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What Keyboard Action Is Best?


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There is nothing on the Internet -which says a lot-.

 

Try to find a copy of "Modern organ building" by Walter & Thomas Lewis,

the third edition (1939), which explains all systems having be in use

in UK. (Editor:William Reeves Bookseller limited)

This very third edition I found in a second-hand bookstore in London

in 1974 or 1975. Maybe there have been reprints since?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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There is nothing on the Internet -which says a lot-.

 

Try to find a copy of "Modern organ building" by Walter & Thomas Lewis,

the third edition (1939), which explains all systems having be in use

in UK. (Editor:William Reeves Bookseller limited)

This very third edition I found in a second-hand bookstore in London

in 1974 or 1975. Maybe there have been reprints since?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

 

Hi

 

I picked up a second-hand copy in 1983 - Third edition 1949 repreinted 1956. I've never seen a later edition. Bear in mind the dates - it's not really "modern" any more - even electric action only gets a limited mention! But, from memory, it is pretty good at explaining pneumatics.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

I picked up a second-hand copy in 1983 - Third edition 1949 repreinted 1956.  I've never seen a later edition.  Bear in mind the dates - it's not really "modern" any more - even electric action only gets a limited mention!  But, from memory, it is pretty good at explaining pneumatics.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

My mistake dear Mr Newnham,

I misread:

Third edition MCMXXXIX

Reprinted MCMLVI

 

Of course it is not modern, but later book tend to eschew the

tubular pneumatic actions; so for Nathan this would be the

one to have.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Greetings,

 

      Is there any web page information or are there any books/resources which I can purchase about Binns/charge actions?  I am absolutely fascinated by your tubular actions across the pond.

 

        Best,

 

                Nathan

 

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

 

 

I have a copy of the Lewis book also. Apparently, they weren't great organ-builders, but the action descriptions are rather good.

 

Although pneumatic systems have been restored in the UK in recent years (Bristol, St.Barts Armley & Eton College spring to mind), I suspect that the last NEW pnueumatic-action was the one installed by H,N & B at Brighton PC. I seem to recall the date as being around the mid-50's.

 

Can anyone confirm this?

 

James Jepson Binns was a good organ-builder, and whilst his organs are seldom Grade A tonally, at their best, they were definitely Grade B. Binns used well-tried and tested methods, and one Binns organ is much the same as the next. One could say that he was a bit of "factory" builder in that sense.

 

The pneumatic-actions were really quite simple, consisting of a pressurised "touch-box" in which were rows of small pallet-valves. This gave the keys that excellent tracker-feel, and being built almost always inside the organ-case, the pneumatc runs were quite short. The only draw-back was the use of external inflate motors at the windchest, which can be noisy after 50 or more years!! From then on, the action is the usual collpasing pallet-valve motor inside the windchest.

 

I believe the secret of Binns' success was that he got all the proportions right, used generously scaled tubing and didn't skimp on leather quality. Although these actions have a slight delay, they respond well to key-depression input with excellent repetition, and are always a joy to play when in good condition.

 

I'd hazard a guess, and say that of those organs which Binns installed in the 19th century, most that still remain will still be working; albeit with some difficulty in many cases where there has been no restoration. However, I can recall MANY examples of his work which approached 100 years and still functioned satisfactorily. One particularly fine instrument, at Shipley PC (one of Binns' best organs, which Dr.Harry Bramma knew well) has only had the primary pneumatic motors replaced, so far as I know, and it still works. If there is a problem, it is brittle fracture of Victorian soft iron-wire, used for the pedal coupling action, and which can be a bit of a nightmare job to replace in-situ.

 

It's interesting that the action at St.Bart's, Armley, worked almost satisfactorily until they installed a gas-heating system, which resulted in walls streaming with condensation. The leatherwork inside the organ was very badly affected, and precipitated the demise of the old-action. It was so bad, even the stop-shanks warped and stuck in the jambs often, and a small team of willing helpers used to carry out running repairs to the beast. Nevertheless, it continued to function at over 100 years of age, although H,N & B did a partial restoration of the action back in the 1950's.

 

If Nathan is deeply serious about our old pneumatic -actions....well.....I might just lend him the Lewis book and whizz it across to the US, so long as he promises to return it sometime. I'll also keep an eye out for a second-hand copy.

 

MM

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If Nathan is deeply serious about our old pneumatic -actions....well.....I might just lend him the Lewis book and whizz it across to the US, so long as he promises to return it sometime.  I'll also keep an eye out for a second-hand copy.

 

 

Greetings,

 

Thank you for the kind offer. I must say though that I would hate for it to come to grief through the mail! I am going to try and find a copy of the book; if I am unsuccessful then I might like to take you up on your offer!

 

Best,

 

Nathan

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