SCHNEIDER PIPE ORGANS, Inc., Kenney, IL, has completed the renovation and enlargement of the Pipe organ in Saint Valentine Catholic Church, Peru, IL, as its OPUS XX.
The original instrument in this church was a tubular-pneumatic Hinners instrument built in a case which wrapped around the base of the Bell Tower masonry work in the Balcony. The Swell was situated on the right side while the Great was on the Left. The facade across the archway in the center of the Bell Tower masonry work contained the largest pipes of the 8' Open Diapason with the trebles placed immediately behind them. Immediately flanking the central facade were placed the lowest 9 notes of the Great 8' Dulciana and 8' Salicional, respectively. The remainder of the facade pipes flanking these two "Towers" in font of the Great and Swell chests were silent.
Early in the life of the instrument (about 1920), the instrument was remodeled by the Wicks organ Company of Highland, IL. This consisted of removing all of the tubular pneumatic windchests and building new Direct-Electric(R) windchests for the compliment of original pipework, including electrifying the facades.
In the early '70's further work was done by an itinerant regional organ firm in the form of replacing the console with a second-hand Kilgen console from the late 1940's and "re-wiring" the organ, which took the form of installing Reisner gang switches and relay magnets all over the floor inside the Bell tower, making it impossible to get into the attic space and Bell Tower above without tripping over and disrupting all of the magnets.
By the early 1990's severe damage to most of the pipework had occured due to careless maintenance by unqualified personnel from this same company, no one stop functioned properly. Somewhere along the line, the original blower was replaced with a BOBCO unit that was located on sand in the celler beneath the base of the bell tower of the Church. This, in turn, fed only one reservoir three stories up for the entire instrument!
The renovation program began with re-wiring the instrument and the console with new Peterson diode matrix relay system including new key contacts in the console. The original Kilgen "tripper" combination was retained but re-configured as a cost-containment measure. Consequently, the Manual to Pedal couplers were re-configured as illuminated reversible pistons, in order to allow for a more complete Pedal stoplist than would have been otherwise possible.
The original Wicks windchests serving the Swell and Great Divisions were completely re-finished and re-built. The stoplist of the instrument was completely re-engineered to accommodate the existing windchests, as well as incorporating a newly-built Windchest in the Center section to replace the existing facade chest. This allowed for the creation and placement of a new Principal Chorus in the instrument. Heretofore, the instrument had consisted of Two Flutes and Two Strings per division. End of organ. Re-configuration of the existing windchests and re-wiring the instrument permitted then addition of desirable mutations and other registers.
When the project was begun, the existing casework had been re-finished somewhere along
the line with green "antiquing", and the dumb facade pipes had been finished with white paint and gold flecking; resembling Formica (R) counter-tops from the 1960's. In addition to re-configuring the instrument, it was desirable to modify the Facade to include all speaking pipes, as well as refinishing the casework and installation of the chimes into the organ.
Great improvements to the egress of sound heretofore not possible were made possible by the removal of the air conditioners air-handling unit above the pipework(!)
The instrument enjoys the ideal location in terms of gallery placement on the long axis of the Nave. However, some minor problems needed to be remedied. The main existing windchests were located below the Impost (the wooden member upon which feet of the facade pipes stand) and thus the interior pipes speak into it. This problem is further magnified in the Swell Division because the opening of the Swell Box faces West. Consequently, these windchests were raised and swell shades facing the Nave were provided and installed.
A requirement of the installation was to permit viewing of the windows behind the central facade. Consequently, the new facade layout placed the largest pipes of the 8' Diapason on either side of the two "string bass towers". Replacement pipes will be built for the String basses in the two towers. Pipes in the central facade are the tin trebles for this 8' Prestant stop.
The casework of the instrument was stripped and re-finished locally in a light stain and lacquer finish.
All re-used stops in the instrument which are not replaced were carefully gone-over, in terms of repairs, regulation and speech of the pipes. The intention here was to improve upon the original voicing and speech of the instrument by making careful improvements and corrections to the speech of these pipes.