Animated 'Storybook' Organ Front

by Daniel Wright

Buy Music
Special Offers

Music Samples
Choosing an Organ
Organ Buyers Guide
Organs for Sale
Harmonette Busker Organ
John Smith Busker Organ
Organ Maintenance
Organ Tuning
Music for Other Organs
Daniel sent me a photograph of his organ, and I was so impressed with the front that I asked him if he would send me further details.  At that point, I didn't even realise that it was animated!  He very kindly sent me the following photographs and explanations of how it works.  It is a brilliant piece of design, and a lot of planning obviously went into it.  I hope it will inspire others to tackle similar animated scenes  - MW

My 'Storybook' Front
I used 3/32" plywood cut with the scroll saw and layered to give some relief. Base colors were applied with enamels then, while still wet, much of the paint was rubbed off to reveal the wood grain. Details were then applied with enamels. The rest of the woodwork is sealed with hand rubbed Danish oil.

The Animation
The cuckoo (above) and the nightingale (below) are both animated, as is the frog. The birds' wings and beaks are operated from the organ's crankshaft.  

The Mechanics
A brass connecting link is drilled to fit over the end of the crankshaft and held in place with a small cotter pin.  This link swings a vertical pivot arm attached to a pivot block at its base. This can be seen in the right-hand photo above.  A long horizontal connecting rod is moved from side-to-side by the pivot arm and this is connected to an actuator at each end.  The actuators operate the bird movements. One of the actuators can be clearly seen in the left-hand photo.  The connecting rod had to be cut away in places to avoid fouling tubes, etc.  The wing dowel is glued into a block fastened to the back of the wing.  The block is countersunk into the bird body to keep a close profile. The beak is moved by a 'C'-shaped piece fixed to the wing dowel, which moves a lever attached to the movable beak.  These details can be clearly seen in the left-hand photo, but the same principle applies to both birds.  Note that D and E flat pipes are mitred at the bottom instead of the top, to leave clearance for the wing dowels.

The Frog
The moving mouth/throat piece is attached to the head at a pivot point at the base of the jaw. The connecting link comes straight up from a bracket on the front bellows frame and attaches to a pivot point on the moving mouth/throat piece located horizontal to the jaw pivot. This creates a see-saw motion which gives alternating throat bulging then mouth opening.

View of rear of frog

Overall top view of organ

Watch a video of the organ

Daniel's latest creation "Monkey Business" can be seen here

Back to the Articles Index


This web site is copyright (C) Melvyn Wright and individual contributors