Monday, June 24, 2013

Restoring a Reed Organ - Part 10: Fixing the Splinter

As mentioned in a previous installment, we learned the hard way that Mason and Hamlin made it difficult to separate the bellows board from the bottom of the wind chest.  They glued that sucker on, and good! I'm sure this provided an excellent seal, but many other manufacturers simply used a leather gasket and some screws (or so I'm told).  We tried as carefully as possible to remove the board, but we ended up with a signficant large splinter coming away from the windchest and several smaller ones as well.  The bottom of the chest is pictured below, with the damage.

Needless to say, we were feeling a bit discouraged, and quite a bit like butchers.  I was afraid to go onto the Reed Organ discussioin page to ask for help as I thought maybe the Reed Organ police might come and confiscate this wonderful instrument from the hands of the Philistines.  I quietly emailed Rodney Jantzi, who encouraged us and gave us some advice on pushing forward.  As I said before, he is a really nice guy!  He suggested that we not re-glue it later, but fasten it and seal it with a leather gasket. 

You can see below the large splinter after we removed it from the bellows board and prepared to reattach it to the bottom of the wind chest.

I should say also that Dad is not one to be stopped by small inconveniences and he was confident it could all be made right.  We reattached and glued the large splinter as well as several smaller ones.

Then we clamped both the chest and the board so that they fasten firmly and dry.  I should further add that Dad is one of those guys who has several dozen clamps just kicking around the workshop, so gluing things is never a problem for him.  He is looking pretty satisfied at his handiwork, here.

Here it is the next day.  I also have some photos of the bellows board, but I think they are on another camera.  We subsquently sanded both carefully, and did some sanding to clean up the exhausters as well.  I will post those pictures when I get them off that other camera.  It worked out pretty well, I think.

And since we are highlighting the "hall of shame", we also decided it was time to glue and clamp that sub bass reed cell I cracked earlier as well.

It all worked out pretty well!

Restoring a Reed Organ -- Part 9: Removing, stripping and cleaning the Bellows

At this point, we needed to remove the bellows from the lower part of the wind chest.  What we did not know at the time was that while most manufactures simply screwed the bellows board to the wind chest with a couple of screws and sealed it with a leather gasket, Mason and Hamlin was in the habit of gluing the board to the chest.  I have since learned that some people are skilled enough to re-cover the bellows and exhausters while attached to the chest.  I don't think I am one of those people.  In any event, we figured we needed to separate it from the chest, so we gave it the old college try and exercised great care.

We needed to make sure we disconnected all the linkages related to the grand and the swell levers. 

There were a couple of screws and a few nails.  We still didn't realize at this point that the board was glued to the chest.

We worked it very carefully with a pallet knife, with some heat, and with some moisture, but it was really tough going.

In the end we did get it apart, but as you can see some of the bottom of the chest splintered and came off onto the bellows board.  Note the yellowish protrusion along the edge of the board just beyond Dad's crossed hands.  We thought we had failed miserably at this point, but after an emergency email to Rodney Jantzi, Rodney assured me that this can certainly happen and that it wasn't the end the world, and explained how to repair it.  He also recommended that when we reconnect it that we do not reglue it, but rather seal it with a leather gasket.  I think that is what we will do.
You can also see the cardboard gussets from the exhauster bellows (a few close ups of them follow, below).  These were very common on the old M&H models apparently.
In sight is also our tape measure and pad.  We carefully measured the masximum opening/expansion of the exhausters and bellows before taking them apart.

We tried to remove as much glue and bellows cloth residue as possible with heat and moisture.  A fair bit of gentle scraping was required.  Dad is using a chisel that belong to his Uncle Stanley.

A couple of reference pictures of the seal along the hinge.

Cleaning up the bellows board

Getting ready to remove the bellows cloth from the main bellows. 

