Anatomy of a WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ

The first actions toward rebuilding.

The first thing I did when the organ arrived was not to stand up the main chest and put all the pipes in it.

I took about a month to just to look, think about what I had got into, rearrange things into more convenient piles, think and look some more.

The instrument had been fully functioning before it was packed and it was suggested that I could just put it back together and have it playing quickly. There was the problem that I did not actually have somewhere to put it immediately but on close inspection it was clear that although most of the original leather was still in fair condition there was some that was showing its age and it could be reasonably expected that all of it would start failing within the not far enough distant future. It would certainly be better to do a complete rebuild before it was installed than to put it together and then spend forever pulling things apart and fixing them as they fail.

Being one of those who is interested in working on these instruments who does not play them the option of creating a lifetime hobby by taking the quick install option would probably have some advantage but I did decide that it would be better for the instrument to do everything first, properly, and expect a number of years after the eventual installation with minimal maintenance problems to occupy my time. While the idea of having the instrument up and playing sooner rather than later always has appeal the ideal of having the instrument in the best condition possible was more appealling.

The plan was to do a total rebuild to the highest possible standards to as-new, or better, condition with no pressure of any planned completion date. While having the instrument finished the sooner the better is true the project was still a hobby to be enjoyed and not to be a burden which it could become if time limits were set. The long term benefits of doing it right are always going to outweigh any short term benefits of doing it quick.

The rebuild was to replace all leather, and other coverings, all felt, except where the felt was in “as-new” condition and no better replacement material was available, and all wood to be refinished, or finished for the first time where necessary, and generally repair, refurbish or replace everything.

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