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The Design And Construction Of The Cone-pallet Sliderless Wind Chest

Its Advantages And Disadvantages

By
Mr. A. E. Willey

The cone-pallet soundboard is of German origin and design, and has been used successfully by German Organ Builders since about 1880.

It is made on the sliderless system with a simple drawstop action operating the supply of wind to the stop channels. Each pipe has its own separate cone-pallet and wind supply, according to its requirements. The soundboard relay can be made for supply, exhaust or electric action.

This type of soundboard can be constructed from any seasoned timber free from knots and shakes, e.g., African White Mahogany, Cypress, or Yellow, or Columbian Pine.

The stop channels are made up of boring bars, bottom boards in which the cone-pallets are set, and the normal upper boards. The whole framework is at first made up dry; the bottom boards, rack, and upper boards are then screwed on, and the soundboard marked for pipes, purses, and screws (screw spaces having been provided for in the setting out of the length rod). In setting out the length rod, the spacing in the treble portion is governed by the size of the purses, but in the bass by the space required by the pipework. The position of the drawstop should also be marked on this rod, at either end, or in the middle. The soundboard can then be taken to pieces, the boring completed, the frame sized and glued up (after making sure that if there is one bass for two stops, the bars are bored .for the fly-pallets) and then set aside to dry out. The framework and bottom boards can then be trued up and glued together, the bottom planed over, and the whole brush-polished both inside and out.

At this stage the cone-pallets, guide pins, felts and leathers, can be fitted, and the wood buttons screwed on; these are regulated even with a straight edge placed up to the tray supports. The stop channels with the pallets in place are then hermetically sealed by having strong paper glued completely over them, the bars bedded, and the upper boards fitted.

The purse trays are an important part of the soundboard, and need to be made correctly, using timber of about i" thickness grooved about " deep; the grooves covered by being glued over with stout paper and protected (dry). Trays should not be more than 5 or 6 inches wide-they can be single-not' trays if desired.

The purses or motors are of the flat type and of different sizes according to the pallets which they operate. Although practically enclosed, these motors are easily accessible by removing the tray so damaged or faulty motors can be replaced without difficulty.

The conical pallets are turned up of end grained beech and leather covered. They should not be set too deeply into the pallet hole, as the idea is that some portion of the pallet should have wind pressure beneath it in order to assist the lift. The hole under the pallet is a little larger than the normal register so as to allow the conical pallet to set in the hole comfortably, and to permit exhaust to the pipe, should shrinkage take place due to continual heating. In a slider soundboard under these conditions, murmurings would undoubtedly occur.

The drawstop action is operated by -a large purse which in its turn operates two pallets, either square with two pins at each corner, or round with guides similar to those used with the cone-pallets. One pallet is smaller than the other, in order to ensure rapid action, and to ease the wind into the stop channel. The bars of the soundboard are filled in to accommodate these pallets. The cover over the pallets is the main wind trunk, and it is advisable for this to be as large as possible-say 8" wide and io" high. The top of the cover is removable to allow access to the drawstop pallets and the fly-pallets for the common bass.

The boring sizes for the soundboard pallets from the top note are:-
20.7/16" - 14.9/16" - 8.11/16" - 7.13/16" - 12.15/16"

The widths of the corresponding purses are:-
11/16" - 13/16" - 15/16" - 17/16" - 19/16" and about 3" long.

The advantages of this soundboard are:-

● It can be made of softwood;
● It does not require a specialist to make it
● It is reliable, will withstand damp and heat
● It has no springs or slides to tighten or warp
● The action is reasonably quick enough for normal usage
● It is satisfactory on a wind pressure up to about 6".

One disadvantage is the preparation of the cone pallets, but the part makers would undoubtedly supply them, or they could be turned up on a lathe.

The cone-pallet may not be the ideal type of pallet, but, in the writer's opinion, the sliderless soundboard has many advantages over the old-fashioned slider type.


The Talk was followed by a full discussion in which divergencies of opinion were fully ventilated:-
That the cone-valve or Kegellade chest was simple in construction and remarkably reliable in performance was agreed by all, but various speakers ventilated the opinion that the disadvantages outweighed the advantages and the following points were argued.-

● The fact that all puffers and valves worked, whether the ventil drawstop was on or not
● That the long borings were inimical to the best speech of reeds
● The lack of accessibility to the internal cone valves without removing the pipes.


Mr. Alfred Ernest Willey (died 1982) was Managing Director of F H Browne & Sons (Organ Builders) Ltd.

Extract from :- Journal of the Incorporated Society of Organ Builders. Published 1947