Finding a cipher (stuck pipe)

Which manual?

If moving the Swell pedal affects the loudness, then the cipher is in the Swell. If moving the Choir pedal affects loudness, then check the Choir. If no change in loudness, suspect the Great.

What note?

Try to match the pitch by playing various keys. Do it slowly so you can keep track of the key, since pressing the right key may fix the cipher. If you aren’t sure which key you pressed, then we don’t know where to look to find the problem.

Things to watch for:

  • Play the keyboard associated with the pipe. That is, don’t look for a cipher in the Swell by playing the Great keys, even though the Swell plays via Swell to Great coupler.
  • Watch for sub- (16) and super- (4) couplers. That is, if the Swell-to-Swell 4 coupler is on, pipes an octave higher than normal will sound when you press a key. That will confuse us as to which is the real offending note.
What stop?

Try to find the right stop, and thus the right pipe, by turning off all the stops. If the cipher goes away, make a note. Then go through the stops one by one to determine which one causes the fault. If turning off the stops does not make the cipher stop, you still go through the stops one by one to find which stop is ciphering.

Pulling the pipe

Caution: Touching the top of a pipe, especially moving the tuning slide (stopper if it is a stopped wooden pipe, cap if it is a capped metal pipe), makes it out of tune. Be careful not to move tuning slides while looking for a cipher.

Instead of touching the pipes, find the offending pipe by:

  • Blowing across the tops of the pipes. Blowing into a pipe causes it to stop playing.
  • Blowing into the mouth of a pipe.
  • Lightly dragging a dollar bill across the tops of the pipes. Paper money is too light to move a tuning slide.
  • Sticking a piece of paper in the pipe mouths.

If the pipe is small, lift it out and set it aside. Do not put it back in place a few days later. Instead, leave it out so we will know which pipe caused the problem  which probably will return. If the pipe is large, put a towel or a book inside the mouth.

  • Use enough light.
  • Be careful on ladders.
  • Wear rubber sole shoes.
  • Do not go into the organ chamber with organ (leather-soled) shoes.
  • Don’t go into the organ chamber unless church officials approve.