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Restoration of the ex-Irvin's Marenghi

Bass pipes and chest

What a mess these pipes were in! The cellos had been fixed using the original wooden blocks, but some had been mutilated with the use of unsuitable screws, not even fitted squarely in the existing holes. Some had parcel tape wound round their tops, to hold them together after splitting. This was removed, and the splits repaired properly. The long pipe feet (to allow speaking room for the bourdons) had been wound round with black tape at their tips, presumably to ensure a good airtight fit, which hadn't worked. This was all a far cry from how we had left it in 1983.

I cleaned out all the pipes and reset the stoppers, tuning slides and freins for correct speech. One stopper was so tight that its handle came apart, and had to be re-pieced back together. I eventually got the stopper out and noticed that it had been inserted the wrong way round (some of these pipes are slightly trapezoidal). Once repaired I gave them all generous coatings of shellac and varnish, as they would not be accessible after being placed back into the case.

The action chest was completely dismantled and cleaned. (The picture shows it before cleaning.) The pallet surface was not flat, so needed careful planing. I re-leathered the pallets and primary motors, and fitted the box with new gaskets.

Once the chest and pipes had been completed, it was time for testing. The whole assembly was mounted in an upright position inside the lorry, and the blower connected, via the overhauled reservoir. The picture shows the first seven pipes in position. When switching on the supply, the motor ran for a few seconds before dying. The power supply had fused. The yard was supplied by 3-phase, but fuses were not accessible to me. The yard's owner needed to fix it, but that wasn't done for a few weeks, so the testing process had to be put on a back-burner, and work continued at home on smaller parts.

Eventually all was working once more, so testing and adjustments were resumed. Then the cellos were removed again in preparation to the unit being installed back into the plinth area of the case. That done, the cellos were re-fitted, the whole assembly mounted into position, and the case placed upright once more. I positioned the case so that I would have access between the baritone case and the closed lorry shutters. So often the space left here is too narrow to gain access to the front of the organ without lifting the heavy lorry shutters. The case was then bolted down (properly this time) to the lorry's floor.

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