Monday, March 24, 2008

Our work is complete

As of March 15th all of our work is complete at the Basilica and the organ is playing like new again. Tonal finishing is left to be done but will be done after the organist has had a chance to go over the instrument and formulate some ideas about the type of tonal work and voicing which needs to be done. Thanks to everyone who has followed our work so closely on this blog. Check back often for the start of the next job.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Here is a closeup of the old chest cables connected to the junction board. The cables have a brass cotter pin on each wire which plugs into a brass 'ferrule' on the junction board. The corresponding wire which goes to the solid state relays is soldered to the back side of the same ferrule.
Here is the Swell junction board after all the chest cables have been plugged in. There is a board like this in each of the 4 divisions of the organ. They each have a large cable which then connects to the solid state relay panels in the basement. There is one wire for each pipe in the organ.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Here's a close up view of the console showing the sweeping curves of the terraced stop jambs. Also shown is the detail in the case of the console. Mike Ziemba of the Wicks company really did an excellent job with this console.
Here's the new console in concert position in front of the main altar. It was delivered last Friday from the Wicks company along with the new electrical system which we are now installing. We are hoping to hear the first sounds from the organ before the end of this week.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sorry for the delay in posting. We have been busy running wires and installing the new relays which arrived last Friday. The new 4 manual console was also delivered on Friday and I will get some pictures of it posted soon. We hope to have the organ making some noise by the end of this week.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

This is what 2000 feet of multi-conductor cable looks like when formed into one 100' long cable. There is a junction board on one end which will be installed in place of the old relay in the Great chamber. The other end of the cable is being fed down through an unused 10" metal wind line to the basement where the new relay system will be installed. The decision was made to remote all 4 relays (Great, Swell, Solo, & Choir) to improve access to the relays for service and in the chambers for tuning. The Great and Swell relays will be in the basement and the Choir and Solo relays will be installed in the old combination action cabinets beneath the choir stalls.
This is the new IV Scharff mixture which is installed on the top of the central organ case. It plays on 8" of windpressure!
Here's another view of the console being disassembled. That other organ in the back ground is the digital organ that is being used as a stand in for the pipe organ during the restoration project.
Here is the console in the process of being disemboweled. We have now also removed all of the old electrical system in preparation for the new equipment which is set to arrive next week.
The shiny pipes on the light colored rack board in this picture are the new 4' Octave in the choir. These pipes and their new topboard occupy the space where the Unda Maris used to be.
This is the Choir chamber. The new III mixture is on the right. The Unda Maris is on a new chest at the rear.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Where's Waldo?

Somewhere in the picture is dad. See if you can find him. Today we finished lifting and installing all the new windchests into the Swell, Choir, and to the top of central organ case. Now we will begin connecting wind lines to these chests and gutting the old relay cabinets in preparation for the new equipment.
Here is an overhead shot of the swell chamber main chests with the mixture chest elevated in the background. We cut out the end of the walkway and moved the ladder to make it easier to access these pipes for tuning. The wooden wall behind the mixture chest is the swell shades in the closed position.
Here I am assembling the pipe racks which will hold up the pipes of the 16' Contra Trumpet in the Swell chamber.
Here is an overhead view of the chest for the lowest notes of the new 16' Contra Trumpet which is being installed in the swell. The 3 largest pipes are on the chest at the left. The large gray pipes in the background are the largest pipes of the 16' Flute Conique. The chest between the flute pipes and the trumpet pipes is for the bottom of the diapason and the top of the pedal bourdon. These chests have been relocated from elsewhere in the chamber to improve access.
This is the new junction board for the Great division. The board on the floor is where the old wiring from the windchests will connect. All the rolls of cable (1,900 feet in all) will be formed into a large cable which will run down to the basement of the church where the new relays will be located. The existing relays, which are located in the chamber, make it impossible to access several ranks of the pedal division for tuning and service. The relays of the other 3 divisions are also being remoted to the basement to improve access.
The truck from Wicks arrived yesterday morning with all the new windchests and pipes. Here is all the stuff laid out in the walkway behind the main altar.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Here's a picture of the 32' Contra Bombarde located in the Great chamber. These gigantic pipes stand 32' tall and are 16" or so in diameter at the top. Believe it or not, there were installed, as an addition, after the main part of the Great was installed. There were threaded into the chamber through a 16" x 24" opening located in the plaster casework near the floor of the chamber.

We are now finished with all we can do until the next shipment arrives from Wicks. This is going to be tomorrow (Feb 13) and will contain all the new pipes and chests as well as a few parts of the new electrical system. The console is not yet complete at Wicks and we are hoping that it will be delivered the last week of February in order for us to make our March 14th completion date.
Here is Arden cleaning up plaster debris near the pedal 16' Principal in the Great chamber. See the previous post for a before picture of the pipes in this area.
Remember that MAMMOTH dust bunny picture below? Here is the same area after cleaning! The Great chamber is clean which wraps up the cleaning process accept for the chamber floors which will be cleaned once all the upgrades have been installed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

This is the bottom of the 16' Principal in the Great chamber. The plaster ceiling above these pipes has fallen in and made a HUGE mess. The pipes themselves have a large amount of plaster piled up inside them as well.

