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Thread: 150 yr old Reed Organ, I have so many questions

  1. #1
    ppp Pianississmo Tamara'sFirstOrgan's Avatar
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    150 yr old Reed Organ, I have so many questions

    Next week I will have my "FREE" 150 yr old Reed Organ delivered. Sorry I can't seem to post initial photo. A neighbor is moving and doesn't want to keep the old organ which has been in her German family for 150 years. It was the pride and joy of her German Grandfather, but she said that although the family has kept it and dutifully passed it around for many years, nobody really wants it. She called it "the Family Albatross". It is not one of those large fancy Parlor types, but is about the height of a studio piano, 5 octaves starting at F, little carved rails on the sides, a roll top cover that reminds one of a desk. I was so excited when I went to see it, I forgot to take note of the maker's label ; I only noted that it wasn't Estey, and I had never seen the maker name before. It has 14 knobs. Although it has two pedals, she said she has never used the left one, but only the right one. I pumped the right one, a note rang out clear and wouldn't stop - a key is stuck. It wanted to play, but was producing a cacaphony of sounds. Then I decided to pump the left pedal and the sound (pretty but dinnish) surged louder. I said "It has nice tone !" and she said, surprised "it does ?" So, anyway it is beautiful to me. I hope to get it refurbished over time. I am a Pianist/Piano Teacher. I am wondering if there is a Reed Organ Repair Person in the Portland Oregon area who does housecalls, and would do a gradual restoration like a Piano repair specialist would do ? How drastic is a sticking key ? And since I can't find online any picture that looks like this organ (except perhaps the general pic of a cabinet model) does this mean it is more special than the easily found ones ? After it is delivered I will try to post a proper photo.

  2. #2
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Tamara,

    Congratulations on your first pump organ. There is quite a bit of missing information, but we have several here who can provide more exacting information than I. The basic information people will need to help you is: Maker's name, Model number (probably inside the organ on one of the sides or on the back), and perhaps the names of the stops from left to right.

    To attach a photo (it will need to be approved by Admin or moderators for the first few posts), just click on Reply, then click Go Advanced. Below the box provided, you'll see a button saying Manage Attachments. You should be good from there.

    Be careful about getting the organ bug (look at my signature!). My addiction started with my maternal grandmother's organ. The house had been broken into after her funeral, and the relatives told me if I wanted it, I could have it. I was there next school vacation with my pickup!

    Welcome to the Forum, and I look forward to seeing the pictures when you have them.

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 4 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony)
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

  3. #3
    ff Fortissimo Organfella's Avatar
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    Welcome to the mob Tamara!

    From the information you gave it sounds like a very nice and treasured piece that you have. As Michael said - pictures and more (technical) information will help a lot. We all understand and share your excitement about owning such a piece of history. I echo the "danger" of getting bitten by the "bug" - but even if it should bite you, just ride the crest and enjoy! That is one kind of bug I do not mind getting bit by!

    As for the age of the organ (150 years) I kind of doubt that but if it is accurate, chances are that many things will likely need some attention. It still makes sound, which is always a good sign, albeit with a "stuck" key. On pump organs a stuck note is often an indication of some debris in there where no debris belongs and the whole assembly will likely need cleaning out. But it may also indicate some mechanical parts failure. The main implication here being that some major work may result once an attempt has commenced to rectify a "small" issue.

    What I have said of course must never be seen as an attempt to discourage, on the contrary, please ask as many questions as you need to. There are some very knowledgeable and experienced pump organ enthusiasts on this Forum that will gladly assist. I for one am one of these nuts who will go through much to preserve these old ones for generations to come - just for the sheer love of it!

    Again, welcome to the Forum!

    Nico
    "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

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    ppp Pianississmo Tamara'sFirstOrgan's Avatar
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    fd613181546be49f4219eed157df11ff.jpg

    This is the photo from Neighbor's Ad. The Organ looks much better in person, cleared off. I will take better photo this week when it is delivered.

  5. #5
    ff Fortissimo Organfella's Avatar
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    Nice piece and worth having. Looking forward to some more pictures

    Take care
    Nico
    "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

  6. #6
    ppp Pianississmo Tamara'sFirstOrgan's Avatar
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    Cornish & Co !!

    The Cornish arrived today !! A key is limp ( "A" key ) --- sounds constantly, with a little rattle inside. Lower register plays a bit better than upper register. Some keys stick now and then , but can be pulled up to stop note. Center knob is stuck in the out position. It's fun to play, even with the constant A. I love the tone of it ; I don't know anything about pump organs, but it seems to have a livelier tone than many of the Youtube videos. It's hard to remember to keep pumping, as I get distracted by listening to it. I will try to post a Youtube this weekend, unrepaired and all. I hope to be able to afford at least some basic work on it.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    ff Fortissimo Organfella's Avatar
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    Thanks for the pictures Tamara.

