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Thread: 1899 Kimball Parlor Organ

  1. #1
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    1899 Kimball Parlor Organ

    Greetings, fellow travelers,

    This is my "new" 1899 Kimball parlor organ. I found a warranty sheet inside that says it was delivered on May 17, 1899 and was guaranteed for five years. This is my first experience with a reed organ. Happily most everything works. I had to replace the treadle straps first. Then there was a terrible vibration in the bass which proved to be the swell shutters and linkages chattering. I used a ponytail retainer loop below the keyboard to put a tiny bit of tension on it.



    The organ is literally falling apart. I decided to look inside it, so I turned the quick-fasteners and pulled the back off and set it aside. A few minutes later, the panel collapsed with a clatter. The glue is gone... Then I went to put the top on and wondered why the mirror was chattering. That was because the entire high top had spread apart during transport. Pushing on the ends of it trimmed it up so the mirror stopped rattling and the top fit. I have some glue work to do on this old princess.

    I also took the panel under the keyboard off and looked beneath the keys. There was no dust, dust bunnies, coins, children's toys, etc. under there at all. Remarkably clean.

    All the stops work, including the Vox Humana which whirs slightly as it runs and, of course, has no effect with the back off. The stops are: Principal, Diapason, Dulcet, Bass coupler, Bass forte, Vox Humana, Treble Forte, Treble coupling, Echo Horn, Melodia, and Celeste.

    Pumping is almost a cardio workout. I'll need to rebuilt the bellows, and the mechanism needs felting. I found no rat mess or insect evidence inside the organ and the wood work is remarkably intact. There was a paper sticker in the center of the organ that lists the patents and says "How to take this organ apart." The only legible part below is "Remove the top." What fun!
    Last edited by Silken Path; 07-02-2017 at 04:11 AM. Reason: Deleted sentence
    -- I'm Lamar - Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) - Still haven't found the headphone jack...
    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

  2. #2
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    Uh-oh. A key has stopped working - second D above "middle C" (middle F?). The key descends and pushes back up, and I can see the tiny dowel (pitman rod?) moving up and down. The key is also sounding very slightly. If I pump the organ and press the key, it makes a resonant sighing sound as the wind collapses. If I prop the swell shutter door up and then nudge the crescendo hook about 1/2" to "crack" the mute, the key sounds. So do all the others, without any stops pulled. Do I understand that the crescendo gradually pulls in stop, so I'm actually hearing that reed with the mute shutter slightly lifted?

    Can anyone suggest a BOOK to help me learn the terminology of these organs and their theory of operation?

    Can the reeds be removed/inspected while the action is mounted in the organ?

    Thanks for any help, gentlemen.

    On edit: Hmm... I found a little bent-pick-like tool inside the organ. Maybe that's a reed puller...
    Last edited by Silken Path; 07-03-2017 at 01:43 AM.
    -- I'm Lamar - Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) - Still haven't found the headphone jack...
    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

  3. #3
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    OK, folks, I ordered:

    - Reed Organ: Its Design and Construction, H.F. Milne
    - Restoring and Collecting Antique Reed Organ, Horton Presley

    Any other suggestions about need-to-have books?
    -- I'm Lamar - Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) - Still haven't found the headphone jack...
    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

  4. #4
    ppp Pianississmo Mr. Polecat's Avatar
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    1914 Estey Parlor Organ. Guts of a 1904 Putnam Organ (parts organ). Digital stage piano. Various guitars. Autoharp. Banjo. Musical Cat.

  5. #5
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    Thank you, Mr. P. I'm having to prepare a place to put the parts so I'm not immediately at the point of recovering the bellows or pulling the upper mechanism. I would like to play it in the meantime, so I need to address this non-playing key. I wonder if it wouldn't be best to pull the reeds and clean them all.
    -- I'm Lamar - Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) - Still haven't found the headphone jack...
    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

  6. #6
    ff Fortissimo Organfella's Avatar
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    Hi there buddy!

    Welcome to this intriguing and very privileged world of the old pumpers! You seem to have a gem there - albeit in desperate need of some TLC. Take it slow - these old ones do not like being rushed. Besides, they have been around for longer than any of us so they were born in the slow lane...

    Read much on this Forum and in the book you ordered before starting to dismantle anything. It is very likely that you may have to redo the bellows and in the process the entire organ will have to come apart. The notes and keys failing or sounding may just be the result of some debris inside but thorough cleaning may in any event require substantial dismantling. Enjoy ogling and fondling this old beauty while you read and become familiar with the terminology and what does what. Eventually you will get down to picking at the insides and enjoy it too!

    If the book does not tell you - when you do get to taking the beast apart, make notes and document the location of all parts, screws, wedges and whatever, especially the pitman rods. These have to go back exactly into the same position as they came out otherwise your keys will likely be un-levelled.

    It the outer case needs repair, I always do that first so that when the action etc is done it can go in right away.

    Please keep us updated on your progress. This Forum is far too quiet to my liking as it is....

    Lucky you!!

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

  7. #7
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    Thank you, Nico. In this hurry up and wait world, I'll try not to get over my head in this. Think I'm going to clean the reeds next, as I can get to them with swell shutter propped up and the mute doors held open with the crescendo, even with the upper mechanism still in the organ. How does one identify a particular reed? Hold the key and feel for suction? (This is a suction organ.) Is there any consensus that an ultrasonic cleaner is a good way to clean the reeds?
    -- I'm Lamar - Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) - Still haven't found the headphone jack...
    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

  8. #8
    ff Fortissimo Organfella's Avatar
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    To identify a reed one needs to know the lay-out more or less. When you find the first one, the rest are easier to identify. Go carefully with any fancy reed cleaning stuff. A reed need not be shiny to produce the right sound and pitch. Gently wipe them with a clean cloth first. Easy when pulling them out - preserve the cell walls and do not force anything. Test each one before going to the next. Do them one by one, otherwise one can easily get confused and put them back in a different order.... Happened to me...!

    Good luck and enjoy!

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

  9. #9
    ff Fortissimo Silken Path's Avatar
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    Cool beans, Nico. Found one guy saying to "pull the reed right below the key and the same one on the opposite side." Also found a company a couple of states away advertising a pump organ repair DVD. Their example is a Kimball (!). So the project is paused until I get some stuff to watch and read. The reed area in the back was MUCH dirtier/dustier/full of debris than the front. I also found some scratches indicating that a half-dozen reeds or so have been previously pulled out. I'm going to get in there with a small mirror to see if the reeds have the note stamped on them. That would make octave-a-time a possibility.

    Wikipedia says that Kimball made 403K pump organs.

    By the way, it already has three keys that are not even with the others...
    -- I'm Lamar - Rodgers W5000C - Conn 643 Theater - Hammond M3
    -- 1899 Kimball pump organ (forum thread) - Still haven't found the headphone jack...
    -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

  10. #10
    ff Fortissimo Organfella's Avatar
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    Great stuff!

    From your comments it would appear that the organ had been worked on - perhaps recently. You can carefully use a vacuum cleaner to get rid of the major dust. STAY AWAY FROM THE REED CELLS WITH THE SUCKER! Reeds can be damaged by strong suction so leave those areas for manual cleaning with a soft brush. Better to keep all the stop valves closed when vacuuming.

    All the reeds I have seen have the pitch stamped on them. That makes matters much easier.

    Happy fondling!

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

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