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  • Writer's pictureSt. James by-the-Sea

Construction begins at New York shop

Brian prepares lumber for the bellows.

Work is underway on our new pipe organ at Parsons Pipe Organ Builders. Located in Canandaigua, a beautiful part of the "finger lakes" region of upstate New York, the Parsons team is a fourth generation family business. Their skilled craftmanship dates all the way back to the 1800s.

Here you can see the beginnings of the wind reservoirs for our instrument. Reservoirs are large box-like structures that regulate the wind pressure going to the wind chests and ultimately the organ pipes themselves. It is important for the organ to maintain consistent pressure so all the pipes produce the same tone and quality.

CNC machine cuts pieces to exact measurements.

"We’ve modified our regulator design for this organ to include a mounting frame. This will allow the leathered portion of the regulator (ribs and floating top) to be detached from the large well for future restoration. This is important here, given the limited space under the divisional wind chests for the winding system," said Ric Parsons, President of Parsons Pipe Organ Builders. Since this organ will last more than 100 years, it is important that we plan for restoration such as replacing leather components 40 or 50 years from now. You can see the design of the reservoirs below and the way they feed wind into the organ.

Blower motors provide wind to the reservoirs that regulate pressure.

"Once the Pedal and Solo scales are complete we will finalize the drawings for those wind chests and for the Pedal/Solo winding system, including wood wind conduits and regulator wells," said Parsons. Another view of the digital model shows the north chamber layout of our new organ, the side closest to the pulpit and the chapel. This side of the chancel will house the Pedal and Solo divisions of the organ.

North Organ Chamber Layout

Every detail of the construction process is meticulously planned out on this digital model, and each step of the building process follows an exact science. In the weeks and months ahead, we will follow along with their progress and talk to members of the team about their work.

The construction process will take about 14 months in the workshop before the new organ is carefully packaged up and shipped to La Jolla. We are grateful to the Parsons shop for providing these pictures for us to enjoy and for the whole team devoting their time and expertise to our new organ.

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