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Mander Organs

Polishing your Principles


Chris Woollard

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On a recent trip to Germany, my hosts gave me a couple of tubes of "Gundel-Putz" which is what they use to polish their prestant pipes.

My organ uses the 4 & 2ft. Principal's as display pipes also, I believe they are 70% tin. Over the years they have gone a little dull and it would be nice to restore their sheen - but only if safe to do so. Is there a safe way of going about this (I would say leave the mouth area completely alone) or is the risk simply too great. Nothing wrong with them musically.

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I don't wish to sound pompous, but I wouldn't do anything at all to ALL the pipes on an organ, or even those of just one stop. Tinkering with the odd one or two is a different matter and is sometimes necessary, but first rate organ tone in terms of timbre, regulation and blend is so subtle that it isn't worth the risk of doing it on a larger scale in my opinion. Even if everything went well, there is also the risk of damage, both to the pipework and to oneself if one is susceptible to the (largely unknown) ingredients of a typical metal cleaning compound. Nasty stuff on the whole.

 

At the very least I would consult an organ builder first, and probably get him to do the job as well. If I couldn't afford it, I'd leave well alone. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

 

Pipes are the sound generators of the instrument, and I always treat them with the greatest respect.

 

Sermon over.

 

CEP

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What's wrong with the old English technique of washing the display pipes in beer every few years? Haven't got a reference handy but I'm sure I remember reading that in the "History of the Organs in XXXXX Cathedral" booklets I used to buy in my teens.

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On a recent trip to Germany, my hosts gave me a couple of tubes of "Gundel-Putz" which is what they use to polish their prestant pipes.

My organ uses the 4 & 2ft. Principal's as display pipes also, I believe they are 70% tin. Over the years they have gone a little dull and it would be nice to restore their sheen - but only if safe to do so. Is there a safe way of going about this (I would say leave the mouth area completely alone) or is the risk simply too great. Nothing wrong with them musically.

Gundel-Plutz reminds me of a similar metal polish we used on a restoration of a Gern organ that had a tin facade. We used Peek (£6 a tube) and a small amount went a long way. We also found it less abrasive than Brasso. It worked a treat and no it didn't have any effect whatsoever on the tone of the pipes. After all it's only the oxide that causes the dullness.

.

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There was certainly at least one 17th/18th century English organ - I think it was Durham Cathedral - where the front pipes were washed in beer from time to time instead of being varnished.

 

A popular feature of the peregrinations of the Wetheringsett and Wingfield organs was that local brewers often offered to supply refreshment for the blowers.

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A popular feature of the peregrinations of the Wetheringsett and Wingfield organs was that local brewers often offered to supply refreshment for the blowers.

That didn't happen here, sadly. We had one of the organs in Bradford Cathedral during the organists' assoc centenary. I played it a couple of times (interesting experience) and blew it for the items that Jonathon Bielby played in his recital for us - could have done with some refreshment after that! Not so much hard work, but I found the height of the bellows made more difficult than it perhaps could have been.

 

Every Blessing

Tony

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  • 5 months later...
Guest TerryShires

If the tin pipes are badly oxidised I would advise leaving well alone. If however they are just in need of a re polish I would say it's a must to wash the pipes first with soapy water. Then apply Unipol with a damp cloth, leave for a couple of minutes then polish with a linen cloth. Obviously much care must be taken around the mouth area. If in doubt pass them on to a pipemaker like me!!!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Gundel-Putz seems fairly benign [ http://www.objectsofuse.com/products/work/gundel-putz-stropping-polishing-paste#.VEJDsxZgGSo ].

Unipol seems to be abrasive (like Autosol a favourite used to remove rust from chrome on cars & bikes) [ http://www.hollisonsupply.co.uk/unipol-metal-polish-50ml.html ] HOWEVER

see [ http://www.weiblen.de/en/materials/cleaning-and-polishing/unipol-metal-polish/ ] from organ builder supplier!

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