From: Terry Hochmuth, January 2006
I can add some background and firsthand experience to the Kirk Whitcombe story as
I worked for/with him right at the time that I got out of high school back in 1970.
He first had a small Morton/Kimball/Wurlitzer that he "portabilized" which went by the wayside
in favor of the Elsinore 3/13 Wurlitzer which, as I recall, he purchased from the
son (or grandson) of the theatre's owner, a Mr. Guthrie.
The organ was actually a rebuild/reformat of an earlier Wurlitzer instrument, the
Oregon Theatre in Salem, OR (Opus 241 - 185SP - 1919)
The factory took back the Oregon organ and what came back was the 3/13.
The resulting Opus 1257 had an interesting stoplist:
8' Viol d'Orchestre
8' Viol Celeste
16' Diaphonic Diapason
8' Vox Humana
8' English Horn
8' Orchestral Oboe
8' Solo String
16' Tibia Clausa
16' Harmonic Tuba
The solo-scale Tibia Clausa was planted on what appeared to be a 10"-scale tibia chest.
The bottom 2 pipes on each end of the tibia manual chest had their toeholes bored over to the
corner of the bottom of the pipe rather than in the center to be able to be planted on the
smaller-scale manual chest. Most of those 4 pipes physically 'hung over' the ends of the chest.
There was a percussion chamber with the standard tuned percussions, including marimba harp,
and an upright pressure piano and a VERY complete set of traps - all totally original -
and included such things as an individual action cow bell, individual-action tom-tom drum
(not ! the single stroke of the snare) and others.
It was a double-stoprail console and each division (pedal, accomp, great and solo) had a
blank stop tablet in both the top and bottom rows of stops. There was also a pair of
corresponding 61-note spreaders, each with 2 switches, (wired at 8' unison) on a little
seperate switch stack in the relay.
I first got involved with the organ just out of high school in 1970. I worked with Kirk for
quite a while in readying the instrument to 'go on the road'. His original vision was to
make it entirely portable and go on a cross-country concert trip.
He researched the interstate highway bridge clearances in the midwest and east and took
all of that information into account in his design of the 'chambers' which were all
steel-skeletoned structures sided in 3/4' plywood. The truck trailers were of
the 'low clearance' type that are generally ! seen in transporting heavy equipment.
At one point, being strapped for funds for the project (including my pay), he traded me
some of my hours for the Wurlitzer Krumet! This was actually the first Wurlitzer that I
ever had anything to do with. I recall that one of the things that he was adamant in
doing was to wind the 8' octaves of each of the 4 strings to the manual/tremmed
regulators - he had a 'thing' about 8' strings on trem (he said that they sounded 'hairy'!) - so I did what he wanted!
Each of the 3 chambers were interconnected with amphenol-type multi-pin connectors which
he had spliced (not soldered) into the original chamber and console
cables (that proved to be very unreliable), and 12" orgaflex. Each was connected to
the 4th chamber box which held the relay and switchstacks as well as the 2 blowers - the
original Elsinore blower plus a brand-new 7.5hp Spencer which he had custom made for the organ.
The original blower's output went into a large wooden 'junction box' which had flanges for
the orgaflex to the individual chambers and the input for the new Spencer fed from that
box as well - the result that was the output of the new Spencer was somewhere around 50"!
This high pressure was used solely to wind the 32' Diaphones which were laid out in 2
large stacks - one upon the other.
The 32' resonators were made by Kirk using 2 plys of 3/4" plywood, glued together and
banded with steel banding tape at regular intervals. I am not sure where the vibrators
themselves came from (they may have been the Portland Liberty). He had a sleeping bag
in the CCCC pipe and often used that as as his sleeping quarters.
The organ was assembled in the upper level of a huge Scandanavian-built barn in the middle
of a meadow in Issaquah, WA (about an hour or so west of Seattle) across from a small
private airfield. Being that it was on the upper level, large doors were cut in the
rear of the barn and a forklift was required to lift each section up and down.
While the 'chambers' were in the barn, we used large jacks to lift the boxes up and
then inserted 3' diameter steel pipes under the chambers and used prybars to move the
boxes around. Once setup, the whole arrangement was pretty impressive - the main and
solo chambers were fronted by a set of 16' Open Diapason pipes which came from on old
Austin organ in Seattle. Kirk had Balcom and Vaughan build brand new chests for this
pipework as well as an octave or so of 8' Hope Jones diapasons that sat up on the
top of the chambers - it was a sort of "Wizard of Oz" effect . The console sat in
the middle and the percussion chamber to the left, the 32' diaphones to the right - the
blower/relay box sat center behind the main and solo.
The plan for a cross-country trip never materialized, but we did take the organ down to the
Seattle Center (site of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair) on several occasions for rock concerts.
The main idea behind the organ was to use it as a part of rock-and-roll music.
In March, 1971, we moved the instrument from the barn to an industrial warehouse in
South Seattle (which we shared with a rose and flower-packaging plant).
More work was done on the instrument there which was a far better location than the
unheated barn - this warehouse actually had heat! Most of the work was related to
the badly-engineered wiring connections. The instrument was fairly playable in this
location, although, mostly due to the wiring, it never functioned all that well.
The acoustics in that cavernous concrete building were great!
The organ eventually went into the old Odd Fellows Hall in Carnation, WA which was
used as a nightclub called "Goliath's Pit". The venture eventually failed and the
organ was removed. I do not know what ever became of the instrument.
From: Terry Hochmuth, July 2009
The Krumet went into the Maloof ex-Roxy organ when I put it in The Classic Hotel in Albuquerque, NM in 1983.
I do not know if it ended up in one of Phil's other instruments or is still with the 5-manual console or what.