Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Recommended Posts

I am having to endure an almost silent bottom Eb on the (sole) pedal Bourdon.....can't play the St.Anne.

 

Now I keep scribbling in the tuning-book, "Bottom Eb Bourdon" and nothing has materialised sonically from the tuning visits over a period of about 18 months.

 

Last time, I wrote "The Eb is STILL almost silent....should we order a new one if the old one is worn out?"

 

The reply came back....."I can't get anymore out of it without increasing the cut-up."

 

"Bovine excrament"" I thought; or words to that effect......it used to work and now it doesn't.

 

Tonight, I shall get out the ladders, clamber up the back of the case, open the beast and climb in to investigate.

 

Would anyone like to vote on the likely scenario?

 

Is it:-

 

a) A dead mouse blocking the foot

 

:) Insufficient cut-up (We'll leave the sly smile in place)

 

c) Inadequate wind

 

d) A split in the pipe

 

e) An ill-sealed stopper

 

 

Unless I fall to my death, I shall report back, but on the assumption that I will live, what do our organ-building experts think?

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
I am having to endure an almost silent bottom Eb on the (sole) pedal Bourdon.....can't play the St.Anne.

 

Now I keep scribbling in the tuning-book, "Bottom Eb Bourdon" and nothing has materialised sonically from the tuning visits over a period of about 18 months.

 

Last time, I wrote "The Eb is STILL almost silent....should we order a newer one if the old one is worn out?"

 

The reply came back....."I can't get anymore out of it without increasing the cut-up."

 

"Bovine excrament"" I thought; or words to that effect......it used to work and now it doesn't.

 

Tonight, I shall get out the ladders, clamber up the back of the case, open the beast and climb in to investigate.

 

Would anyone like to vote on the likely scenario?

 

Is it:-

 

a) A dead mouse blocking the foot

 

:) Insufficient cut-up (We'll leave the sly smile in place)

 

c) Inadequate wind

 

d) A split in the pipe

 

e) An ill-sealed stopper

 

 

Unless I fall to my death, I shall report back, but on the assumption that I will live, what do our organ-building experts think?

 

MM

 

Simples: you wrote "Eb" in the tuner's book. This will have left the tuner baffled and confused, scratching his head and asking his keyholder what on earth it could possibly mean. After spending 2 hours repairing a broken tracker and tuning half the reeds (ignoring the other half plus your requests to 'touch up' the upperwork, and laughing at your request to regulate the Celeste) he will have concluded that no such note exists and gone to the pub.

 

Write "D sharp" and see if it gets you anywhere.

 

;) big wink, especially to all his conscientious and proactive organ tuner friends, of which there are many.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it:-

 

a) A dead mouse blocking the foot

 

:) Insufficient cut-up (We'll leave the sly smile in place)

 

c) Inadequate wind

 

d) A split in the pipe

 

e) An ill-sealed stopper

I believe in possibility f): someone stuffed three data DVDs into the cut-up. They contain the full adminitrative files of the British Film Council so that, when all this -- what was it? Bovine excrement? -- will be over, they can readily start afresh where they were finished off. The digitalized movies the council had been funding were stuck into Bourdon E-flats of churches that were once used as shooting locations all over the country, of course. So no one there will be able to play St Anne until everything was put back in order.

 

And they will have to find those files in your Bourdon first to verify all the hiding places!

 

Best,

Friedrich

Link to post
Share on other sites
I believe in possibility f): someone stuffed three data DVDs into the cut-up. They contain the full adminitrative files of the British Film Council so that, when all this -- what was it? Bovine excrement? -- will be over, they can readily start afresh where they were finished off. The digitalized movies the council had been funding were stuck into Bourdon E-flats of churches that were once used as shooting locations all over the country, of course. So no one there will be able to play St Anne until everything was put back in order.

 

And they will have to find those files in your Bourdon first to verify all the hiding places!

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

~likes~

Link to post
Share on other sites

It could be a standing wave issue. Because of standing waves waves forming, some random pipes don't sound particularly strongly, especially in tightly enclosed spaces. If the pedal bourdon is in a tone cabinet (if it's the organ I think it is), this could be the cause as tone cabinets and swell boxes are the worst offenders.

