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Designing a Pipe Organ


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Thank you for the suggestions, but to be honest I really don't think there is anything on the internet that is going to be of any help. I've come to the conclusion that it is not possible to do an organ project single handedly. I have thought about just giving up and instead look at exploring other interests of mine such as a live steam locomotive or traction engine, but I feel like I'm just replacing one impossible project with another.

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There are a few, mainly old, books about DIY organ building such as those by Mark Wicks, Dickson & Milne, and much more recent ones by John Boersma (there's a review in the most recent Organists' Review).  Beware of modern reprints of the older books - they often omit the large fold-out diagrams!  A few people have successful built their own pipe organs - I played one in a private house in Lancashire a few years ago (there was an article in Organists' Review that put me on to it).  

Good luck

Every Blessing


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It is quite possible to do an organ project single-handedly, provided one has the skills/training/tooling and time available to do that particular project. If the project is "sort out the squeaking swell shutters by tomorrow" then that's going to be within the capability of any organbuilding operation of one person upward. If the project is "build a copy of St Sulpice within 3 years", then only the largest firms would even be able to contemplate that - and if they were not wise enough to decline, they would heavily subcontract!

Many amateur organ builders (and even some professional ones) operate solely by buying redundant instruments cheaply and modifying/assembling/restoring them, to a greater or lesser degree. Irrespective, they don't make the "tricky stuff" such as metal pipes and R/C pedalboards as that needs such specific tooling and skills.

So the suggestion to look on the internet and see what's available is a good one - from two perspectives. Firstly, it shows what others have done to solve similar problems. Secondly, it provides an impression of what might be available as raw materials to an amateur organ-building process. Perhaps some "raw material" might be a close match, with very little changes needed?

If the objective is to create a low-cost home practice pipe organ, then I think the above is the only approach which is likely to be effective.

If the objective is to try to replicate the process a professional pipe organ builder would go through to create a home practice pipe organ, from scratch, with all-new components, then I fear this is a very much more challenging and expensive exercise. If plans are not outsourced, then the difficulty is greatly increased, because design mistakes, especially when noticed at a late stage, can be very expensive.

If the objective is to build up a kit of parts into a very small - portative or positive - organ, for fun, then this is possible, for a price. Again internet searches are helpful.

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Thanks Tony. I do have a couple of books on amateur organ building which I've had for many years. Which are Practical Organ Building by W. E. Dickson, and How to Build a Small Two manual Chamber Pipe Organ by H. F. Milne. And I have also looked at the one by Mark Wicks, which can be viewed on line.


But to be honest although these books have given me some ideas, in reality I don't feel like they're are of much help as I'm starting to accept that this is something that is too much of challenge for someone like me.

I kind of feel like Homer Simpsons trying to do his own foundation repair when reading these books.


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