Anatomy of a WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ


Here are 3 of the Manual Chest Rack Boards before, during and after refinishing.

Most of the timber was in relatively good condition with 70 years of dirt and grim on it. After sanding back to bare wood I applied fresh Shellac to replicate the original finish.

Some will suggest that a wipe with a damp cloth is all that is needed. Others suggest a light sand and a fresh coat of shellac will do a good job. I chose to do the everything as completely as possible and so I removed all old shellac, and the dirt, and started again. This also provided the opportunity to tidy up some of the surfaces that missed out on being sanded to remove the saw marks the first time and to remove most of the small imperfections that had been gained over the years.

The original finish is believed to have been one coat of shellac sprayed on. I did not have space for a spray booth so I applied several coats of shellac with a brush, sanding, or scraping with a blade, between each coat. This takes a lot more time, but does produce a finer finish. Before the final coat the surface was sanded with very fine paper and Linseed Oil. The oil helps seal the surface, produces a smoother surface, and helps the final coat spread evenly.

The number of coats varied depending on each piece of wood. Generally there are between 3 and 8 coats.

The Opus Number (2027) can be seen stamped into the "during" and "after" examples next to the rank name. This, unfortunately, was not original WurliTzer practice so most instruments or parts can only be identified by the few hand written notes inside some of the major components that indicated the planned destination of the instrument. All parts of 2027 will now be readily identifyable, if at some time in the future they are ever seperated.


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