Fascination is the key to quality

Rens Swart Orgelbouw: recent works and projects English text Nederlandse tekst

Individually explained projects

Below I describe some of the jobs that have been done. But I have made separate pages about some larger projects, which you can click on below. I always take a lot of pictures, both to record the situation and connections, and to document it. I have included a small selection of these photos on the project pages.

Restoration of the sagging prospect pipes of Sint-Rombouts Cathedral in Mechelen

Fault finding and repairs on a bellow chest and other electro-pneumatialia

Repairs and fault finding electro-pneumatic swell engine

Installing a cable and socket for an electronic organ console

Dismantling of some organs

Recent jobs

Voicing Voix Humaine

At Jos Stevens I worked on the cleaning and, primairily, voicing of the typical 'French' reed Voix Humaine. A good hearing but above all a good insight in physics and an almost scientific attitude to keep asking yourself what is caused by what make it a lot easier. But that's what I in fact always do.

Maintenance electro-pneumatic organs

In the past years, and in 2016 in particular with Orgelbouw Jos Stevens, I have done maintenance on several electro-pneumatic organs.

Problem solving bellow chest and swell engine

Furthermore, I have solved a number of problems in a so-called bellow chest, which requires a very good understanding of the operation of this type of electro-pneumatic stop channel chest (explained in detail on a separate page). I have also renovated an electro-pneumatic swell engine and traced and solved two faults. This is also explained in detail on a separate page.

Maintenance organ Saint-Rombouts Cathedral Mechelen (84 stops)

Interesting is the maintenance on the magnum opus of Jos Stevens, the 84 stop organ of the Cathedral of Saint-Rombout (Rumbold) in Mechelen. This instrument was built in 1923 using older parts from among others Vermeersch from 1850. In 1958, at the instigation of Flor Peeters all manuals were extended and modernised and a fourth manual and a new prospect with Principaalbas 32' were added. It not only is an impressive instrument, it also contains fascinating technique, like the electro-mechanical combination action, that has to be kept in service. Furthermore I have tuned all 20 (!) reeds, including the impressive Bazuin 32' (which by the way must originate from 1850).

Reports on large pneumatic organs Antwerpen

I have made inventory reports of two important organs in Antwerp and Borgerhout that are in a rather bad condition. The first is the 40 stop pneumatic organ that Jos Stevens built in 1908 in the Saint-Willibrord church in Antwerp; it is in almost original condition and the organ in the church of the Holy Family in Borgerhout I play on every now and then, is almost the twin of it. Peter Maus has used my report substantially for his article in Orgelkunst of end 2017 on three impressive three manual organs of Stevens in Antwerp, including these two. Furthermore I made a thourough inventory report on the impressive and important organ of Saint-Jean Evangelist (better known as the Pepperpot) in Borgerhout, built by Charles Anneessens in 1894. This organ is silent for the past decades and because of its impractical set-up it is quite a job to research its inner parts. This is the earliest pneumatic organ in Antwerp and including pedal extensions it also has 40 stops.

Consulting and work on organ and choir organ Saint-Boniface Alphen on Rhine

In my 'birth church' (the church were I was at home during decades) Saint-Boniface (Sint-Bonifatius) in Alphen on Rhine (Alphen aan den Rijn) I am involved as a consultant since 2008 for the rearrangement of the monumental interior and the realisation of a solution for the organ problem. We have chosen in favour of a choir organ, playable from a central console together with the unique Hilboesen/Pels organ on the west gallery. In 2015 the central console was realised, but the building of the choir organ was postponed. In the meantime I have done some smaller maintenance jobs on the Hilboesen organ.

Inventory Petrus Vermeulen organ Dongen-Vaart

On the occassion of the closure of the church of Saint-Hubert in Dongen-Vaart I have investigated the splendid mechanical organ built by Petrus Vermeulen and concluded that it dates from 1891. In fact it is one manual of an organ that should have become a two manual organ. It looks very suitable as a basis for a choir organ in the church of Saint-Boniface, but because the consultant could not live with adding electromagnets to make it playable from the central (electric) console, which is almost a prerequisite for use in the catholic liturgy, it is now sitting to languish in this redeveloped church, although the owner recognises its importance.

Renewing oxidised reed blocks

The blocks of most of the ten (!) reed stops of the organ Stevens built in 1911 in the Church of the Holy Family in Borgerhout have suffered severely fom led corrosion. The stop normally the most often, the Trompette 8' of the Grand Orgue, was removed by titulary Johnny Verbeken and me, and new blocks were fitted by Stinkens in exactly the same design. Mind you, we have even saved the de-soldered old blocks within the organ, as a monument conservation action.

Completion chest organ Jos Stevens

I have worked on the completion of one of the three chest organs that Jos Stevens built in the eighties. They are three nicely built instruments with 4.5 stop, made of massive mahogany. No effort was done to restrict weight, so they weigh in a mere 180 kilogram. Two of these instruments have a roller board, the instrument I worked on has a radial sticker action. I worked on this instrument to get experience and in the end to buy and rent it, but some obstacles arose so unfortunately this did not happen.

