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A Case of Explosion Damage

A Case of Explosion Damage

by Keith Davis

Originally published in American Lutherie #15, 1988

In the course of operating a violin shop we have seen all sorts of typical and not-so-typical repair jobs come in, as every shop does. The average day brings a dropped soundpost, a broken bridge, some cracks and so forth. But we were recently called on to repair a series of problems in the instruments of the high school orchestra following a natural gas explosion .

On January 13, 1988 a leak in an underground line allowed gas to build up in the boys’ locker room and weight room of the West Iron County High School. When a coach flipped a light switch the resulting spark apparently set off the explosion, which injured approximately twenty students and staff. The orchestra had stored their instruments in a nearby room and the explosion and shock wave following it caused many of the instruments’ soundposts to either fall or shift position. It is our opinion that the position of the instrument at the time determined whether the post fell or was relocated. Several bridges broke, both violins and ‘celli being so affected. As a point of interest, no viola damage was reported.

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