Anatomy of a WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ
Why I wanted an instrument of around this size.
I am practical. (You need to be to get into this business)
The three things everyone needs when they start a pipe organ restoration project
are time, space and money.
The time factor does go up with the size of the instrument,
but it is not directly proportional to the number of ranks. A 3/15 is probably only
about twice the work of a 2/5 when you take into account the percussions, console,
relay and switch-stack which are not trebbled on the larger instrument. I have seen
and heard about many larger instrument projects that have run out of steam and
never got to the end so I wanted something that I could reasonably expect to
finish, properly, before I get too old to work on it or run out of steam. It is
generally accepted that no instrument is ever really finished but I want to
have an instrument that is finished and will require minimal maintenance for
a long time to come.
Space is a consideration for initial storage and workshop area as well as the
eventual installation. My garage is large enough to house maybe an 8 ranker,
with just enough space to work on it as well. With no final installation site
arranged I wanted an instrument that I could, if no public location can be found,
be put in the house without uncomfortable squeezing. I believe my spare
bedroom would take no more than a 6 rank instrument with comfort.
Money is always a problem for most of us and many people who have started
an organ project have discovered that they need much more money than they
thought they would need to spend. Any instrument much larger than 6-8
ranks would be likely to cause cash-flow problems at some time requiring
money saving cuts somewhere in the project and that would result in a
larger, but less well done, final result.
The average instrument that WurliTzer built was about 6 ranks so something
around that size would be an example of a typical theatre organ. Even though
there are many groups and individuals around the world who say they are
interested in preserving the history of the theatre organ very few are actually
preserving examples of the typical theatre organ so I thought I should take an
opportunity to do it myself.