Acquisition and revision chest organ Nijsse

With two friends I bougt a chest organ, built in 1985 by Nijsse, and made some improvements on it. It is for hire! See this page.

Large disassembling jobs

I have disassembled some organs completely or partially, to save them from churches to be demolished or redeveloped. I possibly have a destination for them, but I also use parts of these organs to built my own organ, or at least assemble it. This is very instructive! These disassembly jobs were my biggest jobs.

Because these big jobs were executed on my own account, I have written several pages on them on my personal website. However, an overview can be found here.

Organ stories elsewhere

Aspects of organ playing and organ building that are more personal than business have been described on my personal website under organs and organbuilding, as always illustrated abundantly.

Background of my passion for the organ and organ playing (sorry, Dutch only)

Backgrounds of my fascination for the technique of the organ and organbuilding

At a certain moment, the idea arose to acquire one or more organs that became superfluous because of the closure or redevelopment of a church, and to disassemble them and assemble them in one way or another in the warehouse where also my Rovers and Jaguars are. A well elaborated answer on the question why the hell I would consider that can be found on the page on 'an organ for myself'.

An organ for myself

February 2018

Deze fraai gemaakte driemanuaals speeltafel van Vermeulen bevat heel wat elektra. Als deze op jaren komt zijn er wel eens wat onderhoudswerken nodig, eigenlijk net als bij mechanische orgels … Gelukkig snap ik precies hoe alles werkt.

This beautifully made three manual console from Vermeulen of Weert contains a lot of electra. If this gets older, sometimes maintenance jobs are required, in fact just as with mechanical organs … Fortunately, I understand how this works.

Een naakte kegellade van Vermeulen: rechts zie je nog de membraanlatten en de elektromagneten van de relais, links zijn deze in demontage.

A naked cone valve chest of Vermeulen of Weert: to the right you see the wooden pouch channels and the electromagnets of the relais, at the left these have been disassembled and in the rear also the underboard with the cone valves have been dismantled.

Rens is bij Jos Stevens bezig met het intoneren van een Voix Humaine tongwerk

At Jos Stevens I worked on the cleaning and, primairily, voicing of the typical 'French' reed Voix Humaine. A good hearing but above all a good insight in physics and an almost scientific attitude to keep asking yourself what is caused by what make it a lot easier.

Een balgjeslade van binnen

One of the incarnations of the stop channel chest it the so-called bellow chest, as built by Jos Stevens. If one understands the inner workings of this windchest, the malfunctioning little bellow can be traced.

De elektromechanische setzerinstallatie van het Stevens-orgel in de Sint-Romboutskathedraal in Mechelen

The organ Jos Stevens in 1958 built in the Cathedral of Saint-Rombout (Rumbold) in Mechelen contains a unique electro-mechanical setter combination system. There are seven general combinations (for the whole organ) and five for each of the five manuals. Combined with its 84 stops and numerous couplers, this requires a colossal amount of memory elements, made using electromechanical technology from the fifties. Because the little shafts start to rotate roughly, a lot of maintenance is needed now. And a standstill is decay, literally. Unique, incredibly interesting, colossal and monumental!

Het grootse orgel dat Stevens in 1908 bouwde in de Sint-Willibrorduskerk in Antwerpen heeft zijn pneumatische tractuur behouden.

The great organ built by Stevens in 1908 in Saint-Willebrord church in Antwerp has retained his pneumatic action. But there is a lot that must be done.

Het grootse orgel dat Stevens in 1908 bouwde in de Sint-Willibrorduskerk in Antwerpen heeft zijn pneumatische tractuur behouden.

Although the organ in the church of the Holy Family in Borgerhout shows severe led corrosion, it is not as dramatic as the corrosion of this block of the Trompette in the twin Stevens organ in Saint-Willibrord in Antwerp (by the way, this led oxide is terribly toxic).

Het grootse orgel dat Stevens in 1908 bouwde in de Sint-Willibrorduskerk in Antwerpen heeft zijn pneumatische tractuur behouden.

We have replaced the blocks of the Trompette of the Grand Orgue of the Stevens organ in the church of the Holy Family in Borgerhout. Except for the wedges (round, in style), all other parts have of course been retained: that's how a historical important organ should be treated. By the way, the de-soldered oxidised blocks have also been stored inside the organ, for what it's worth!

Een van de rapporten van Rens Swart Orgelbouw

One of the reports of Rens Swart Orgelbouw.

De conventionele elektrische schakelingen in dit elektropneumatische orgel zijn vervangen door digitale elektronica

The conventional electric circuits in this electropneumatic organ have been replaced (not by me) by digital electronics. It is handy to understand how these work.

Kistorgel Jos Stevens

One of the three chest organs built in the eighties at Jos Stevens. I have worked on the completion of it.

Met vriendelijke groeten,
Rens Swart