 

Several solution to try and improve the situation: consider turing the pipe (not so easy with a wooden bourdon pipe that's stayed in) or consider moving the pipe - maybe with a long foot (if it's a wooden pipe). Alternatively, opening a door of the tone cabinet or adding some sound-deading (or sound reflecting) material in a strategic place might help the problem. Trial and error I'm afraid! Good Luck!

Link to post
Share on other sites
The reply came back....."I can't get anymore out of it without increasing the cut-up."

 

Would anyone like to vote on the likely scenario?

 

Is it:-

 

d) A split in the pipe

 

e) An ill-sealed stopper

 

MM

 

 

As you say, B*** S*** - it used to work and now it doesn't. AND, anyone who would let a tuner start cutting up a pipe that was perfectly OK until the last two tuning visits deserves THAT tuner.

 

After the winter we've had, I'll go with either (or both in extreme circumstances) d) & e) above. You'll probably have to take the offender out and shine a strong light up it (pipe, not tuner).

 

DW

Link to post
Share on other sites
As DW says, splits or a loose stopper is the usual cause of these things, but is it on the soundboard? If not, a pair of size 12s might have squashed the kopex/conveyance flat!

 

There is also the possibility of something between the pallet and the block, maybe a dislodged slider seal. Less likely than a split, but possible nonetheless.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Simples: you wrote "Eb" in the tuner's book. This will have left the tuner baffled and confused, scratching his head and asking his keyholder what on earth it could possibly mean. After spending 2 hours repairing a broken tracker and tuning half the reeds (ignoring the other half plus your requests to 'touch up' the upperwork, and laughing at your request to regulate the Celeste) he will have concluded that no such note exists and gone to the pub.

 

Write "D sharp" and see if it gets you anywhere.

 

;) big wink, especially to all his conscientious and proactive organ tuner friends, of which there are many.

 

 

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

 

 

Excellent! :lol::lol:

 

However, before you congratulate yourself on my mistaken nomenclature, I should tell you that DD# has no stamp on it, (along with all the rest), and someone has written in deeply unattrractive felt-tip pen, the letter 'D' which presumably distinguishes it from the 'DDb' and the 'CCb' of the 'C' side; which in order to be correctly distinguished, are of course the "BBB#" and the "CC##' of the 'C' side.

 

I think the organ-buuilder had already BEEN to the pub when they made these puzzling markings, but hey. they get smaller as they get higher, and are easier to work out than the average jig-saw puzzle.

 

Anyway, having lifted out all the pedal flue-pipes of the C# side and layed them on the church floor in something close to notational order, I discovered various things. Three pipes had little lead toes dropping off them and far from air-tight. That required a bit of paper wrap and some glue. Another had the whole feed boot falling off, and loose in the pipe. A bit more paper and glue.

 

End result? No different, but structurally sounder than before.

 

Bottom DD# remaining almost silent.

 

Enter into the equation my young, dismally educated friend John who is my stand-by key prodder and stop puller; on call 24/7 in return for £5 and a can of lager.

 

"Oy!" He shouts up to me.

 

"What?" I reply.

 

"You're stupid you are," he replies.

 

"Why?" I take not offence as I reply sweetly; marvelling at his insight and accuracy.

 

"Well, if you didn't yank so hard at the stop like a madman, you'd have noticed that it works all right when it's not fully out, and then goes quiet when the stop is pulled out all the way," he answers; displaying a flash of deeper intelligence I had not quite anticipated.

 

The problem, it seems, is the geometry of the stop-linkage or.......dear God forbid.....the holes of the slider on bottom D# do not align properly with either that of the upperboard or the windchest.

 

As all the other notes work all right when the stop is only 2/3rds or so drawn, it may be possible to engineer a little free-play into the operation of that slider, and introduce some sort of buffer to prevent the slide opening as far as it does now.

 

Why is life never simples?

 

At the very least, I've discovered that the poor speech of the pipe has nothing to do with the cut-up; just as I suspected.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
There is also the possibility of something between the pallet and the block, maybe a dislodged slider seal. Less likely than a split, but possible nonetheless.

