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Valve repair

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  • Valve repair

    Hi--I recently bought a 1907 pump organ. It was restored at some point and played pretty well but the response was uneven (some keys more sluggish than others) and I wanted to see if I could fix that by getting to the valve mechanism.

    I'm attaching pictures of a valve on one of the more sluggish keys. The leather covering is a little loose on both ends, as is the felt under it in some places; should I glue one or the other on, and if so what glue should I use? Based on these pictures could the issue be with the valve, or should I assume it's with the reed?

    Thanks a lot.

    Click image for larger version

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    Attached Files

  • #2
    Hi there and welcome!
    Sluggish keys are usually due to key depth (valve not opening far enough) or reed voicing. Valves are glued with minimal glue, yours looks normal. If the valve seals, do not re-leather it. But if it doesn't, replacement of felt and leather is what is needed, not more glue.
    Hope this is helpful!


    • #3
      Thank you for the help! I think I've determined the issue is with the reeds by testing with the valves off. Does this reed look like I could do anything to it to improve response time (or to fix any other glaring problem)?

      Click image for larger version  Name:	reed1.jpg Views:	3 Size:	50.9 KB ID:	734856Click image for larger version  Name:	reed4.jpg Views:	2 Size:	35.3 KB ID:	734857Click image for larger version  Name:	reed2.jpg Views:	2 Size:	65.4 KB ID:	734858Click image for larger version  Name:	reed3.jpg Views:	2 Size:	32.5 KB ID:	734859
      Last edited by Nikita Manin; 07-04-2020, 08:39 PM.


      • #4
        Hi Nikita. The reed looks fine to me - thanks for the excellent close up photo views. When was the last time the reeds were cleaned (not just air, but an ammonia and/or detergent solution)?

        Also, could you give more detail on the "sluggish" problem? Do you mean the key goes down fully and normally, but the reed speaks slowly?

        Tom M.


        • #5
          Hi Tom--I can see that repairs were done at some point but I'm not sure when or if they included reed cleaning.

          That's it, yeah. With a lot of air pressure I could get single-note lines to sound smooth, but some chords with more than three notes were impossible to play together--with the pressure divided up I'd always hear one of the notes a few seconds later. A lot of the slowest were in the octave above middle C, but it wasn't systematic and I thought it might be something I could fix. Now I think I've narrowed it down to the reeds. Improving it would make reading polyphony more fun, but I wouldn't be shocked if you said it was just a thing about pump organs.



          • #6
            The reeds don’t look that dirty to me. One thing that stands out to me is the height of the voicing curve. The tip of the tongue is pretty high over the body, and I’ve read this can cause slower speaking. Having had adjusted the voicing on some of my reeds, they are very sensitive especially the higher octaves. I’d compare the tongues of the slow ones to some close reeds that speak quicker, you may find the tongue needs adjusting down.
            Adjusting is a very delicate process but is not overly difficult. I usually support the middle of the tongue from under the body with my fingernail or a pencil if it’s very small, and then gently bend the tip of the tongue down a little at a time till it’s about where the others are. This should speed up speaking but may also throw off the tuning a little.



            • #7
              Great, thank you, I'll try that. Edit: yes it's helping! I'm not noticing any changes in pitch although I think volume is affected (adjusting a reed tip down so it speaks faster also makes it sound softer).
              Last edited by Nikita Manin; 07-05-2020, 07:37 PM.