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Restoration of a Chamber Organ

Pipe removal

The pipes needed to be removed one by one and checked that they were labelled sufficiently to identify them. At first, I needed to know the pipe layout, so the wind was switched on and the actions worked by hand . This was important because for an organ as compact as this one the pipes were not necessarily arranged in a regimented order. Once that was done the pipes were taken out and stored in the church's rear gallery which had been deemed out-of-bounds to anyone but me. They were stored in such a way as not to allow them to distort. The metal ones are made from an alloy of mostly lead, with a small amount of tin, and this metal is inherently soft.

Above left: The first rank to come out was is the Dulciana at the front. This rank is open metal, but runs only from tenor-C with the lowest five pipes of stopped wood. They play at the normal 8-foot pitch (the same as a piano). The reason for the wood basses is the limited height of the complete organ.

Above right: The second rank is the Fifteenth, and behind it can be seen the Twelfth, and the Principal. They are all diapason-toned, playing at different pitches. The smallest pipe of the Fifteenth is the smallest pipe in the organ, with a speaking length of less than an inch, and thinner than a pencil.

The third rank to be taken out was the Twelfth, which plays twelve tones higher than a piano, and as such is called a "mutation". At this point in my work I omitted to take a picture of it before removing it, the Principal (right) is the fourth rank. It plays one octave higher than a piano.

Below left: The next rank is the Stopped Diapason - labelled "St Diapason" on the stop knob, all wooden. “Stopped” means the pipes are closed at the top with air-tight stoppers, lined with leather to allow them movement for tuning. Stopped pipes sound an octave lower than open pipes of the same length.

Below right: The rank at the very rear of the organ is the Open Diapason. As this is an 8-foot stop, the lowest note should be 8-feet long. Clearly, there is no room for that, so the lowest 14 notes are borrowed from the Stopped Diapason, which stands in front of the Open. When this picture was taken some of those wood basses had already been taken out. The largest metal pipe is Tenor D. Just to the right of centre the pipes of this rank overlap each other, which is a way of utilising the available space on the chest.

It is now clear that the pipe chest is in three distinct sections, with a large section in the centre and smaller ones either side. It was at this point I began to look further to see what had been done in the past, and dicovered the tell-take markings and holes indicating that this organ had once been barrel operated, with a turning handle at the back. The small sections of the chest had probably been added when the organ was converted from barrel to manual use.

In general the condition of the metal pipes was not good, so I knew that there would be some serious remedial work ahead, before they were re-installed.

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