Is your Crank at the Right Height?

by Craig Smith

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Many people ask about the correct height of the crank on a street organ.  Of course, there is no correct height; it depends on the stature of the person who will be cranking the organ. And it is much more important than whether the organ appears a few inches too tall.  Measure it somewhat like measuring the height of a bicycle.

As a starting point, stand with your elbow near the pivot of the handle. Raise or lower the organ until the pivot of the crank is just below your elbow. Then stand (casually upright) behind the organ and move to the left enough to have the handle clear your body as you turn the crank. That will be when the crank is at about the 8 or 9 o'clock position, viewed from the back of the organ where you are standing.

Now, move the handle to the 4 or 5 o'clock position (not straight down), where the handle is farthest from your shoulder with your arm straight. (Actually, your arm should be slightly bent at a comfortable angle, maybe 25 degrees.)  Arranged in this way, the handle should fall between the palm and thumb of your hand if you close your fingers around it.

Try it, you'll like it. Believe me, if you have it a couple of inches too high or too low, your back and arm will soon regret it.

Craig Smith was a professional ergonomist for the Xerox Corp for 30 years, so he should know about such things!
(Reprinted from the MMD Archives, with permission)

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