    It is indeed a nice organ and as you can see, made in the USA. The Cornish has a good sound and is relatively easy to work on. From what you describe it is difficult to pinpoint the problem with the sticking key - I would guess it is a broken pallet spring which causes the collapse of the key, but it could also be a broken pitman rod which is easier to repair as for the pallet spring the wind chest has to be opened up. If you lift the key up with your hand, does the note still sound?

    An interesting feature of the Cornish factory is that they sold directly to the public which perhaps made their products more affordable. Check out these:

    http://www.reedsoc.org/Database/scro...e=2&fs=cornish
    http://www.reedsoc.org/Database/scro...e=2&fs=cornish
    http://www.reedsoc.org/Database/scro...e=2&fs=cornish

    and this is my Cornish:

    http://www.reedsoc.org/Database/scrollfulldetails5.asp?regno=5608&Choice=2&fs=corn ish

    The open stop is likely caused by a stuck link which can easily be fixed. Once the back cover is removed the links are readily visible and accessible.

    To access the pitmans and other mechanisms the keyboard and links will need to be removed and I would recommend that should this be attempted, many pictures and many more questions need be asked before removing something that looks complicated. If the wind chest should be opened, it is imperative that the old blotting paper seals be replaced by proper leather strips. Believe me - I had to open my one no less that five times, including the need to cure wind loss...

    Casey is my mentor and teacher on this which was my first attempt at repairing pump organs - and may I add, it is still singing beautifully after a few years... Thanks Casey!

    Take care

    Nico
    "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

  8. #8
    ppp Pianississmo Tamara'sFirstOrgan's Avatar
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    Wow ! Your Cornish is a literal Museum Piece ! Very stunning. The other Cornish pics are similar to mine, except the one I have is missing the side handles ; there are still faint holes from where they used to be.

    My Piano Tech Guy texted me from France last night ; yes, he said he knows how to repair Pump Organs. He will return home to Portland Oregon on Sunday. This is very good news, since Reed Organs are not very popular In Oregon as far as I can ascertain. My one friend who is Local Most Famous Organist (he sounds like an orchestra of 30 all by himself) suggested a repair shop known for repairing antique clocks.

    The "A" key keeps playing no matter what - when the key is held up that doesn't stop it. It doesn't feel like it is connected to anything, and there is a rattle in the organ directly behind the key that sounds like a rapidly ticking clock. There are two sticking keys in the bass that stop when lifted. The lower notes sound more crisply and louder than the treble. This is the first pump organ I have played, so I don't know if that is typical...

    What is also interesting is that it hasn't been played in many many years. At first the pedals were a little stiff, and it felt like it was surprised to be playing again.


    I do notice the wind sound today - there may be some air loss, but then again, I don't know what it should sound like. So far the Organ's best sound is OOM PAA PAA bass with a light right hand chording.
    I got some good sounds from it today, despite the constant A.

    When my Piano Tech visits to fix the A, I suspect he will need to open up the back. I want to take pictures of the insides. I would like to have been able to view the insides as it began playing again this week. Did dust poof around, are things getting loosened up and ready to fall ?? It is all a mystery.

    Thank You !
    Tamara

  9. #9
    ff Fortissimo Organfella's Avatar
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    Hi Tamara.

    The rapidly ticking sound you get is likely something touching the rotating Vox Humana vane. If you close the Vox Humana stop it should disappear but the part that fouls against the vane should be corrected. My guess is that it is the same part that prevents the one stop from moving. This has probably nothing to do with the sticking key, but one will never know until one can have a peek inside.

    The difference in volume between the bass and treble could be because the stops are not functioning as they should. The bass one(s) is/are open while the treble is not. Again this will be revealed when the action is opened up and one can see what goes on inside there. Hurry home piano man!

    I suspect the bellows and or wind chest will not be air tight after many years of working and playing so a good work-over might be called for. Let your piano repair man have a look and take some pictures. Meanwhile, enjoy the sounds that pleased many ears in years past - try to ignore the persistent A note.... if you can .

    Take care.

    Nico
    Last edited by Organfella; 04-07-2017 at 06:54 AM.
    "Don't make war, make music!" Hammonds, Lowreys, Yamaha's, Gulbransens, Baldwin, Technics, Johannus. Reed organs. Details on request...

  10. #10
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Organfella View Post
    Meanwhile, enjoy the sounds that pleased many ears in years past - try to ignore the persistent A note.... if you can .
    Nico,

    Couldn't she just pull the offending reed until it's repaired? Granted, there will be a wind sound, but at least she could hear the rest of the organ. Just a thought.

    Michael

    P.S. I have a Cornish I also need to restore--one of my retirement projects, among others. Nico is right about the blotting paper needing a proper replacement--it is unusable after being removed for a repair.
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 4 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony)
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 4 Pianos

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