by Dr. Bill Black


This month we will complete the disassembly of the calliope. In Photo A, we see the keyboard. The keyboard is mounted on a frame and the whole unit can be easily removed in one piece after the linkage is removed from each metal finger on the underside of each key.

As I began to remove the screws which hold the wooden sides to the angle iron frame, I was shocked to see the one side of the angle iron spring out at the top. It was displaced outward over an inch at the top. Closer examination shows a kink in the angle iron about a quarter of the way up from the bottom. Apparently at some time, the machine was dropped over on the side or something gave it a pretty good whack. This blow was enough to bend the frame, but the wooden sides and all the other attachments to the sides held the machine in the proper shape, but the frame, I imagine, was under stress for a long time. PHOTO B shows this bent out angle iron.

PHOTO C shows the pressure relief valve located on top of the pressure reservoir. This valve is located on the keyboard side of the machine. There is a lever which extends through the side of the case which allows the operator to open this valve in order to spill off pressure and take some of the strain off of the blower when the calliope is not being played. The valve is spring loaded and when the pressure reaches a certain value, the pressure pushes the valve open to spill off excess pressure.

In PHOTO D we have removed the shelf which holds the roll frame and the air motor. The vacuum reservoir is located under this shelf and is mounted on top of the pressure reservoir. The large pipe in the lower left corner is the inlet for pressure from the blower. The two large vertical pipes on the right side are the pressure feeds from the top of the pressure tank to the windchest.

PHOTO E shows a closeup of the pressure tank inlet. In the bottom of the picture we can see another instance where wedges were employed as a means to mount and retain the pressure tank in the angle iron frame. Two wedges are used and tapped into place to wedge the tank in place. Then a screw is inserted through the angle iron frame into the wedges which locks them in place. This wedging technique is also used on the sides of the tank.

In PHOTO F, we have disassembled the calliope with only the pressure tank still remaining in the angle iron frame. The angle iron frame is welded together and the pressure tank is fabricated from sheet metal and soldered together. The tank also has reinforcing struts soldered inside to enhance the stability of the tank when it is under pressure.


Next month we will begin to restore the parts.

Dr. Bill Black is one of the nation's most knowledgeble Wurlitzer band organ experts. He has made recordings of many band organs and other mechanical music machines which are available for purchase in our CarouselStores.com website.