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Key Adjusters for Poirot Mirecourt Organ
by Craig Smith (090817 & 090819 MMDigest)

The organ is from Mirecourt, France, built around 1880-1900.  You may recall that I was asking for information about this organ and its maker about ten years ago, without much luck.  I started work on this organ a couple times since then but I became discouraged because of the magnitude of the job.  Now, having restored a couple basket cases in the last few years, I have mustered my courage for another go at the project.

Of the 44 pipes, only six or seven are complete.   About ten are missing altogether and the rest are lacking fronts and at least half of their other pieces (and the pieces that do remain are not glued together).  And the whole organ is full of worm holes.

smithc_Poirot01.jpg (91 kb)
Barrel organ by Denis Poirot of Mirecourt, France.

Now I need some screw eye adjusters. The eye is about 0.375" diameter and the straight (threaded) part is about one inch long.  The diameter of the metal rod that they are made from is 0.055".  The threaded part is 40 threads per inch.  The originals are brass but I could manage with steel if I can't find brass.

I haven't found brass wire the right size but I did find some 0.055" D steel rod.  The problem is to thread it.  The only dies I have that small are for clock screws and they are way more than 40 per inch.

Actually, the originals look like they were rolled or pressed somehow -- the threaded part is about 0.005" larger than the plain rod and the threads don't look like they were cut with a die.  Maybe someone knows how they made this sort of thing in the old days.  Suggestions?

Functionally these adjusters are just like the adjusters on a piano, but they have a much finer thread than any I've seen.  There are two brass screw eyes for each key: the longer one adjusts the height of the key tip from the barrel surface, the shorter one removes lost motion between the other end of the key and the top of the sticker.

I have the full set of the shorter ones but about 18 of the long ones are broken off because they were seized in the wood.  Here's a picture of the key frame showing the screw eyes and one of the keys, and also a detailed scan of one of the screw eyes.

smithc_Poirot02.jpg (42 kb)
These are the key adjusters for the Poirot barrel organ.

smithc_Poirot03.jpg (50 kb)

The best solution is if someone happens to have a few screw eye adjusters in this size, or else maybe someone can tell me where to buy some in this small size.  Lacking that, I'd like to know how they were made originally so I can make a few myself.  I know I can probably have them made but it would cost hundreds of dollars to set up for a few and most places wouldn't want to bother -- and I wouldn't want to pay the price.

Craig Smith
near Rochester, New York
19 Aug 2009 08:18:02 -0400

Related articles are at

19 August 2009

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