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MMD > Archives > August 2004 > 2004.08.29 > 07Prev  Next

Mystery Fair Organ Plays Wurlitzer 165 Music Rolls
By Jack M. Conway

Hi Group,  Fred Dahlinger sent the following email and offered to send
copies of photos showing the Kempf family operation with the organ.
I have tried to send two of these photos to Robbie for the MMD Photo

Much to my delight the organ plays!  Ron Sanchez checked out the organ
and freed up some dried lubricant.  The organ was then turned on and
Wow!  It needs tuning but what a powerful organ.  After the first tune
ended I grabbed my tape recorder and taped "You'll Never Walk Alone"
and "Fiddler On The Roof."

About this time the manager of the storage facility showed up in his
golf cart to tell me that people were calling to complain about the
"noise."  Much to my disappointment we had to shut it down.  We did
hear three tunes on a powerful organ that had not played in about 18

Thanks again for everyone's help,

Jack M. Conway, Los Angeles, California, USA

 - - -

Your "mystery" organ is an older import to the U. S.  It was once
owned by the Kempf family that had scale model attractions on traveling
carnival midways from the 1910s to the 1930s.  It was returned to their
Michigan home until sold to a collector, Jim Miller, Manistee, Michigan,
and then sold several times again to Louis Suierveld and Jim Westcott.
The Wurlitzer 165 modification is likely a later conversion.

The facade style suggests the 1880s to 1890s, but many made similar
organs.  One older print that I have says "North Tonawanda" on the
back, but that may simply have been a previous roll conversion
notation.  NTMIW [North Tonowanda Musical Instrument Works] converted
many European organs to roll operation before they closed their doors.
I do have some 1930s-era photos that show the organ, one reveals the
original top piece and the previous (added) drum wings.

The trombones, case construction (such as the design of the feet),
and particularly the details of the case handles are of the Wilhelm
Bruder Sons style.  The handles specifically match those of a Model 79,
48-keyless, I once owned, as well as others that I've inspected.
Surely it was a barrel organ when constructed, as confirmed by the
case hole.

The best confirmation on builder would be if you can provide a serial
number from the crankshaft or elsewhere, or check inside the pump or
valve chests for any notations.  Locate and send that info and then
maybe I can assist you further.

Fred Dahlinger

(Message sent Sun 29 Aug 2004, 16:44:31 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  165, Fair, Music, Mystery, Organ, Plays, Rolls, Wurlitzer

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