 

 

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

 

Thanks to everyone for their conscientous replies (refer to my first response). However, giving this a little more thought, the seal problem may not be far wrong, because apart from the near silence of the note when the stop is fully drawn, there is a distinct hissing noise accompanying it, which disappears as the stop is eased in.

 

Laycock & Bannister it may be, but most of the 'technology' is standard 1970's J W Walker/Nicholson practice from the period, with plastic laminate sliders and composite material construction.

 

The trouble is, I've never seen inside a modern windchest with these sliders and their respective seals; most of the ones I ever dealt with being entirely wood and usually air-tight. Everything seems to be made of marine-ply throughout, and apart from the pipes and frame, pieces of solid wood are hard to find.

 

Marvellous though the organ sounds, in terms of build quality, it is more British Leyland than it is Ferrari; to quote an analogy, and for the first 30 years, the schwimmer and winding were a bit iffy until a new Great one was installed a few years ago, after the original turned unexpectedly into a rapid tremulant which threatened to shake the entire organ to death.

 

If we can somehow get this little problem sorted, the organ should be fairly near perfect tonally, and reliable enough to give good service for the next 50 years or so.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
Thought MM would have known,organ builders only deal in sharps not flats.

c c# d d# ef f# g g# a a# b.

 

 

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

 

 

Sorry, I only do flat keys.....something to do with being a brass-player I think. :lol:

 

You're absolutely right of course, but I always think it's such fun to include mixed modes into the tuning-book....call it my contribution to music education if you will.

 

My only contribution to sharp practice, is playing Percy Whitlock's....I forget what they call it.....Gb major piece in G major; which saves so much time having to learn it and read it properly.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
===================

 

As all the other notes work all right when the stop is only 2/3rds or so drawn, it may be possible to engineer a little free-play into the operation of that slider, and introduce some sort of buffer to prevent the slide opening as far as it does now.

 

Why is life never simples?

 

At the very least, I've discovered that the poor speech of the pipe has nothing to do with the cut-up; just as I suspected.

 

MM

 

More simples still is to have a look down the hole with a torch - and the one next to it - while someone works the stop. The leak at the fully on position certainly suggests a slider seal has got crushed sideways - it happens. You can get paper sprung ones from KA but we prefer to make our own.

 

If it's happened once, and you've got to dismantle the whole thing to replace one, you may as well replace the whole lot. More by PM.

Link to post
Share on other sites

16' Bottom D# is not a note I'd expect to give trouble from an overdrawing slide. When you checked it on a partial draw, did you go up to the top of the pedalboard and check the smaller pipes with a 4' principal drawn? Always possible the borings are well out I suppose and a duff slider seal might also explain it. Pipes off, upperboards off and take a look. before you do that though, don't overlook a bad stopper or a split. I've known bigger pipes to work when blown more gently but not work on their normal wind supply because of a bad stopper or a split. If you can, drop a pipe with the same sized foot on the hole and see if it goes.

 

AJS

Link to post
Share on other sites
16' Bottom D# is not a note I'd expect to give trouble from an overdrawing slide. When you checked it on a partial draw, did you go up to the top of the pedalboard and check the smaller pipes with a 4' principal drawn? Always possible the borings are well out I suppose and a duff slider seal might also explain it. Pipes off, upperboards off and take a look. before you do that though, don't overlook a bad stopper or a split. I've known bigger pipes to work when blown more gently but not work on their normal wind supply because of a bad stopper or a split. If you can, drop a pipe with the same sized foot on the hole and see if it goes.

 

AJS

 

 

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

 

Yes of course, what an excellent idea...thank you. It's never easy to think on the hoof at the top of a (very stable) ladder, working sideways into a tight space with no possibility of human access. To actually get to the windchests is a bit of a nightmare, because there are two small pedal chests either side of the instrument, which are totally enclosed in a tone-cabinet running from front to back. It is impossible to climb in, and the only way is to remove the side panelling, which starts at about 8ft above the ground, and finishes 17ft or so off the ground, with only slender side uprights to each side of the panels. With fixed pews, it isn't even possible to get a Y shaped ladder alongside. The only safe way is with scaffolding.

