This past month has been consumed with hanging drywall and wiring the pedalboard. At the time of writing this article, all drywall has been hung and doors installed. The wire wrapping tool made quick work out of wiring the contact rail for the pedalboard, which is now complete.
The other focus was to cut down the swell shades to fit into the opening in the wall between the chamber and tone chute. Because of the opening dimensions, it made more sense to have the shades open horizontally, rather than vertically. Special thanks to Zach Frame for assisting me with cutting these down. Let’s just say Wurlitzer didn’t intend for these to shrink in size….what a pain! After hauling the frames back into our basement, a quick test fit was performed (see photo). Please note that the lovely maroon color that exists from the previous installation in the Theatre Guild will be refinished!
After recovering from moving all of those crates down stairs... the focus remains to get the console 100% functional. This includes wiring in the Uniflex interface board, terminating console commons, magnet supplies, installing lights and light circuits and fixing some sticking keys on the accompaniment manual. Oh yea, and programming the entire definition file within Uniflex. In addition to that, the "no-faith" breaker from the Crome organ company was retained from the last console and re-installed in this one. Unlike my previous console that ran on 12 volts, this one has 24 volt SAMs in it. The idea is that these will fire quicker. This requires either batteries to make the 24 volts or a rectifier / capacitor setup to handle the inrush current that the coils consume upon energizing. Such a circuit exists for 12 volts, but one for 24 volts is not known. Carlton Smith forwarded on the design for the 12 volt model, which I gave to my father who is an electrical engineer. He is scaling the design to accommodate the higher voltage. Upon design completion, components will be ordered and installed to his specification. I will then of course share the design with Carlton and anyone else who wants it. I feel it is important to share knowledge in this small corner of the world!
The lighting circuit required me to install the lights themselves as this was not completed during console restoration in 2013. I learned that notches had to be made for the light sockets to sit in. This was achieved by using files and the central vac! Once those were mounted, I wired things up and reused the original toggle switch that gets mounted in the key desk. The old wiring on the switch was suspect despite metering out okay. To try and address this, I applied heat shrink tubing to them. The original switch plate was missing so I fabricated one using a piece of brass. After testing the switch under load, I noted that the contacts were less than ideal within the switch itself. Not wanting to start a fire, I ordered a modern replacement switch and... let there be light.
Work also continues to reassemble the pedal board (which was completely disassembled as far as it would go). I ordered a wire wrapping tool and some 25 pair cable / plugs. Once they arrive I will complete the installation of the pedalboard, swell shoes, toe studs and wiring of the two piano pedals.
Running out of things I could do on the console without more supplies coming in, I turned my attention to drywall. The tone chute is getting worked on next with the chamber getting done last.
Through conversation with Mark Herman, a musician and organ broker in Pasadena, I had learned of an opportunity to purchase an organ that was completely restored. It included a three manual scroll type console (what I was looking for in the end) and everything that goes with it. All that would be required would be to wire and wind the instrument.
After careful consideration, I made the realization that the current project would take me at least 10 years or more to complete, about the same amount of money and a ton of my time. This route would allow me to get a functional instrument within a year and that much longer to share it with others. As someone asked me, do you get more enjoyment out of playing the organ or restoring it? Great question, and the answer is playing it and having others find enjoyment from playing the instrument and listening. Perhaps most important, the purchasing route would allow me to spend more time with my family, and less time in our basement working on restoration projects.
The decision was made to purchase it on Saturday, October 2, 2021. The next logistical challenge was to get everything that we currently had in the house out and the new one transported from storage in Indianapolis to our house. A deadline of Sunday, October 10th was communicated to get the instrument out of storage, leaving a week to carry out mission impossible.
On Wednesday, October 6th friends Gary Bieck and Gary Klechowitz assisted in moving parts out of the basement. Second shift help of my aunt and uncle, wife Lindsay, brother-in-law Shawn and neighbor Joey continued where the first shift help left off! Since The Dairyland Theatre Organ Society is actively working on an organ installation at the East Troy Railroad Museum, most parts were donated to their project. By the end of the night, one full pick up truck and covered trailer full of parts made its way to the basement of the Depot building at the museum.
