Anatomy of a WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ

SWITCHSTACK Action

Installing the secondary pneumatics.

This must be close to the most awkward operation involved in a WurliTzer restoration.

There is little space between the top boarb and the pneumatic rail in which to work. I chose to glue the pneumatic gaskets in place on the pneumatic rail before the top board was put in place. The connecting wire needs to be attached to the pneumatic and doing that before glueing the pneumatic in place enables much more movement to twist the pneumatic around and get the hook on the pneumatic through the loop on the connecting wire. The hook can then be closed up to prevent it from slipping out.

Once everything is connected you just need to glue the pneumatic down. I applied the glue to the gaskets because you then know exactly where it needs to go. The problem is the lack of space which does not make it easy to get the glue in there, or see where it is going.

The photo was taken verically downwards, so the chest is actually sitting on its back, tilted slightly so that the glue does not run off the gaskets too fast. Having the chest horizontal, near eye level, would have been easier for the glueing phase but would make it more difficult to connect the wires. It does not seem possible to connect all the wires and then glue them all because of the even greater restriction in working space and switching from vertical to horizontal for each pneumatic would be difficult so a compromise seemed to be the only practical choice.

Simple tools were used to hold things out of the way as much as possible. Clothes pegs to keep the connecting wires out of the way until needed, and callipers helped hold the pneumatic closed while the glue was applied.

It would be interesting to see how it was done in the factory.

Getting the chest apart was much easier. I just removed all the pneumatics from their rail and removed them with the top board. Unfortunately two actions had been added previously and those pneumatics were attached with PVA glue WITHOUT GASKETS! There was no way to seperate them from the board so the leather was cut apart and only the top half was removed with the top board. The lower half of those pneumatics were removed from the rail with a plane.

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