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Rebuilding the Beatty Beethoven

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  • #16
    Indeed I did take and upload the pictures from my phone. I’m not sure why they get rotated, I’ve had it happen on other forums before and even then it doesn’t happen all the time.

    Anyway, I did not deep clean the reeds like you describe. My method is more general cleaning, taking care of the dust with a fine brush and then removing any burrs with a razor blade. Most aren’t too dirty, but there’s enough to knock the tuning out a little. Some are probably 10 cents off one way or another.
    I traced the weak reeds to my new rods needing adjustment. The mutes in the back were barely cracked open, opening them all the way helped a lot. The rest of the weakness I think comes from the sunken keys, some of the keys only move maybe 1/8in and I think that’s having an effect on the volume since the valves are barely opening on some keys. More work on that needs to be done, I think either new pitmans or shimming them up under the keys to get more travel. I’ll have to pull the action again to figure that out.

    As far as the clapper tremolo, I think I prefer the fan style. This one works but it knocks the volume down quite a bit. I’ll have to play with it some more and see how much adjustment I can get to get more volume using the tremolo. I’m not too worried though, I don’t use a lot of tremolo when I play anyway.

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    • #17
      TP - the reed sound (timbre and pitch anomalies) improved quite noticeably after I did that ammonia cleaning. Amazing how much is on the reed that's not visible, especially if the instrument was at one time in a home heated by wood, coal, or oil burners. Oily soot build up on everything - like that blue "filter" cloth I showed photos of.

      By the way, "pitman" is usually referred to as "plunger" in most of the old literature.

      That 1/8" key drop is worrisome. Do some digging to see what's causing that. I think it should be around 1/4" to 3/8" at least. If the air passage to each reed isn't fully open, weird things can happen, including false tones (like harmonics, or slightly flat pitch). Ask me how I know!

      If it's taking unusual amount of suction to get that clapper going, it probably needs cleaning and adjustment too, including the steel (?) arm holding the weight.

      Tom M.
      PS - phone photos contain a "rotate or not" code, which unfortunately is handled differently by different apps, forums, and websites. As they're all different, you can (if you wish) prevent the problem by changing the setting on your phone from "auto rotate" to "never rotate". Then always take your photos in the Portrait orientation, not the Landscape orientation. Give it a shot anyway.

      Comment


      • #18
        A belated hello and welcome from another planet. Interesting project you have tackled and survived the pleasure. Firstly I would like to mention that the first picture you posted with the elaborate facade on top immediately made me aware of the resemblance of the center piece to one of those wooden face masks one sometimes sees in use by tribal celebs... (I live in Africa you know).... Enough of the anthopological lessons and speculations .
        A mention on the "cracks" you had to deal with on the upper portion of the wind chest (you named it the soundboard): Most of the reed organ manuafacturers actually deliberately left those small openings to accommodate the expansion and contraction of the wood. They were originally sealed over with bellows cloth to allow for these small movements. Generally speaking you should not have problems having sealed them solidly and made them air tight but differences in humidity and temperature may cause buckling and leaking along the seals around the edges. But don't fret yourself about that now, just get the beast finished and singing. And thanks for sharing your experiences.
        Nico
        "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

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        • #19
          Thanks for the info Tom! I may try the ammonia treatment on some of them and see what happens. I’ll just have to get some ammonia and some distilled water for the final rinse bath. The only ammonia product I have is Brasso and I don’t think that’s the right tool for the job here.
          As for the keys, I found that someone had shimmed the back brace for the keyframe and pushed it up too much causing the frame to distort and angle the keys down. Once that was fixed, the rest was just leveling with some card stock shims on the keys.
          For the clapper, I replaced the seal leather in it as the old stuff was shot. I think there’s more adjustment to do though, there’s a little lead weight on a steel arm so I’ll have to see what I can do with that. But I agree, right now it’s effect is nowhere near as pleasing as the fan type. Notes for the next organ I get lol!
          Ive also had issues with harmonics, but from mutes that don’t want to close all the way. The old brass springs have gotten brittle and one has snapped. So now to see how to fix that. I might go back with a modern torsion style spring since that’s a hidden component and the modern springs should be more reliable than the old style.

          Nico, thanks for the complements! And yes, the facade is reminiscent of a tribal mask. As for the cracks, the bottom of the windchest did have the expansion joints you described, the crack I was dealing with was the top of the windchest. There are not expansion joints in the design, the top is just pieces of quarter sawn spruce glued together and shellacked to form a solid top.

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          • Valiant Farmer
            Valiant Farmer commented
            Editing a comment
            For the mute springs - use piano strings, and bend them to the correct shape. I have used this method successfully. Bend the first sharp angle, insert it into the first hole, then bend the second end a quarter turn 'in', thus spring loading it when installed.