Here is the hole for the release valve, which prevents the bellows from being "over pumped."  The release valve was removed and a block of wood screwed over top of the hole. This was likely to deal with the face that the bellows were leaking, so someone covered the safety value to help maintain the air pressure.

The cloth was pretty difficult to get off.  You can se we tried with the heat gun (lower left hand corner). What really worked best was some moisture with heat.  It took a while. There were about a million tacks holding it in place as well, indicating a later recovering job.
The exhausters were original, but the bellows had clearly been redone.  The cloth on the bellows was like a canvas with fleese on the interior.  It tore quite easily and disintegrated in places as we pulled it away.

Next:  Fixing the splinter

Restoring a Reed Organ - Part 8: Viewing the Windchest

After Dad unscrewed the top portion of the windchest the pallets were revealed. 
When the pitman depresses a pallet, it opens up a flow of air through the reed cell which allows the played reeds to vibrate.  Each pallet has a spring that allows it to close when the note is no longer being played.  As we were not prepared as of yet to strip down the top of the reed pan nor remove the pallets and springs, we used the existing screw holes to attach four 2x4 legs, so that we could rest the top reed pan without worring about damaging anything either on the top or the bottom.
Here is a close up of the patent label for the self-adjusting valves.

This is a close-up of the pallets and srpings for the sub bass.  The whole wind chest looks really clean and fresh.  There are only a couple of springs that are looking a little oxidized.

A couple of more views of the pallets.

This is the bottom of the wind chest.  It was clearly done in two pieces and connected with a piece of rubberized cloth. I'm not sure if we will need to remove this cloth and add a new piece or not.  You can see the leather gasket around the frame that provides a seal when the top half is reconnected.  The row of holes connects to the bellows board and is where the wind is drawn into the bellows by suction created by the peddles.  The bellows ares still connect to the bottom of the wind chest at this point.

The treble side, where the Vox Humana is separated and gasketed.

Next:  Removing and cleaning up the bellows and exhausters.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Restoring a Reed Organ -- Part 7: Investigating the Action

When last we left off (last summer!) we had taken the action out of the case.  In truth, we got a bit further than this last summer, but I did not get around to posting our further progress. In July, I had order Jim Tyler's "Aunt Maude Revisted" CD which details how to restore a reed organ, with literally hundreds of photos and directions.  This did not arrive until the end of the summer, so we opted not to begin any restoration work until we had thoroughly reviewed it, which we have now done. We spent the rest of the summer investigating how the action works, taking it apart and carefully photographing everything we did for reference.  We then completely dismantled the case and stripped it. I realize some purists will be having a fit as they read this thinking about the antique patina that we removed, but the original shellac was seriously damaged in many places, and flaking very badly.  There was also some water damage.  We felt stripping and re-shellacing would be our only real option.  We also stripped down the bellows and exhausters, removing the old rubberized cloth and cleaning up the boards.  More on these items in future posts.  I thought I had better do a couple of "catch-up" posts to bring us up to date on our progress through the end of last summer before we begin our work this summer. 
We lifted the keybed, realizing that it was hinged to the lower part.   This revealed the underside of the keys, some of which, on the treble side, show some water damage from where someone must have spilled a glass of water into the keys. Fortunately there doesn't seem to be any warping.  There is some red bleeding/staining from water coming in contact with the felt. 

Here you can see the water damage (white staining) at the back of the underside of the keys on the treble end.

What is wrong with the photographer?  He can't seem to take a picture without a shadow obscuring half the frame?

Looking down, we can see the couplers that sit on top of the reed cells, and the pitmans which release the valves below the reeds. Also note the sub-bass cells in the back, bass side.  What is that strip of tape doing there?  It seems I accidentally grabbed the sub-bass covering when we were taking the action out and I cracked the cell.  You should have seen Dad's face. We later repaired it.  That is my "tape of shame" that you see.
A look at the action from the bass side.  You can see the linkages as well. Lots of dust.

