Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church is purchasing, reconfiguring, refurbishing, & repurposing a pipe organ for our worship space. This blog chronicles the journey of a "Green" Organ.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tour of Holtkamp Organ Company

Cindy Winslow and her husband, members at Shepherd of the Valley, were traveling recently near the facility of the Holtkamp Organ Company in Ohio where our pipe organ is currently being renovated and refurbished. On a whim, they called to see if they could see the organ work in progress and take photos. Holtkamp welcomed them with open arms, and so the Winslows--and us--get a rare treat of seeing some behind the scenes work at an organ builder. Below are some of the photos from their visit as well as some Cindy's impressions. Enjoy!

Everyone at The Holtkamp Organ Company was very welcoming and accommodating. The owner, Chris Holtkamp, gave us a long and detailed tour around the entire factory for about an hour. Although the building seemed old, and it was not a fancy facility, they had all up-to-date tools and the latest technology and equipment; whatever they need to do the work that they do. Holtkamp does not get a whole lot of visitors, but they took our visit in stride.

You can tell how much pride Chris has for his company and his workers are like one big family. We met all the workers that were there that day—12 craftsmen, metal workers and voicers. Everyone was very nice and answered all our questions. We were really impressed with their craftsmanship. They are very good at what they do and it is amazing how they keep track of all the wood and metal and different parts of the organ. At the time of our visit, they were only working on Shepherd of the Valley’s organ. This really gives you a scope for the magnitude of the project, as there were parts of our organ all across the facility. Simultaneously, they were constructing the wind chest and the blower, refurbishing existing pipes, building new pipes by hand, and doing the voicing [making sure the pipes will acoustically sound right for our sanctuary]one pipe at a time.

That’s Danny in the plaid shirt working on our console.

The stacks of wood that look like bookshelfs are parts of the wind chest, made of poplar wood.

These are shiny, brand new pipes. The pointy parts on top are all hand soldering.

More pipes for our organ. Everywhere you look there’s pipes- they’re all labeled- some 3,000 pipes. It's amazing that they keep track of them all!

Chris, the owner, in front of crucible- working with molten zinc, tin and lead to make the metal sheets.

The tin that’s rolled and stacked are brand new metal sheets of tin made in the crucible shown in the other picture. After they’re made, they let them sit and age so they’re easier to work with.
Super tall pipes- the largest pipes from the Macalester organ- are waiting to be cut down to fit for our organ.

Joe is working on the blower that creates the wind for the organ.

Sean, one of the voicers, working on a wooden pipe to make sure it fits- and tuning it so it sounds the way it is supposed to.

George is one of the voicers. He started out as a high school music teacher, but decided working with pipe organs is what he really wanted to do. In the photo some pipes are ours, but most are Holtkamp’s factory voicing system. George is testing the sound of each of our pipes against the others. That’s not our console or keyboard either, just what George uses for the voicework.
Michael is the designer- he visited SOTV last week to work with the contractors doing construction in the Sacristy area.

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