To John and Roc...


My comments here come from having worked on and restored 11 ranks of

original Wurlitzer primary-less chests (and dozens of standard ranks too!).

I do not profess to be the world's foremost expert, but I have been around

theatre pipe organs since 1962. (just for the record) So.....

As mentioned, the "sluggishness" of these actions does not come from the

attack - it comes from the release. If you think about how the secondary

pneumatic is responsible for pushing the spoon or sticker attached to the

pallet valve over which the pipe ultimately sits, I believe you will agree

that the distance travelled by the secondary when collapsed (and hence the

sticker) is directly related to the opening of that pallet valve.

I guess another way of saying it is that once

the secondary pneumatic (or in the case of primary-less, these would be the ONLY

pneumatics!) collapses, the closer the sticker or spoon is to that bumper on the

pneumatic, the wider the opening will be when the pallet valve moves. What you

want here is to minimize that opening and to maximize the lost motion between the

sticker and the bumper.

Here's why: If that sticker is adjusted very close to the bumper, you run the

risk of "wheeper's" or tiny ciphers caused by the pallet valve being ever so

slightly depressed and allowing a tiny amount of wind to pass through into the

pipe. Sometimes these can cause a full blown "cipher" which is a son-of-a-gun

to diagnose since nothing else in the chest appears to be at fault. It gets

worse if the magnet also has a tiny leak (which unfortunately can happen even

in the best of maintained organs). So.... CAREFULLY bend the sticker (or spoon)

AWAY from that pneumatic bumper as FAR as you can while still allowing that pallet

valve to open just a little (can't tell you exactly how much - this comes from

experimenting) while the pneumatic is fully collapsed. Believe it or not, 1/4"

or less between the top of the pallet valve and the underside of the topboard is

about right. One might think that the pipe would not speak properly with that

small of a pallet valve opening. However, it will sing out just fine!! Even

the diapasons and tibias will get plenty of wind under these circumstances.

Don't forget that the total area of wind needed for that pipe to properly speak

is predetermined by the slit in the top board and the opening of that channel

leading to the pipe toe. (of course the very large pipes at the end of a chest

or any offsets will need a bit more clearance).

The reason this helps speed up a primaryless chest is that once the note is released,

the pneumatic cannot relax fast enough (or as fast as a secondary on a "standard"

chest) due to the smaller square area of the opening in the magnet base. While

a primary-less chest magnet has a larger port than a standard chest, the total

opening is somewhat smaller than that of the primary valve assembly which allows

a bit more wind to pass back into the secondary... which of course allows that

secondary to snap back quicker.

By maximizing that lost motion as described above, you are shortening the distance

that pallet valve must travel when it closes and therefore it takes less time to

totally close off, and the pipe stops speaking more quickly.

Now having said all this, I must tell you that the standard chests (properly

rebuilt) do have a better chance of being faster than these very late types

- BUT... by adjusting them this way, they will be very noticeably faster than

if they are NOT adjusted this way - of this I can guarantee! Before making

these changes, a trill of two notes often blended into what seemed like two

notes actually being held down - UGH! But now, trill away and you get just

what your fingers expect - a trill!

One more comment. I mentioned that you must move these stickers (spoons) very

carefully. No kidding. Especially if one is doing this in a chest that is

installed in place. I found the best way was to hold the pallet valve closed

with a finger of one hand, and very gently pursuade that sticker away from the

pnuematic bumper with a finger from the other hand. This way one runs a smaller

risk of popping the pallet valve off of its spot.... and minimizing a very

frustrating job of placing it back. In the treble end of the chest (closer

to the center, of course) in narrower ranks - strings, slim reeds, etc) I found

carefully holding a screw driver (with a removable pencil eraser on the end to

avoid digging into that 70 year old pallet valve wood) helped a lot. Remember,

too - that if you gently push the sticker, it WILL move and stay put. But be

careful not to split the wood where it is attached to the pallet! As careful as

I was - I had to remove about 1/2 dozen pallets and re-glue the stickers in

place.... but not too bad considering there were about 700 in total!

Well - that's about it. Like I said, these chests seem to work just fine - they

are a lot lighter to move, cipher less often, are quieter, and frankly, I am sold

on them. But then - I can't play "Dizzy Fingers" or "Roller Coaster" as lightening

fast as they were meant to be played!

By the way.... if you are interested, the organ in which these chests reside was

recorded by Walt Strony - his label # WSOC-2N, and it's called "By Request".

I dont know if it is available to the public or not... but his version of Tico Tico

which is pretty darned quick shows off the responsiveness of the organ - primaryless

chests and all! Also - if you're interested - and you get the Theatre Organ magazine,

check out Kenny Crome's ad - there is a photo I took of the console to this organ -

it's a replica of the ex-Brooklyn Paramount, now L.I.U. Wurlitzer console - Kenny

did a fabulous job! Good luck - let me know if you have any success!

Doug Powers