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MMD > Archives > April 1999 > 1999.04.09 > 03Prev  Next

Lower Unit for Aeolian Orchestrelle
By Richard Vance

Yesterday Bob Loesch asked if anyone could supply a replacement
pump-reservoir unit for an early Aeolian Orchestrelle.  That may be
hard to find, and I doubt that anyone who has one would want to part
with it.

However, have you thought of building one from scratch?  The basic
principles underlying such a thing are pretty simple, and once one
masters the art of building leather gusseted bellows with hot glue,
making a credible replacement unit would be fairly simple.

Basically, only four boards, which can be made out of 5/8" birch
'craft grade' plywood, since the 30" wide sugar-pine boards that were
originally used would be hard to come by today.  All the other parts,
like the springs, can still be had from Organ Supply Industries or
other sources.  I am sure many others will make the same suggestion,
and somebody may be able to supply the actual dimensions.

One word of warning, though.  After this is done, you may find that
you will need a full rebuild anyway.  Aeolian used excellent leather
back then, but all leather, no matter how good it looks and functions,
becomes porous over time.  Whatever protein that fills the spaces
between the fibers of the leather, dries up and blows away.  The
structure of the leather may remain intact and flexible, but it will

If your instrument is one of the bigger guys, with additional ranks
above the deck, and a 58 note player, it will have miles of beautifully
fitted gaskets, and probably leather strips inside the chests and
trunking to seal the joints in the wood.  There are also a large number
of valves, all leaking in parallel.  All this leather will be leaking
'sideways' a tiny bit, and those leaks add up fast.

The replacement blower can easily handle this extra volume, especially
if it is a 'flat curve' Spencer "Orgoblo Jr." that was often used for
such service.  But when you pump, you may have to pump a lot faster than
you ought to (not harder, but it will seem so after a while) to get the
results you want.

Richard Vance

(Message sent Fri 9 Apr 1999, 22:19:19 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Aeolian, Lower, Orchestrelle, Unit

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