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MMD > Archives > October 2004 > 2004.10.13 > 08Prev  Next

Construction of Wurlitzer Tracker Bar
By Julie Porter

[ Bob Stewart asked:

>> Does anybody know the construction of the style 150 tracker bar?
>> Two holes on mine have been filled with a putty type material.  When
>> trying to remove the filler, it feels like there is no brass tube in
>> that area.  Were these filled to support the brass tubes?  Can these
>> be taken apart and repaired?  Anybody got a spare one for sale?

By coincidence I received a Wurlitzer 165-note organ trackerbar today.
For practical reasons I am considering possibly cutting it down to band
organ scale.  (Purists should probably stop reading.)  The thing is
that there are not too many band organ tracker bars around; I know
I need a 150 scale tracker bar or two.  The 165-note bar is 17-1/8
inches long.  That is 100 notes more that the 65-note scale used in the
Wurlitzer APP/Caliola/W165 formats.

A few years ago I looked into duplicating an APP/Caliola/W165 tracker
bar.  I took it into a sheet metal shop to get an estimate.  Here is
what I was told:

The Wurlitzer tracker bars were made flat, sort of like an origami.
The ports were punched when the brass sheeting was in the flat state.
Next, the bar was put into a press where the ends were folded into a
box.  A second box was made. (Bill Black told me that the tubes were
tapered.  I think he has the machine that made these.)

The sheet metal guy said that the tubes were inserted and the inside of
the unit filled with flux and placed into an oven.  He then gave me the
name of a Silicon Valley company that still does such work.  Russ Doering
told me that after the unit was soldered the back end was machined

The sheet metal guy was gushing over the beauty of the work and indicated
that no one works to tolerances like that anymore.  To replicate such a
bar would be costly, to make the dies needed for manufacture.

Russ has a bar he showed me where there were holes drilled in the side.
Russ' feeling was that there was a problem in the manufacture and this
was the easiest way to solve the problem.  I would suggest that as the
best way to repair such a bar.  The putty type material is a flux.

Since electronic circuit boards have gone to surface mount chips,
solder paste is readily available now.  In addition there are projects
for converting infrared toaster ovens to use for reflow solder.
Interesting how such things cycle around.

At a Southern California band organ rally one of the members had a
Wurlitzer 103; I think it was the last unit off the line.  This unit
has extra holes outside of the 125 scale playing area.  It is
interesting how a company that built things to tolerance tended to
recycle and fit parts where needed, even to the cost of a cosmetic
blemish we moderns find abhorrent.

For now, the 17-1/8-inch-long tracker bar is safe in storage with my
other parts.  Somewhere down the road, when I assemble a 146 out of the
pipes and parts I have, I may use it.  Of course I am open to offers
should someone have some 65-note or other band organ scale (W125 or
W150) tracker bars for trade.

Julie Porter

(Message sent Wed 13 Oct 2004, 04:06:09 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Bar, Construction, Tracker, Wurlitzer

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