Restoration and Maintenance
Organ Restoration – Our Approach and Ethics
Over 30 years of experience working with instruments manufactured in France, Germany, Belgium and Holland has given a solid background in the various pneumatic systems used by different companies. Parts and hardware for all these manufacturers are held in stock or made new to exact factory specifications. It is important to us to keep as many original parts as possible during any restoration, the key word being conservation. Too much can be lost if care is not taken to preserve as much of any instrument as possible.
Experience of working with instruments damaged by fire and water has given us unparalleled expertise in restoration of both mechanisms and pipework. It is of paramount importance when working with pipework not to change windways, voicing and dimensions. Pipes are the voice and soul of any organ and great care is always taken not to disturb the delicate balance and voicing intended by the original builder.
It can be said that many instruments have had changes made during their working life and we always consider these alterations early on in any restoration. Rather than undo “working” changes, we assess each situation and draw a balance between “factory original” and “working” condition. For instance; many 87 Key Gavioli instruments in England were enlarged in the 1920’s to 89 key, taking the 89VB system from Marenghi to standardise the music. In these instances we feel it important to preserve these “working” enhancements rather than return the instrument to its original 87 key “factory” specification. Many such instruments have spent longer in their altered form than their original specification.
We are lucky to have experience working with complete factory original instruments and in these cases every care is taken not to inflict any alterations to pneumatic systems or changes to pipework specification. We are not in the business of re-inventing the wheel!
We have a vast archive of pipe measurements carefully taken over the years which are incredibly useful both for making new pipework and conserving old.
We conduct tunings during our regular maintenance rounds. Great care is always taken to adhere to original factory tuning temperaments and methods. Tuning visits also give us the opportunity to remedy any speech defects with pipework and help identify any potential issues with the instrument before they develop into serious faults.
We pride ourselves in only using the best quality materials in all of our work. It is important to search out the correct supplies for any restoration job, this gives us and our customer confidence that our work will stand the test of time. We do all in our power to replace like for like.
We have suppliers of high quality skins and can source all types and thicknesses used by the original factories. From the thickest skins used for bellows down to the thinnest pneumatic “skivers” used for pouches, the quality must be the same. We only use white “skivers” (or splits) for all pneumatic work, both internal and external. We find this to be the most effective both for longevity and speed of repetition.
It is a rule that we do not use any modern chemical glues on any organ work. We have a wide selection of traditional adhesives which are used hot or cold in various consistencies. . This insures that all work is easily maintained and quickly reversible. This is key to any musical instrument restoration.
We only use natural finishes, similar to those used in furniture restoration. Again, only the highest quality supplies are used all mixed in house. Some of these products are produced in Paris from a company that supplied Limonaire, Gavioli, Marenghi/Gaudin etc.