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21st Century Barker Lever Replacement?


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For some time I've been wondering what possibilities currently are possible to replace a barker lever.

 

Goal: build a 4 manual romantic organ, keep the mechanical action, but replace the necessary barker lever (to avoid heavy action) by something 'modern' (electric/digital). Somewhat like the Kerkhoff organ in Bruxelles (mechanic-pneumatic) that Pierre knows all about. It should be fast, slient and feel good when playing.

 

Any thoughts?

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Dear Heva,

 

I think we need to be a little more specific; is it a new organ from scratch?

If yes, you need to decide which kind; it may be inspired by Cavaillé-Coll or William Hill, for instance, and be built with slider chests and tracker action + Berker levers.

There are alternatives to the Barker lever by Fisk and Willis, while Mr Mander

can do even simpler with excellent results.

 

If you aim at something later, the kind of organ for Reger, Karg-Elert, Howells and Elgar, it *might* be interesting to reconsider the action completely, and even the kind of windchest you will use.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Dear Heva,

 

I think we need to be a little more specific; is it a new organ from scratch?

If yes, you need to decide which kind; it may be inspired by Cavaillé-Coll or William Hill, for instance, and be built with slider chests and tracker action + Berker levers.

There are alternatives to the Barker lever by Fisk and Willis, while Mr Mander

can do even simpler with excellent results.

 

 

A full description of our 'Floating' Lever can be found at http://www.willis-organs.com/news01.html We are incorporating this into our new organ for Florence.

 

We have also recently submitted quotations for the reinstatement of the Willis/Barker action in another instrument which was badly electrified in the 1970s.

 

Everything is possible!

 

David Wyld

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... There are alternatives to the Barker lever by Fisk and Willis ...

 

About Fisk's "Kowalyshin servo-pneumatic lever", see

 

http://www.cbfisk.com/fisk_files/organs/spl.pdf

 

About Vincent Willis's floating lever, see

 

http://www.willis-organs.com/Floating.html

 

Both devices track the finger movement and make it possible to apply attack differences in playing. The main difference between the two is that the Kowalyshin device is basically an advanced version of the Barker lever, which means it interrupts the course of the mechanical action in order to bring a stronger source of energy into it. I have tried it at Lausanne, and it works very fine. It is quick, silent and, to all accounts, reliable and easy to maintain.

 

The Floating lever leaves the action intact, i. e. there is an uninterrupted connection between key and valve. It is called "flaoting lever" because the lever doesn't have a fixed fulcrum. The servo device adds power to the movement triggered by the finger. The mechanism is engineered quite ingeniously. I have never, however, tried an organ that uses this kind of device. I hear the Willis firm still offers to build it.

 

Both devices were designed, as far as I know, for slider-and-pallet chests with large and/or multiple valves on heavy wind. Of course, they would work fine on all kinds of actions, be they heavy because of valve number or size, wind pressure, or distance. I don't know, though, if finger-tracking servo devices would be useful on cone-valve chests. Would a slow opening of the valves be desired in those?

 

Best,

Friedrich

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"Would a slow opening of the valves be desired in those?"

 

Yes, Kegelladen are sensible to differenciated attacks.

The question is to know wether we really need that on a

romantic organ!

"The organist's skill lies in his(her) head, not in his (her) fingers"

(Aristide Cavaillé-Coll)

 

Differentiated attacks are an -important!- feature of the baroque music

interpretation.

In romantic music this differenciation belongs to the voicer; each stop

attacks at a different speed (of course this is true in the baroque organ too,

but less so), the player has just an "on-off" command.

In a big cathedral organ touch subtelities won't go very far anyway.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers

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About Fisk's "Kowalyshin servo-pneumatic lever", see

 

http://www.cbfisk.com/fisk_files/organs/spl.pdf

 

About Vincent Willis's floating lever, see

 

http://www.willis-organs.com/Floating.html

 

Both devices track the finger movement and make it possible to apply attack differences in playing. The main difference between the two is that the Kowalyshin device is basically an advanced version of the Barker lever, which means it interrupts the course of the mechanical action in order to bring a stronger source of energy into it. I have tried it at Lausanne, and it works very fine. It is quick, silent and, to all accounts, reliable and easy to maintain.

