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.

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