Miscellaneous Hints And Tips

by Various Contributors

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Cutting Multiple Tubes to the Same Length
If you have a lathe you can use it to cut off uniform lengths of brass tubing.  Get a piece of MDF and make a cutout along one side equal to the length of tube plus around 10mm. Move the tool post 10mm in front of the chuck and lock it there.  Now hold the piece of MDF against the chuck and push the tubing through until it butts up against the cutout in the MDF. Advance the cross slide to cut the tube. Push the tubing through again to cut out the next piece, etc.  You can use the same piece of MDF to cut out various lengths. Just move the tool post to another position and lock it again.
 Melvyn Wright



Setting the Drive Ratio
The drive ratio between the crankshaft and the take-up spool must be adjusted so that the bellows are working fast enough to supply enough wind during the heaviest parts of the music.  The wind supply can be increased by reducing the size of the drive wheel, or by increasing the size of the take-up wheel.  Both of these adjustments slow the music speed down and therefore allow the crankshaft to be turned faster.  The diameter of the idler wheel makes no difference.  When setting the drive ratio, always remember to test it at the end of a long music roll, not at the start.  This is where the music speed is at its fastest and the crankshaft speed is at its slowest.  Melvyn Wright
Cheap wood for pipes
A green way to face your pipes is if you can get hold of some real wood-faced flooring.  It has a 3-4mm face glued to base wood underneath.  With care you can lift this top layer off with a chisell or the like.  The bits I saved were Beech I think.  You can get Maple and Ash as well.  My son rescued my bits from a skip.  Barry Smith
Detachable Crank
It helps assembly and future maintenance if you make the single crank detachable from the end of the crankshaft.  This makes it possible to slide the crankshaft in and out without removing the bearings, and to easily remove the drive wheel, connecting rod, etc.  It is also easier to make, especially if you don't do welding!  The crank can be secured to the crankshaft by a single set screw, which grips the crankshaft.  A flat should be filed on the end of the crankshaft to prevent the crank from slipping round, and to ensure that it is mounted exactly 180 degrees from the main crank.  Melvyn Wright
Positioning the Bellows Spring
An easy way to position the bellows spring is to use a shower curtain clamp to hold it in a compressed state when it is placed inside the organ. After the spring is in place, the clamp is either rotated or opened slowly so that the spring stays in place and the clamp can be removed.  Galen Lesher

Rubber or Neoprene Tubing
I suggest using rubber or neoprene tubing on the organs, as this is more pliable than plastic, and lasts longer.
Some suppliers of tubing and cloth:
Cambridge Pianola Company, The Limes, Landbeach, Cambridge. CB4 4DR. (UK)
Player Piano Co. Inc., 704 East Douglas Avenue, Wichita, Kansas 67202. U.S.A.  P. Turner

Measuring the Porosity of Wood and MDF, etc.
I have had to rebuild my bellows and reservoir and I wanted to properly seal the MDF.  I have recently bought a Sat Nav, and this has a suction pad to hold it onto the windscreen.  I thought that this could be utilised to give me a good test of the various sealers that can be used to seal the MDF.  Comparing 'raw' MDF with sealed showed that the paint I used for the sealer did its job - it showed a huge difference. It looks to be a quick and easy test.  Marcus Foreman
Clearing out Paper Dust and Debris
The design of the Busker Organ makes it susceptible to blockages in the tubes and pipework caused by paper dust.  Because the air is blown through the music and straight into the pipes, paper dust could eventually block the narrow windways in the pipes.  But this same design also makes it very easy to clean them out.  This can be done by sucking out the tubes with a small vacuum cleaner.  Just open the pressure box lid and apply the vacuum cleaner nozzle to the tracker bar holes.  This will clear out all the debris in the tubing and the pipework, and also in the tracker bar itself.  That's the entire pneumatic system cleaned out in just a few seconds!  If your tubing is made from transparent plastic, you will be able to see all the internal dust disappear in a flash.  If you put the vacuum cleaner on Blow instead of Suck you might even get a tune out of it!  Warning:  Do not try this on organs with a valve action (such as the JS Universal) as the vacuum force could be strong enough to damage the valves.  Melvyn Wright
Hoover Belt
When you get the Hoover drive belt, you will probably find that it has got a moulding flash all around the outside, just where you don't want it (and probably the inside as well).  I found this was causing intermittent slipping when under load.  Put the belt on the idler wheel as normal, and then twist it through 90 degrees, so that the flashings appear on the sides instead of on the periphery.  This gives a much smoother driving surface.  Melvyn Wright
Sanding Block
If you put medium sandpaper on one side of your sanding block, and coarse sandpaper on the other side; not only does this give you a choice of two, but it prevents the block from sliding about on the bench, so you can use both hands to hold the workpiece.  Don't use it on the dining room table though!  Melvyn Wright
Pipe Stoppers
When making the pipe stoppers, don't try to cut out the leather first.  The job becomes much easier if you glue the bottom of the stopper to the sheet of leather first, wait a few minutes for it to dry (you can be sanding the inside of the pipe at this juncture) and then cut out the leather around the stopper, leaving the appropriate margin of course.  I just used 1/2" brass wood screws for the stopper handles, and 1" screws for the bass pipes.  These disappear inside the pipes and are not seen.  They can even be removed after tuning, if required. Melvyn Wright
Alternative Take-Up Spool
One problem that us builders in the U.S. have is obtaining the 68mm tubing to build the take-up spool. Others have written about their solutions.  My solution came as I was taking out our recycle bin to be picked up.  I noticed a plastic container that looked like it might be close to the right size. To my amazement, it measured 67mm in diameter. Problem solved. The product can be found in most grocery stores. It's Crystal Light Tea. It contains six small tubs to make two gallons each of the tea. Hope this will be of help to those builders in the U.S. or those that can find the Crystal Light.  Harold M. Whipps Sr
Music Roll Bias Spring
I do see quite a few good ideas from builders of my organs, these are usually because the particular builder can get hold of a certain alternate material for the job. Often this is not something that is readily available or needs special skills to make. However every so often something really useful comes along that can be freely obtained by anyone. I can recommend this one:  If you disasemble an old VHS tape you will find a leaf spring that is perfect for the music roll bias spring, it even has the fixing holes ready drilled.  John Smith
(Bias spring warning)
Old Sewing Machines
If you should happen to desire to build your organ with precision, machined bearings/bushes, shafts, bosses, springs etc then a visit to your local sewing machine shop may prove rewarding. It is common for repairers to have accumulated machines which they really intend to discard - eventually. Usually the shopkeeper/repairer is only too happy to have you dispose of the obsolete items saving them the bother. All it takes is a little time to dismantle the machines remembering to remove all bushes from their precast housings. Take care not to throw these "babies out with the bath water". An additional benefit maybe the additional supply of cams, cranks, various gears and other "natty" machinery bits and pieces - "far too numerous to mention".  Ian Hemingway (Australia)
Weights for glueing
It is often more convenient to use weights for glueing rather than clamps.  But the weights need to be as heavy as possible.  One simple way to get a heavy weight is to fill a bucket with water.  But I have also found that old car batteries make excellent weights, and they're certainly very heavy!  Even mobility scooter batteries make excellent weights for smaller jobs.  So don't throw your old batteries away!   Scrap ones may even be available free from your local mobility shop.  Important:  Before using them make sure you tape up the connections so they can't get accidentally get short-circuited.

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