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MMD > Archives > June 2001 > 2001.06.04 > 14Prev  Next


Replicating Spool Frames
By Julie Porter

Don Teach wrote:

> Wurlitzer roll frames have been replicated in the past ten years
> or so.  The patterns do exist.  I think that the pattern cost and
> machining cost are obtainable for a more reasonable price than has
> been expressed in the past MMD.

Who? When? What??  Ten years in the Silicon Valley is a long time.
Ten months is even longer.  Ten minutes is the longest.

This is what patterns cost in the 21st century.  Call up Steve Laniak
and ask him how much quality patterns cost in this day and age.  Call
Doyle Lane and ask him where the Tussing patterns are.

I want names, places and the phone numbers of the folk out there who
have replicated Wurlitzer frames.

I want better prices than what is given in this don-com over-hyped
over-inflated economy.  (It's not a recession, it's an over-inflation.)

I had a cast iron and the aluminum plate with me.  The pattern maker
said that someone took the time to make the pattern for the aluminum
variation.  Who did these replications?  Was this something Mike Kitner
did "for friends" or was it to provide parts to a wider audience?

I own all of Mike Kitner's aluminum castings.  I did not get any
patterns except for some used to make cast iron brackets for the
Wurlitzer Duplex speed governor. I have a dozen or so duplex shift
levers in iron, enough for about 5 units.

> I have found that if I make parts in lots of 100 or more then the
> price is reasonable.  I made Wurlitzer 5-tune changer spool chucks
> and sell them for $50.00 each.  The quotes I had from another source
> put them at $125.00 each for my cost in lots of six.  I made 200 of
> them for $50.00 each and I think that is reasonable.

If I wanted to make 100 Wurlitzer frames I could probably do it for
$450.00 a set.  I would also have a warehouse full of parts for the
rest of my life.

The tooling cost for 1, 5, 100, 1000, or 1 million units is the same:
it's the time it takes to program the part and debug it, and most of
the time is in the latter.  I got Mike Kitner's kit for making changer
chucks, which is a lot simpler than the changer proper, for which I got
many parts.

> I have not experienced problems with squeaks in my original Wurlitzer
> rolls frames.  I think a nice reproduction should be made, and I
> suggest that if one wants to build a copy of a Wurlitzer band organ,
> then go the extra step to copy it exactly, roll frame and all.

I think Robbie, who came up with this phrase "squeaks like the
original", used it more of an expression of accuracy than of action.

 [ That's what the proud car owner said as he patted his
 [ replica '47 Ford woody!  ;-)  -- Robbie

On this I much agree:  If one takes the time to replicate, re-construct
and repair, the result should have as much of the "charm" as the
original has.  Otherwise one should invest in an anechoic chamber
and strap himself into the webbing and listen to recordings with bass
boosted and treble clipped.  Interpreted by an engineer who knows just
how things sound.

I have found, in the noise of the dot-com era, that the best success
is to specialize and concentrate on one thing.  For me that is the
Wurlitzer band organs.  This does not mean that I do not enjoy the
musical boxes or piano shaped objects that created the expression
"More bells and whistles!"

I have no problem emotionally or ethically.  I even think it would be
fun to replicate the Wurlitzer duplexer with CNC aluminum plates and
Delrin gears, and PVC for the spools.  In my opinion one has gone 90
percent of the way; I think I am still asking, "Is the extra 10 percent
worth it?"

What ever happened to that other young person who found the supplier of
aircraft-quality spruce?  I have not seen his website updated in ages.
I think he was doing just this.

Julie Porter


(Message sent Mon 4 Jun 2001, 03:12:05 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Frames, Replicating, Spool

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