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MMD > Archives > January 2018 > 2018.01.24 > 02Prev  Next

Seek Crank Wheel for Hofbauer 20er Organ
By Wallace Venable

[ Charles Davis wrote in 180123 MMDigest:

> Would you people be able to send me any information regarding a
> 12- to 14-inch wheel like the ones I have seen on YouTube posts
> ... I have a Hofbauer 20-note crank organ ..."

The reason you are having trouble finding a wheel-crank for your organ
is primarily that they are rarely used on small organs.  The few that
you have seen in videos are probably owner adaptations of wheels from
other kinds of machinery.

The cast iron flywheel-crank is found primarily on larger organs,
particularly ones playing books, or also organs driven by motors or
steam engines.

Most of the small organs which have been shipped with crank wheels in
recent years are, I think, the Verbeeck organs which weigh well over
a hundred pounds, play 36+ note books, and cost perhaps ten times what
the kit for your organ sold for.

In theory, a good flywheel could smooth out your cranking, but it is
easier and a lot cheaper to develop a good cranking technique.  There
is a set of good practices for small organ cranking.  It begins with
having the organ at the correct height, with your elbow directly on the
crankshaft centerline, and should evolve to where you "dance" while
playing to keep your whole body in motion.  See example videos below.

Few Raffins were ever delivered with crank wheels.  I'm pretty sure
Orgelbau Raffin considers them a decoration.  There is a great video
of "the BIG Raffin," a 68-er, which appears to be powered with a crank
of modest size.  Actually, this instrument has an electric blower,
so the crank does not move bellows, but smooth operation of the crank
is required for roll motion.

See "Der Meister, Josef Raffin plays his one-of-a-kind R68 Concert
2000 Crank Organ" at 

If you have not received a reply from the various factories, it is
probably because they never stocked such an item, and don't really do
business comfortably in English.

Many of the wheels I have seen on YouTube are clearly decorative; some
are metal, others are wood.  If you really want one, you might easily
adapt a large pulley or a wooden cart wheel.  Someone could, of course,
make a wooden pattern and have a few cast in aluminum or iron, but the
market for them would be small.

I found a great wheel on eBay which I may use someday.  The problems
are that it weighs more than a suitcase of music rolls weighs, and it
has an oversized bore hole.

By the way, in my search for pictures of crank wheels I came across
a relatively new video, "200 Year Old Automata Organ Performs a Magic
Trick!"  It is of an 1830 Ignaz Bruder organ with automata in the
Speelklok Museum in Utrecht, Netherlands, published on Sep 11, 2017; 

Good technique:
Joe Raffin (above) playing a --  20-er Hofbauer kit organ  21-er Hofbauer 

Bad technique: 

Wallace Venable

(Message sent Wed 24 Jan 2018, 22:03:23 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  20er, Crank, Hofbauer, Organ, Seek, Wheel

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