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MMD > Archives > October 2015 > 2015.10.31 > 02Prev  Next


Wurlitzer Duplex Roll Mechanism Explained
By Matthew Caulfield

Anybody who has watched a Wurlitzer duplex roll frame band organ
operate has got to be impressed by the mechanism, both mechanical and
pneumatic, that accomplishes the task.  All Wurlitzer's larger band
organ models (Styles 153, 157, 165, and up) are equipped with this
engineering marvel.  But to study it in operation and to understand how
it works is difficult because, when it works, some of the operations
happen so fast that they are hard to analyze.

Michael Jones, a retired medical doctor in Cherry Hill, New Jersey,
with a strong interest in carousels and band organs, has put together
a PowerPoint presentation, consisting of more than a hundred slides,
analyzing and explaining the way the Wurlitzer duplex roll frame
system works.  In several visits to Joe Hilferty's restoration shop
in York, Pennsylvania, and two trips to Seabreeze Park in Rochester,
New York, Michael was able to study and photograph the insides of
several Wurlitzer 153 and 165 band organs being worked on by Joe as
well as the Seabreeze Verbeeck 165 organ, containing an original
Wurlitzer duplex mechanism.

The engineering involved in Wurlitzer's creation of the mechanism
is really impressive because several different operations must be
automatically changed synchronously between the two roll frames:
mechanical operations like starting and stopping the playing of the
rolls, their rewinding, braking upon completion of rewind, and gear
changes (wind, rewind, idle), and also pneumatic operations that
determine which of the two tracker bars reads its moving roll and
which tracker bar is muted as its played roll rewinds and then stops,
awaiting its turn to play.

I do not know who designed the Wurlitzer system, but he was brilliant.
Although I have watched the system operate since the 1950's when I was
a teen-ager and have in more recent years maintained Seabreeze Park's
mechanism, it wasn't until I viewed Michael Jones' PowerPoint CD that
the sheer genius of its design hit me.

Michael is offering his CD to interested organizations and individuals,
although he does not really want to get into the distribution business,
preferring to leave that to AMICA or MBSI or another interested entity.
For further information, he can be contacted at

  mrckmmj@hotmail.com.geentroep (delete ".geentroep" when replying)

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York


(Message sent Sat 31 Oct 2015, 14:19:41 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Duplex, Explained, Mechanism, Roll, Wurlitzer

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