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'smart Water' To Combat Church Lead Theft


passion_chorale

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See this article:

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml...nclerics213.xml

 

This suggests the use of 'smart water' on lead church roofs. Would it be suitable to paint/mist onto metal pipes as well?

It was on PM on Radio 4 this evening that Ecclesiastical Insurance (who insure 95% of Anglican Churches in the UK) are issuing this to every church that they insure. They are feeling the strain of all these claims.

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See this article:

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml...nclerics213.xml

 

This suggests the use of 'smart water' on lead church roofs. Would it be suitable to paint/mist onto metal pipes as well?

My former organisation use "smart water" extensively and it has been extremely successful. You can use it on anything - including people! I understand some BP petrol stations even have the ability to spray intruders. If you are caught with the marker on your clothes or person, there's no escape; it can be proved conclusively that you were there. As to its use on church roofs or metal pipes, the problem is that once the metal is melted down, the marker is lost, so you have to catch the culprits quickly. However, the system is good and provided there is a warning sign, thieves are more likely to try elsewhere than take the risk.

JC

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My former organisation use "smart water" extensively and it has been extremely successful. You can use it on anything - including people! I understand some BP petrol stations even have the ability to spray intruders. If you are caught with the marker on your clothes or person, there's no escape; it can be proved conclusively that you were there. As to its use on church roofs or metal pipes, the problem is that once the metal is melted down, the marker is lost, so you have to catch the culprits quickly. However, the system is good and provided there is a warning sign, thieves are more likely to try elsewhere than take the risk.

JC

 

In what way is it smart? Scientifically speaking, I mean. I know it's not within the remit of the board but as an A level Chemistry teacher I'm very interested!

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  • 1 month later...

A small church in Staffs was rebuilt about 15 years ago with mining subsidence money. Tbe gutters and downspouts are solid lead, very nice job. When someone started to try to nick the lead recently by levering out the bottom of a downspout and cutting through the stainless steel bolts (it ws a very nice job) they also found some wires soldered into the back of the pipe. They cut the said wires and departed hastily - the downspouts are wired into the burglar alarm... <_<

 

There's a lot to be said for cast iron. Lower value, for starters.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is an interesting topic. It's a shame it's happening so much in the UK. I've had an experience in the past year when I small 1970's church phoned me up one day and said that the organ was making strange sounds. I knew the organ wasn't that good anyway but there was obviously a problem. On inspection I noticed un disturbed dust on the sound board only resulting into what I could have only thought of as being a leaking roof. Having told the Minister he later confirmed that some of the lead had been stolen from the roof and which also explained for some of the buckets around the church. I'm afraid to say that with the insurance money (not Heritage Lottery) the church has decided to spend more money on an electronic rather than paying a fraction of the amount in having the soundboard out and re-flooding. Welcome to the Church of England!

 

JT

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This is an interesting topic. It's a shame it's happening so much in the UK. I've had an experience in the past year when I small 1970's church phoned me up one day and said that the organ was making strange sounds. I knew the organ wasn't that good anyway but there was obviously a problem. On inspection I noticed un disturbed dust on the sound board only resulting into what I could have only thought of as being a leaking roof. Having told the Minister he later confirmed that some of the lead had been stolen from the roof and which also explained for some of the buckets around the church. I'm afraid to say that with the insurance money (not Heritage Lottery) the church has decided to spend more money on an electronic rather than paying a fraction of the amount in having the soundboard out and re-flooding. Welcome to the Church of England!

 

JT

Perhaps if the organ wasn't "that good anyway" it might be better to replace it with a decent electrone. It would be a sadder story if the organ was decent, though. However, it is sad to see how low some people will stoop.

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Perhaps if the organ wasn't "that good anyway" it might be better to replace it with a decent electrone. It would be a sadder story if the organ was decent, though. However, it is sad to see how low some people will stoop.

 

 

I'm afraid that many PCCs see replacing an old organ (of any kind) with a new one (of any kind) as a sort of good house-keeping. When the salesman reminds them that they will have a lot of new floorspace for a Creche, a Parish Office, a larger Wardens' Vestry, A Coffee Area, this 'bonus' is bound to be tempting.

