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Housekeeping Query


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Sorry for posting a minor problem but doing a Search proved fruitless.

 

Now I have charge of the instrument it occurred to me that it could do with a clean.

I've no intention of interfering with any internal workings but I have done a reasonable job with the keys and now no longer stick to them.

 

After dragging the hoover over to the stool and heaving it out of the way, I found that there were large areas under the pedals inaccessible to the nozzle. There didn't appear to be a crevice tool to hand and the appliance was a bit wheezy, too!

I've been playing the instrument for years but never really observed how the pedals are laid out!

 

There is still debris, dust and detritus despite my ministrations and it is annoying. Is there a better way to tackle this or is it a job for the organ builder on his next visit?

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What an extraordinary topic! If there is any space around the console, and if there any gap between the frame of the pedal board and the floor, how about one of those long cobweb brushes and go in from the side?

 

Sorry :blink: I did try a search but it seems I have an uncommon problem. Perhaps it isn't a problem as such but I thought it might be a potential fire hazard to have litter like this where damp and electric cables are nearby.

 

This part of the instrument seems to be particularly awkwardly designed. I've never had a toaster so not sure if you can shove those to one side to clean below it but this venerable beast is a fixture and there is a stone floor beneath.

 

I suppose I've lived with the squalor up to now - it's amazing how things slip so easily between the pedals yet remain frustratingly out of reach when you try to retrieve them.

 

If I do find anything valuable down there I shall sell it and use the proceeds to buy a leaf blower; at least it might blow the rubbish into a place where I can deal with it.

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When I were but a lad, and hoping to go to college to study music full time (which I never did - I wasn't good enough) I worked for Walkers as a key holder. I also helped with a cleaning or two. There really is no easy way to clean under the pedals without removing them. This is not usually difficult, (providing the action is electric - tracker actions need treating with care, so if you don't know what you're doing leave well alone) but when they are replaced you would need to check the weight to be applied to each in order to play it. Again not difficult, IF you have a suitable weight. I don't, Organ builders do. So probably best left to them, or perhaps a friendly chat may yield a loan of one and some useful hints as to method in your particular circumstances. Have fun!

 

Regards to all

 

John.

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It is not clear from your posting if your organ is a pipe organ or a synthesiser as you refer to the visit of an organ builder and then later on to a 'toaster'. If your church has been paying for an organ builder to tune the 'toaster' then I can see a way of saving a little cash!

 

Either way, most pedal boards are easily removed by sliding them out. Some may have a screw or two.

 

Wheezy vacuum cleaners usually just need emptying and the filters cleaning. If it is still 'wheezy' with a new bag in it then most likely it has been used with a split bag and the dust has wrecked the motor bearings.

 

I'm tempted to suggest that if your organ is a toaster, you could try the very effective method of pouring turpentine between the pedals and igniting the dust and fluff once well soaked. Be careful not to get too much on the pedals as it tends to take off the varnish and of course sometimes the pedals themselves actually set alight, so always best to have a bucket of water ready just in case. :o

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When I were but a lad, and hoping to go to college to study music full time (which I never did - I wasn't good enough) I worked for Walkers as a key holder.

 

Regards to all

 

John.

 

======================

 

 

I would like to have seen that bunch of keys! Wow!

 

 

MM

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It is not clear from your posting if your organ is a pipe organ or a synthesiser as you refer to the visit of an organ builder and then later on to a 'toaster'. If your church has been paying for an organ builder to tune the 'toaster' then I can see a way of saving a little cash!

 

Either way, most pedal boards are easily removed by sliding them out. Some may have a screw or two.

 

Wheezy vacuum cleaners usually just need emptying and the filters cleaning. If it is still 'wheezy' with a new bag in it then most likely it has been used with a split bag and the dust has wrecked the motor bearings.

 

I'm tempted to suggest that if your organ is a toaster, you could try the very effective method of pouring turpentine between the pedals and igniting the dust and fluff once well soaked. Be careful not to get too much on the pedals as it tends to take off the varnish and of course sometimes the pedals themselves actually set alight, so always best to have a bucket of water ready just in case. :o

 

Apologies if I didn't make myself clear. The instrument is a rather nice 2 manual pipe organ extensively overhauled just a few years ago.