          • TPLeavitt
            TPLeavitt commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to see if I can find some piano wire around here. I don’t think my mom would be real happy about me stealing some off her old Steinway!

          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            Valiant Farmer,

            Is there any particular gauge piano string you prefer? Alternately, strings from which notes? Certainly none of the wound bass strings or the upper octaves.

            Michael

        • #20
          You are making progress!

          Really glad you've found and fixed the "shallow key drop" problem.

          You do have to play around with the tremolo weight and wire - moving the weight back and forth on the wire changes the speed of the "flutter". Speed will also change depending on strength of suction. But from the few organs I've played and heard, I think the fan system is definitely more pleasing. The bleating "clapper" system is more a special effect, which I only felt useful when playing Sheep May Safely Graze.

          Definitely no Brasso; just a bit of ammonia in warm water with a few drops of detergent. Then a good rinse and air dry on both side (I lay the reed on wire racks for good air circulation.

          By the way, I actually modified the action on the swell mutes, so they opened farther than first designed. I liked the wider range of volume this permitted.

          Tom M.

          Comment


          • TPLeavitt
            TPLeavitt commented
            Editing a comment
            Good to know! I’ll pick up some liquid ammonia when I get a chance and give it a shot. I’ll test it on the broken reeds first since they’re useless in the instrument now.
            I like the wider opening mutes as well, especially for the sub bass reeds. They need a lot of air to sound as it is. I’ll have to play around with the action and see how much opening I can get safely and practically.
            Sounds like the clapper isn’t worth much other than a novelty, which is ok. Even the fan tremolo in my Beckwith only gets used rarely, that sound just doesn’t fit much music.

        • #21
          Well, more work on the organ! For whatever reason, ammonia is not available around here right now. Everywhere I’ve checked is sold out and no idea why. So that’ll have to wait till later.
          Ive got the mutes opening and closing like I’d like now. Took some fiddling to get where I want. The way some of the linkages were set, the mutes would barely open on some full stops. I think I’ve got that rectified now and most of the stop mechanism has been reset. One thing about the Beatty’s, their action is very adjustable! But that also means there’s more spots to get loose and the action get thrown off.
          Still need to get into the swells and the coupler, but those are getting there. The coupler is a strange design, must be early because it is not a standard finger coupler like most organs have. There’s a picture of it on here somewhere, it’s levers that hit further up the key and then have pins going through the stickers/pitmans to couple the octave. It also only couples the treble going up. No bass coupler on this organ. The lifter is stiff still so that’s going to take some working and maybe a new spring to get right.
          I also played with the tremolo some and it’s weird. It definitely knocks the volume down and it’s not as pleasing of an effect as the fan style. But maybe I can dial it in better, just need to play around more.
          Work continues! Not much to show in photos right now though unless there’s anything specific you guys want to see.

          Comment


          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            I found these reeds on CL, but I'd imagine it's potluck finding any of the reeds you need to replace the broken ones (https://nh.craigslist.org/msg/d/hamp...132074769.html). Hope it helps.

            Michael

          • nutmegct
            nutmegct commented
            Editing a comment
            TP - were you able to contact Nelson Pease regarding reed replacements?

          • TPLeavitt
            TPLeavitt commented
            Editing a comment
            Michael, Those are unusual reeds. They dont have the crescent reed hook slot so many of use are used to. They almost look more like some harmonium reeds based on what Ive seen, though I am definitely no expert.

            Tom, I spoke to his daughter on the phone last week but have not heard back yet. I may try him again tomorrow after work too see if he has anything.

        • #22
          Weird that there's no ammonia. Usually half gallon bottles of it are in the cleaning products (or laundry detergents) section of the supermarket.

          How 'bout a video of how the organ sounds, now that you've made so many improvements? Also help to see you work the treadles while playing, to indicate the air leak situation.

          Tom M.

          Comment


          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            You may possibly find some in the Pharmacy section as well.

            Michael

          • TPLeavitt
            TPLeavitt commented
            Editing a comment
            I ordered some off Amazon, should be here before the end of the week.

            As for a video, I'll definitely see if I can knock one out and get it posted here. Im guessing I'll most likely have to upload it to youtube and link to it here. There's still some air leaks to deal with, I definitely have to pump more than I do for my Beckwith. I'll have to get some incense going again when its not going to annoy anybody else, thats the best trick I've found for tracing vacuum leaks as long as you can see the smoke.

          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            TP,

            Great idea with the incense. I'll have to remember that.

            Michael
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