Raphi Giangiulio's Homemade Pipe Organ

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Manual Windchest

The windchest is arranged such that the first octave alternates from the left to the right side and the rest is chromatic. The following table lists the dimensions of all the internal guts. The windchest is made up of alternating bars and channels. The "Bar" column lists the width of the bar to the left of each channel. The "Slot" column is the width of the slot that the pallets cover. Rather than cover the whole layout of bars and channels with one piece of wood, I broke it into 7 sections. Each section is separated by a bar that is .500 wide so that I have .250 for each section to glue to. The "Pallet" column is the width of the pallet.

First, I drew all the bars and channels with the channel centerlines on the top board:

Here are all the bars and channels. Nothing is glued yet, just a dry fit. The outside dimensions of the windchest are 53 x 24.125. The channels are 2.5 inches deep:

Here is one of the sections that will cover the channels and bars. I first rough cut the slots for the pallets and then went back and made a clean slot with the router:

Here are the seven top sections with all the pallet slots cut:

Here are some pallets. There are three sizes, 3/4, 5/8 and 1/2 inch wide:

Here's the pipe layout. The bottom eight notes of the Bourdon and Prestant ranks will be offset. Notes C-D2# of the Montre will make up the façade (not shown).

First I glued all the half inch bars in place. Then I started at the outside and glued two bars at a time. I used weights to clamp the center of the bars to the top board:

Then I glued the other rail:

Here's the original layout of the Prestant and Doublette sliders and toe boards:

Eventually I redesigned the sliders and toe boards. The new sliders are made of quarter sawn oak and are much thinner. I also cut out the centers of each slider to reduce cupping. Here's the new design:

The bottom six holes for the Montre and Bourdon shared pipes are slots instead of holes. I clamped a board with a slot the size I wanted and then used a pattern router bit to cut the slot in the toeboard, slider and winchest:

Here are the channels in the toe board for the shared notes of the Montre and Bourdon ranks:

It's inevitable that there will be slight gaps between the sliders, windchest and toe boards which means air will leak in those areas. I cut grooves in the toe boards and windchest between all holes to prevent adjacent pipes from speaking and also to prevent pipes from speaking when the stop is turned off. Here are the oringal grooves which I eventually had to go back and make larger:

The new grooves are .188" wide:

Here's the first of the seven bottom panels being glued:

All seven are complete:

Here's the pallet box set in place:

This photo shows the roller board that will send every other note of the bottom octave to the right side of the windchest. The pallet slots are covered to keep dust out of the channel:

The front of the pallet box will be covered with two clear plexiglass plates. Here the plates still have their protective stickers in place:

This photo shows the beginnings of the stop action. The pallet box has been permanently attached to the windchest now too. The four pads in the extreme corners will sit on the four posts from the manual base board:

Here's the windchest completely assembled in the shop:

The front of the pallet box is lined with leather to seal against the plexiglass fronts:

A view inside the pallet box with all the pallets installed:

Each channel has a small bleed whole to prevent small leaks in the pallets from causing pipes to sound. The bleed holes are lined with felt to keep them quiet. I ended up plugging most of these holes since the pallets didn't leak and I didn't like the hissing sound: