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Watertown Daily Times Article

Page 2

According to a church history, the congregation decided in February of 1942 to purchase a new pipe organ to replace the old one which was in need of extensive repair. The new organ was purchased at a cost of $3,150 including trade-in of the old organ. It was dedicated on July 5, 1942.

Very little maintenance had been done on the organ over the past 60 years, but its increase in value indicated trade-in was not an option.

"We have no idea how old the organ is, but we know the company is out of business," said Mark, nonplused at the inability to purchase new parts. "We rebuild the existing units if we can, and we never install used parts. We replace obsolete parts with something else, and build our own wood products."

The first setback in the expected two-week tuning process was the condition of the chamber walls, discovered when the chamber was opened to repair the organ.

Volunteers from the church, under the guidance of Delmar Christian, took charge of resurfacing the walls of the chamber, which looks like a large enclosed closet and hides the pipes from view. It hid them so well in the area under the bell tower that no air was getting in to reduce condensation. "Preventive maintenance for the walls is not common, but we have encountered it twice in the last six months," Mark said.

Because of the wall repair, every pipe including wooden and metal alloy had to be removed from the chamber and stored in boxes until repairs were complete. Church members again stepped forward, this time to form an assembly line to place all the pipes in the specially-made boxes, and then put them back again.

The second setback occurred with the gasket, an important link in the playing process which starts with a motor in the basement. The motor supplies air to the refurbished regulator which adjusts pressure for the pipes that create sound.

The good news is that the organ is in solid condition, according to Paul, who has been a full-time organ technician since 1976. "With an organ like this that's over 60 years old, it won't need any more big work for another 20 years except for yearly maintenance. There are a lot of Schaefer organs around. This one will not play louder than before but it will play like it should. The newer instruments like the piano keyboards are more inexpensively made with plastics and they aren't worth fixing. That's why we do more organ work." he said.

The elder Snyder got into the musical instrument fixing business by default. "No one could be found to repair a pipe organ, and I started doing the leather work on our kitchen table," he recalled, discovering that the specialized field had business potential.

The men have enough work to keep them busy for a long time, even with two separate businesses catering to a specialized clientele. "We have about 100 to 200 customers waiting for service," Mark said.

This article is from the Watertown Daily Times and can also be accessed on their web site.

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