bracing the top of the front damper support and the pitman guide. Plus, some of the linkages for the stops are connected to the keyframe as well. So much more difficult than the keyframe for my Beckwith.

      Click image for larger version

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ID:	732675Finally, here is the underside of the action with the treble pallets removed. All of these were in good shape albeit very very dirty. Careful cleaning with a small handheld vacuum with a brush attachment got most of it. The crack in the soundboard is visible on the lower right hand side of the action. Not sure how best to seal it, the wood warped and cracked. I’m wondering if I can just use some wood glue and clamps to flatten it back out and seal it. Not original, but I don’t think this organ is worth much beyond entertainment value anyway.
      Attached Files

      Comment


      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        TP,

        You may want to close the window blinds so you get a better photo. Background lighting doesn't work well–makes it difficult to see the details of your work.

        Michael

    • #4
      TP - you have an adventure ahead! Some thoughts from a non-expert:

      I can't see the crack you mention, but I'd probably only try to keep it from growing. Using clamps to "flatten" that century old wood might result in more damage. A technique I've used to "freeze" a crack (on a table top, not on the organ) is to sprinkle baking soda over the crack area. Smooth it over with a putty knife so the crack is filled, and blow off any residual. Then drip thin cyanoacrylate glue over the soda area; the soda sucks up the glue down into the crack. Once it's dry, lightly sand the area. Anyway, worked for me, and the crack hasn't opened or spread in over 10 years. I don't know if the soda would soak up wood (horse) glue.

      What's the condition of the lower (air system) part of the organ? I'd imagine you'll be completely replacing the valves and bellows cloth. My George Woods had been repaired several times in the past - by home made patch jobs using a coat hanger, denim, a Wheaties box, and superglue. Not fun to work on.

      Onward through the fog!
      Tom M.

      Comment


      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        Tom & TP,

        Could the crack be repaired and stabilized like a piano soundboard? I've been doing some reading lately, and I wonder if it would work?

        Michael

      • samibe
        samibe commented
        Editing a comment
        I've done something similar for piano pinblocks but not on a soundboard. Trying the super glue repair won't affect whether the crack can be repaired in the future (if there super glue doesn't work).

    • #5
      Michael - I know zilch about repairing piano soundboards. But I'd think that if there's only one small crack a few inches long, and the board is otherwise healthy, then the crack would make hardly a difference in the organ's sound. If the crack is causing a buzzing sound (rare), then repair would be needed.

      Just my two inflationary cents.
      Tom M.

      Comment


      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        Agreed, Tom. I believe the piano and organ soundboards use the same terminology, but serve different purposes. An expert would have to weigh in here to know for sure.

        Michael

    • #6
      Gents, here is a picture of the crack. My understanding is organ soundboards aren’t as critical as piano soundboards. The big issue is the crack in the soundboard means a crack in the windchest, which obviously leaks badly. I’m more worried about the air leak than any effects on the tone and sound. So much of the sound comes from the reeds anyway.
      Click image for larger version

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ID:	732700As for the question about the lower action, the bellows and reservoir are all in great shape but I don’t think it’s the original material. Further disassembly shows this thing was worked on in more modern times as someone scabbed on a repair to the sticker guide with a small piece of plywood.
      More disassembly is on the list for today. I’m trying to get the dampers off so I can replace the leather on some of the mutes. Unfortunately this is complicated by the fact that all of the linkages are riveted together so there is no way to disconnect the the mutes and dampers from the stop mechanism. I’m going to double check that they are in fact rivets and not screws with slots full of rust, but looks like I’m in for an adventure getting the mutes and dampers out.

      Comment


      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        The grain is hard to see.

        I'm going by the circular stain on both sides of the vertical crack, and the stain appears to line up, so it looks like the two pieces do belong together. However, if you look in the forefront of the photo where the screws are, you can see the left side lifting off the frame. My hypothesis is that if the piece were put back down in place, it may solve the issue of the vertical crack. We won't know until it is tried, though. Only the owner can tell.

        Michael

      • TPLeavitt
        TPLeavitt commented
        Editing a comment
        Tom, you’re correct. The soundboard was originally 3 or more pieces of spruce glued together and the split is along an old glue seam

      • nutmegct
        nutmegct commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks TP. I figured as much. Stains would have occurred after the instrument had been assembled. And making a top to the air cavity box from more than one piece of wood would be cheaper, and hardly affect the sound produced from the reeds. I wonder if replacing the board completely might be worthwhile. Onward through the fog!