When I played the keyboard, I noted that some of the couplers seemed to engage without the "octave coupler" stop being pulled, while others failed to engage with the stop pulled.  The couplers were quite dusty, with lots of debris, although the felt is largely intact.  It will need to be replaced and the couplers cleaned thoroughly.

Here's a view of the action from the treble side.  You can see the Vox Humana in the lower right corner of the frame.  

This is a closer view of the pitmans, and the sub bass couplers (is that what they are called?)  There is that darned "tape of shame," again.

Oh look, here is our missing "melodia" stop face.  Hmm, that's one reason why the couplers weren't working so well!  A good rule of thumb is always to do a good search of the debris before getting the vacuum cleaner going!

I guess since I made that little gaff with the sub-bass, Dad thought he should continue with the "hands on" work for a while.  Here he is removing the screws from the wind chest to separate the top reed pan from the bottom.  There were several screws, in two different sizes.  We carefully noted which screws went where.

We have removed the keyboard at this point and set it aside.

 Here's Dad doing some more screwing...  You know what I mean!

Here is another nice vew from the treble side.  You can see the linkages in the bottom of the picture, as well as a decent view of the rear swell.  The top reed pan is pretty dirty and you can see some discoloration (the dark stains) caused by water, I think. 


A closer look at the sub bass reeds and cells...  Again with the taped gaff!  Why didn't the photographer cut that out?

And one more fuller view of the couplers, swell shade, and sub base, below.
More to come next time!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"She has wet my feet with her tears..." A Homily for Proper 11, Year C, 2013

Homily for Proper 11, Year C, 2013
Sunday, June 16th, 2013
Trinity Anglican Church, Bradford, ON
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves
Text: Luke 7:36-8:3

“She has wet my feet with her tears…”
--Luke 7:44

Have you ever found yourself wanting to be close to someone important, or someone well-known, or well-connected because of the benefits that might accrue to you through close association with that person?  Or perhaps found yourself wanting to be close to someone especially charismatic and colourful because maybe, just maybe, some of the excitement of their life might spill over into the apparent drudgery of our daily lives?  This might just have been what Simon the Pharisee was thinking when he invited Jesus into his house. Perhaps Simon thought that having this famous preacher and miracle-worker at his table might just bring him up in the estimation of his neighbours; or maybe Jesus might just do some special parlour trick and bring some wonder and amazement into the drudgery of his life and the lives of his family and friends.  But whether it be for his own aggrandizement or for the entertainment of his community, one thing was certain, Simon the Pharisee was pleased to have Jesus at his table.  Indeed, he was so excited that he forgot to offer Jesus the basic courtesies afforded to a guest in those days.  He was not offered water to wash his feet or oil to soothe them.  Now these may seem like strange courtesies, but it might have been the equivalent of failing to offer your guest a cup of tea, or a cocktail (depending on the time of day).  This may not have been such a big sin.  After all, how many of us, being star-struck, perhaps as Simon the Pharisee was by Jesus, might forget to offer such courtesies?

When I was a teenager, two of my best friends came and picked me up and wouldn’t tell me where they were taking me.  As it turned out, we ended up on the historic main street of old Unionville.  The street was blocked off because a movie was being made.  The director was one of the all-time great directors of horror films, John Carpenter.  We were a big fan of his movies back in those days.  We hung around the film location for several evenings hoping to catch a glimpse of the fabled man, himself.  We sat around and watched actors utter a few lines over and over again for several short takes, we watched the experts set up a car chase and explosion and then watched it all unfold, and finally after a few evenings of this, we were in the right place at the right time to meet the great John Carpenter.  He was quite willing to meet us, to chat for a moment, and sign a few autographs.  We were star-struck.  And as he was signing an autograph for my buddy, Darryl, he looked up at me, stared me in the eye, and caustically uttered, “You’re in my light.”

Sometimes, we can become so star-struck, so in awe that someone special is willing to take a few moments out for us, that we have been in the presence of greatness, that we forget to offer them the simple courtesies owed to our fellow man.

