After Matthew Caulfield's posting in 000713 MMD about the Ontario Beach
band organ here in Rochester, I recall some other accounts of humidity
affecting band organs.
I visited the carousel at the Public Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan
in July, 1997. The Wurlitzer 157 on the carousel was out of service at
the time; an employee said the high humidity had actually caused some
of the wooden pipes to crack. The humidity there must be very high:
the carousel actually sits directly over the river, in an extension
of the museum building supported by pillars going down into the water.
When I visited the Herschell Museum in North Tonawanda a couple of
winters ago, they said they could not run the organ on the carousel
until it got over 50% humidity inside the roundhouse.
Incidentally, at the North Tonawanda organ rally last year, I remember
that Larry Kern's custom trailer for his Stinson 165 included two small
fans blowing toward the roll frames of the organ. This probably only
affected the temperature, though.
So there are definitely instances of humidity adversely affecting band
organs, but here at Ontario Beach Park it apparently harms the paper of
the music rolls. There have been many carousels (with band organs) at
waterfront parks, such as Coney Island, the New Jersey boardwalks, and
on the California coast; it seems like humidity would cause problems
for many band organs and their rolls.
[ Certainly organs with both reed pipes and flue pipes suffer
[ intonation problems as the air density changes. But should
[ a well-built pipe crack due to high relative humidity? Wurlitzer
[ band organ rolls were made with paper designed to minimize
[ dimensional changes due to changing with humidity. What could be
[ the true causes of the problems these band organs experience?
[ -- Robbie