Wild Air

Before we started - dark, tired, and worn outNote: There comes a time in almost every organ project when the customer is wondering when they will see their organ again. Rebuilding an organ such as St. Joseph’s 1912 M.P. Moller organ is labor intensive and time-consuming. Besides all the big construction, each individual pipe from the old organ has to be assessed, cleaned, repaired and voiced for the new organ.

We’ve been at it for months, and shortly after the Holidays, you will see the organ start returning to the church. One of these parts is the organ console.

The console for a pipe organ is comparable to the keyboard on your computer. Just as your keyboard doesn’t do any actual computing, the organ console doesn’t really create any music. The console is the control center that allows the organist to control the organ (the pipes). Still, the console is absolutely critical (you might say, “key”) to the success of an organ.
For the Shelbyville organ, we decided to rebuild and refurbish the existing console cabinet. This decision saved the church a lot of money,

Cory strips the old finish from the console's oak frame (last summer).

probably between $35,000 and $50,000, even though console restoration is time-consuming. This console was itself a replacement for the organ’s original keydesks, and was installed when the organ was electrified.
Now, as the console nears completion, I want to share a few photos with you, and some specifics.

The oak console cabinet was completely dismantled in our shop, down to the smallest possible pieces. Everything was stripped, sanded, stained, and refinished. The new interior is made of cherry.

The keyboards are also new. The keys are made of a special wood laminate that resists warping. In the past, even on very costly consoles, keys could warp slightly seasonally, disturbing the contact points and even causing keys to stick and bind. The coverings are made of a special synthetic material that is given a hand-rubbed satin finish to approximate ivory.


The new keyboards on the bench.

(As you may know, it has been illegal for many years to build ivory keyboards because the ivory trade and illegal poaching of elephants has driven the species nearly to extinction. What you may not know is that some restorers of old keyboards use a type of ivory that is legal, harvested from the tusks of wooly mammoths that have been extinct for 10,000 years.)
The console interior also has new controls for the stops and couplers, as well as the new Peterson ICS4000

The new stop jambs - ready to install

integrated control system, a computer network that will handle all the relay and memory functions of the new organ. ┬áThere are new “toe studs,” to allow the organist to control memory functions with feet as well as hands, a new pedal board, and a new music desk and lighting.
Those who helped move the old console out will probably do a double-take when they see it renewed!
And they will see it in the next few weeks.


I’ve left you hanging on the pipe-making process. That’s because we have had to get a lot of organs ready for Christmas!

Rear view of the console, showing the new ICS control system (the black box is the main processor).



Which reminds me…
Our very best wishes to you and yours for a joyful, peaceful, and blessed Christmas!






Almost ready! New keyboards and stop jambs installed. Isn't the cherry wood beautiful?





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