“Timing is Everything”

In show business, they say that Timing is Everything — and it’s true in the world of pipe organs, too, since a malfunctioning organ in the midst of a public performance can spell trouble. But what happens when a key component that has been doing just fine since about 1939 suddenly shorts out and prevents the organ from playing almost anything?     

Are these guys still around? You bet! They started in 1892 and built the internal vacuum system at the White House.
Still manufacturing in the USA, now at Windsor, Connecticut. Energy efficiency, methane collection, and water movement are aspects of the Spencer Turbines of today.

That’s what we faced in September 2018 when the motor on Spencer Turbine Company’s Orgoblo (S/N 26981) failed, depriving the organ of its main source of air. You can see on the name plate that it generates two levels of wind pressure for the organ: 10 inches and 15 inches. (The higher pressure offers greater volume for Solo ranks.) Lacking a blower, the organ played no Sunday concerts for a stretch of six weeks between September 26 and November 13, 2018. It was the longest stretch of “no live concerts” in memory. (That six-week record was broken around May Day this year and live concerts still await, but the blower is functioning so that video concerts can be made.)     

In 2018, the motor was repaired “just in time” to help make the 2018 holiday programming possible. The 20-horsepower wonder that worked well for 70+ years now offers 25 hp and could, say the experts, last for twice as long! 

But there was another problem with the blower that took longer to fix. 

The Impeller Blades that are spun by the motor to bring air into the blower unit and then up to the wind chests were found to be in need of replacement. Since the end of 2018, the work has been pending.

In 2020, the timing of online concert production has allowed the curatorial team to schedule the needed repairs to the rest of the Spencer Orgoblo. CLICK HERE to read the whole story and see photos.

Or, go direct to the photo set by CLICKING HERE.

2 Comments on ““Timing is Everything”

  1. I guess every dark cloud has a silver lining… I can’t wait until I can sit outside on a sunny Sunday and listen again to the King of Instruments!

  2. Beautiful concert today, November 29. My favorite was Widor Allegro from Symphony 6. Raul is a fantastic musician. I also enjoy his commentary on his program.

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