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MMD > Archives > December 1999 > 1999.12.03 > 11Prev  Next

Hammond Model BC Electric Organ
By A. B. Bonds

Gary Rasmussen wrote about a Hammond model BC in 991202 MMDigest.

The Hammond basic mechanism (for the big consoles) was produced
essentially unchanged from the Model A of the 1930's through the
1970's.  However, the model BC does not have the percussion feature
that is present on the B3 or C3.  This makes it rather less desirable
for lounge or jazz work, but it is still a creditable blues or church
instrument.  The percussion effect could be added with some effort.

Regrettably, the Hammond sound boxes were not particularly interest-
ing, and many have been deservedly converted to firewood.  The old
amplifiers will require replacement of filter and coupling capacitors
at the least, and some of the tubes are getting pricey, though they are
all available.  Leaky coupling caps or filter caps can cause excessive
current draw, which can blow the amplifier fuses.

The general feeling is that these amps are not worth restoration.
Leslie speakers of any vintage are, on the other hand, extremely

> We tried to 'fire it up', but couldn't get anything out of it.
> The tone generator starter operates, but when the starter switch
> was stopped the tone generators stopped.

May be a lubrication problem or a problem with the synchronous 'run'
motor.  The tone generator requires a special oil.  If it should dry
out completely, the torque load is too much for the synchronous motor.
If one or more motor windings are bad, you can get similar behavior.
These can be repaired or replaced, but at some cost.

> Can anyone give me any idea as to if there is any value in this to
> anyone?  Would you have any idea as to what it might take to get it
> operating condition?

The console might be valued at about $500 as is, especially if the
furniture is clean.  Solving its problems might be as simple as modest
cleaning and lubing, or could be much more difficult.  Hammond
servicing requires some care due to the delicacy of the wiring.  They
can be repaired by someone generally familiar with small electric
machinery and wiring but, as with any older complex instrument, great
care is advised.

Service manuals are available from the Organ Service Company in Chicago
(at least that's what they were called a couple of years ago).  This
outfit is what remains of the original Hammond company -- the current
"Hammond Organ Company" is a branch of Suzuki Instruments of Japan.

> Must this organ console be connected to a Hammond amplifier
> and speaker?  Could it be connected to a modern amplifier and
> speaker system?

As mentioned above, the latter approach is more desirable.  The organ
output is a balanced 600-ohm transformer, which can readily drive
modern amps with high-level (1 volt or so) inputs.

> I understand that old Hammond B3s, typically with a Leslie speaker,
> are still in demand for some music groups.

An understatement, as pointed out by Robbie.  Check the Theater Organ
web site classifieds for some eye-opening figures.  A well set up
system can run $10,000 or more.

> If there is a chance that if we get the organ working, without
> spending too much money on it, that the church might want to use it.
> I'm afraid, however, that this church may just want to get rid of it.

These are instruments of very high quality and are worthy of saving,
especially if in good cosmetic condition.  Most existing models are
beat up from being dragged from gig to gig.  They would cost a fortune
to reproduce, and the modern electronic "equivalents" are generally
unsatisfying in one way or another.

A. B. Bonds

(Message sent Sat 4 Dec 1999, 01:34:40 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  BC, Electric, Hammond, Model, Organ

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