 

The last thing I want to do is set fire to it. ;)

 

I'll take on board your suggestion about changing the cleaner bag. The lady'wot does', doesn't do the organ; I have thus far dodged being added to the cleaning rota and therefore was a stranger to the hoover.

 

Salt crystals?? Sounds a bit pagan!

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Apologies if I didn't make myself clear. The instrument is a rather nice 2 manual pipe organ extensively overhauled just a few years ago.

 

The last thing I want to do is set fire to it. :o

 

I'll take on board your suggestion about changing the cleaner bag. The lady'wot does', doesn't do the organ; I have thus far dodged being added to the cleaning rota and therefore was a stranger to the hoover.

 

Salt crystals?? Sounds a bit pagan!

 

Yes, my 'suggestion' was only for 'dealing' with the electronic variety and only then when they are replacing a pipe organ; I have nothing against electronic organs used in the home as practice instruments.

 

Who was your organ made by? Have you had a go at sliding the pedal board out?

 

Despite a previous post warning about upsetting things if it is a tracker, it is unusual to have a direct connection between the pedals and the tracker action and there is usually only one position they will go back in, so the pedals will still be in the right place to operate the trackers. I have only once found one organ (Swiss) where the builder hadn't bothered with any sort of woodwork to guide the pedal board back in and it was possible to slide the pedal board from side to side to such an extent that you could change the notes played by a third, or, as was often the case, just enough so that the pedals missed their respective tracker square.

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I'm relieved not to have to resort to light arson in my quest for neatness. I don't think it is a tracker. I gave the pedal board a yank this afternoon and it wouldn't budge so, short of forcing a live chicken between the pedals to redistribute the litter my only hope is a stronger vacuum cleaner. Or a bottle of Scotch taped to the repair log.

 

When I looked it up on NPOR it didn't give a date of manufacture - just Rushworth and Dreaper; 'rebuilt' and Musical Opinion 1936.

 

Are there, I wonder, any give away signs as to the age of an instrument, or might it be assembled using disparate parts from goodness knows when and where?

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Sometimes there are a couple of screws holding the pedal board in place towards the back if it is on a wooden floor. But if it is on a stone floor, it is unlikely to be attached to this, they are heavy though, so it may be that your 'yank' wasn't quite sufficient. However, perhaps locating the vacuum's crevice tool might be safer.

 

As to the age and origin of the organ, if you could post a link to a few photos of the instrument someone may well be able to give you more details. Have you checked the weights on the reservoir, they are often original and with the makers initials on them? Some builders signed their work on the inside of the windchest. Often the most obvious clue to age is the way the facade pipes or lack thereof, are arranged.

 

Would I be right in thinking the NPOR reference is this?

 

If so, then the organ is by R&D and dates from 1936: a four-rank extension organ with, according to the notes, some pipes from a previous organ whose NPOR listing has been deleted. My guess would be that this might be a Wadsworth or Jardine organ, given the area. So it is possible that some of your pipework is 100 years old.

 

Interestingly there is a diaphone assistance for the lowest notes of the pedal open diapason - how well does this work? R&D also used a similar effect for another extension organ from the same period (1933) in their organ for the Diocesan College, Rondebosch, South Africa.

 

The two solo synthetic stops presumably are a combination of an 8' with some harmonics from other ranks, probably giving a clarinet sound perhaps?

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Why not ask the organ tuner if, and how, the pedal board can be removed for cleaning underneath it? I'm sure most organ maintainers would not mind having someone else do that for them so that they are able to concentrate on things that you can't take care of. A quick phone call might be all it takes, or to meet with the maintainer when they are next there to show you how to do it safely.

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Would I be right in thinking the NPOR reference is this?

 

If so, then the organ is by R&D and dates from 1936: a four-rank extension organ with, according to the notes, some pipes from a previous organ whose NPOR listing has been deleted. My guess would be that this might be a Wadsworth or Jardine organ, given the area. So it is possible that some of your pipework is 100 years old.

 

Hi

 

The deleted NPOR survey would not have been of the previous organ - if you look at organs that have had a significant rebuild, you'll find a comment in the list of builders to refer back to the previous state (and likewise, a forward link towards the end of a survey on those organs where the stop list has significantly changed). The deleted survey would have been a duplicate to the current one - and additional info in the one being deleted having first been transferred to the current survey. (Duplications do happen sometimes, either due to mis-identification of buildings, or more than one editor working, etc.)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Would I be right in thinking the NPOR reference is this?