 

With the stop partially drawn, I did check the tuning against the 4ft Principal coupled down, and all notes worked and were in tune....interesting.

 

However, it's the fact that getting up close and personal with the wind-chest revealed quite a lot of 'hiss' when the offending note was pressed, which makes me think that the problem is wind-loss and a problem with either the seal or plastic slider. (The instrument is on very low pressure....less than 3" wg throughout)

 

I know that when a couple of stoppers came loose and the notes wouldn't stay in tune, it was neessary to remove the pipes just to get to them, and once back in place, it was just possible to squeeze a hand through from the front of the organ for one of the pipe stoppers, and just reach the other by standing on tip-toes, perched precariously on the rear, horizontal rail of the tone cabinet with the panel removed. It really is that tight, but fortunately, it all usually stays in good tune.

 

So the bottom line is that I cannot check anything without the proper tackle, but at least the kind replies I have received have identified the possible causes. My own visual inspection of the offending pipe reveals nothing....no loose or split stopper, and no defects in the pipe-body.

 

If the problem is slider and seal related, it prompts a further question.

 

Is it possible for the organ-builder to change the seals with the chest still in-situ, and the upper-board removed?

 

Removing the chest is not difficult. It's only about a foot wide, probably 5ft long, and quite separate from the 16ft reed chest next to it. The only thing connecting the two are the mechanical-action pulls, but obviously, if the chest doesn't have to be taken out, it would be easier and presumably cheaper.

 

It's a bit annoying that the organ-builder/tuner hasn't been able to identify the problem, and it isn't very helpful (As DW pointed out) to suggest that the cut-up has mysteriously altered over the years. (Mind you, the various "adjustments" to the upper lips of the 16ft Bordun, with all sorts of rasp marks and tacked on card, tend to suggest that someone who shall remain nameless but famous, certainly struggled a bit when the organ was first built. I know that some of the pipework has been identified as ex-Walker............. :lol:

 

 

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

Think the best way of fixing the problem with this pipe would be to use a telephone and call in a new organ builder

 

18 months to sort out a problem like that :lol:

 

"tacked on card" can we place bets as to the colour of the card used??

 

Matthew

Link to post
Share on other sites
Think the best way of fixing the problem with this pipe would be to use a telephone and call in a new organ builder

 

18 months to sort out a problem like that :lol:

 

"tacked on card" can we place bets as to the colour of the card used??

 

Matthew

 

 

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

 

 

The colour is a miserable grey, but it's very good card, it has to be said....may even be plastic card! ;):o

 

It's not as neat as the other thing I saw, when a Brindley Great Bourdon was re-voiced as a Quintaton, using only pieces of three-ply board glued and pinned to the upper lip. It was brilliantly effective, and sounds quite wonderful afer 56 years.

 

I wonder if it's possible to have multiple cards to do different things? A Bourdon one minute: a Quintaton the next?

A string turning into a Dulciana? Perhaps multiple resonators on a revolving wheel....Tuba, Posaune and Fanfare Trumpet at the flick of a switch.

 

John Compton would have done it, I bet. :lol:

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
====================

 

It's not as neat as the other thing I saw, when a Brindley Great Bourdon was re-voiced as a Quintaton, using only pieces of three-ply board glued and pinned to the upper lip. It was brilliantly effective, and sounds quite wonderful afer 56 years.

 

I wonder if it's possible to have multiple cards to do different things? A Bourdon one minute: a Quintaton the next?

A string turning into a Dulciana? Perhaps multiple resonators on a revolving wheel....Tuba, Posaune and Fanfare Trumpet at the flick of a switch.

 

John Compton would have done it, I bet. :lol:

 

MM

 

 

I bet we can all think of Pedal Bourdons where each note sounds different, a bourdon on one note and a quintaton on the next. ;)

 

Haven't Allen's done the card thing already? :lol:

 

Monk and Gunther (I think) took out a patent for getting more than one tone colour out of a reed pipe. There was an organ in Enfield which had such pipes, but I don't think they lasted long.

