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48-key Fair organ, "The True Hussar"

The True Hussar

This organ playing "Stein Song"

In 1989 a small version of a 48-key organ was produced. Lacking trombone and with only three ranks of melody pipes, it was considerably less expensive than the large version. Playing on the same scale, but with a reduced specification.

The organ was designed from scratch after Judith Howard had left the business to set up a pipe-making workshop of her own. I gave her the contract to make all required flue pipes from then on, and concentrated on the mechanics of the organs and making/voicing all the reeds pipes. The façade of this little organ was made in my workshop and decorated by Anna, who researched the costume of the bandmaster (carved by Woody White) and the flags and military pictures.

Above left: I gave my apprentice the job of making up a scale plan of the organ based on my specification, aided by detailed charts of the pipe ranks required. The pipes were scaled down and cut out in paper, so they could be manipulated into position to make the organ look pleasing. Once I was satisfied with it, we began building. Above right: Anna is making up a stock of threaded wires for the organ's action, using a borrowed thread-rolling machine. Later, I had one made for me which would be more convenient. The wires had lengths of thread and lengths of plain, as can be seen on the right. Then they would be snipped apart and the rough ends filed clean.

Above left: The simplicity of this organ allowed for a layout of unit chests running right across the width of the case. There were three: the front one was for the melody, the middle one for the accompaniment, and the back one for the bass. Above right: Anna is beginning the keyframe (the longest job on the project, as there are hundreds of parts to make and fit together. Here, she is leathering the pallets and lining the grooves with graphite for the springs, having first made the pallets using a "Minicraft" saw-bench.

Above left: Anna is fitting the keys to the frame. This "Limonaire" style frame has two touch-boxes at the back end of which are holes where the wind supply goes in, from a shut-off ventil box not yet fitted. Above right: This rather blurry picture(only real-film cameras in those days) shows the keyframe bridge already fitted with the drive roller and brass retaining brackets. Other parts to be fitted are shown: grooved roller and bearing blocks, leaf spring, and there are sheet brass templates also in the picture.

Above left: The wind supply system is very much simplified with the blower (from Air Control Industries Ltd) inside the organ feeding into a small distribution box. This box is fitted with a pneumatic stabilizer control. The blower's output, at about 8 inches w.g., is capable of supplying the organ playing at its loudest, so there was no need for a huge reservoir. On the right of the picture is the bass chest, feeding the big pipes below the floor. Above right: Tubing the action. This requires an almost 180 degree twist of the neck, so can only be tolerated for shorts periods at a time. For church organ work of this type lying flat on your back is often the easiest way!

Above: The glockenspiel is being fitted. The assembled action box is hidden behind the wooden strips at the top. The chromed steel bars are suspended on silicone rubber with felt strips behind placed at the bars' nodal points. Then the beaters are fitted to strike the bars exactly at their centres for best effect. Springs at the top return the beaters to the start position after use. The cross-section of the bars was designed at a ratio od 3:1 to accentuate the quint element in their sound, to augment the pipes without clashing.

Above left: The keyframe is fitted to the side of the case, and tubed up to the distribution board below. A guide to the layout is taped on the left. Above right: At the end of the action relay is mounted the register "box". It is a mini version of the one used on larger organs, but with only one register on the organ it's all that is needed.

Above left: The Parvalux geared motor connected to the keyframe drive roller via pulleys and an adjustable belt. Above right: The Woody White "hussar" bandmaster, researched and painted by Anna. Behind it are the two pneumatic motors which operate the figure's head and arms. Behind the figure is the two-rank violin. These pipes are mounted using tapered pipe feet set into matching tapered holes. The pipes are secured with a smear of shellac and a tap with a hammer. They do not need visible stays, provided the pipes are not too long.

This organ played with Masons Funfair from 2000 until about 2017 when Masons ceased travelling and re-located to Newquay, Cornwall, where the organ still plays in their gallopers.