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Keys, Hammers, & Pipes

Bringing an organized piano back to life

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 »

December 10, 2014

The Wind-Chest Before Treatment

By John Watson

The wind-chest sits on top of the chassis just behind the upright grand piano. The organ’s pipes and outer casework are removed.

We’re back after some re-organization of the blog.

The series of posts by guest writer Jenna Simpson have been moved to the “History” page at the link above. Jenna details the … Continue Reading »

August 7, 2014

Pipes are Straightened


By John Watson

Before treatment, the pipes were bent, torn, and twisted.

The badly twisted, torn and mangled pipes are among the more daunting problems to be solved in the treatment of the “Tucker” organized upright grand piano. A conventional approach to restoration would probably involve replacing them with new ones. Some restorers have even melted … Continue Reading »