The Fair Organ Preservation Society Discussion Forum

Home Build Accordion Orchestrion
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Author:  Dave Stubbs [ Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Home Build Accordion Orchestrion

In 1998/1999 George Houghton started to build a self-playing Accordion.

This video shows the first tests:

This video shows the 'Orchestrions' first public outing at Mayday Steam in Urmston, Manchester 1999:

Author:  George Houghton [ Sun Mar 21, 2010 6:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Home Build Accordion Orchestrion

Thats a shock Dave, You did'nt tell me you were going to put that on the Forum, :shock: :swear2: I hope you have no footage to show the lash up when I first started the project .
I will now have to vindicate myself by explaining how it all started and what the end result was when I get the time.

Author:  George Houghton [ Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Home Build Accordion Orchestrion

Ok Here we go with an attempt to explain the reason behind the accordion project,and describing some of the building details.
The late Albert Lewis (senior) a showman from Manchester invited me to see an accordion player he had made that played from book music using an accordion from a Dance organ. a key frame and a series of micro switches and solenoids, I was impressed by the sound so much that I decided to experiment and have a go at building one myself and set about locating a suitable accordion.
After several purchases of instuments that were unsuitable I finally managed to buy from Stuart Marti Bowler the North West Group Chairman at that time and an ex Accordion bandsman, a Hohner 120 bass in good working order.
By carefully removing the back of the keyboard usung a pad saw I exposed the keys and was able to screw into them small eye hooks,Unfortunately I made the mistake of not recording what I did on camera so I have no pictures to show I then mounted a Solenoid for each key on a mounting plate made from aluminium and secured to the accordion frame,each solenoid was connected to the key by a wire rod.
I had no plans to work with and made it up as I progressed, cosequently the whole instrument is made from bits and pieces that came to hand and should really be stripped down and rebuilt using proper solenoids and proprietry organ materials.But as someone once said if it ain't broken why fix it.
The Bass notes were connected to solenoids after removing all the complicated coupling mechanism and discarding it.
I had a church organ blower to hand so decided to use it as a wind source. A Hole was drilled in the accordion body to take a 1.1/4"pipe from the blower.
At that time I was freindly with the late 'Jim Anderton' the inventor of the 'Organese System' in fact Jim had contacted me previously to show me an organ he had made using 'Organese'. He asked if I was interested in purchasing one Organese board and the software because to get them made commercially he had to order 5 .I agreed and thought that it was just what I needed to drive the Solenoids on my new project.
Unfortunately Jim's system at that time was not midi compatable and I found several faults that deterred me from adapting it to suit my purpose.
It was about this time that I met up with Dave Stubbs who became interested in my attempt at automatic musicical instrument building. Dave thought that he could come up with a more suitable piece of electronic kit that would do what I wanted, some months later he arrived at my place with his Keymaster System, and his First video shows me trying it out in the workshop.

To be continued:

Author:  pipeorganphil [ Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Home Build Accordion Orchestrion

Well George I’m impressed, it works well sounds great I want to crack mine accordion out again.

Author:  George Houghton [ Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Home Build Accordion Orchestrion

Thanks Phil.It sounds a bit different since it was completed, perhaps Dave has a Video clip of the completed Orchestrion somewhwere.
I hope it does encourage you to have a go, your other projects seem to have been a success.


Author:  George Houghton [ Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Home Build Accordion Orchestrion

Orchestrion 2nd installment.

Flushed with the success of the initial trials at May Day Steam Manchester I really got ambitious and decided that it may improve the instrument if I combined it with a small organ, I knew of an unfinished 30 note pipe organ project that was for sale, after some discussion with Dave he assured me that his Keymaster system would handle the extra magnets of a 30 note organ, so I became the owner of the said organ.
Most of the chest, primary action and pipe work was complete but a design fault meant that not enough air was getting to the primary action causing the pallet action to be intermittent,( because I was using magnets to open the pallets it meant that the primary was surplus to my requirements and it was discarded [/i]) in addition one rank of stopped pipes that looked perfect were sounding like a Duck honking when in flight, as a result I decided to visit David Leach Organ Builder in Huddersfield who supplied me with a suitable rank of used pipes, I also made 3 mitred bass pipes and revoiced 3 helper bass pipes,Try as I may I could not get the Flutes to sound right so the help of Judith Howard was enlisted,the pipes were sent off to her and came back sounding just right.
Dave Stubbs completed all the complicated wiring that was required for the Electronics and wrote a Cakewalk CAL programme that suited the now much expanded scale of 100 notes so that we could convert some music to suit.
A suitable trailer was then built to house the Orchestrion and the percussion section consisting of Bass drum, Snare ,Cymbal, Maraccas, Tambourine, Woodblock was added along with a Conductor and 2 bell ringers/drummers. Albert Lewis jnr was commissioned to do the Artwork decoration on the Orchestrion,which was given the name of 'Harmonie'

File comment: The Harmonie Orchestrion at one of its first outings
Orchestrion1.jpg [ 128.96 KiB | Viewed 11093 times ]

Author:  Dave Stubbs [ Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Home Build Accordion Orchestrion

This is some footage of the first tests of the Orchestrion in its trailer:

Author:  pipeorganphil [ Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Home Build Accordion Orchestrion

You may of seen this one Dave & George but hear it is anyway.

The first video is a test of my attempt at an automated accordion.

The second video is my home built 31 note built to my own plans
The video is titled.
Pipe organ and accordion video at Widnes rally 2007

Author:  George Houghton [ Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Home Build Accordion Orchestrion

Sounds great Phil, I did'nt get the chance to hear it at Widnes unfortunately, perhaps you will bring it again this year?
I hope these illustrations of what can be acheived by amateurs like ourselves will encourage others to have a go. I know there are many amateur organ builders out there who have created nice sounding instruments and maybe are a bit reluctant to let us see their efforts on here, perhaps they will now post. I hope so.
Thanks. :tiphat:
George. :grinder:

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