 

My own personal theory is that professional organbuilders no longer want to do the sort of work that most churches actually require. When I was in Gloucestershire, it became clear that the professionals around me (all without exception very good men with a high standard of work) wouldn't touch an organ under £15,000. A lot of this £15,000 covers the cost of major dismantling, taking vital parts back to the works, re-palletting, flooding soundboards etc. Some even sent reed stops back to full-time pipemakers - something I am very strongly against myself, since they never sound the same when they come back. [There's a possible future topic for you, except that one would have to start naming names!]

 

What churches so often need is a simple clean, patching of odd leaks and, perhaps, a small stop change. Pace Pierre and others, an organ that was built to accompany trained voices is not always terribly good at accompanying a distant (maybe elderly) congregation. IMHO the addition of a 2' rank (when there wasn't one before) can be a real help - the organ can be clearly heard over massed unison, and the whole sound world is that bit brighter.

 

Anyway, what I call TLC jobs just don't seem to get done. Churches who are affluent may eventually be persuaded to spend their £15,000 of course, and I'm sure they get a thundering good job, trouble is, most either leave the organs to quietly rot in a corner or 'invest' in an electronic. I am convinced that they think this is good husbandry. To them it is no more difficult a question than that of ditching a worm-eaten [oak] cupboard and replacing it with a smart but inappropriate flat pack [faced chipboard] item from a famous chain store.

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I'm afraid that many PCCs see replacing an old organ (of any kind) with a new one (of any kind) as a sort of good house-keeping. When the salesman reminds them that they will have a lot of new floorspace for a Creche, a Parish Office, a larger Wardens' Vestry, A Coffee Area, this 'bonus' is bound to be tempting.

 

My own personal theory is that professional organbuilders no longer want to do the sort of work that most churches actually require. When I was in Gloucestershire, it became clear that the professionals around me (all without exception very good men with a high standard of work) wouldn't touch an organ under £15,000. A lot of this £15,000 covers the cost of major dismantling, taking vital parts back to the works, re-palletting, flooding soundboards etc. Some even sent reed stops back to full-time pipemakers - something I am very strongly against myself, since they never sound the same when they come back. [There's a possible future topic for you, except that one would have to start naming names!]

 

What churches so often need is a simple clean, patching of odd leaks and, perhaps, a small stop change. Pace Pierre and others, an organ that was built to accompany trained voices is not always terribly good at accompanying a distant (maybe elderly) congregation. IMHO the addition of a 2' rank (when there wasn't one before) can be a real help - the organ can be clearly heard over massed unison, and the whole sound world is that bit brighter.

 

Anyway, what I call TLC jobs just don't seem to get done. Churches who are affluent may eventually be persuaded to spend their £15,000 of course, and I'm sure they get a thundering good job, trouble is, most either leave the organs to quietly rot in a corner or 'invest' in an electronic. I am convinced that they think this is good husbandry. To them it is no more difficult a question than that of ditching a worm-eaten [oak] cupboard and replacing it with a smart but inappropriate flat pack [faced chipboard] item from a famous chain store.

 

This doesn't surprise me at all. It's a question of good craftsmen often being commercially naive as well as not customer focused. If a smaller job is priced to give the builder a reasonable contribution and to be affordable to the client, the builder will stand a good chance of keeping the business. If of course the aim is to try and get a church to do a major job each time, then once they opt for a toaster, they and every other organ-builder have lost the job for ever.

 

This isn't just having a go at organ-builders, I've been in engineering all my life, both production and marketing, and it's just the same - it's people. Often the production people just are not client focused. You can experience something similar every day in shops - not all, but plenty - when you feel you're invisible to the staff. And banks, and garages, and pubs, and town halls, and restaurants and so on...

 

There should be lessons to be learned here. I'm sure there have been some glaring examples of this in the past that people can think of... OK so the overall market for organs has shrunk, but I wonder how many builders have bitten the dust simply due to 'attitude'? Perhaps it's just survival of the fittest, after all.

