Aeolian Orchestrelle Circa 1915, Model V, Roll playing Organ.

Fully restored by myself having acquired it as a collection of parts.

Aeolian Orchestrelle Circa 1915, Model V, Roll playing Organ


Three Fair Organs which I owned and rallied during the early 80s:

This was created by someone from pianola and reed organ parts and using old church organ pipes. It played 88 note pianola rolls. As it only had 56 notes and other octaves were coupled up to cover the extra notes, I called it 56 keyless. It required both vacuum and pressure blowers!

56 keyless

Soon I replaced that with a proper cardboard book playing instrument. This was built by Andrew Whitehead from church organ pipes with a real reciprocal bellows blower unit. It played standard 30 keyless book music, but originally had no percussion. There was therefore two extra notes made available to play tunes requiring a more chromatic scale, but none was ever made for it. I added the proscenium and the percussion instruments and decorated the front. Most of the artwork was mine except for the picture which was painted by a canal barge artist. This organ was passed on to another enthusiast for whom I continued to tune it, but then it moved on again when I understand the pipework was stripped out and replaced by new. I last saw it at Fairford many years ago and have not seen it since.

30 keyless

My last organ was this 54 Keyless Dean organ called "The Major". It was built for Mr Vipen of Lincolnshire from whom I purchased it in 1983. I mounted it into the van and took it to rallies and town centre collections. At steam rallies I collected money for the Cancer Research Campaign. It had three registers, bourdon, violin and cello  along with a trombone  register in the  Bass. Unfortunately I had to sell this eventually and it went North. I have not seen or heard of it since.

Dean organ

Finally a picture of the late Norman Woodford who, along with the late Peter Watts, was inspirational to me in my attempts to arrange and punch the cardboard music books.


Daniel Of Clevedon Pipe Organ

Not strictly mechanical music yet, but my intention with this pipe organ is to add Midi automatic playing from computer files. So far partly erected but no pipes installed yet!

Daniel Organ

In October 2014 I went to view this organ and was a bit upset to see it was not quite as shown on Ebay, dismantled but all nicely stacked on pallets in a clean warehouse. The current owner bought it for the wooden paneling and was re-selling it, but it was now piled into the corner of a very dirty barn. This is believed to have formerly been installed in an Army barracks chapel at Donnington.

As originally sold by the Army:

on pallets

As he was threatening to break it up and sell the pipes for garden ornaments I took great pity on it and made what I thought was an offer unlikely to succeed but a bit more than he may have got for ornaments and firewood. It was accepted and we filled a 7.5 tonne lorry over the course of six hours. At my chapel in Wales we spent about 7 hours unloading. It took many weeks of sorting it out trying to work out how it was originally put together. As far as I can determine nothing was actually missing apart from the screws and the wiring! There is no case work as it was installed in an organ loft, built around a framework based on the Swell box. The Great is mounted in front and this is all fronted by a rank of golden pipes most of which are decorative, but some speak as part of the Great. The Pedal section is stand alone up against the right hand wall, and the wind reservoirs are fitted in what little space is left. The blower box stands on the left side with the electric relay action system. The whole thing occupies a width of about 20 feet.

There are 5 ranks in the Great and another 5 in the Swell, with 2 in the Pedal section. There are nearly 800 pipes. The stops on the main sections are on sliders operated by electromechanical solenoids. I dont know if this confirms it was made from older chests that have been adapted to electric working. But the pipes now have electric chest magnets. The Compton console is purely electric being connected by large multicore cables to the remote relays that operate the chest magnets. David of Willis reckons it was working ok before it was dismantled.

Some of the woodwork has "Catterick" marked on it so maybe it has moved around in the Army more than once? Daniel of Clevedon presumably put it together in its current form for Venning Barracks.

As I am doing the whole operation alone it takes a lot of time, also I am not living near enough to where it is to put in anything other than the odd few days here and there. My intention is to add Midi playing so that I can play it from computer files. I also want to add some ranks from another organ which I have rescued, in particular a rank of trumpets. This is the Rushworth and Dreaper Ardeton organ from the Ffestiniog Parish church of St Michael. I intend to keep the electrically played Ardeton intact as it is but remotely play it from the Daniel as a third rank!  I also want to do some bizarre additions. I have already acquired a 16 foot 24 note Diaphone,  toy shop chest and a glockenspiel. Maybe its because my experience is with fairground organs, but I tend to talk of registers, and everything Midi comes down to melody accompaniment and bass!

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The organ is finally more or less assembled enough to play it from the console and the attached Midi system. What comes out may or may not be agreeable to the listener depending on how fussy you are! I have assembled it "out of the box" (or off the pallets in fact) without a great deal of fettling having yet been done. Apart from some pipes that were badly damaged and had to be repaired before they would speak again, I have not yet regulated or tuned a single pipe. A lot has yet to be done, and so far no stops are connected, they are all on or as I set them manually. Nearly 1000 electrical connections had to be made between the cables from the console to the organ and the chests, and another few hundred between the Midi unit and the console, via a multiple relay unit intended to allow choice of which manual on which the Midi equipment plays the accompaniment and melody.

I really started with no knowledge of how the organ went together or what it should look like when asembled. So it has largely been a trial run for re-assembly somewhere else in due course. I started by drawing plans and trying to fit together parts knowing their dimensions. I was not too far out in the end, but one mistake at the early stage means the whole swell chest is too near the floor and caused some headaches when some items need to be mounted in a pit in the floor to enable them to fit the rest of the organ! The problems were exacerbated by the floor being on a slope, as it is erected where the pews used to be in an old chapel.

The whole process has taken about 18 months from starting to assemble the first parts. Many hours were spent sorting out nearly 1000 pipes all of which had been thrown into heaps with no attempt to keep the 11 or so different ranks apart. As a novice when dealing with mixtures this became quite a headache, but it did all come together in the end. At one point my chapel resembled an organ builders workshop with pipes in piles everywhere as I sorted them out. No siginifcant pieces are left over without explanation, although there were a few odd things that took a while to fathom out, like odd off note chests and what ranks they were connected to. Being an electrically operated action some of the organisation of the organ depends on how itis wired, and no wiring came with the organ! Fortunately the chests are operated on slider stops which narrows it down considerably. Also all screws that were removed to dismantle the organ seemed to have been lost, so I had to source quite a lot of slotted head woodscrews which are no longer manufactured.

I have also sourced a rank of 24 Diaphones to augment the bass, and a glockenspiel, and the remains of a toy shop unit with drums etc, all of which should make the organ more interesting.

There is a selection of tunes recorded in this MP3 file here.

And there is an interrim video about the recovery and rebuild at Daniel Organ Untuned

Currently I feel it sounds more like some kind of band organ than a chuch organ! There is a tremulant but it is not in use, but some passages have a distinct theatre organ sound, no dount due to the dischorances from lack of tuning. A better recording will follow when it is properly tuned, also I have a complete video record of the rebuild to put here soon.






Ardeton Organ

This is the Rushworth & Dreaper Ardeton organ just before rescue from the redundant church at Ffestiniog, North Wales:

Ardeton Organ

This is a single manual with 4 extended ranks. This also has no case as such, but is built into the top of the console. This makes it possible to move it around the church on wheels, theoretically. But because of that everything is tightly packed into the console and this makes it hard to get access for maintenance.

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