As Trinity’s new sanctuary was being completed in 1994, the electronic instrument in use at the time broke down and the estimated repair cost was significant. The owner of R.A. Daffer Church Organs, who maintained the electronic instrument, knew of a serviceable used Moeller pipe organ for sale in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. After inspecting the 15-rank M.P. Moeller opus 8357, built in 1952, the congregation decided to purchase it and began worshiping in its new sanctuary with a pipe organ.
This solid organ was a sound investment that served Trinity well for over five years. However, the organ was not ideal. The specification, or stop list, was for adequate congregational singing but deficient for most organ literature. The organ’s timbre was dull and individual stops unremarkable. On festival Sundays, the organ could not keep up with enthusiastic Lutheran hymn-singing. The physical installation had deficiencies that needed correction.
Trinity’s members, music directors and Pastor Berner began discussing the possibility of a project to improve the organ. In January 2000, the organ committee met for the first time and elected Ralph Landry as its chair. From the beginning, the committee wanted to rebuild the current organ rather than simply replace it, convinced that the organ had potential and believing that this option represented the best stewardship to the congregation. A request for proposal was prepared and sent to several builders. In February 2001 the congregation endorsed the organ committee’s recommendation that Nobscot Organ Works of Framingham, Massachusetts, owned by Timothy Smith, be selected to rebuild the organ. Geoffrey Simon was engaged as a consultant. An organ fundraising committee was also formed, chaired by Sabrina Edlow.
Tim Smith’s proposal called for expanding the organ to 28 ranks (about 1,700 pipes) in a mostly straight specification with minor unification and judicious borrowing. The plan called for reusing most of the existing components in the rebuild process. All pipework (except for two ranks) was retained, along with all wind chests. Every flue pipe passed through the hands of master voicer, Theodore Gilbert, who has worked for Austin, Casavant and Aeolian-Skinner, and has been voicing pipes for 55 years. All metal flue pipes were rebuilt, the pipe foot removed from the body, a new languid installed and the pipe reassembled with a lower mouth or “cut-up”–“resulting in essentially a new pipe for voicing purposes. The organ’s two reed stops were sent to A.R. Schopp’s Sons, the country’s largest pipe maker, for reconditioning. The added pipework was a combination of new and used, with the used rebuilt (flues) or reconditioned (reeds) in the same manner as the original pipes were.
The organ’s mechanical systems received considerable attention. The entire wind system was replaced, and a new ultra-Quiet blower and new reservoirs were added. Remarkably, the new wind system uses entirely rigid PVC, without a single piece of flexible material. The 1950s-era electropneumatic switching system was replaced with a solid state relay. Likewise, the unreliable electromechanical combination action system was replaced with a solid state version during a complete rebuild of the console to accommodate the additional stop tabs controlling the added ranks of pipes. Seven coats of paint and shellac in the organ chambers, along with structural changes inside and to the openings, have resulted in better egress of tone and more focused sound.
The rebuild has been a tremendous success, with the results seen in the high-quality work in the chambers and console, and heard, of course, in the finished instrument. The expanded stop list lends itself well to nearly any organ repertoire, and the organ has plenty of strength to a full support sanctuary on Easter morning. Trinity can be justly proud of this newly powerful instrument that will reliably lead and grace its worship for many years to come. It is truly a great engine to enlarge our prayer.
Trinity’s organ renovation was featured in a Montgomery Gazette article, August 22, 2001. Article is available online here.
Organ structure: 28 ranks, two manuals and pedal; the ranks in bold were added during reconstruction.
|Dolce 16'||Lieblich 16'||Resultant 32'|
|Principal 8'||Geigen 8'||Subbass 16'|
|Melodia 8'||Gedeckt 8'||Lieblich (Sw.) 16'|
|Dolce 8'||Salicional 8'||Principal 8'|
|Octave 4'||Voix Celeste 8'||Bourdon 8'|
|Flute d'Amour 4'||Principal 4'||Dulciana (Gt.) 8'|
|Fifteenth 2'||Triangle Flute 4'||Choral Bass 4'|
|Mixture II-III||Nasard 2 2/3'||Trombone 16'|
|Krummhorn l6'||Octavin 2'||Oboe (Sw.) 16'|
|Trumpet 8'||Tierce 1 3/5'||Trumpet (Gt.) 8'|
|Krummhorn 8'||Mixture III||Oboe (Sw.) 8'|
|Oboe CSw.) 8'||Oboe 16'||Krummhorn (Gt.) 4'|
|Zimbelstern||Trumpet 8'||Great 8'|
|Oboe 8'||Great 4'|
|Vox Humana 8'||Swell 8'|
|Trumpet (Gt.) 8'||Swell 4'|
|Swell Unison Off|