 

R.

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It was on PM on Radio 4 this evening that Ecclesiastical Insurance (who insure 95% of Anglican Churches in the UK) are issuing this to every church that they insure. They are feeling the strain of all these claims.

 

We have had three 'Emergencies' since coming back on the 2nd of January- in all three cases, lead flashings stripped from the roof over the organ. The demographic isn't informative: two in the Southeast and one in the Northwest.

 

Unfortunately, this then also begins to shew the limitations of the insurance arrangements: only the church in the Northwest has full insurance which will adequately pay for the remedial works required: the other two are under-insured and will only receive relatively small payouts against quite high remedial costs. In one case, only the roof will be paid for by the insurers.

 

The perpetrators are unspeakable. The (still) relatively small amount which they will receive from the sale of their booty - totally out of proportion with the heartache and general nuisance which they've caused in the process - really does give a clear indication of their money-grubbing selfishness.

 

DW

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This doesn't surprise me at all. It's a question of good craftsmen often being commercially naive as well as not customer focused. If a smaller job is priced to give the builder a reasonable contribution and to be affordable to the client, the builder will stand a good chance of keeping the business. If of course the aim is to try and get a church to do a major job each time, then once they opt for a toaster, they and every other organ-builder have lost the job for ever.

 

This isn't just having a go at organ-builders, I've been in engineering all my life, both production and marketing, and it's just the same - it's people. Often the production people just are not client focused. You can experience something similar every day in shops - not all, but plenty - when you feel you're invisible to the staff. And banks, and garages, and pubs, and town halls, and restaurants and so on...

 

There should be lessons to be learned here. I'm sure there have been some glaring examples of this in the past that people can think of... OK so the overall market for organs has shrunk, but I wonder how many builders have bitten the dust simply due to 'attitude'? Perhaps it's just survival of the fittest, after all.

 

R.

 

I've only just noticed this earlier contribution from Ron Poole, with which I really do need to take issue, on several points.

 

It can be (and regularly has been) fatal to do work on the limited basis that you suggest and, in this case, I'm afraid that the naivité may be on your own side: Imagine - a few motors releathered, a hole in a bellows gusset patched, a few broken trackers replaced or a couple of Pedal Bourdons put back into service... etc., etc..

 

The organ is then fine, for about a year, until there is a change of Vicar/Minister and a change of PCC/Elders, at the same time, some OTHER motors which weren't done with the few which were done last time, give up the ghost. Urgent meeting takes place at the church and the following day an harrumphing letter is fired off to the organ builders stating that, as their organ has only just been RESTORED by said organbuilder, they (the Church) are extremely displeased and have therefore decided to take the organ from his care and to give it to the nice man 'down the road' who is much cheaper and who has promised that he can fix the organ immediately.

 

Naive? I don't think so. You have no idea of the sort of things we have to deal with like this, on a fairly regular basis!

 

David Wyld.

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Imagine - a few motors releathered, a hole in a bellows gusset patched, a few broken trackers replaced or a couple of Pedal Bourdons put back into service... etc., etc..

Sounds just like an average tuning and maintenance visit to the organ in one of our daughter churches..... :unsure:

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I've only just noticed this earlier contribution from Ron Poole, with which I really do need to take issue, on several points.

 

It can be (and regularly has been) fatal to do work on the limited basis that you suggest and, in this case, I'm afraid that the naivité may be on your own side: Imagine - a few motors releathered, a hole in a bellows gusset patched, a few broken trackers replaced or a couple of Pedal Bourdons put back into service... etc., etc..

 

The organ is then fine, for about a year, until there is a change of Vicar/Minister and a change of PCC/Elders, at the same time, some OTHER motors which weren't done with the few which were done last time, give up the ghost. Urgent meeting takes place at the church and the following day an harrumphing letter is fired off to the organ builders stating that, as their organ has only just been RESTORED by said organbuilder, they (the Church) are extremely displeased and have therefore decided to take the organ from his care and to give it to the nice man 'down the road' who is much cheaper and who has promised that he can fix the organ immediately.

