New Austin Organ

The Project’s Progression in Pictures

September 2018 – March 2019

09/13/18An historic day for South Church—signing the contract with Austin Organs!  Pictured:  Mike Perry, Pete Atherton, and Jake Dowgewicz of Austin Organs, Inc.

01/10/19First photos of actual construction in early January—preparing some of the wood to be used in the construction of the new organ.  One photo shows wood going through the planer which will be fabricated into the pipe bars which sit on the wind chests and hold the pipes and valves.  Another shows wood for the airbox which will allow entrance into the interior of the wind chest.  Other photos show the air chest walls being glued and the tuning perches (where the organ tuner will stand inside the wind chests of the organ.)

01/21/19 – On a machine dating back to 1923, the worker is boring the holes in a relay bar which will be part of a wind chest. The note pneumatics will attach to the various holes.

01/23/19Pictures of the wind chest for the Swell Division of the organ in the early stages of construction.

01/27/19 For posterity, a few photos of the former Schlicker organ and choir members.  This organ served South Church well since May 1973—almost 46 years!

01/28/19 – The time had finally come to say goodbye to our Schlicker organ.  On January 28, 2019, the Austin folks arrived to disassemble the organ and pack up the pipes, most of which will be re-used, following re-voicing and tuning, for the new Austin organ.  South Church folks (Jim Mirakian, Pete Atherton, and Paul DeMaio) helped with this day-long project. Also pictured is Floyd Higgins of Austin Organs.

02/05/19 – The first tour of the Austin Organs factory in Hartford by South Church folks – We received an indoctrination into how Austin lays out the various ranks of pipes on the wind chests.  We also saw the rudimentary beginnings of the organ console which will be installed at South Church.  The manner in which ranks of pipes are voiced by Austin was demonstrated, with these pictures showing work on the Principal rank which provides the classic sound of a pipe organ.  We saw the new blower and regulator for the organ (i.e., the parts which produce the air and regulate the flow of air to the wind chests).  The construction of the pneumatic parts which operate the valves located under each pipe in the organ was demonstrated, and folks got to examine these parts up close.  All parts are constructed in house at the Austin factory.  We saw the progress made in the construction of the wind chests for the Great and Swell Divisions, and the pipe bars on which the various ranks of pipes will sit in each chest.  The framework of the entire organ on which the two chests will sit was also observed.  Finally, one picture depicts a black frame on which the horizontal louvres (shades) will be mounted.  These shades will be located in the Swell Division and will be controlled by a pedal on the organ console which will open or close the shades to increase or decrease volume, respectively, from the pipes located in that division.  The South Church organ will be Opus 2801, meaning that our organ is the 2,801st organ constructed by Austin in its 125-year history!  That number is stamped on each major part of the organ as may be seen in a few photos. All in all, it was a fascinating tour!

02/26/19The second tour of the Austin Organs factory by South Church folks – Continued progress was seen in the areas noted for the February 5th tour.  Especially noteworthy were the progress on the construction of the new organ console which was really beginning to take shape, and the construction of the wind chests for the Great and Swell Divisions of the organ.  (Note the white labels of the organ stops laid out on the table which will be attached to the stop knobs on the organ console.)  A new rank of pipes was being voiced in the voicing room (the Bourdon rank for the Pedal Division).  Also, a picture of the new organ bench, with a crank for adjusting the height, is shown, and a photo of the pedalboard for the new organ appears (standing upright).  The foundation of the organ framework is shown on the factory floor—extending some 30+ feet!  It will next fill the vacant organ chamber in the choir loft of South Church!  Finally, work on the pipe racks is shown, with some of the hardware attached which will open and close the valves to cover the adjacent holes.  The picture shows the underside of the pipe racks (i.e., the feet of the pipes will be on the other side).

03/07/19 – The framework of the organ façade (i.e., the part of the organ that the members of the congregation will see when they look up into the choir loft) is under construction in these photos.

03/09/19 The framework of the organ façade is shown completed with pipes inserted which will speak.  Air is supplied through holes bored at the bottom of the façade on which all these pipes sit.  Cross-bored holes toward the rear of the façade will connect with hoses which are in turn connected to the wind chest supplying the air.

03/12/19 – Interim progress photos taken which show the completion of the organ façade, including two photos showing a rear view of the façade (as if standing in the organ’s interior).  The organ console is really beginning to take shape at this time, with front and rear views depicted.  The rear view shows all the wiring and electronics involved in a modern organ console.  The racks where the stop knobs will be located are shown.  These racks will be located to the right and left of the two organ keyboards, with the Great Division stop knobs to the right and the Swell and Pedal Divisions to the left.  The pneumatic parts described earlier, all manufactured in house, may be seen attached to the pipe boards.  Each pneumatic part, consisting of a magnet and a small bellows fabricated out of leather, will open and close a valve which allows inflow of air (or cuts off air, respectively) into the foot of a pipe above (i.e., on the other side of the pipe board).  The frame for the removable panel allowing access to the interior of the organ is shown under construction.

03/21/19 – Pictures of the wind chest for the Swell Division are shown with many of the pipes now actually installed thereon.

03/23/19 – The third tour of the Austin Organs factory by South Church folks – The wind chest for the Swell Division is now mounted on the foundation of the new organ, with many pipes in place for that division.  The wind chest for the Great Division is on an adjacent portion of the factory floor, not yet mounted on the organ foundation; however, many of the pipes for this division have now been installed.  Various views are provided for both the Great and Swell Divisions.  Jake Dowgewicz of Austin Organs is holding the pedalboard for the new organ.  The underside of one of the wind chests is shown, with the pneumatic parts mounted and connected to the wood dowels which assist in opening and closing the pipe valves above.  The organ façade has been disassembled and the poplar wood parts have been stained to match the oak organ console.  The 12 large wood pipes being reused from the Schlicker organ, 6 of which will appear on the right and left sides of the new organ façade, are shown on the factory floor, ready to be reinstalled.  Finally, the mechanics of the Walker system and accompanying technical manual are shown.  This system will produce the new digital sounds of the South Church organ.