 

If so, then the organ is by R&D and dates from 1936: a four-rank extension organ with, according to the notes, some pipes from a previous organ whose NPOR listing has been deleted. My guess would be that this might be a Wadsworth or Jardine organ, given the area. So it is possible that some of your pipework is 100 years old.

 

Interestingly there is a diaphone assistance for the lowest notes of the pedal open diapason - how well does this work? R&D also used a similar effect for another extension organ from the same period (1933) in their organ for the Diocesan College, Rondebosch, South Africa.

 

The two solo synthetic stops presumably are a combination of an 8' with some harmonics from other ranks, probably giving a clarinet sound perhaps?

 

Actually it's this : http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N03970

 

But it was given a thorough going over a couple of years ago and it took some time to do so I'm not sure if it is classed as a rebuild, but more or less everything it says on the register is there. It is more or less the same as it was but in better working order; I wasn't privy to the details.

 

I think I shall have to seek the advice of the tuner/builder when next he visits - or put a note in his book. ( While I'm about it I'll ask for advice about a spare light tube for the pedal board - I live in fear of it failing in the middle of a wedding) When I inspected the pedal board again this afternoon I found the relevant bit was in deep shadow so will go armed with the torch out of the car next time.

 

Many thanks for thoughts on this odd topic; I just wondered how others managed this task.

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Good luck with the cleaning. The most I have found under a pedalboard was at Christchurch Anglican Cathedral, where there was an envelope with $50 inside. It was marked 'For the Organist', but did not say which one. So in the end it went into the general organ fund. (So in a round about sort of way I did get to see a fraction of it!)

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  • 2 months later...
Actually it's this : http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N03970

 

But it was given a thorough going over a couple of years ago and it took some time to do so I'm not sure if it is classed as a rebuild, but more or less everything it says on the register is there. It is more or less the same as it was but in better working order; I wasn't privy to the details.

 

I think I shall have to seek the advice of the tuner/builder when next he visits - or put a note in his book. ( While I'm about it I'll ask for advice about a spare light tube for the pedal board - I live in fear of it failing in the middle of a wedding) When I inspected the pedal board again this afternoon I found the relevant bit was in deep shadow so will go armed with the torch out of the car next time.

 

Many thanks for thoughts on this odd topic; I just wondered how others managed this task.

 

 

I missed this topic when you first posted it because I was still in Moderator-prescribed Purgatory for suggesting questionable things about a professional organ-builder.

 

IMHO What you need is a length of flexible and fairly narrow tubing gaffa-taped into your vacuum-cleaner end-pipe. Obviously if you know an organ-builder, getting a length of pneumatic tubing (PVC) is the easiest, but both hospitals and amateur wine-makers use similar tubing all the time. Armed with this, you can poke it between pedals. Anything too big to be sucked up should (at least) be attracted and you can pull it towards an 'access' point, i.e. gap between E and F or similar.

 

One word of caution, don't work for more than two or three minutes at a time because most vacuum-cleaners will heat up when the intake is restricted the way that this little bit of tube will do.

 

About the only thing that won't come out armed with this bit of kit is a long-abandoned boiled sweet. These basically melt down with age until all that remains is a coloured syrup.

 

I have to say my eyes-widened considerably at the suggestion above that you might put turps down and then ignite it. Does Dave Elliott work for an insurance company or a firm of organ-builders by any chance?

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Guest Patrick Coleman
I have to say my eyes-widened considerably at the suggestion above that you might put turps down and then ignite it. Does Dave Elliott work for an insurance company or a firm of organ-builders by any chance?

Don't say you've never been tempted, Paul! :unsure:

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Don't say you've never been tempted, Paul! :unsure:

 

 

No, I haven't.

 

The nastiest organ I've ever seen was still not so bad that it deserved to be burned to the ground.

 

Someone I very much respect said to me rather sadly one day (I hope not directed at me in any way) 'it's a pity that people are not more like dogs', and, do you know - I think I knew what he meant! Organs, even poor ones, represent high aims and noble ideals, even if their makers were about the only people who would ever love them. Too often we condemn an instrument for what it cannot do - but was never designed for. They still amount to a collection of good materials, and the meanest organ in my experience usually offers at least a couple of good ranks, some nice solid wood and a usable blower and/or reservoir. Put it this way, I wouldn't be interested to buy a £100 car, but I've bought several £20 organs and not regretted the expense of getting them out.

