Pouring sheets of lead for pipe organs

[YouTube - Link]
Bedient pipe organ company creates pipe organs by hand in Lincol, NE.  The pipes of organs are made out of lead which they make out of sheets they pour themselves. 

I live in Lincoln and am a friend of an employee who works there.  He thought it was pretty cool and I thought I would submit it.

- via beerorkid

From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by beerorkid.

I agree with Christophe- I can't imagine they'd be working with molten lead without masks or without it being in some sort of fume hood.

But despite what kind of metal it may be, that's a cook video!
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wikipedia tells me it is an alloy
Metal pipes are usually made of an alloy of lead and tin, along with trace amounts of antimony and copper for increased rigidity.

I would wear a mask.
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the alloy is lead, tin and antimony. also called babbit and is used for bearings in high speed, high load machinery. i have poured and scraped many many babbit bearings
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Having worked for a pipe organ company, I know that pipes are made out of lead and zinc, plus a variety of alloys.

Organ builders and organ tuners do need to exercise precaution over all the lead they handle on a daily basis.
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A similar mix of lead, tin and antimony is used for "hot metal" typecasting, as with a Monotype or Linotype machine. The people who run those don't wear masks, either... though the amount of molten lead present in the machine is a bit less than the guys here are working with.

Here's a fun Wiki page that breaks down the various formulas used in type metal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_metal

I could go on and on about lead. I work with it on a daily basis as a letterpress printer, so am used to people's shock and concern and know when and why it is dangerous.
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I imagine, unless a manufacturer has gotten into the habit of calling it "babbit," he or she would tend to call it "lead" despite its being an alloy. I often have to educate my students when they learn that lead is toxic and suddenly fly in terror from their pencils. And of course, the fact that the old word "lead" just happened to stick around over half a century after lead was banned from pencils just isn't as much fun to accept as a mistaken belief that pencils are still full of a known toxin. (Or maybe they think that people just discovered lead's toxicity now. I don't know. I learned about the lead/graphite switch when I was in 2nd grade with no confusion, denial or display of terror.)

I think the very base of an organ pipe (where it comes to almost a point) is solid lead for various reasons (weight, balance, forming a good seal, ease of soldering & removal). The lead content in the pipe itself was necessary for tuning. Although the note is determined (as Pythagoras showed us) by the length & diameter of the pipe, some fine-tuning becomes necessary, especially when so many pipes are involved. This is done by cutting three sides of a rectangle near the base of the pipe and peeling it down while someone plays a chord including the note you're tuning. (It peels like a sardine tin; the lead content makes it soft enough for this.) The incision can be made larger or smaller by rolling it down or up.

Can organ pipes be made of something other than lead? Decorative pipes for electric organs can, of course. But as for real organs, I'm not sure. The sound might be affected, tuning might become more difficult, and most organ-makers use very old equipment anyway and don't get enough work to make upgrading feasible.
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Organ pipes can, and have been made of various materials. I have one from and old German organ which consists of a rectangular pine box, about 40" long by 3" square. Base has an opening (side)cut like a whistle and the top opening has a lead flap for tuning.
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Nicholas, that`s a good summary, but not all tuning is done by peeling the pipe like a sardine tin.

Pipes are made out of different materials for different reasons, usually to do with tonal quality.

Pipes can be tiny (just a few inches) or enormous - (tens of feet, like a 32 foot Bourdon pipe). The higher notes are small, the lower notes are large.

Pipes come in all shapes and sizes. Each note on an organ requires its own pipe. This means each rank has usually 61 pipes, making pipe organs really, really big.
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My dad was an organ builder, as was his father. Muy dad's pipe maker was in Alliance, OH. Yes there is lead in those pipes. Each pipe maker has a preferred alloy to get the preferred tonal quality. For example: a Diapason from pipemaker "A" will have a different tone than one from pipemaker "B"

It was fun seeing this video.
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Why do we even use lead anymore? I mean, yeah... its cheap/available... but surely the health risks aren't worth the price cut. Oh wait... thats right, money trumps life. Lol what was I thinking?
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The metal also needs to be soft enough for them to do fine tuning and shaping of the pipes- at least according to the Dirty Jobs episode where Mike works with an organ cleaning company.
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Our recipe for that particular batch in the video is 96% lead and the remaining amount a combination of tin, antimony and copper. The temperature of the molten liquid you see is about 700 degrees F. A large ventilation system above the casting table removes most of the fumes.

Lead is used for most of the interior pipes because it does not vibrate when air is pushed through it--so you only hear the note played and not a bunch of metal rattling around.

The shiny pipes you see on the facades of most organs are high-polished Zinc. Pipes are also made of wood. Visit Bedientorgan.com for more information.
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The missing piece of information regarding high lead pipes is that the metal is tensioned by hammering rendering it stiff enough to stand for hundreds of years if otherwise unmolested. I built an organ in 1979 with hammered metal pipes made of 98% lead. The other 2% was tin and antimony.

The pipes are as stright today as the day they were made.

One argument in favor of high lead pipes is that they give an unmistakable tonal bloom which cannot be obtained with other metals. It will, of course, not take a high polish. I was hoping that my pipes would oxidize black in time, but there is insufficient airborne polution in the little country church in which the organ is located to accomplish that.
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