 

Naive? I don't think so. You have no idea of the sort of things we have to deal with like this, on a fairly regular basis!

 

David Wyld.

 

Well at least the church would still have a pipe organ. Do you rebuild toasters? And are you seriously saying you wouldn't do fairly minor repairs such as a broken tracker on a routine basis? Would you expect to buy a new engine for your car because the garage wouldn't change the oil? We all have difficult customers; my point is that so many businesses are not client focused. And there's a whole industry dedicated to just this issue...

 

R.

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Well at least the church would still have a pipe organ. Do you rebuild toasters? And are you seriously saying you wouldn't do fairly minor repairs such as a broken tracker on a routine basis? Would you expect to buy a new engine for your car because the garage wouldn't change the oil? We all have difficult customers; my point is that so many businesses are not client focused. And there's a whole industry dedicated to just this issue...

 

R.

 

I don't disagree with you - it is usual for us to carry out the many small repairs as you suggest, virtually every week in one-or-more of the 1000-or-so organs which we maintain - so we are, actually, quite "client-focussed", as you put it. MY point is that sometimes, this methodology backfires quite seriously on those that do try to assist in this way. Let's not fall into the error of suggesting that only the organ builders are at fault!

 

Some churches rely on their tuner to 'go the extra mile' at each visit even though they won't expect to pay anything for the additional time spent at each visit to rectify faults which are due entirely to age and wear and which should receive fuller attention. One rather extreme example of this is one instrument in Derbyshire (a large 3-manual, all pneumatic, around 1910 vintage, never re-leathered, never cleaned) which has had several ceiling falls within the organ during the past twenty years: they have no insurance and so each time it happens, we have to spend extra time in cleaning out the stuff which has fallen in. As a firm we have been writing to them for nearly 40 years to suggest that the organ really does need to be extensively cleaned. Nothing is ever done.

 

Following the Christmas tuning visit just over a month ago, the lady Organist telephoned to complain that a note on the Swell which went off in October, STILL hasn't been repaired - the note in question is 'off' due to one of the flower stands which gets stored at the side of the instrument being pushed so hard into a space which wasn't actually big enough, crushing its way through the action tube.

 

So, it seems not to matter how much we DO do, as this never seems to be enough. However, we are grateful for many wonderful clients who, apart from anything else, send us Christmas Cards - almost 150 of which we've just taken down!

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I don't disagree with you - it is usual for us to carry out the many small repairs as you suggest, virtually every week in one-or-more of the 1000-or-so organs which we maintain - so we are, actually, quite "client-focussed", as you put it. MY point is that sometimes, this methodology backfires quite seriously on those that do try to assist in this way. Let's not fall into the error of suggesting that only the organ builders are at fault!

 

Some churches rely on their tuner to 'go the extra mile' at each visit even though they won't expect to pay anything for the additional time spent at each visit to rectify faults which are due entirely to age and wear and which should receive fuller attention. One rather extreme example of this is one instrument in Derbyshire (a large 3-manual, all pneumatic, around 1910 vintage, never re-leathered, never cleaned) which has had several ceiling falls within the organ during the past twenty years: they have no insurance and so each time it happens, we have to spend extra time in cleaning out the stuff which has fallen in. As a firm we have been writing to them for nearly 40 years to suggest that the organ really does need to be extensively cleaned. Nothing is ever done.

 

Following the Christmas tuning visit just over a month ago, the lady Organist telephoned to complain that a note on the Swell which went off in October, STILL hasn't been repaired - the note in question is 'off' due to one of the flower stands which gets stored at the side of the instrument being pushed so hard into a space which wasn't actually big enough, crushing its way through the action tube.

 

So, it seems not to matter how much we DO do, as this never seems to be enough. However, we are grateful for many wonderful clients who, apart from anything else, send us Christmas Cards - almost 150 of which we've just taken down!

