Restoration of the Historic
& G.G. Hook Organ

page 3

A Visit to the Builder's Workshop
Click on any photo for a larger view.

David Moore at his North Pomfret shop

"Vermont champagne"

Thomas Bowen at work
on an antique table     

Organ builder David Moore and his staff are members of a rare breed:  the native Vermonter.  A visit to Moore's shop takes one to classic rural Vermont scenery in the rolling hills of Pomfret, Vermont, not far from the better-known, and very busy shire town of Woodstock.  The shop, which is heated by a wood furnace, is little more than a stone's throw from the family homestead where David Moore grew up.  The three-person staff in this operation are highly skilled craftsmen and also affable hosts.  A visit to the shop is an opportunity to learn about more than the craft of organ building.  For one who is interested, it can also provide a glimpse into the local community.  This visitor, who happens to have a small connection with the local community, spent more than two hours on a slightly snowy, late fall day, touring the shop and visiting with the staff.

In the shop, one finds much more than the tools and materials of organ building and restoration.  Near the front door two giant jugs of apple cider are slowly turning into "Vermont champagne".  A basketball hoop hangs on a wall, though there is no longer enough open floor space from which to make a shot.  In another corner, spruce seedlings are getting a start.  Upstairs, an antique curio table is being repaired.  In the storage building next door, there is a huge three-manual reed organ which was given to Moore by a client, and a broken harpsichord.  Everywhere there are boxes of new and used organ pipes and parts, some, of course, from Salem's Hook, but many from other jobs, or "gifts" from people who thought David might want or need them.

Our tour of the work being done on E & G.G. Hook Opus 189 began at the wind chests, two of the largest components and the heart of the organ.  The wind chest receives air under pressure, originally provided by means of a hand-cranked bellows, but now supplied by an electronic blower.  On the top of the chest, sliders, long strips of wood, pierced by holes corresponding to every pipe in a particular set or stop, are moved to open or close the wind channel when the organist selects the desired stop.  Pallets on the bottom of the chest are pulled by trackers when the organist presses a key on the keyboard to play a particular note.

The wind chest of the great division of         David Moore explaining air seals he is         Pallets on the bottom of the swell chest   
the organ                                                            inserting under the sliders of the wind                                                                                  
 chest of the swell division                            

The trackers which give the action, or "operating system", of this organ its familiar name, are long strips of wood with a wire hook at the end.  When a key is pressed, it pulls the tracker which in turn activates the mechanism that opens the air channel to the pipes of a particular note.  The original trackers of Opus 189 are very brittle.  Over the years, some have broken and been repaired (see page 2).  In order to avoid the breakdowns caused by the continuing deterioration of these fragile old parts, all of the trackers are being replaced with new ones.  On the keyboards and pedal-board, the keys have been cleaned, broken pieces have been replaced, and moving parts have been cleaned and realigned to allow smooth movement.

A bundle of new trackers                                                     The two manual keyboards

John Atwood sanding the      
regulator of a wooden pipe   

Woodworking equipment

Some of the wooden pipes of the organ have already been repaired and returned to Salem in preparation for reinstallation.  One set of these pipes, in the swell division, will be installed with new "feet".  Moore and company have devised and built special boxes into which the bases of these pipes will be set.  By offsetting the base of the pipe from the wind source, they are opening up about eight inches of work space between ranks of pipes which will make it easier to work inside the swell box when tuning and maintaining the organ in the future.

  The base of the pipe (red) fits into an
  opening in the top of the new box to
  receive the wind which flows into an
  opening in the bottom front of the box.

The metal pipes in the organ, many of which have a high lead content and are thus relatively soft, have been the victim of various stresses.  The racks in which they sit have become unstable, causing pipes to tilt and eventually to sag or bend.  The tuning techniques sometimes used on them have also caused cracks or tears.  Repairs to this damage have generally been very ad hoc--for example, some have masking tape to close a gap.  Restoration of the pipe work will include stabilizing the racks to ensure the stability of the pipes.  A few pipes are so damaged that they will have to be replaced.  However, since it is the pipes themselves that create the specific sound of an organ, it is preferable, as much as possible, to preserve the original pipes.  Most damage to metal pipes can be repaired by manually reshaping bends and bulges and by soldering and filing cracks and breaks.

Ranks of pipes from Opus 189 set up                The hautboy (oboe) pipes, showing
                           in the shop on their racks                                    damage and old repairs                                                 

Deformed base of a reed pipe                        Interior mechanism of a reed pipe                              Filing a repaired pipe     

David Moore reports that restoration work is on schedule and he anticipates completion of the project by Easter 2006.  He and John Atwood visited Salem again in early December and have installed more restored components.  Watch this page for more photographs in the near future.

Restoration of the Organ
page 2     page 4

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