In August 2013 I gave a talk at the Chantry in Morpeth to shine some much needed light on the School Pipe Project. I don't propose to revisit the content of that talk here but I have decided that making the overhead slides available would be helpful. The presentation was created in Powerpoint and to download a PDF copy of that presentation click here
The story since 2010
The Schoolpipe project had become orphaned at the Sage and the main supporters of the project had moved on. At the end of 2010 I had a discussion with Kathryn Tickell and, with her support and help from Anthony Robb, we managed to release 6 sets of un-assembled parts from the Sage's store. I used these parts to assemble 6 sets and evaluate the problems that were causing the project to falter.
The major problems with the manufacture were:-
Poor machining of the drone sliding part tenon (tapered)
Drone valve components not machined to drawing tolerances (too tight for easy operation)
Drone valve assy compromised due to centre pin being squeezed to make assembly easy (it was intended to be a very tight fit)
Small d drone bore should have been 2.9mm diameter but was 3.2mm diameter (not a big problem)
Chanter stock oring grooves too shallow causing the oring to become displaced and causing a leak
Blowpipe connection to the bellows tube too tight for easy operation (this is a design rather than a manufacturing fault)
The biggest problem however was the provision of reliable repeatable drone reeds. The chanter reed is identical to the traditional chanter reed and I don't believe that a better item has been made in any quantity yet. The drone reeds have taken a lot of time and effort to close in on a design that is both repeatable and reliable. What was needed was a reed that needed no intervention once it was working properly. This had been clear from the start of the project and I had tried a lot of different designs searching for a good design solution.
The major breakthrough was the final construction of a reliable test rig so that I could test reed designs in a repeatable way. To see the test rig go to the reed setting tool page.
and the reed designs
In 2012 10 sets were donated to the NPS by the sage and in 2013 all the remaining unassembled parts were passed to the NPS.
So far I have updated 20 sets.
6 of them are the sets I built from new parts in 2011 and we have been using for piping experience events at the Cambridge Folk Festival.
10 of them were donated in 2012 to the NPS from the "working pool" of assembled sets at the Sage and I have rebuilt them to reliable condition. They are currently in use By Gwennie Fraser for teaching school children at Bellingham.
2 further sets were given to the NPS from the working pool in 2012 and I have rebuilt these to working condition.
In September 2013 I updated and assembled a further 30 sets and so far have delivered 10 of these to the NPS.
For these sets chanter reeds are being provided by Richard Evans.