    • #7
      TP - thanks, that photo really helps. I'm 100% with you on sealing any air leaks! I "back pressured" my air system when it was out of the case, and found about two dozen leaks, which I closed with various rubber bits or felt. Fortunately, none of the leaks were similar to that nasty one in your photo; they were mostly at screw/bolt holes and all around the seal between the "sound board" and the bottom of the wind chest. Also a few at the bottom of the sub bass and celeste boxes.

      I think my photo archive on reedsoc.org shows details.

      Tom M.

      Comment


      • #8
        Looks like wood glue and a clamp took care of the crack. There’s still a little visible on the top side but fresh shellac will seal that off incase the wood glue didn’t get all of it. All that’s left for the underside of the action now is replacing the bedding felt for the pallets, recovering three of the pallets, and then reinstalling the mute for the vox Humana. Then I’ll get some pictures and flip the action back upright so I can continue on the top side.
        Also, I may attempt to repair the broken reed. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find a replacement out there. I don’t know if I can just solder a new tip on the tongue or if I need to try to make a whole new tongue, but I’m gonna try either way.

        Comment


        • #9
          Well the under side of the action is just about done, all that’s left is to double check the movement of the pallets and wax any guide pins that need it. Most of the valves were in good shape, only three needed new felt and leather. The mute that controls the tremolo also got new leather, I’ll be curious to see how this vox Humana compares to the beater fan on my Beckwith.
          Click image for larger version

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          Next up is redoing the bedding felt for the reeds and redoing the mutes. One of the mutes may need to be replaced entirely due to too much rodent damage. The bedding felt must have been redone at some point as it’s not even felt at the moment. Currently the bedding is some kind of woven strap like material, but whatever it is it’s old and disintegrating.
          One good thing, a damp rag showed most of the discoloration on top is just dirt so I’ll be curious to see how it cleans up with some Murphy’s oil soap. I still intend to put a fresh coat of shellac on to help seal it back up, but it would be nice to leave the original intact underneath and not have to sand the wood down. Hopefully the oil soap cleans the case up nicely too.

          Comment


          • Valiant Farmer
            Valiant Farmer commented
            Editing a comment
            Good going! On case resto, what I have had good success with, is to lightly sand it with fine sandpaper, then rub or paint on Methylated spirits. If you look at my thread of Rebuilding a Sherlock Manning I have some photos of what my stopboard looked like before and after the meths treatment. I would be interested to know if it works for you.
            The reed bedding is almost always felt, but some have had success with using leather.
            Joshua

        • #10
          TP- you and Joshua should open up an international business of reed organ restoration!

          As an aside, one thing I discovered when reassembling my George Woods - the felt and/or leather between wooden surfaces sometimes masks slight warps in the surface. Be sure to check carefully when reassembling, so you don't jump through all the hoops and headaches, and still have some leaks due to non-parallel surfaces. Happened on my air system, as well as where sub-bass and celeste were mounted.

          Also, you'll probably discover the "beater" tremolo is aptly called "beater". Sounds like a weak, bleating lamb - not the smooth warble of the fan type. I'm assuming your tremolo is a small box with a weight inside, which opens/closes the air flow.

          Could you post a closeup of that broken reed? I have some old manuals detailing how to repair (some of) them.

          Tom M.

          Comment


          • #11
            Originally posted by nutmegct View Post
            TP- you and Joshua should open up an international business of reed organ restoration!

            As an aside, one thing I discovered when reassembling my George Woods - the felt and/or leather between wooden surfaces sometimes masks slight warps in the surface. Be sure to check carefully when reassembling, so you don't jump through all the hoops and headaches, and still have some leaks due to non-parallel surfaces. Happened on my air system, as well as where sub-bass and celeste were mounted.

            Also, you'll probably discover the "beater" tremolo is aptly called "beater". Sounds like a weak, bleating lamb - not the smooth warble of the fan type. I'm assuming your tremolo is a small box with a weight inside, which opens/closes the air flow.

            Could you post a closeup of that broken reed? I have some old manuals detailing how to repair (some of) them.

            Tom M.
            I’ll be curious to see how the tremolo works. It is the type with the small weight and valve inside a box as opposed to the fan.

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            The under side of the action is just about done. Two valves in the base are still a little sticky but that should be easy to fix.
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            The top side also cleaned up quite nicely! Some oil soap did the trick getting the grime up. It couple probably still use a fresh coat of shellac on top though.
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            Unfortunately, in my cleaning of the reed heels, one of the piccolo reed tongues got snagged so I now have two reeds that need repair. The piccolo reed is a D#5 and the other reed is a vox Celeste or clarionet D4. I hope your manuals can help me repair these. Even if they can’t, I’ll be curious to see what they say about reed repair anyway.

            Comment


            • #12
              Not good news I'm afraid. If the tongue is actually broken off, there's no repair possible as far I can know.

