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Our Services

Our services fall into six main categories.

  1. Reconditioning and re-voicing of existing pipe organ reed stops.
  2. Restoration of existing pipe organ reed stops.
  3. Providing new reed stops for new pipe organs, or new tonal additions to existing instruments.
  4. Providing replica reed stops for restorative work to existing instruments, or for new tonal additions.
  5. Metal shop repairs to both flue and reed pipes.
  6. Onsite tonal finishing, removal, and installation of both existing and new reed stops.

Our process for the reconditioning of existing reed stops:

Before re-voicing and/or regulating existing reeds, the pipes are completely reconditioned. Our standard reconditioning procedure includes replacement of all tuning scrolls (or in certain situations the complete bell). The importance of this procedure is often neglected or simply misunderstood. Tight tuning scrolls are critical to the stability and tonal quality of the reed stop. The original scrolls are removed by cutting out a section of the bell (the top portion of the pipe), soldering in a new section, and cutting new tuning scrolls in the new metal, or in some cases replacing the bell. Many builders attempt to retain the original tuning scrolls by simply unrolling the scrolls, flattening them out, and then re-rolling the scrolls to the new tuning point. Often this results in a loose tuning scroll, which may move enough under its own weight causing tuning instability. A loose tuning scroll may also create a vibration between the scroll and the bell that may be audible in the room. Another inadequate repair common to the trade is to tack the original scroll back up with solder, making final regulation on the job impossible if the scroll needs to be adjusted below the tack point. Too often the result is torn pipe metal. Our method is the most conscientious and proven solution to repair damaged tuning scrolls.
Bell Before And After This is a before and after photograph of the top portion (called the bell) of a reed pipe. A section of metal, including the original tuning scroll, is cut out of the bell and a new section is then soldered in place. The window is then re-cut in the new metal, and a new tuning scroll can be tightly formed during the voicing process. Notice the old opening is bowed out and the original metal is fatigued. The bowing is a characteristic of the original 'Hoyt' metal, an alloy that was commonly used in organ building during the first half of the 20th century. The new metal insert is made from an alloy called 'spotted metal' in the pipe organ trade, which retains its shape after being formed, and is significantly less prone to fatigue under proper tuning methods.

The zinc exterior portions of the pipes are stripped of their original shellac finish, cleaned, and re-coated with clear shellac. The spotted, Hoyt, or common metal is also cleaned and polished. The result is not only a gorgeous looking set of reed pipes which makes the builder/technician and the client proud of their instrument, but also very often the stripping procedure reveals splits in the seams. Split seams cause vibrations and poor tonal quality in a reed pipe. The interior portions of the pipes are swabbed and blown out to prevent dirt from getting lodged between the reed tongue and shallot face. Dirt and debris in the reed is another, and perhaps the most common cause for tuning instability and poor tonal quality. Even the best-voiced reeds can’t overcome the detrimental effects of dirt. The importance of cleaning the interior portions of the pipes is one of the most critical procedures in our process.

Damaged Pipes This very scary picture shows a section of an E.M. Skinner 16' Fagotto before our reconditioning process. The pipes were stored in a barn under extreme conditions for many years and were brought to us, as seen in the picture, "randomly" placed in pipe trays. Our client searched for months to find vintage pipe work of the correct scale. This set was the only one available on the market at that time. Although on the extreme side of damaged pipe work, the set was complete and all component parts were intact. The stop was salvaged and successfully restored.

Damaged Pipe This picture illustrates a damaged pipe from the set above before repairs. The tuning scroll was ripped down at some point and then rolled back up. The stop was either tuned when the organ chambers were very hot or someone was attempting to get more volume out of the pipe. A pipe in this condition is likely to be unstable and poorly regulated. The only remedy for this damage is to insert a new metal section and re-slot the tuning scroll. (see next)

Pipe Size The same pipe as above after a section, including the original tuning scroll, has been cut out of the bell. The metal is then prepared for soldering by applying 'size' to the area around where the new metal insert will be soldered.

Insert Mandrel The new metal insert being formed on a mandrel before it is soldered in place. The old cut-out metal is used as a template for the new metal insert of the same thickness. The new insert is cut out of a large sheet of planed 'spotted metal'.