 

I also tried this at Lausanne when the organ was going in - it works very well. The main difference between the Fisk and ours is the fact that theirs is entirely 'in the wind' while ours is entirely out - regulation of ours is therefore much simpler.

 

Looking at the Fisk drawings, it would be just as simple a proposition to have this acting on the mechanical action rather than interrupting it.

 

The Floating lever leaves the action intact, i. e. there is an uninterrupted connection between key and valve. It is called "flaoting lever" because the lever doesn't have a fixed fulcrum. The servo device adds power to the movement triggered by the finger. The mechanism is engineered quite ingeniously. I have never, however, tried an organ that uses this kind of device. I hear the Willis firm still offers to build it.

 

We have one operational in the factory at the moment. Using a 14inch x 2inch motor on 6inch wind, a single note call lift 6 1/2 pounds.

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Fisk's machines are now being produced by Laukhuff. Ours were delivered the week before last.

 

Barry

 

Although a barker lever is essentially a wrecking device, I can't see much wrong with them. Ours at Romsey are prompt, extremely reliable and have no deficiencies in playing that I can see. The repetition is fine and the noise is the only downside. A good deal of romantic music was written for such an action and I personally don't think there's any huge disadvantage over any other action when it comes to other styles of music, principally because you still have the sensation of a tracker, whether or not you have the pallet control. I think it's time they had a revival.

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  • 4 months later...

The greatest problem with the Barker Lever device (including the V. Willis derivative etc) is that it introduces a spring to the action train that is at best noticeable and at worst gives a horrible harmonium type feel to the action. Kenneth Jones Inc. (in fact the work of Trevor Crowe) designed a quasi-servo pneumatic action that overcame this problem, avoiding secondary springs. It was applied to two organs by the firm in the early 1990s. It is a ‘quasi’ servo in that it operates another pallet set from a main action train rather than replacing the direct mechanical connection on one individual train. The system uses jockey-pallets on an enclosed power-motor, with a floating lever to trace the precise movement of the controlling and output actions – the output thereby follows the key exactly. When working within reasonable limits (i.e. acting on one extra set of pallets) it is very responsive and impossible to catch out in terms of response and repetition – if overloaded it gets slow…rather like most pneumatic based actions of course.

 

It was applied to the four manual/six division NCH organ in Dublin, but alas it was expected to drive several intermanual couplers – a bit overambitious. I believe that this organ has been recently fitted with electric coupling throughout…something of a volte-face for an organ builder who previously eschewed any alternative to mechanical action. This is a shame as the servo-system in itself is a very clever design (though like all such mechanisms expensive to construct) and deserves to be revived in a more realistic application – maybe one day it will!

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The greatest problem with the Barker Lever device (including the V. Willis derivative etc) is that it introduces a spring to the action train

 

No it (the Willis 'derivative' - which, actually isn't a derivative of anything) doesn't, or at least, needn't).

 

When the Floating lever is properly applied it only works when couplers are 'on' and there is no interruption of the train. If correctly set up, the touch of the keys on the manual to which others are coupled should be fairly-much the same, possibly with the exception of a small amount of percieved weight increase, as one would excpect anyway. There is certainly no question of sponginess.

 

David Wyld.

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Please excuse me if I have this completely wrong, but is it the Barker levers that are responsible for the incessant "clacking" on these videos of the St Sulpice organ that have been cited on this board several times?

 

Almost certainly! The Romsey ones are very noisy and I believe can be heard in the Anthony Scott files I put up the other night.

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Of course Barker levers become noisy with age, they need their felts to be renewed

from time to time.

But the case at St-Sulpice is a bit more complicated: several Barkers, inverted console, and....Miles of trackers!

And all this is more than a century old; needless to say, the organ needs not to apologize. Vintage!

 

Pierre

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Mr Wyld,

 

I am inclined to think that most sensitive players would feel the springs labeled B and Q on the diagram of the Willis lever on your website…

 

Let's also hope that any delay there might be will not be as great as with things I have had recently also labeled B & Q..........

