July 3, 2023
We had an exciting week at the church with major progress in the removal and renovation of the organ. Although a poor substitute for Alden (who had to teach a summer class), I thoroughly enjoyed observing the disassembly and packing of much of the organ. They removed two of the pipes on the left side of the organ facade (the pipes we actually see on the outside of the organ.) Through this opening they passed the pipes from the inside of the organ - the big ones, one at a time; the smaller ones, sometimes by the "handful".
These pipes were laid in large, flat boxes and carefully labeled. As they worked, Calvin and Joe explained the various pipes - the different shapes and materials that produce different types of sounds, the length of the pipes, and, perhaps most interesting, how the various pipes are tuned.
The next major work was to remove the pedals and the keyboards. First, the trackers–linkages between the keys (and pedals)--were removed. These look like small dowels with small washers on each end. These provide the connection between the keys and the valves that control the air flowing to each pipe. These trackers needed to be carefully removed, boxed up, and labeled. Once they were removed the pedalboard and keyboards could be removed. The major challenge here was removing screws that had most likely not been touched in the last hundred years.
The other major work was the removal of the air box. This was large and heavy and awkward to remove. The large air supply pipe coming from the blower in the basement had to be removed. To protect the trackers still in the instrument, Calvin and Joe made a temporary platform on which to lower the air box. They then slide it out of the cabinet.
At this point, most of the parts that will be removed have been taken. Next week, they will spend some time at the church cleaning parts that will not be taken to the shop. This includes the facade pipes that actually play - the nine directly over the keyboard and four on each side of semicircular molding on each side. Also, some of the large wooden pipes at the very back of the organ enclosure will be cleaned and voiced in place. They will also continue to vacuum and tape off all the pipe openings in the organ until the pipes are returned.
I have greatly simplified the process and you are definitely getting a layman's view of the process. I have included several pictures with this article and there is a link below that will take you to a large collection of pictures of the process. Alden will be glad to show you some parts of the organ that are not usually visible if you ask him. Also, be sure to let him know if you would like to go on the field trip to Parsons Pipe Organ Builders workshop in late July; we will be confirming the trip within the next week.