We have begun cleaning in the Great. This is, by far, the worst chamber as far as filth and damaged pipes goes. Here you can see the amount of debris lying between the rows of pipes on the windchests. No, that's not a dead mouse in the foreground. Just a mammoth dust bunny!
Today we finished cleaning the swell chamber. I don't have any pictures as everything went pretty much the same as the Solo and Choir. On to the Great!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Here is a picture of how we clean out the inside of the organ pipes. This brush is run down inside each pipe and scrubbed around to loosen stuck on dirt. Today we finished up running the new tremolo windline from the solo and then cleaned up the area beneath the choir stalls where the new Choir and Solo relays will go. Dad also gutted the old combination action cabinets which will now be used to house the new relays.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Here is a valve seat that has been sealed. The valve seat is the raised wooden part beneath the white valve pad.

All the windchests are vacuumed out before replacing the toe boards.
Here is the new electric expression motor for the Choir. It replaces a pneumatic motor. The new motor allows the shades to open fully. The old motor only allowed them to open about half way, plus the old motor spanned the entire distance across the shades from left to right. The new motors should allow more sound to exit the chambers. All the old motors in the organ are being replaced with these electric motors.
Today we continued cleaning in the Choir chamber. Just to give you an idea of the steps involved in cleaning a chamber like this, here they are.

1. Remove pipes from chests and store in cardboard trays.
2. Wipe down and remove the rackboards from the chest.
3. Vacuum off the toeboards and remove all screws.
4. Turn the toeboards over one by one to oil the Wicks valves and inspect/seal the wood valve seats
5. Reconnect the chest ground wire and replace toeboard.
6. Blow out and vacuum all toe holes
7. Replace rack boards
8. Wipe down all pipes, inside and out, and replace on the windchest
9. Disassemble all reed pipes (trumpets, clarinets, oboe, etc) and clean the reeds, clean the shallots, swab out the resonator, and reassemble.
10. Remove all non-organ related material from the organ chamber
11. Clean and polish all wooden parts of the organ.
12. Clean the floor.

Here is the console that is being built by the Wicks Organ Company.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

As you can see, the choir division is in need of some cleaning. Actually much of the organ looks like this or worse. We started in the choir today removing the pipes from the chest and tearing out the old expression motor. All the old pneumatic expression motors are being replaced with Peterson electric motors. Another thing we are doing that hasn't been shown yet is the inspection and sealing of the valve seats in the windchests. More pictures to follow.
Today we finished cleaning, oiling, and sealing the wind chests and putting back the pipes in the Solo division. No pictures yet, they'll be coming.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Here is a close up of the Wicks action and the oiling process.

Here we are in the Solo chamber. All the pipes have been removed and stored in cardboard trays. The rack boards have been removed from the chest and the toeboards have been turned over to expose the Wicks Direct Electric action which will be oiled and inspected.

Cleaning in the Solo chamber

Today we started cleaning in the Solo chamber which is located above the horizontal trumpets in this organ case.

Monday, January 21, 2008

All in place

Here are all 5 of the new 32' pipes in place. Their scale in comparison of Dad shows how huge they are. Sorry for the blurry picture.

"The Big One" falls into place

Here is low C of the 32' being placed on the chest.

Dad gets closer to Heaven!

Dad is in this picture. He is on top of the crown molding of the column to the right. He is positioning the wooden beam for the hoist cable to connect to.

Installing the Sub Bourdon pipes

Here we are installing the 32' Sub Bourdon pipes. We used an electric winch with a pulley on a beam stretched between the crown molding at the top of two columns. Click on any picture in the blog for a larger view.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New windline for the Solo

Here we have removed most of the pipes from the Choir division so we have room to work while installing the new 10" PVC static windline to the Solo Division which is located on the next level above the choir. The windline will run vertically just in front of where the white pail is standing. The old windline was removed to make way for the new ladder system.

Giant Organ Pipes!

Here are the five large 32' Sub Bourdon pipes which are going to be installed in the balcony. The largest is about 24" square and 16' long weighing in at about 400 lbs. In the background are the remainder of the 32' rank which was installed several years ago.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Here is another picture of the big pipe on the way up to the balcony.

32' Sub Bourdon Pipes

Today the truck arrived from Wicks carrying the bottom five pipes for the 32' Sub Bourdon which is installed in the balcony of the church. These five notes have been missing since the original stop was installed a number of years ago. The pipes were lifted into the balcony by a local contractor. The largest pipe is roughly 18' long x 24" square with 2" thick walls and weighs in at about 420lbs! Here it is on the way up into the balcony.

Basilica of St. Mary - Job overview

The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, MN is home to a large Wicks organ of 4 manuals and 80 some ranks of pipes. The Wicks Organ Company of Highland, IL is providing a new 4 manual french terraced style console, new electrical system, and several new ranks of pipes. We are in charge of all onsite work including the installation of the new upgrades from Wicks, cleaning the entire organ, oiling of the Wicks chest action, plus other repairs to bring the organ back up to 100% playable condition. Please check back often for updates as work continues.