Insert Soldered After forming the insert on a mandrel it is soldered in place, in this case with the planed side out to match the look of the original 'Hoyt' metal.

Insert Clean Slotted The pipe is then cleaned, and the size and the original shellac is removed. The new metal insert is slotted to form a new tuning scroll, and a new coat of clear shellac is applied to the zinc portions of the pipe.

Clean Slotted This final picture shows the pipe after repair, cleaning, and re-finishing. Along with the rest of the repaired stop, it will be fitted with a new brass wedge, new tuning wire, and then it will head for the voicing room.

When replacing reed tongues we use reed brass in increments of .001” ranging from .004” thru .075”, which is manufactured to our specs at the correct hardness. We use several different styles of weighting (loading) our reed tongues depending on the circumstances. For example, we can manufacture replicate E.M. Skinner style screwed-on brass weighting, or use felt and/or lead weighting in jobs that warrant it.

Reed Weight Cutter This picture shows our modified lathe for cutting E.M. Skinner/Kimball/Willis/Wurlitzer style screwed-on brass weights. We use this in our restoration work and for our new replica reeds that warrant this style of weighting. The machine cuts the weights and also taps the weight for the brass screw which attaches the weight to the reed tongue.

Reed Weights This pictures shows a selection of E.M. Skinner replica reed weights that were used for a new replica E.M. Skinner stop.

All the wedges are replaced with our brass wedges. Our brass wedges are custom manufactured to size and correct angle, and then hand fitted. This assures that the wedge will fit well and hold the reed tongue securely. The brass wedge has several key advantages over the traditional wooden wedge. The brass wedge is not as acutely affected by natural changes in the atmosphere. Unlike the Broome & Co. brass wedge, the wooden wedge expands and contracts causing the reed tongue to eventually work loose. A loose reed tongue leads to instability, poor tonal quality, and even dead notes. The brass wedge is also infinitely more durable than wood and will stand the test of time, even if removed continually. Our brass wedges are machined with a convenient slot at the top so they can be removed with a regular screwdriver so as not to mar the edge of the brass wedge.

Wedges The wedges are cut out of brass bar stock of various thickness. We hand fit the wedges to the existing reed blocks to ensure a good seat on the reed tongue. The angle of the wedge and proper fitting in the reed block are critical steps in the preparation process.

Wedge Cutter This is a picture of our brass wedge cutter. It is a modified lathe dedicated to wedge cutting only. It can cut wedges from 1/8" thick up to 3/4" thick for 32' reeds.

Wires In most cases, we replace the original tuning wires with our new phosphor bronze tuning wires. Our tuning wire stock is annealed to the proper hardness and bent on our wire jigs to the correct shape to provide the correct tension and seat on the reed tongue. The shape and tension of the tuning wire is critically important to the stability of the reed.

Any perishable materials such as leather and felt are replaced where necessary. On historical restorations we make every effort to find replacement materials that match those of the original builder. We make every attempt to match felt colors, pipe metal composition and pipe metal thickness. Broome & Company is also able to offer replacement pipes if necessary.
After the pipes are completely reconditioned they head for the voicing rooms. Depending on the job, the pipes are voiced on either our tracker or our electro-pneumatic voicing machines. We have the height in our shop to voice 32’ stops both new and existing. If the original reed tongues in an existing reed stop are in good enough shape to retain, as is the case with much of our restoration work, the reed tongues are carefully cleaned, if necessary the weighting is removed and reattached with a new adhesive, the shallots are re-faced, and the pipes regulated and checked for speech. Any damaged tongues are replaced with new reed tongues of the proper thickness and dimensions. We re-voice many existing stops that come through our facility for reconditioning, often achieving far superior results to the original voicing in speech, tonal quality, and tuning stability. Broome & Co. can transform poor or mediocre quality reed stops, whether they are chorus reeds or color stops, into musical and useful stops that blend with the flue work.
Any major damage to the pipes, such as pipes broken off at the reed block, major denting or splitting, oxidation, broken miters, etc. are repaired in our shop. However, extensive pipe damage, oxidation removal and treatment, broken miters, or replacement reeds and parts are priced separately to our standard restoration procedure.