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MMD > Archives > June 2013 > 2013.06.27 > 04Prev  Next

Restore North America's Carousel Organs
By Rich Sitler

Speaking as one of the guys who maintains the band organ at
a "corporate" park (albeit a very small one), I can comment to this
topic.  I am fortunate in that, to date at least, management has
continued to have an interest in keeping our carousel organ playing.
The Wurlitzer 153 organ was restored by Mike Kitner in 1975 and has
finally worn out that restoration.  Bill Black had been continuing
maintenance on it up until a year or two ago.

I was fortunate that almost 40 years ago Bill and I connected and
he taught me most everything he knows.  The park is fortunate that
13 years ago I came on board as an electrician, and the official band
organ guy.  We've rebuilt a number of parts over the years, but it's
time for a full restoration.  I've arranged for the rebuild this
winter.  Hopefully, management will approve the funds and it'll be
playing like new next year.

Our park is steeped in tradition (translated:  That's the way we've
always done it!) so I have it easier than others.  In addition, they
(the park) are fortunate to have me, a mechanical music enthusiast
for over 40 years.  Most parks don't have this, and I can pretty
much guarantee that if I didn't work here, and Bill didn't do the
maintenance all those years for free, there would be a CD/MP3 player
and a couple of Musicaster speakers parked where the organ should be.

It's a great idea to want to have all those instruments playing again,
but as has been previously stated, if there's no one at the park with
an interest in maintaining it, it will not be maintained.  And they
_do_ require regular maintenance -- a little oil here, a screw
tightened there, and don't forget tuning and cleaning tracker bars.
Unless you're looking at converting them all to MIDI (which only
eliminates the roll frame and cleaning the tracker bar) somebody has
to maintain them and change the rolls.  If you can fix that problem,
you've got half the battle won, although, what happens when it does
have a serious problem?

Even if you have someone at the park who's got a basic interest and
some skills, are they going to know what to do to get it playing again
(reference the Seabreeze incident) or who to call to get it playing
again?  There are a couple of guys here that know the basics, but when
the organ dies and I'm not here, guess who's cell phone is ringing?
The park might accept someone "buying" the restoration (especially a
smaller park) but that's just the beginning.  They've got to be willing
to maintain it (translated: $$$) and in today's tight economy that's
a tough sell.

If somebody wants to try it, I wish them all the luck in the world.
Heck, I'd even help out if the place was close enough.  Unfortunately,
the CD/MP3 is a lot cheaper and easier to maintain.

Rich Sitler - Hersheypark, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts
Hershey, Pennsylvania [delete *.geentroep" to reply]

(Message sent Fri 28 Jun 2013, 01:33:27 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  America's, Carousel, North, Organs, Restore

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