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MMD > Archives > January 2001 > 2001.01.02 > 01Prev  Next

Golden Gate Park Carousel Organ, San Francisco
By Bruce Pier

Yes, until recently the Gebruder Bruder organ in Golden Gate Park
played music books.  I know because my partner and I provided them.

The organ had been previously in the collection of Mike Argain of
Fresno.  When the carousel was restored back in the 1980's the friend's
group arranged to purchase it (for what turned out to be a highly
inflated price -- too many middle men).  The books were originally from
copies from Jerry Doring's organ.

About ten years ago I approached the San Francisco Parks Department
about replacing the existing books, as they were pretty worn out.  My
partner and I had access to a Bossmann punch and had made arrangements
to obtain ready to punch books from Germany.  We were given the
contract and proceeded to punch what turned out to be four 90-meter

After a couple of years the parks people started complaining that the
books were falling apart.  We drove up to San Francisco from San Diego
and investigated.  It turns out that the klavier needed to be rebuilt.
The transit rollers were shot, as were the associated bearings.  They
declined to have the work done (and refused to pay for our service

Next thing we hear is that the organ is at Erb Engineering.  Whether
he chose to put the roll frames on it, or the parks people did, I don't
know.  I think it was a poor choice nonetheless.  If they didn't want
to rework the klavier, a MIDI system would have been the better choice.
There are a great many organ and carousel people upset with what was
done to that organ.

I take care of an antique carousel here in San Diego.  It has on it
the organ that was bought new for it in 1914.  It is a Gebruder Bruder
model 107, very similar to the one at Golden Gate Park.  It still plays
endless books, and with a little preventive maintenance performs well
daily.  It plays the same books as the one in San Francisco did, so I
know what these instruments are capable of.

Both organs are Gebruder Bruder Model 107, 52 keyless.  The organ on
the carousel at Seaport Village, San Diego, was purchased new for that
machine in 1914.  It has the original facade (which can be seen in
Bowers' Encyclopedia, and is identical to Ron Bopp's organ, for those
of you who have seen it).

The Golden Gate Park organ in San Francisco is about the same vintage,
as I recall, maybe slightly newer.  Its facade is apparently what the
German showmen preferred, as I have seen photos of many model 107s
in Germany and Holland with this facade.  (It is very similar to the
facade of the Wilhelm Bruder Model 79.)

I could go on quite a bit more about this, but I think I'll end this
here before I get carried away.

Bruce Pier

(Message sent Mon 1 Jan 2001, 18:55:36 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Carousel, Francisco, Gate, Golden, Organ, Park, San

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