 

AJJ

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Mr Wyld,

 

I am inclined to think that most sensitive players would feel the springs labeled B and Q on the diagram of the Willis lever on your website…

 

 

Both of the springs are extremely light and would offer little resistance to the leverage of the key. I say "would", because, as already stated, the lever is not in contact with the train until any coupler which requires it, is engaged: at which point, as the weight of the coupled actions would increase significantly without the action of the lever the assistance offered by the lever is not noticed as any INCREASE in the weight of the action - but, depending on how much assistance is required and delivered, as a potential DECREASE in the weight of the action. This has nothing at all to do with how sensitive or otherwise any player may think he/she is. But if he or she has already convinced his/herself that there would be a problem, no amount of explanation would lessen the effect, would it?!

 

Also, please do be advised that the drawings on our website (which are those published as a part of the original Patent application) are not entirely accurate - there are minor (but important!) alterations originally intended to prevent unauthorised copying of the thing, to the extent that there is one item shewn on the drawing which is not required at all!

 

David Wyld

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Both of the springs are extremely light and would offer little resistance to the leverage of the key.  I say "would", because, as already stated, the lever is not in contact with the train until any coupler which requires it, is engaged: at which point, as the weight of the coupled actions would increase significantly without the action of the lever  the assistance offered by the lever is not noticed as any INCREASE in the weight of the action - but, depending on how much assistance is required and delivered, as a potential DECREASE in the weight of the action.  This has nothing at all to do with how sensitive or otherwise any player may think he/she is. But if he or she has already convinced his/herself that there would be a problem, no amount of explanation would lessen the effect, would it?!

 

Also, please do be advised that the drawings on our website (which are those published as a part of the original Patent application) are not entirely accurate - there are minor (but important!) alterations originally intended to prevent unauthorised copying of the thing, to the extent that there is one item shewn on the drawing which is not required at all!

 

David Wyld

 

Not wishing to sound as though I want the last word on this subject, I rather think there are significant differences between the sensations of weight and spring tension in an action, though if the main action is in anyway heavy you are right suggesting that an additional spring may not be noticed. Bearing in mind the original posting, in a modern action I’d wager it would be felt – witness the feel of those modern consoles with compass springs on the keyboards (admittedly an extreme example). If the Willis design is applied to coupling alone and not to a main division train I’m sure, in the correct context, it feels quite apt.

 

The comments regarding the prejudices of your he/she organist seem rather a shame, not displaying much faith in the ability of a good player to distinguish between a good action and an indifferent one. I’m sure experience has much to answer for in that respect.

 

Have many people attempted to copy the Willis design? I ask as I am fascinated to think that it might need any form of copyright protection so long after its patent.

 

While we're on the original posting, maybe Mr Mander would share his experiences with the 'intelli-pallet' in the US...perhaps all this talk of lever-pneumatics is now old-hat!

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I’m sure with the use of Synchros, a system could be designed that would track the fingers, so would feel good yet would also be fast and silent. Modern cars, planes etc have had fly by wire systems for years. The question is, if a Synchro system can provide the “feel”, why on earth would you want or need mechanical action as well? :)

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Fly by wire cars? Would you market one, sorry, I would not buy it since in order to drive a car you need road contact trough the wheel...

BUT you don't need that in a plane.

It *may* be the same with the organ. With some you need a feedback, and with others you do not!

Willis had also an excellent tubular-pneumatic action...(maybe another old hat that could be revived?)

By the way, Michel Gaillard of the Aubertin firm has build a brand-new pneumatic action

for a restored romantic organ. Mander of course restores pneumatic actions too, and Germany is following.

(And round and round, etc)

Pierre

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Sorry, I should have been more specific.  The car fly-by-wire I was referring to was the throttle linkage.  :)

 

Yes, that is correct. Needed, indeed, in order to stay within the emissions

regulations since EURO 4 is mandatory.

And so you now have this stuff that "interprets" your orders; put on the throttle,

the thing will give gas slowly. Take your foot off, it will close even slower.

Quite uncomfortable, but at least the gearbox will last longer.

Nothing for an organ action!

 

Pierre

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