              Here's what to do: contact Nelson Pease in Palmer, MA. He has gazillions of reeds in boxes, and can likely send you a replacement (which may need a bit of tuning). He'll ask you exactly what make/model you have, and to send him the reed one octave below the one that's broken so he can match pitch. He also has several hundred reed organs - some completely restored, some recently freed from decades of neglect in attics and cellars.

              https://www.pumporganrestorations.co...blications.htm

              He also provides parts for classic cars, as he was once a Nash/AMC dealer. Had exactly the manifold I needed for my 1958 Rambler American flathead six.



              Tom M.

              Comment


              • TPLeavitt
                TPLeavitt commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks Tom! I will send him an email right away, hopefully he’s got some old Beatty parts there he’s willing to let go.

              • myorgan
                myorgan commented
                Editing a comment
                Tom,

                That photo is a blast from the past. For at least a year or two, my brother and I drove a '56 Nash Metropolitan (4-cyl.) to school and back home so we didn't have to wait 1/2 hour for the bus, and then an additional 1/2 hour ride on the bus.

                One day, he failed to negotiate a corner at the end of our road after a snowstorm, went into the ditch, and the right front tire struck a stump under the snow. My head hit the roof (that explains a lot, doesn't it!), and the tires were now heading opposite directions. I had to push him out of the snowbank. His solution: Tie a logging chain around a tree, stick the car in reverse, and straighten the alignment! It worked!

                We actually got a television because of that car–it had no heat, and we wanted to travel 3 hours to the State basketball tournament in -40˚ weather. It didn't happen, and we got a 13" B&W TV from Zayres.

                Michael

            • #13
              Michael - great memories. Our family was Nash/Rambler from the late '40s to around 1980. Dad always trusted them more than he trusted Ford, Chrysler, or GM.

              Here's a wagon like we drove from Texas to California, in 1956:



              Had factory air - quite modern for 1956. Nash/AMC were well known for above average climate control system.

              OK - back to reed organs!
              Tom M.

              Comment


              • myorgan
                myorgan commented
                Editing a comment
                Tom,

                Your Dad took the "Cross Country" literally!!!

                We actualy had a '57 or '58 Cadillac (where the gas was filled through the tail light), '63 Cadillac Fleetwood, '68 Cadillac Fleetwood, and a '74 Fleetwood. Dad didn't like station wagons, and the Fleetwood was the only other car all 11 of us could fit into. People thought we were rich, but he actually bought them off the local farm equipment dealer for cash after he had driven it for (I think) 30k-40k miles. Every year, he took my mother & 2-3 kids to the Southeast to visit her parents until they passed away (the parents–not the kids).

                Michael

            • #14
              Oops, posted in the wrong thread. Here we go.
              So more updates on the organ now. The top end is mostly back together and I was able to test play it earlier. But first, what I did:
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              All of the mutes were reinstalled after receiving new leather. Three of them needed a new hinge so the best replacement I could find was used as well as some new slotted screws. Ace Hardware is a good source for slotted screws even having the #12 dome heads for the windchest. The mutes also received new pull wires made from some 1/16in TIG welding rod, some need some more adjustment. The stop action is curious, some of them don’t rotate smoothly yet, I think they need more exercise. We’ll see as I dial everything in.
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              With that, The keyframe was put back in as well as the upper pitman guide. This organ is interesting in that it needs to have the keyframe installed before the keys are installed, there are some screws under the keys that need to be attached to support the front end.

              Finally, how the instrument played. There are still some leaks in the windchest gasket to address, but it was still playable. The keys need leveling and the high C decided to start cyphering, but thatll be addressed tomorrow. Other big thing is it needs tuning, it’s definitely a little wonky in places. My first impressions in playing it though, the key action is a little shallow, but that could’ve just been how I was sitting. The other thing I noticed is the organ is quieted than I expected, but that could be the reeds need a voicing adjustment too. The adventure continues....

              Comment


              • myorgan
                myorgan commented
                Editing a comment
                Your pictures make me think you're from "down under?"

                Michael

            • #15
              I'm betting you took the photos with a smartphone - they're showing upside down. Seems common with smartphone photos.

              Assuming you've "deep cleaned" each reed (after removing them, I let them soak a bit in an ammonia solution), I'm surprised you have tuning issues. I wonder if some are replacements that were done over the years.

              I found on my George Woods that any leaks in the bellows, valves, air chest or cavity board would greatly reduce volume - and any dirt/dust in individual reed chambers would alter pitch. Also, a weak "return spring" on the main bellows prevented full volume.

              How's that "beater" tremolo working out?

              Tom M.

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