Above, we see the Swell Trumpet 8 of a 1925 Casavant Organ. This reed rank has suffered much abuse over the years from unskilled technicians to the point where it wouldn't stay in tune. Packing tape and painters tape had been applied to cover cracks, holes and shoddy workmanship. In the picture on the right, we see two neighbouring pipes, with different sized toe holes, which immediately tells me that someone who didn't know what they were doing had been working on this organ at some point in it's history. Reed volume is a function of tongue curve, resonator length and the diameter at top of the shallot, not the hole in the bottom of the boot, which is where a flue pipe volume is largely regulated.
Above we see at left and center left the before and after of a common pipe repair of attaching a resonator to the block. The repair on the far left is globular and messy, and was ultimately a cold solder joint that easily came apart. This happens when the technician is not properly trained, or lacks the proper tools. At center left, we see my proper repair, where the resonator is firmly and neatly attached to the block. At center right, we see the original phosphor bronze tongues. Phosphor bronze was for the tongue in reeds before, during and shortly after the interwar years of 1914-1948 because brass was being used for ammunition, and was difficult to source. Phosphor Bronze is softer, yet stiffer metal than the spring brass which is normally used for tongues. This can pose problems in later years when the curve of the reed has been molested from over-tuning. In the above example, the tongue is also too narrow for the face of the shallot, which would also cause instability. New reed tongues were cut for this rank from modern spring brass of appropriate thickness for the 7.5" of wind pressure that this reed plays on. All of the resonators were checked for cracks, holes, and faulty solder joints, and were repaired and cleaned/polished inside and out. The surfaces of the shallots were polished, and the tuning wires were cleaned and tightened to hold better tuning.
Flue Pipe Repair
Pipe organ pipes are made of very soft metals of Tin and Lead. Over many decades, careless maintenance, or frequent moves can cause pipes to be damaged and deformed.
The top two pictures are a before and after of violin pipe from the 1924 Kimball Theatre Organ at Studio Bell, Calgary Canada.
The bottom pictures show the damage that can occur to the toe of the pipe. Since this is where the air enters the pipe, it needs to be a clean round hole that sits well on the chest. This repair is on a 4' Principal pipe on the organ at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, Calgary.
Wood is a major component of pipe organs, and over many decades, it can become abused, especially if the instrument has been moved several times.
Pictured here is the Tibia Offset Chest for the 1924 Kimball Theatre Organ at the National Music Centre. In the first picture you can see it has seen better days. The hole in the bung cover has had so many screws around it, that there isn't many places left to attach a new windline.
Rather than just throw a patch over the hole, Jason counter sunk the hole with a router and milled new fir wood to be inset and glued, resulting in a chest that is devoid of unnecessary holes.
The electrics used in pipe organs is considered Low-Voltage. Often over decades, the electrical wiring can become a confusing rats nest. This makes it difficult to troubleshoot problems.
Pictured is a before and after of the Pedal Relay on the 1900 Barckhoff organ at St. Matthew's Lutheran, Calgary.
Jason follows the National Electrical Code, and when replacing or upgrading the electrics of a pipe organ, uses only modern PVC color coded wire, in addition to adding fuses to protect organ circuitry.
Leather is the one component of pipe organs that requires the greatest turn over.
After 40-50 years, the leather will have lost it's pliability and will become very dry and brittle. It will need to be replaced or it will cause notes to fail.
In the event that leather gets wet or introduced to moisture, it can become hard and will no longer function. At this point it must be replaced.
The top pictures are a before and after of a note action for the 1924 Kimball Theatre Organ. The top felt and leather pad had become wet at some point and had to be replaced.
The bottom pictures are a before and after of a primary rail for the 1917 Casavant Organ at Central United Church, Calgary.
Jason only uses high-grade organ pneumatic leather in all aspects of organ building.
Over time, components can become worn out. especially if they are components that have movement as part of their operation. Whether its a problematic keyboard, a pedal board, or a percussion unit, sometimes the prudent course of action is a total rebuild of the component.
The top pictures are the rebuilding of the pedal board for the 1900 Barckhoff Organ at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, Calgary. Beautiful rosewood sharps were uncovered after removing several layers of black paint. The bushings were recovered so the pedal board doesn't clack and thump as it once did.
The bottom pictures are a Tremolo from the 1924 Kimball Theatre Organ at the National Music Centre. The Top panel had actually split, so a new one was replicated, and the pneumatics all covered in new leather.