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by Dr. Bill Black

After a few rebuilds on the stack, the screw holes in the deck board which serve to attach the valve board to the pneumatic deck board get stripped out. It is tempting to use a larger screw to get another bite on the stripped holes. Doing this without first enlarging the hole on the valve board can cause the wood to split between the holes in the valve board. The result is a crossover vacuum leak between the two adjacent pneumatics. If the leak is bad enough, the adjacent pneumatic will operate and two notes will play at the same time. To repair this and use the valve board again, we use a vertical mill to route out the wood around the screw holes. New wood is glued in place. PHOTO A.

In PHOTO B, the new wood repair has been sanded flush with the face of the board and new holes drilled large enough to accommodate the new screws without splitting the wood.

In PHOTO C, the valve unit board has been sanded, refinished and the leather gaskets for the metal valve units have been attached to the board with shellac. The brass nipples have also been removed, cleaned and reinstalled with shellac to seal the joints.

PHOTO D. The metal valve units are being assembled and screwed to the board. After they have been attached, the excess pouch leather is trimmed with an exacto knife. Before the valves were assembled, the metal parts were cleaned and sprayed with a light coat of spray paint called Detail Gray. This product is sold by EASTWOOD who makes things for the automobile restoration folks. This paint produces a finish which looks like a fresh metal casting. Very nice look..

PHOTO E shows the finished valve portion of the pneumatic stack. Next we will recover the pneumatics. PHOTO F shows the old pneumatics on the deck board.

PHOTO G. After the removal of the old pneumatics, a section of old newspaper is uncovered. The previous restorer used this newspaper between the pneumatics and the deck board. I tried to preserve this as best I could until I could see if there would be any information as to dates and locations giving clues as to where the machine had been in the past. But, no dates could be found, just a lot of advertisements. Still there was some useful information. There were references to Shipshawana and LaGrange, both in Indiana. Also, US Route 20 which runs thru there. Ads for one half gallon of ice cream for 59 cents, 2 loaves of bread for 39 cents. These prices would be in the 1960s era and perhaps the restoration work was done in Indiana around that time. When the cover for the access hole in the vacuum pump reservoir was previously removed there was also some newspaper visible. As mentioned before there were no dates but there were several mentions of a town called Penn Hills and Pennsylvania. This town is located in the Pittsburgh PA area. Perhaps the pump work was done later in that area sometime after the stack work was done. After getting the info from the newspaper, it was removed from the deck board.

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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