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by Dr. Bill Black

PHOTO A shows the unrestored stack valve unit. The deck board with the pneumatics has been removed. The metal valve units were Wurlitzers last valve design. Each metal unit contains four valves. These work very well but have a common problem relating to the nature of the metal they used. Apparently cast with some type of pot metal they have a tendency to warp over time. The attachment method to the valve board is with three screws running through the centers of the top piece. Perhaps if they had used some reinforcement ribs on the top piece this might have made it more stable.

PHOTO B shows the disassembled valve. The top piece contains four pouches, the middle section and the bottom piece contains the movable portion of the valves which are mounted on small posts. These movable portions of the valves are faced with leather and are not adjustable. Each union of the three parts uses a blotter paper type gasket.

In PHOTO C, someone made an on-site repair of a note which was playing continuously. A piece of masking tape was used to cover the vacuum hole supplying the vacuum to the pneumatic which operated that note. The result is that this note no longer plays. Before the restoration, the test roll showed several dead notes. This is the cause of one of them.

In PHOTO D, the old pouch leather has been removed. Note the debris in the wells which has accumulated over the years. This material has entered through the tracker bar. Usually a fine screen is used between the bar and the mounting block to catch paper dust from the music roll but some very fine dust can pass through the screen.

We need to true up the surfaces of the parts which will be joined together to obtain the best possible leak free vacuum joints. In PHOTO E, we have used a piece of fine sand paper over a piece of glass to give us a flat surface. A few passes over the paper with the metal piece shows where the high spots and low spots are due to warping. This has also been done to the middle piece. PHOTO F.

PHOTO G. We continue to carefully sand these surfaces until we have removed the high spots and achieve a flat surface. The sanding is finished off with very fine emery paper. Next month, more on the valve units.

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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