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This instrument, based largely on the church's 1905 Hinners organ (Opus 643) of 16 ranks, was unaltered from its original location and design for 82 years, except for the change of the blower from water to electrical power. The placement of the instrument in the "Akron-Plan" sanctuary required Hinners to position the interior 90 degrees from the normal configuration dictated by the stock model casework. As a consequence, there were a considerable number of lay-out problems which made it virtually impossible to give proper attention to the instrument, and therefore, many maintenance requirements and proper tuning were by reason of inaccessibility, neglected. The problems seemed so insurmountable that they prompted one consultant retained by the church to advise them to consider a different organ altogether.

Because of the way the playing action was designed, coupled with a relatively high wind pressure, the instrument had become extremely laborious, therefore virtually impossible to play

In attempting to address all of the deficiencies of the instrument, the first foregone conclusion in order to justify the retention of the instrument was to make it accessible in order to provide proper tuning and maintenance. Considerable valuable interior space was taken up with the original reservoir, which had deteriorated to the point where the instrument would have to be completely dismantled in order to re-leather it; the cost of which would have been far in excess of the modern wind system installed in its place. While utilizing springs for pressure regulation, the inertia owing to the mass of the generous replacement reservoir tops and the re-use of the original trunking system allow the instrument to have a gently flexible wind, yet allowing far greater stability than was possible with the original reservoir and its complimentary load of bricks!

The mechanical playing action was changed from the original balanced key lever action (typical of Hinners) to a self adjusting, suspended action incorporating aluminum tracker squares and pulldown wires. The radiating, horizontal tracker runs were kept as original but the tracker material was renewed. The pedal was converted to electric action and augmented to five stops, based on three ranks, from the original two. A new keydesk scaffold, including keyboards, covered with Ebony naturals and Boxwood accidentals, was imported from West Germany for the playing action renovations. The stop action remains in its original mechanical form., except in the case of the Pedal and facade pipes, which utilize electrified drawknobs matching the mechanical ones.

With the Pedal and facade pipes converted to electro-pneumatic action, it then became possible to eliminate the many hundreds of feet of cardboard conductor to feed those pipes because of the convoluted configuration of the instrument. Since connections to the Pedal pipes no longer were to be done by trackers, the rear interior of the instrument was re-configured in multi-story fashion to conserve space to allow access to all of the Pedal pipes and to the Swell Box by means of an internal ladder to a service platform which did not exist before the re-build.While the original stoplist demonstrated the fact that Hinners tended to be quite conservative, as applied to stoplist design, it left the church wanting for stops which would allow the satisfactory performance of a reasonably complete cross-section of organ literature, as well as effectively lead congregational singing. Because Hinners made practice of "stock-model" organbuilding, the scales for the pipes, which would be appropriate in a room twice the dimensions of this sanctuary, mandated re-voicing to allow the pipes to sing without being overly loud. This was accomplished by lowering the wind pressure and cut-ups on several stops, and generally applying a combination of closed toe voicing in the basses graduating to open toe voicing practice in the trebles. Several stops have been re-voiced with some unusual, but very successful transformation, in order to meet the needs without resorting to all new pipework. In particular, the Sesquialtera II was built by plugging node holes and re-pitching the old Swell tapered Harmonic Flute treble pipes for the 2-2/3. The AEoline pipes were re-pitched and re-voiced for the 1-3/5'. The original 4' Flute d'Amour was combined with the existing bass octave of the Melodia to obtain an 8' Rohr Flöte. Finally, the existing Oboe-Gamba was re-pitched and re-voiced to become the Instrument's new Swell 2' Principal.

While it was desired that the instrument largely conform to present-day tonal concepts, there was also a desire to retain the best features of the old organ, and for that reason it was decided that the stenciling which was discovered on the facade pipes when they were stripped for repair work should be replicated in order to return the instrument to it's 1905 appearance. For many years, the pipes were simply white with gold mouths. This also presented the opportunity to eliminate 14 dumb pipes which were planted on the facade. Other used facade-type pipes were found in the builder's inventory and were incorporated into the design allowing for the addition of an 8' Prestantbass stop in the Pedal. The two largest pipes, plus the balance of the treble pipes, are planted in the interior of the instrument

The effect of the new stenciling is at once stunning, giving the instrument a sense of belonging, since the new artwork has picked up on color themes found throughout the sanctuary; particularly in the windows.

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FARMER CITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Farmer City, Illinois
Opus XVII, 1987