Monday, December 18, 2006

End of semester excursion

Sam Hammond, University Carilloneur, invited members of the class to tour the bells in the tower of Duke Chapel. Here Sam describes the action, which is similar to a mechanical action pipe organ.

This photo shows the clavier. The layout is just like any other usual keyboard instrument, with the exception that the keys are very widely spaced. There is also a pedalboard.

After hearing the 5:00 recital up close, we hiked to the top of the tower to enjoy the view. The sky was clear, and we could easily see downtown Durham and the entire campus.

The sun sets over Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Golden Wrestpin

Angela winding the "golden wrestpin," as the gap is closed between treble and bass.

Angela hammering in the wrestpin on the LAST string! After weeks of blood, sweat, and tears, the stringing is done. (That thin wire could be vicious!)

Paul 'easing' the upper guides. (The jacks need to be able to move easily in the guides so that gravity can pull them back down after they are raised to pluck the string.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Winding things up

John showed us a wrestpin that doesn't have the hole through it that makes winding it easier (we put about 1/8" of the wire through the hole and bend it, which allows us to pull on the wire without it slipping away.) He didn't tell us how to use it, though. Here, Karen tries to wind the wrestpin with wire while the rest of us watch and offer theories of how it can be done.

Jessica uses her skills from her oboe-playing days and tries winding it like an oboe reed. It's almost right, but not quite!

Finally, John lets us in on the secret. The picture is a little fuzzy, but you might be able to make out the 'X' that is the secret to winding this pin.

Christmas lights lend a festive holiday atmosphere to the downtown mall where we enjoyed a class dinner with Prof. Parkins and John S..

Class is over, but we're not done yet! We have a couple more lab meetings, and next week the class is joining the Duke Carilloneur in the tower of the Duke Chapel, to see the Carillon and watch his evening performance.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

...and more stringing...

We had two ways of making the loops which attach to the hitchpins. One way involved using the simple machine below. One person would crank the handle (out of view) and the other person would form the loop.

Most of the builders preferred the one-person method. Here, a tuning hammer which has hook in the center is used. The wire heading out of the photo to the left is anchored to our workbench, and the other end is held securely with a pair of pliers. By turning the tuning hammer, and keeping the tension equal in all directions, one person can make perfect loops.

Here is an action photo of a wrestpin being hammered in. We used a wooden block held next to the wrestpin to gauge how deep to drive the pins. This way they will all look uniform.

You can see the completed 4' choir of strings in the foreground.

We had people stringing the treble as well as the bass at the same time, so things got a bit crowded. This photo shows some crossed wires.

Here we have drilling, pinning, and stringing. The 4' has been completely pinned, and we even tuned an octave's worth of notes.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Relax!! (and some pinning and stringing)

Look! The 4' strings are on! Now for some pinning.

John demonstrates installation of the pins into the 4' nut. This little rectangular flag has on its other side small lines indicating where the string will lie after the pin has been placed. (so that the strings are equally spaced, don't fall slack when they are tuned, and have the proper amount of tension.) So we take a little stylus, place it in our previously-scored groove on the nut, and mark our pin hole.

Then, we take the power drill and drill the pin hole. Finally, we tap the sucker in with a small hammer, and check to make sure the string lines up with our little measuring stick. Notice those perfectly-coiled wrest pins, by the way. Beautiful!

Here, Jessica does the honors.

In the meantime, Angela and I make sets of strings for the 8' bridge. Somehow the process isn't going as perfectly as we had hoped: sleep deprivation levels are high and nerves are shot from an end-of-semester anticipation. Basically, I break loops with impunity, and that tiny .008" coil is always slipping out of my death grip. Hence the title, a reference to John's sage advice that we somehow thought was hilarious. (But by the end of the day we were producing strings and loops that were suitable for framing. Thank goodness!)