Universal 26 Note Organ

Built by John Pettifer

The Universal 26 as it is called can play both standard 20 note and 26 note rolls but not the J.S. 20 rolls. This is achieved by placing the extra 6 notes in the margins of a 20note roll.

The plans for this follow the same type of layout as his earlier organs together with a video. The organ is a lot more complicated in that it has a lot more pipes (69) including 4 ranks of melody pipes, 3 stage bellows and valves to supply the air to the pipes and if this is not enough a glockenspiel as well.


Picture No.1 shows  my second attempt at the main wind chest because I had some obscure ciphers, which did not show up until the octave pipes were fitted and I had glued an MDF bottom board, which could not be easily removed.

It also gave me the chance to increase the space between two of the rows of pipes to allow for the extra depth of the double bourdons I intended to try out

A cardboard bottom board has now been used which can be removed if necessary


Most of the casework has been made of MDF and sealed with ”sanding sealer” (a cellulose based varnish) both inside and out all wind contact surfaces. I’ve found out the hard way that sealing is probably the most important task and cannot be ignored, so would be builders take note and if in doubt seal it again, it definitely pays off in the end.

Incidentally the pipes were made from library shelves in there earlier days!!


The front row is a set of double bourdons which is the result of a visit to Bob Essex, who had some in one of his organs

The second row are stopped Flutes.

The third row are octave open

The back row are open flutes.

I may alter this configuration in the future and try a set of violins when I can get one to work


So far this organ has taken me a little over 12 months, bearing in mind that I have a full time job, (and an understanding wife).

It is a project not to be taken lightly. The plans are close enough for a reasonably competent DIY person to follow with the help of the video.

 I was able to scrounge most of the materials used with the exception of the leather, which I bought from Russel’s organ supplies who were very helpful.

Anybody that wants any information is welcome to contact me at



The organ had its first outing to the Little Downham Bygones festival in March 2002 where it had very favorable comments from John Smith (the designer) and Edward Murray-Harvey (Ocarioca) music arranger, who lent me some of his 20 note rolls. This organ can play both 20 & 26 note rolls


1.The underside of the main chest with the valves fitted, prior to the bottom board being glued in place.




2.Topside of wind chest. Note the space between the first two rows to allow for the double bourdons.



3. Bleed bar and tubes. Note pipe positions identified

4. Bass pipes in position Note the triple bellows


5. Assembly of Puffers



6. Front view. Note the front con rod and first pipes as yet unmitered

7.Pressure box showing tracker bar tubing and the crank shaft (a ball race has since been fitted to the handle end)


8.Helper pipes mounted on top of the bellows


9. The bass pipe wind chest & note two springs to give a water pressure of about 6½”. The pressure valve is on the left. The small hand wheel is the fast rewind.

10. The complete set of pipes installed


11. The glockenspiel still needs some work to make it sound better.

Why did I use alloy tubes? – Because I had a supply of the tubing in the workshop


12. The trolley is made to dismantle into six pieces, which include a box at each end for roll storage


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This site was last updated 11/23/06