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!
After starting this project several months ago, it is finally finished thanks to the new primary box gaskets that were punched at Jeff Weiler's shop.
First off, thanks to my friend Gary Bieck for giving me this Wurlitzer Shuffle. Second, to answer the question of what is a Wurlitzer Shuffle. To explain, I'll describe what a Wurlitzer Surf is first. A surf is a box that is typically attached to a wind trunk, operating on static pressure. This box has a pneumatic inside that slides a piece of wood back and forth, allowing wind to escape from the box through a slit in the top. In-line with the slit is a piece of sheet metal that the wind passes over as it rushes out. The large pneumatic inside has a "bleed" screw that controls the rate it moves. The end effect sounds similar to the surf rolling in and out. Now that you understand a surf, apply the exact same concept (and design) to the shuffle, with the addition of a primary box that allows the large pneumatic inside to move quickly. This makes it possible to play the shuffle rhythmically. This particular shuffle got hit with water at some point during its life. Therefore, wood glue and lots of clamps were deployed during the restoration of this unit.
Finished up the crash cymbal action. This one was an interesting design that I haven't seen up until this point. A double primary valve exists to fire the secondary. This is also the first time I experienced the self-tapping valves that Wurlitzer used in certain applications.
I had the opportunity to tour the shops of JL Weiler in Chicago. While there, I was introduced to the punch press, a machine that is used to punch holes in leather. In the case of an organ, there are many gaskets that need holes punched in certain places for screws to pass and wind channeling to function. Primary boxes contain three specialized gaskets with many varying sized holes in each. Although it is possible to punch these out by hand, a punch press greatly speeds things up. Arrangements were made to return with enough leather to punch 66 sets of primary box gaskets (198 total). Thank you Jeff Weiler and Mike Jacklin for making the photo below possible...!