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Keys, Hammers, & Pipes

Bringing an organized piano back to life

June 24, 2015

Mystery of the Hidden Chambers

What were the closed chambers deep in the toe boards?

By John Watson

Each hole on the toe boards will have a pipe perched on it.

A toe board looks like a solid board with slightly funnel-shaped holes for the pipes (see wind-chest diagram), but the boards are anything but solid. Inside the toe board are many hidden channels running … Continue Reading »

May 22, 2015

Finding “Blow” in the Wind-chest

Music Paper was used to prop the toe boards above the sliders to allow the sliders to move

By John Watson

Music paper was used during original construction to shim the bearers. That kept the toe boards (the next layer, not shown) above the sliders allowing the sliders to move freely.

Perhaps it seemed only natural that the original makers of the organ wind-chest chose old printed music to use as paper shims. The … Continue Reading »

April 3, 2015

Animal, Mineral or Vegetable?

Guest blog posting by
Jennifer Schnitker

When working on the wind-chest, John and Lou noticed a white powder coming from the pallet valve leather – not a normal occurrence.  This immediately raised questions for us. Was this a sign of deteriorating leather, necessitating replacement, or something more benign?  Could the white powder be historical evidence, perhaps a … Continue Reading »

March 17, 2015

Bellows Treatment

Assembling the bellows.

By John Watson

We recreated the assembly process based on evidence from the surviving fragments of old leather.

It has surely been much more than a century since these organ bellows have filled with air. Now they are ready to kick up some wind once again. Today’s post is about our treatment of the bellows.

It … Continue Reading »

February 9, 2015

The Mouse’s Tale

Pen drawing fragments

By John Watson

A fragment of a pen drawing could be the work of Amelie Rives of Castle Hill over a century ago.

Mice adore keyboard instruments as much as people do. But for mice, the attraction of organs and pianos is that they offer a splendid place to set up housekeeping. Here they find cozy … Continue Reading »

January 9, 2015

The Wind-Chest During Treatment

by John Watson

Two centuries of dust accumulation and the detritus of a few generations of mice had left the wind-chest congested with debris.

The bar frame, which forms air channels running under the rows of pipes, is composed of wooden components permanently glued together. Each channel has only one opening for its pallet (a valve that is … Continue Reading »