 

Now in my most cynical moments I have sometimes thought some human beings would benefit from major remedial action, even there I would stop short of arson.

 

Changing the subject: it is a matter of pride to me that no organ I have ever been appointed organist of has had anything spent on it (excepting usual tuning and maintenance) while I have been in post. I watch some folks and note with horror the trail of modified organs they leave behind them. Returning to the subject of dogs, I once described (in CD notes) the effect of an unsympathetic rebuild is to turn a pedigree instrument into a mongrel. I wish that that this philosophy could be much more generally adopted. Almost any instrument left exactly as it was intended* is worth seeing and almost every one that has been radically rebuilt isn't. It's why I belong to BIOS and why I found the most recent choice of Chairman bizarre in the extreme, bearing in mind his track record when building organs.

 

* I draw the line at returning trigger swells where balanced pedals have been supplied subsequently. Recently I completed the recording of a CD on six organs in Reading and we had to contend with no fewer than three organs with trigger swells. Each and every one rattled somewhat however carefully they were used. If it were only that extraneous noise that was the problem, but these devices also makes balances between divisions that bit harder to achieve. In the case of one of the three, (St.Giles' Reading, a good-sized three-decker by J.W.Walker restored with new action and trigger swell by H&H - superb in every other way) the hitch-down swell-pedal noises were so detrimental even with microphones downstairs (20+ feet away) that we had to abandon any intention of using it all during takes - set it and leave it alone. Now, As far as I'm concerned, this state of affairs is a serious musical problem.

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These threads often follow the chinese whisper syndrome. In post number 4, whistlestop referred to the organ as a toaster. This provoked my suggestion that a rather more thorough cleaning method, not just a wheezy vacuum cleaner, might be what was needed. It later became clear that the organ was in fact a real one, but why on earth it was impossible to simply slide out the pedal board and clean beneath, I'll never know.

 

And on another housekeeping thread, has there been any recent progress with your house organ Cynic?

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These threads often follow the chinese whisper syndrome. In post number 4, whistlestop referred to the organ as a toaster. This provoked my suggestion that a rather more thorough cleaning method, not just a wheezy vacuum cleaner, might be what was needed. It later became clear that the organ was in fact a real one, but why on earth it was impossible to simply slide out the pedal board and clean beneath, I'll never know.

 

And on another housekeeping thread, has there been any recent progress with your house organ Cynic?

 

 

No recent progress. To be honest, it's too useful for regular practice for me to want to do much at the moment. All but one stop currently plays on the 3-manual console (ex Cheltenham Ladies' College) and that's a pedal 16' reed that's due to live in the Solo box (when there is one). Of course I plan to add more, lots more. I have both pipework and chests in store to complete the job to the final spec V/131, though there is one promised rank I'm waiting for.

 

I'm my own boss, so there's nobody on my back over this one! Visits welcome, though the sight (and site) looks pretty worrying. I have so much stuff stacked up that there is abundant evidence for some sort of mental condition to be suspected. I have a complete inability to throw away possibly useful stuff.

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Your description of the tube has reminded me of something that has been languishing unused in my stair cupboard for years. I bought it from a famous firm that drops catalogues through the door and had completely forgotten about it.

 

If it fits the church hoover (and will fit between the pedals) then the problem should be sorted.

I haven't seen any boiled sweets, only wrappers but even they will probably block it so I had better go armed with a wire coathanger.

 

Welcome back. :)

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On the subject of "what might go between the pedals" I once suffered the complete loss of not only a slip of paper bearing the hymn-numbers for a service where I was deputising, but also the sheet of 'cues' as to when certain things would happen. This was a high-Catholic Anglican church, and my background is quite the opposite!

 

The advice given above should largely hold true- most pedalboards will not be physically linked to the action in any way that prevents the board from being slid out. The most common problem could be the actual surroundings/area in which the console stands. I recall one organ where the construction of a raised platform around the console prevented even the bench from being moved back any further, thus ensuring that the resident organist was likely to be the only one the bench suited.

 

While not related specifically to this thread, in my many years as a piano and organ technician I found a great number of objects inside instruments. The most memorable would be a half-set of dentures in a hospital piano!

 

CP

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