On Thursday, October 7th, my Dad and I, along with friends Devin Deuter and Nick Renkosik and brother-in-law Shawn (who apparently didn't have enough fun the night before) picked up two 26 foot trucks and loaded the parts from our basement that were to be traded as part of the sale agreement. These parts included the two-manual console, tuned sleigh bells, xylophone, master xylophone and a ton of pipes.
Friday, October 8th was the big day, which started at 3:50am when we hit the road for Indy. Arriving at Mark's storage locker at 9:30am (eastern time), we unloaded the parts that went down with us. Broke for lunch nearby and then arrived at the Stutz building (where they used to manufacture Stutz cars). This is the home of Carlton Smith Pipe Organ Restorations. Located on the second floor, this was actually one of the easier organ moves I was a part of (at least this phase of the project...!). Since the building was a car factory, we had use of a freight elevator that was capable of moving a car. This proved very useful as did the indoor loading dock, where both trucks fit nicely. I also appreciated the help of Mark Herman and "local" assistant John Arnold, both of which helped greatly. By 7pm, we were loaded and headed back to Wisconsin... arriving sometime around 11:30pm. I would like to thank my Dad, Nick and Devin for spending the entire day assisting with this part of the project. A very full 20-hour day was a lot to ask and I am very grateful of their help.
Saturday, October 9th I was joined by Chris and Tori Pawlowski, my parents John and Lisa, friends John and son Sean Cornue, Mike Jacklin and Gary Klechowitz. Together, we were able to get both trucks unloaded and returned to Penske of South Milwaukee. Made it back home just in time to volunteer at the railroad as a bartender on their dinner train! With that being said... 23 crates and the console, which didn't fit through the front door remained in the garage.
On Sunday, October 10th, I was able to de-wire (unplug) the console horseshoe, keyboards and back rail. This allowed the console to come apart in more pieces. My wife Lindsay and I were able to carry everything in the house with the exception of the base of the console.... and 23 crates...
On Monday, October 11th, my neighbor Travis, friends Derek and Nicole in addition to their friend Uly helped carry the remaining crates and console base into the house. The organ is now completely IN the house!
This past month, the chamber walls were insulated and drywall installation has begun. Two exterior doors were purchased to be installed in both the chamber and tone chute walls. A platform was also constructed for the chrysoglott to sit on, featuring a channel for the bundle of cable that will run between the relay and the organ chamber.
Also, thanks to my friend Jim, I now have a logic rectifier and that has been installed into the control panel. Now two meters do something!
As a reminder, project updates, including more photos can be found on my project's website: jonaswurlitzer.com
This past month, the two baffle boxes were completed and installed. This involved lining the insides of the boxes with acoustic insulation tiles and then attaching moving blankets over the insulation. The end product really does a nice job quieting things down. This also involved an erector set of unistrut and threaded rod to suspend the boxes from the ceiling.
The static wind lines were also completed into the wind trunks that run into the chamber. The chamber now has wind! Thanks again to my friend Steve for locating the 10” pipe clamps. Those were difficult to find.
This past month, work continued with rebuilding the four rank Wurlitzer chest. WOW, there are so many parts… Magnets are all being removed, tested, re-gasketed and re-installed. My assistant, Eleanor, helps with the process by removing all of the old gaskets and testing the magnets with an ohmmeter to ensure they are good to get reinstalled.
Substantial work has been done with wiring up the control panel and VFDs. The goal is to finish up all of the things within the walls so the drywall can be installed. When that is complete, the massive pile of organ parts can make their way from one side of the basement to the other!
The upright piano has a vacuum action in it which requires a vacuum pump to operate. The one that I had on hand was a rigged shop vac pump that was extremely noisy and smelt of ozone as soon as it was switched on. A new pump was ordered and arrived this past month. It has a potentiometer on it for controlling motor speed (suction). It operates quiet enough to just place in the base of the piano. This was a win and allowed me to cross off running another pipe from the blower room.
