Wurlitzer Style 155 "Monster" Band Organ
Wurlitzer Style 155 Monster Band Organ.
This organ plays special 100-hole Style 155 music rolls with separate sections for 10 bass, 10 trombone, 11 accompaniment, 25 melody, 18 piccolo and 21 trumpet pipes. It was converted to play smaller Style 165 rolls decades earlier when the 155 format was discontinued. We restored it in the 165 format in 1976. In 1997, we did additional restoration work, replacing missing brass pipes, converting back to 155 rolls, and reproducing the missing back frame and panels for the cabinet. Through a stroke of good fortune, the original factory spinning mandrels for the brass trombones and trumpets were available. We purchased them, and sent appropriate ones to Johnny Verbeeck who reproduced the missing brass resonators. Tim Westman scanned Bill Black’s original 155 rolls into MIDI, Art edited the scans, and Tom Jansen reproduced the rolls. Mike Kitner and Bob Ryesky helped by copying the metal parts for the original roll mechanism in Bill Black’s organ. This cooperation between restorers in Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Belgium and Germany, typical behind the scenes among experienced restorers, made the project possible.
Unrestored Wurlitzer Style 155 Monster Band Organ.
The unrestored “Monster” organ in 1975, with 165 roll mechanism and missing some of the brass pipes.
Wurlitzer Style 155 Monster Band Organ.
Art Reblitz with the organ in the carousel after the 1976 restoration. The cabinet, a separate unit that stands around the organ chassis, was being refinished by a local enthusiast in Burlington when this picture was taken. The organ was moved from our shop back to Burlington during a torrential downpour on July 31, 1976, just in time for the Kit Carson County U.S. Bicentennial fair. On that day, the storm dumped 12 inches of rain in less than four hours, ¾ of the average annual rainfall, on the Big Thompson Canyon along U.S. Route 34 in north central Colorado. The ensuing wall of water 20 feet deep destroyed 400 cars, 418 homes and 52 businesses, washing out most of U.S. Route 34 and killing 143 people in the canyon. The organ was moved safely across the high plains of eastern Colorado in an enclosed truck, and the weather in Burlington was warm with a bright blue sky for the remainder of the fair.
Wurlitzer Style 155 Monster Band Organ.
Art Reblitz and Jo Downey, project manager for the Kit Carson Carousel Association, after the 1998 restoration back to 155 rolls. The cabinet still bears its original decals. The Kit Carson County carousel and organ were featured in the 1987 National Geographic Special “Treasures From the Past.”