 

I do sympathise with you in this situation - you're absolutely right, it's not all one-sided and I've had plenty of similar experiences - not in organ building I might add. Sometimes of course the organist/vicar/whoever has never met the tuner for all sorts of perfectly valid reasons and so then this sort of misunderstanding can so easily arise. How to improve this? OK sometimes you can't and you have to walk away from it, but wouldn't you agree that dialogue is better wherever possible? And yes it costs! But its good to see that some firms do take it seriously.

 

R.

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  • 2 months later...
Guest spottedmetal
flooding soundboards etc. . . . IMHO the addition of a 2' rank (when there wasn't one before) can be a real help - the organ can be clearly heard over massed unison, and the whole sound world is that bit brighter.

Hi!

 

Sorry to be asking a very basic question and hope I'll be forgiven . . . what is the "flooding" of a soundboard?

 

The comment about adding a 2ft rank is potentially so wise . . . without neo-baroquing an instrument, it does make a typical small tracker so much more versatile, and could be the salvation of a whole instrument in due course. I heard of someone moving a victorian organ with a 4ft Harmonic Flute and 4ft Principal on the Great who put the Flute up the octave without authorisation. Daring . . . but the best thing he ever did.

 

Finally, on smart water, it's clearly so successful that insurers of more portable musical instruments are now sending out bottles to be applied to all instruments they insure. Clearly a worthwhile technology.

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

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Guest Cynic
Hi!

 

Sorry to be asking a very basic question and hope I'll be forgiven . . . what is the "flooding" of a soundboard?

 

The comment about adding a 2ft rank is potentially so wise . . . without neo-baroquing an instrument, it does make a typical small tracker so much more versatile, and could be the salvation of a whole instrument in due course. I heard of someone moving a victorian organ with a 4ft Harmonic Flute and 4ft Principal on the Great who put the Flute up the octave without authorisation. Daring . . . but the best thing he ever did.

 

Finally, on smart water, it's clearly so successful that insurers of more portable musical instruments are now sending out bottles to be applied to all instruments they insure. Clearly a worthwhile technology.

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

 

 

In a traditional bar and slider soundboard, the bars themselves (serving to separate each note) are often fairly thin and (until the last century) invariably of solid wood, sometimes softwood at that! With modern heating fine cracks can open up in them, and the traditional animal glue that holds them in place can also begin to loosen. Any small deficiencies of this kind can usually be cured by a thorough soundboard overhaul which includes such tasks as stripping off the old pallets, pouring a thin glue inside these openings and letting it run around.

 

Turning to the other question: anyone who transposes pipes can be in trouble unless they've obtained permission first. However, providing that the octave or so of pipes that are not now in use are carefully stored within the organ, this constitutes (to my mind) a minor intervention in the way that adding upperwork on a clamp is not.

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Guest spottedmetal
In a traditional bar and slider soundboard, the bars themselves (serving to separate each note) are often fairly thin and (until the last century) invariably of solid wood, sometimes softwood at that! With modern heating fine cracks can open up in them, and the traditional animal glue that holds them in place can also begin to loosen. Any small deficiencies of this kind can usually be cured by a thorough soundboard overhaul which includes such tasks as stripping off the old pallets, pouring a thin glue inside these openings and letting it run around.

Aah! Thanks for that! Never have had central heating so woudn't know about that problem . . . The technique sounds as though it makes a lot of sense.

 

Turning to the other question: anyone who transposes pipes can be in trouble unless they've obtained permission first. However, providing that the octave or so of pipes that are not now in use are carefully stored within the organ, this constitutes (to my mind) a minor intervention in the way that adding upperwork on a clamp is not.
Yes - the pipes were stored with the instrument, and as it happened clearly everyone approved of the change. Sorry to distract the thread - intrigued at the comment about adding upper-work on a clamp - it's clearly an addition but if the upperwork is small scale enough, it wouldn't cause wind-robbing problems . . . so would not on first sight be to the detriment of the instrument . . . or would it?

 

Best wishes

 

Spot

 

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. . . Taking an early hours break from console wiring and soldering . . .

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