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by Dr. Bill Black


During the beginning of this project we sent the brass pipework to a company which refinishes musical instruments. There were a few small dents in several pipes. These were removed and the brass polished and lacquered. When they were finished, they were beautiful. We are now at the point were we can turn our attention to the pipework.

During the polishing procedure, the mouths of the pipes were filled up with the polishing compound. Removal of the this material proved to be time consuming. I used a solvent applied with a small brush, being careful not to remove the nice lacquered finish, along with a thin metal strip with small teeth on the edge.

As luck would have it, a problem appeared with one of the pipes. The metal disc forming the mouth of the pipe broke loose at the internal solder joints while cleaning out the mouth. In PHOTO A, you can see that disc is loose. In order to repair the solder joints, itıs necessary to remove the lower portion of the pipe. In PHOTO B, this portion of the pipe has been taken apart. We now have the top portion of the pipe with the spacers still attached, the lower portion and the disc in pieces. Before taking it apart, the height of the cutup was noted so we can reassemble it to the correct dimension.


PHOTO C shows a top view of the disc. Apparently, some kind of punch was used to produce a series of cuts in the disc which left one side of the cut intact and the center portion bent down to form sort of a leg. These cuts are filled with solder in the picture. PHOTO D shows the underside of the disc with the small legs visible.

PHOTO E shows the area where the disc was soldered to the lower part of the pipe. You can see where the legs were attached. Happily, the broken solder joints provided an index for positioning the disc for resoldering. I cleaned the old solder out of the cuts in the disc, positioned the legs of the disc in the old solder joint below. Carefully heating the disc with a torch in the area of one leg at a time, I flowed the new solder into the cut in the disc which flowed down the leg onto the solder below to create a new solder joint.


This worked very well and the disc is now resoldered to the lower portion of the pipe. PHOTO F shows the finished repair with the cuts on the top of the disc soldered closed to prevent air from escaping from these holes. To complete the repair to the pipe, the upper part of the pipe is resoldered in the correct relation to the bottom piece. The problem created with the repair was that part of the nice lacquer finish on the pipe was cooked off and new lacquer had to be applied to the repaired area.

Next month, we will install the pipework.

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 Gift Shop .

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