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A. Berntsen Pump Organ

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  • A. Berntsen Pump Organ

    hello! i recently acquired a small A. Berntsen pump organ. I have played pump organs a lot in my life but don't know the mechanics of how they work so please excuse my ignorance.

    the organ is currently broken, if i pump very hard and quickly i can hear the notes very softly but it sounds like there is a huge amount of air leaking. there is a hole at the back which, when covered with tape, does make the notes slightly louder, but it still only works as quick bursts of sound with each pump, rather than one long continuous drone.

    i am looking to try and repair this myself although it will involve researching how these are built. before i start going in blindly, i wanted to ask if anyone is kind enough to offer any advice? i got the organ for free so i'm really looking to do as minimal / diy / cheap of a job as possible, i don't mind about it not being a long lasting fix, so even if just duct taping up some punctures will do the trick for now, i'm up for that.

    most importantly to start, does anyone know if the paper that covers the back is important to the make-up of the instrument or can i remove this? otherwise it's hard for me to tell how to access the back properly to see where the damage is, or if it's even possible for me to open the cabinet up.

    many thanks in advance for any help or advice! pictures are attached.

  • Answer selected by myorgan at 11-25-2021, 03:59 PM.

    Welcome! I am currently working on a reed organ from Denmark, it also has paper on the back of the reservoir. I believe they did this because of the knotty pine that was used, and the acid in the paper keeps the insects from making holes in the reservoir wood, especially around the knots. You will probably want to dampen the paper with water and a spray bottle, and wait for the glue to release and then scrape it clean.

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    • #2
      The paper does not look original. It's covering the back panel of the reservoir, and it was probably put on there to cover some cracks in the wood. The hole, which is now covered by tape, is where a spill valve belongs. The spill valve is there to prevent someone from over-pumping and making too much vacuum (Certainly not a problem right now.) A previous owner probably removed the valve and the organ's back (if it had one) to connect an electric suction pump to the organ.
      Being realistic, there probably isn't a quick, cheap fix possible on your organ. The reservoir uses a rubberized cloth which is probably cracked and stiff by now. The pumping bellows use either cloth or leather, and the same applies there. You have to take it all apart to fix it, and if you are doing all the work required to take it apart, do a proper repair.
      There's lots of information on back posts in this forum, and a wealth of information on the restoration pages at https://www.rodneyjantzi.com.
      Ed Kennedy
      Current Organs - Conn 645 Theater, 1861 Smith Melodeon

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      • #3
        I just did a search at the Reed Organ Society, (WWW.reedsoc.org), and noticed that your organ was made in Denmark. This means that your organ may work on pressure, and not vacuum like American and Canadian organs.
        You gave your location as London. Is that London, England, London, Ontario (Canada), or some other London? If we know your location, there may be other helpful members nearby.
        And, before I forget, Welcome to the Organ Forum.
        Ed Kennedy
        Current Organs - Conn 645 Theater, 1861 Smith Melodeon

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        • #4
          Welcome to the forum! I agree the paper is part of a patch up job. So, first step is to remove it. Once we see inside a bit more, we can help more. Some have used a hot glue gun to seal up small leaks in the bellows cloth, but I think you’ll need more work than that! Repairing a pump organ is easy, but time consuming. We can help you along with the project.

          -Current Instruments: Allen Mos-2 225 RTC,1870's W. Bell Reed organ, 1890's Singer Chicago upright grand piano Former Instruments: Yamaha Electone E3R
          -Website: https://www.exercisesincatholicmythology.com

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          • #5
            Welcome! I am currently working on a reed organ from Denmark, it also has paper on the back of the reservoir. I believe they did this because of the knotty pine that was used, and the acid in the paper keeps the insects from making holes in the reservoir wood, especially around the knots. You will probably want to dampen the paper with water and a spray bottle, and wait for the glue to release and then scrape it clean.
            To play a reed organ or harmonium, it helps to disconnect your feet from your brain and connect them to your emotions.
            Most of all, be creative, make music and have fun...


            Website: http://www.rodneyjantzi.com/

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