Finally, the projector arrived. Although it fit in the projector alcove, there wasn’t enough height to tilt the projector down. Out came “Sammy” sawzall… The projector alcove is now 16” taller, which leaves plenty of room for tilting the projector, heat dissipation and extra traps!! After all, there is a wind line that runs up there… The project was successful overall despite dropping Sammy while walking in the attic. The blade went right through the ceiling over the kitchen table. Yes, my wife was in the kitchen at the time and I might have gotten in a small amount of trouble!
This past month, work has begun on mounting the rest of the static wind lines from the blower room. The lines now stretch from the blower room to the tone chute. The road block I ran into connecting the lines to the trunks that go into the chamber was the weight of the 10” lines from the ceiling to the trunks on the ground. I’d have to guess about 50 pounds per pipe just for that little section. Unistrut was purchased to provide mechanical support, so that the weight of the pipes aren’t solely supported by the PVC cement. Thanks to DTOS member, Steve Southworth for locating 10” unistrut pipe clamps on eBay. These are harder to find than you would think.
The 18 note chime action that I reported on last month has been completed and is awaiting installation in the tone chute after the drywall work is complete.
Speaking of the tone chute, wall construction continued with the front wall going in. Special thanks to my neighbor John for helping me lift it in place and spending the following half hour with a sledge hammer getting the wall over the high spot in the floor. The dining room table above doesn’t lean too bad… That wall was wired up for lighting and outlets and is closer to being ready for drywall. Another challenge that was overcome was the wind line for the player piano which is going in the tone chute. The vacuum pump that I had was extremely noisy and smelt of ozone as soon as it was switched on. Not wanting to deal with the noise or potential fire from that unit, a new one was purchased and should arrive sometime in July. Depending on the noise level, the pump could probably just go in the bottom of the piano and not require a line from the blower room.
Work has begun on a four-rank Wurlitzer chest which consists of a diapason, flute and two strings. As of the time of writing, the toe boards have been completely stripped of all pallets, pins and springs, leaving a flat surface on both sides. Next week, I will be taking them to Nolte’s shop in West Allis (which is too close for comfort to Grebe’s bakery). They have a sanding machine that will be used to ensure a flat surface for the pallets to seat on.
Meanwhile, an A/V distribution system was put together to distribute sound and video to the projector and TVs. The idea is to have a camera feed of the music room to be viewed by people in the living room or downstairs who may not be able to see a performance. It can also be used for distributing video of a silent film if including that in a program.
Complete rebuild was needed for this piece. Chime tubes will be fitted once the action is mounted in the tone chute.
Much work has been completed since the last update. For starters, the chamber now has a wall on the front of it! Given the large opening for the swell shades that is about bar height… my wife asked when the drinks were going to be served. After putting that wall up, the idea didn’t seem too bad! As always, my assistant, Ella was there to help in any way possible.
Work has also progressed with the winding system with the remainder of the 10” schedule 40 PVC arriving. Finally, the chime action has been completely disassembled and is in the process of being rebuilt. A recommendation from Jeff Weiler’s shop was to get a spool of 1/16” aircraft cable and ferrules / crimp tool. These would be used in place of string to tie the chime tubes. The size of the 1/16” ferrules just fit inside of the tube so they are not visible from looking at it. The advantage here is that you don’t have to worry about tubes falling down when the string fails.
Thanks to EMS Industrial for constructing the control panel for the organ. Although quite unnecessary, it will sure be neat to watch the meters dance around when the organ fires up and plays! The panel offers readings on logic rectifier voltage, magnet rectifier volts and amps, blower 1, 2 and vacuum pump wind and controls for the frequency drives that power the blowers. In addition to those functions, you can manually start the blowers individually as well as the rectifiers and vacuum pump. The instrument will normally be controlled by a single switch next to the relay counter upstairs.... but that is boring in nature so thus this panel!