Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Austin Organ

Founded in 1893, Austin Organs Inc. builds pipe organs using the Universal Airchest System developed by John T. Austin. The longevity and reliability of an Austin Organ speaks to his ingenuity; many of their instruments from the late 19th century are still in use today.
The factory is a big pile of red bricks on Woodland Street in Hartford. 


Everything is designed and manufactured on-site, from scratch.  Curt gave me a tour.
This is the room where lumber is received and planed into lengths for further tooling.


The cabinetry for a big organ commissioned by a Houston church is being crafted here.
This one is perhaps two floors high and the equivalent of six big rooms.
It takes about a year and a half to build the organ, which costs nearly $2 million.



Two men meticulously finish parts of the pipes by hand.


 Three women attach leather to wood blocks.  The organ's pedals will make these parts expand and contract, operating some of the keys.  (Or something like that . . . don't hold me to the details.) 


Dan does the voicing.  When he receives them, the pipes are just metal cylinders.  They make screechy noises.  When he finishes, each makes a clean and distinctive note of 
the desired pitch and tone.  Very cool to listen to a before and after.








The factory is a fascinating blend of old and new.  Many of the machines date back to the 19th century, but the planning and execution is guided by sophisticated engineering and technology.

12 comments:

RedPat said...

You were lucky to be given such a tour of this place!

Lois said...

What an interesting tour Jack.

Sharon Anck said...

What a truly fascinating post Jack. I had never even thought about what it takes to make a pipe organ and this is very enlightening. I had no idea one would cost that much money or would take so long to make. You were luck to get this tour!

William Kendall said...

Quite an impressive facility!

Taken For Granted said...

What a terrific insight into a unique industry. Many of the machine tools look to be antiques and the processes mostly done by hand. Obviously real craftsmen and craftswomen build these instruments.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

How fascinating to see Jack, such a complicated and specific procedure. Austin organs are world renowned I'm sure.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I once spoke to a man who explained to me how my little accordion was constructed and tuned, so I can only sigh in admiration at people who are able to construct a mighty organ.

jennyfreckles said...

How wonderful that they still make these.

Karl Demetz said...

Fascinating, Jack !

bill burke said...

How interesting to see the process of what they do to create an organ, very impressive.

Kay said...

What a GREAT tour! The Museum of Music in Phoenix provides some very interesting information about organs but seeing the parts and pieces manufactured like this is super. It's encouraging to see that a manufacturing operation like this is still able to exist. Sadly, it's a dying breed.

bitingmidge said...

I NEED to visit there! Great coverage Jack!