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MMD > Archives > June 2017 > 2017.06.14 > 02Prev  Next

History of North Tonawanda Band Organs
By Matthew Caulfield

Ellen Thomsen is asking some good questions for a beginner who wants
to know more about band organs made in the U.S.  A fine book to start
with is Ron Bopp's "The American Carousel Organ."  Its history of the
various companies, its pictures of their organs, and its specifications
for the various models produced will tell Ellen a lot of what she wants
to know.

And, of course, Q. David Bowers' bible of mechanical music, "Encyclopedia
of Automatic Musical Instruments," is the comprehensive reference book
on the subject, although you may have to go to your local library to
find it.

Ellen's second question is about Wurlitzer roll lists.  The place to
start is my online Wurlitzer 165 roll catalog 
That will give links to my other Wurlitzer band organ roll lists:
styles 125, 150, and 180.  The 125 roll catalog is actually a PDF copy,
made for me by Terry Smythe, of Mike Grant's Wurlitzer 125 roll
catalog, available (if at all) only in paper form.  The online version
being in PDF form makes revising it very difficult; so major revisions
and additions have been made by adding an HTML section to the PDF
catalog.  But, in spite of this PDF awkwardness, it is the place to go
for Wurlitzer 125 roll information.

Ellen's last question is about repairing tears in rolls and how to
fasten the end of a roll to its spool core.  The fact that old tape on
the rolls is falling off cleanly suggests that previous repairs were
made using ordinary dime-store cellophane ("Scotch") tape rather than
archival-quality tape used by libraries for book repair.  Ellen could
continue to use "Scotch" tape, which will probably last for her
lifetime.  Or she could research in the MMD archives for better ways
of mending old rolls.

When fastening the end of a roll to its spool core, a mistake
sometimes made is to glue or tape the entire free end of the paper to
the core or to anchor it in several spots for "security."  The correct
way of fastening is to use a short piece of tape, say three inches or
so, and to apply it to the roll paper and the core perpendicular to the
axis of the core.  This allows the paper to move a bit as it begins
to wind itself on the core, adjusting itself so that its axis and the
core's axis are in harmony.

There is probably a better way of explaining this, and maybe some
other MMDer will respond here with that better way.  But in one word,
flexibility is the key.

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York

(Message sent Wed 14 Jun 2017, 13:56:49 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Band, History, North, Organs, Tonawanda

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