Wurlitzer "Upside Down" Brass Pipe Caliola

Upside down Wurlitzer brass pipe Caliola.

(Photograph courtesy of Jim Kenney.)

Wurlitzer "upside down" brass pipe Caliola. This very late and also very rare version of the 44-note brass pipe Caliola line has mechanically been redesigned from top to bottom, and except for the roll frame and keyboard what's inside bears little resemblance to earlier versions of the Caliola. Because it no longer employs the older and cumbersome pressure and vacuum bellows technology the case could be made much shorter and more compact. This would have allowed this style of Caliola to easily fit into a van or truck used for ballyhoo purposes, similarly to contemporary air calliopes made by other manufacturers. Unfortunately, this Caliola style is probably the last design to be developed and marketed by Wurlitzer, during a time when the market for such devices was nearing its end.

Wurlitzer factory photograph of the upside down Wurlitzer brass pipe Caliola.

(Photograph courtesy of Fred Dahlinger.)

Wurlitzer factory photograph of the "upside down" brass pipe Caliola. Note the flat belt pulley on the left side. The shaft on which the pulley is fixed is an extension of the drive shaft for a Roots positive displacement blower, which develops both wind-pressure and vacuum to power the pneumatic mechanisms and inverted pipework.

Wurlitzer factory photograph showings the interior of the upside down Wurlitzer brass pipe Caliola.

(Photograph courtesy of Fred Dahlinger.)

Wurlitzer factory photograph showing the interior components of the "upside down" brass pipe Caliola. Working our way from top to bottom, the pipe chest is at the top of the case, directly over the inverted brass pipework. To the rear of the pipe chest is attached a channel board, which dangles down behind the top of the roll frame and that has Wurlitzer four-in-one valves affixed from side to side. The vertical bundles of four tubes each on either side of the roll frame would be tubes from the keyboard pallet valves up to the four-in-one valves, so that the keyboard can manually sound the pipework.

The Long Tune Roll Frame is more or less standard for late style band organs and Caliolas, and is an all gear, shaft drive unit. The rewind trip is the latest style used by Wurlitzer and is midway between the roll frame and the tempo control at far right. It consists of a rotating hub with a pin projecting out from its face, whereupon a small pneumatic moves and positions a metal lever into position to contact the protruding pin, forceably pushing the system into rewind.

The rugged tempo control (at far right) is standard and is controlled by a small hand crank on the outside of the case. The vertical shaft to which the leathered friction wheel is keyed drops down to a worm gear arrangement that is rather reminiscent of the worm and fiber gear setup used in motor driven Wurlitzer coin pianos.

The mechanisms in the bottom of the case, below the keyboard, bear no resemblance whatsoever to any earlier Caliola. Near the case bottom is a wind-pressure reservoir with large coil springs, and on top of it is a Roots positive displacement blower, which develops both pressure and vacuum. The flat belt drive pulley situated outside the case is fixed to the blower drive shaft. The blower is probably rated at about 700 R.P.M.