Building Experience, Air Leaks and other Tips

by Kevyn Chambers

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My Busker Building Experience
For encouragement to others, I bought my plans from John at the Dorset steam fair on the 5th September 2004 and the organ gave its first wheezy rendition on the 29th September. This is in conjunction with a full time job and two children under 4!  This does not mean that I rushed this project or cut any corners, on the contrary I would not consider myself to be any sort of carpenter but each piece was measured 3 times and cut twice. But I feel I have managed to make a good effort and judging by the comments from surprised family members and a cheerful sound now all the leaks have been found indicate that my mission has been successful.

Curing Air Leaks
Curing air leaks is paramount to getting the unit to perform well and others may benefit from some ideas gathered during my construction:

1. Bellows / Reservoir valves. These seal much better if the wooden surface has a chamois face glued onto it as the leather-to-leather gives a very effective seal.

2. Reservoir base. Again using offcuts from the bellows leather ,a thin strip (1cm) was glued to the top face of the bellows ensuring that the draught excluder seals totally to it.

3. Pressure Box lid. Same principle here a thin strip of leather on the top of the lower face seals the excluder 100%.

4. Take up spool shaft. Due to the lack of facilities and skills I have available I chose to use an 8mm dowel here and to seal this at its entry point I used a readily-available sealed roller bearing with internal diameter of 8mm and external of 22mm. The hole is simply sealed by a thin strip of chamois on the inside face of the hole drilled in the box. This cured the leak here totally and also ensures the shaft will always run true.

Alternative Transfer Pipe
Again due to the limited facilities for woodworking I decided to find an alternative solution to having to mate the pipe to a right angled drilled block etc. Looking at various pipes I discovered that water overflow pipe has a diameter of 21.5mm and has very neat right angled joints, it push fits together very easily and gives a good airtight seal. The holes can be drilled with a standard 22mm spade bit and faced with chamois seals, these completely allowing the joints to be taken apart quickly and simply for maintenance. I have decided to increase the box dimensions by an inch or so to give a better clearance on the wind pipes etc.

Pipe Wood
I was fortunate to be given a broken wooden Venetian blind which has provided all of the material for the 17 melody pipes and is a very good medium to work with. It is about 2mm thick, perfectly flat and can easily be worked with a Stanley knife also it is not porous. The bass pipes have been made from wood obtained from the local hobby store.

Overall, as I'm sure most builders will agree, a very rewarding and satisfying project, if a little frustrating at times but worth the perseverance.

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