Simon the Pharisee wasn’t a bad man, but perhaps his motives were in need of a little check.  He wanted to be in Jesus’ presence so badly that he forgot how to truly honour Jesus.  The larger question is, though, why did he want to be in the presence of Jesus? What did he hope Jesus’ presence would bring him?  We shall likely never know; what we do know, though is that someone else came to Jesus that day, but she came with a very different motive.

An unnamed woman with an alabaster jar crashed the party.  This woman was known to have been a great sinner, which probably meant that she was a prostitute.  She longed to see Jesus; she longed to be in his presence. And so she came into Simon’s house.  In that jar she had a very expensive ointment to soothe Jesus’ feet.  Her act was a financially extravagant one, but what followed was perhaps even more profound.  Out of the depths of her pain she wept, and weeping upon his feet, she washed his feet with her tears, and in a surprisingly erotic move, she dried them with her hair.  Simon was infuriated by her extravagance, but more so by his disappointment in Jesus.  Sometimes the celebrities we venerate, whom we think we know and understand, let us down, do they not?  If Jesus really were a prophet, he would know and understand what kind of woman this was, and would have sent her away.  But Jesus did know exactly what kind of woman this was, she was the kind of woman that needed him the most. 

Where Simon was star-struck and sought to use the presence of Jesus for his own gain, his own celebrity, and perhaps his own entertainment, this woman needed the presence of Jesus for the salvation of her very life and soul.  Simon did not even offer Jesus the pleasantries and courtesies of the house; this sinful woman poured out her very soul upon his feet and all her wealth upon his head.  She needed him desperately, for her situation was desperate, her very soul was at stake. 

To help the Pharisee to understand, Jesus told him the story of two debtors, one who owed a little, and one who owed much.  The creditor forgives them both, but the point is that the one who owed so much was so much more thankful.  That woman needed much forgiveness, and she knew she could find it at the feet of Jesus.  The compassion of Jesus moved her to such love and adoration that she poured out everything before him and upon him, everything in her earthly store, and everything in her heart.   Simon had much to give, but was so wrapped up in his own self and what Jesus might do to raise his status or please his guests that he offered little to the one who could offer him much, indeed.

One thing I must ask myself as a Christian is this:  Do I want to be with Jesus, or do I need to be with Jesus? Do I want Jesus to possess as my own, or do I need to offer myself to him?  What is my motive in being a Christian?  Is it to raise my status, to fulfil a need to belong, to get a spiritual high or fix? Or is it to seek the one who can save me from these sinful longings and fit me for his kingdom?  Is it to find in his presence the grace that so eludes me under my own striving and seeking?  Is it to meet the living God upon whom I can pour all my blessing and all my woe in one act of reverence and adoration? 

The Gospel of Luke is written for us “Simons.”  It is written to those of us who find ourselves in the presence of the Lord and forget to offer him the courtesies of the house, or for those of us who inadvertently stand in his light.  It is written for us sinners who fail to recognize in his presence his generous and saving grace, his forgiveness of our debts and his hope for our future.  There is hope for Simon the Pharisee.  At the end of the story, we hear of people who are both like Simon and like the sinful woman, three women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna, all wealthy women who had been possessed by demons. These women had been healed by Jesus, and out of their wealth they provided the means for him to preach the good news and heal the sick and the broken-hearted.  Like Simon, they had the means to have him at their table, but like the sinful women, they did so not because of what he could do for them, but because of what he had done for them.  They not only wanted to be with him, they needed to be with him, they longed to be with him and pour their extravagance upon him, as he had poured his grace upon them. 

I would like to think, and dare to hope, that Simon the Pharisee got the message, that his heart was strangely warmed and that he turned from his selfishness and received the grace God had to offer him. If there is hope for that sinful woman that entered Simon’s house, if there is hope for the three demon-possessed woman, and if there is even hope for Simon the Pharisee, then there is hope for me and for you as well.