 

I remember, more than thirty years ago, Dennis Thurlow talking to the Bristol Organists' Association and demonstrating how to get several different tones out of a Wurlitzer trumpet pipe.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I bet we can all think of Pedal Bourdons where each note sounds different, a bourdon on one note and a quintaton on the next. ;)

 

Haven't Allen's done the card thing already? :lol:

 

Monk and Gunther (I think) took out a patent for getting more than one tone colour out of a reed pipe. There was an organ in Enfield which had such pipes, but I don't think they lasted long.

 

I remember, more than thirty years ago, Dennis Thurlow talking to the Bristol Organists' Association and demonstrating how to get several different tones out of a Wurlitzer trumpet pipe.

 

 

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

 

In spite of the problems, the bits of card and the rasp marks.....when it's all working, the Bourdon sounds wonderfully even, isn't slow and doesn't cough.

 

As for doing ANYTHING to a Wurlitzer trumpet...even picking one up without wearing white cotton-gloves.....I am shocked....yellow card for that I'm afraid.

 

The "nameless but famous one" needs to be exposed after this. :lol:

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites
======================

As for doing ANYTHING to a Wurlitzer trumpet...even picking one up without wearing white cotton-gloves.....I am shocked....yellow card for that I'm afraid.

 

The "nameless but famous one" needs to be exposed after this. :lol:

 

MM

 

hmm... if you cast your mind back over organ history, you will realise that the famous names who have been amongst the most radical (some might say disrespectful) in their treatment of the tonal work of others have been - Henry Willis I and III, Arthur Harrison, John Compton... any more for this list?

 

And getting at the slider seals - yes, pipes then rackboard then upperboard and the slider will just lift away, assuming the stop action just slots through a hole (it might be clamped). Don't do upperboard screws back up too tight (assess as you undo, but by your description of the stop action they're too tight already), wind the screws back in the holes to find the thread before doing back in, use the same screw in the same hole. Get shot of all the dirt and let airborne dust settle before you go down to the depths. A day's work in total, aside from the time to get hold of the slider seals and let the glue dry (don't use PVA!).

 

If that (getting hold of the seals) is going to take a couple of weeks or more, mark up a bit of hardboard, drill holes and put it back together to give yourself a permanent 16'. Whether you do or don't, vac out the chest again at the time of reassembly to shift any grot off the pallet before it has the chance to be compressed in and cause problems.

 

An organ builder who charges about £300-£350 for a day's tuning would probably do the job for that.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I had to smile when I wrote a note to the tuner about "the problem."

 

He's finally agreed that we have a seal problem!

 

However, investigating just a little more to-day, I learned certain things. There is a propblem with the stop linkages, which may only be adjustment, but maybe geometry. Still, we've lived with that for donkeys years, and it hasn't stopped notes working.

 

To-day, I investigated a silent pipe. The tuner had obviously been sniffing around to confirm my diagnosis, and had failed to seat a pipe in the foot-hole.......a two second fix.

 

Another pipe is hissing ominously; suggesting a seal leak, but another one was not speaking very well.

 

Out came the pipe and a quick blow test.....pipe still not speaking well.

 

Out came the pritt stick, various bits of stiff cardboard, a pair of scissors and a not quite state-of-the-art harmonic bridge, which seems to have paritally done the trick on a temporary basis. At least we have a note!

 

I suspect that the wind-pressure may now be slightly lower than it was previously, since the fitting of the new schwimmer. It is probably where it should be, whereas before, the wind regulation was all over the place, and at least one tuner had fitted different external springs.

 

Now the next test is to see whether the offending bottom D# will respond to the harmonic bridge treatment, or the original organ-builder's trick, with bits of tacked on card to the upper lip.

 

I suspect that although the seals may be leaking, the real problem may be the stabilised wind-pressure. That may make sense of the problems the original builder had with the voicing of the pedal Bourdon.

 

It gets ever more interesting, but it is costing me a fortune in £5 notes and cans of lager.

 

MM

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...