Wurlitzer Style 32 Concert PianOrchestra
Philipps Pianella Model 32 (Caecilia)
(Nethercutt Collection, circa 1994-1995)

Interior view of the upper left side of the Wurlitzer Style 32 Concert PianOrchestra.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson)

This view into the upper portion of the PianOrchestra reveals its extensive pipework assets, consisting of 314 pipes. The 26-note bass pipe chest is at the rear and basically extends across the width of the machine. The 30-note Melodie Violin pipe chest is at the front, and to the left of the trapwork section. The tall metal pipes with conical and capped resonators in the Melodie Violin chest are oboe. The first row of bass pipes with the large wooden boots and tall semi-conical metal resonators are saxophone (fagott) pipes.

Interior view of the upper right side of the Wurlitzer Style 32 Concert PianOrchestra.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson)

The trapwork (percussive effects) are easily visible from the center to the right side. Not visible are the chimes (orchestra bells) which are located below the upper section support shelf. From left to right is tambourine, castanets, snare drum, triangle, and bass drum with cymbal and kettle drum effect. There are two strikers for the cymbal, one that is alongside and operates in tandem with the bass drum action, and another, separate, larger, and more powerful striker action that serves as the crash cymbal effect.

Close-up of the saxophone (fagott) pipes in the bass pipe chest.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson)

Close-up of the saxophone (fagott) pipes. The brass wire protruding upwards from the boot is used to tune the metal reed housed inside the wooden boot. Wurlitzer referred to this rank as saxophone, but more correctly they are bassoon or fagott pipes. The large wooden stopped flute pipes peeking out from behind the so-called saxophone pipes are gedeckt pipes, which Wurlitzer advertised as French Horn in their liberal catalogue descriptions.

Close-up of the ventil control valves for the front four ranks of the melody pipe chest.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson)

Close-up of the front four (of seven) Melodie Violin pipe chest ventils, which are simple control valves that pressurize or vent the wind-pressure in channels that feed the pipes for a particular rank. There is one ventil for each pipe rank, i.e., a row of pipes of the same voice. The actual ventil valve is buried inside the chest, with only the external pneumatic motor that operates it being visible.

Close-up of the three metal pipework ranks located on the melody pipe chest.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson)

Close-up of the Melodie Violin pipe chest's three-ranks of metal pipework. Front to rear: oboe, violin (gamba) and stopped flute (guintadena). For the oboe pipes, the metal rods protruding upwards from the metal boots are used to tune the metal reed housed within each boot. Each conical resonator is capped with a "hat" that can be rotated so as to control the amount of opening for the four holes at the top of the resonator, further adjusting both the tone and timbre.

Interior view of the bottom portion of the Wurlitzer Style 32 Concert PianOrchestra.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson)

The bottom half of the PianOrchestra contains the major working components, such as the electric motor, main stack, and the clearly obvious wind-pressure and vacuum feeder bellows and corresponding reservoirs. The large wind-pressure reservoir is below the shelf supporting the crankshaft assembly. The vacuum reservoir is to its right. Notice that the flat-belt pulleys have been replaced by a modern v-belt system for ease of maintenance.

Distribution manifold between the main stack and bass pipe chest.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson)

This view of the lead tubing distribution manifold between the main stack and the bass and Melodie Violin pipe chests also shows the small pneumatic motors that control the playing of a particular note for all pipe ranks located on that pipe chest. These little pneumatics lift a valve that vents the wind-pressure normally holding closed a pouch valve underneath the toe of each pipe, preventing the pipe from speaking. When a note is to be sounded, for instance, all pouch valves for that note are vented, but only pipes in ranks for which the ventil valve is simultaneously open can speak.

Crank disk for powering the wind-pressure and vacuum feeder bellows.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson)

This example of an early style disk-crank, mounted at the end of the originally flat-belt powered crankshaft, has three drilled holes for which the crank pin can be inserted. Each hole being incrementally more distant from the center shaft allows for a degree of adjustment in the "throw" or distance of travel for the attached feeder bellows. Later vintage PianOrchestras, with the same type of drive system, have just a single hole in the crank disk. Generally, this design appears to be a relatively delicate when compared to later models, which were more ruggedly built.

Automatic roll changer variable tempo speed control mechansim.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson)

The "power end" of the roll changer includes an adjustable speed control mechanism, consisting of a rotating leather disk that was forced to bear against a steel friction disk or drive plate. By adjusting the relative position of the leather disk the tempo of the music could be adjusted within a suitable range. While effective, there were problems. As the paper wound onto the take-up spool the diameter increased, and so did the tempo. Moreover, in later years music rolls often shortened the length of paper devoted to a tune, which also effectively increased the tempo over earlier rolls.

Close-up of one set of interconnected wind-pressure and vacuum bellows.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson)

Close-up of the interconnected wind-pressure and vacuum bellows. The smaller vacuum bellows are at the bottom and are directly attached to the crankshaft connecting rod by means of a clevis or yoke. The larger wind-pressure bellows ride (via a roller) on the top side of the vacuum bellows, the two held together by a coil spring. This arrangement works because it is the upward stroke that requires power, creating a vacuum in the lower bellows and wind-pressure in the upper unit. The spring is sufficient to overcome any resistance to bellows movement in the relaxed, downward stroke.

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