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MMD > Archives > October 2004 > 2004.10.14 > 01Prev  Next

Golden Gate Park Carousel Organ, San Francisco
By Alan Erb

Recently I received forwarded comments (from three years ago), relating
to the San Francisco Childrens Playground Organ.  These discussions
indicate some confusion relating to work accomplished on the organ,
and as I did the work, I will briefly outline the facts:

Earlier postings included:

>> "Yes, until recently the Gebrueder Bruder organ in Golden Gate Park
>> played music books..."

>> "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 call).  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."

When I was first shown the organ in 1995, there was very little
book with it, and what was there was very worn, torn, and unplayable.
I was told that the music book for the organ had been taken for repair
by repair people, but had never been returned to the city.  The organ
itself was in poor shape as well and was not playable.  Wood pipes were
marked up with red and black magic marker!

I was told that, in the restoration of the organ, it was required that
it be converted to play the more common and easily obtainable Wurlitzer
150 music.  In response, as a reputable collector and restorer of these
items, I advised of the down side of this approach, and offered either
a 153 Wurlitzer or a 165 scale organ as an alternative.  I also looked
into MIDI control but was told that the [Gebrueder Bruder] Model 100
52-key scale, with part of the melody/countermelody on a switching
function, did not lend itself well to MIDI control (at least at that
time).  It turned out that a "different looking" organ was unacceptable
to the city on the carousel, so I proceeded with the work as directed.

I am sorry that some "organ and carousel people are upset", but I can
say that if some of these very people had been a little more forthcoming
with some decent reinforced book early on, the music conversion would
not have happened.

In conclusion, the restoration was completed and the organ is one of
the most beautiful sounding organs anywhere, playing the Wurlitzer 150
format music with auto stops.  It is an additional properly playing
mechanical music instrument located in a public place.  Unfortunately
it has apparently fallen victim to some of the current thinking that
the music is too loud, or the operators like "some other type of music",
and so it is rarely played, from what I understand.

As a footnote, I have advised the city that the original organs from
both the S.F. Zoo carousel and the Playland carousel are restored and
available, but they have shown no interest in completing the carousels
with the original organs.

Alan Erb - Erb Engineering
Hayward, Calif.

(Message sent Thu 14 Oct 2004, 23:12:10 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

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

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