Reproduco Vacuum Pump and Blower Arrangements

Interior view of the Standard Reproduco Piano Pipe Organ with attached blower.

(Operators Piano Company catalogue illustration.)

Internal view of a Standard Reproduco Player Pipe Organ and external blower with case front and pipework removed. The illustration was taken from a Reproduco parts list, and shows internal components normally obscured by case parts and pipework. The simplicity of the blower and enclosing cabinet is obvious, it being nothing more than an electric motor mounted on a pedestal, with its shaft attached to a balanced "blast fan" enclosed in a plywood shroud. For some of the Standard Reproduco piano organs the vacuum pump was placed above the keyboard alongside the the motor and roll mechanism (a common layout for Operators built pianos), and with the required blower externally located. While this arrangement was suitable when a single 10-tune roll frame was used, it was quite impractical for duplex roll frame installations, when there was just enough space remaining between the two interconnected roll mechanisms to put the electric motor needed to power them. In such cases a combination vacuum pump and blower unit was necessary, and so the soundproof blower cabinet was enlarged so as to also house a wood frame four-way rotary vacuum pump otherwise mounted above the keyboard.

Blower cabinet for a Standard Reproduco piano organ.

(Photograph courtesy of the Stevens Mortuary, Altoona, Pennsylvania.)

External pump/blower cabinet for Standard Reproduco Mortuary Organ #282965. This so-called "soundproof" cabinet housed both the vacuum pump and the high speed blower. On top of the cabinet is the windpressure reservoir and regulator, which is weighted with a heavy block of cast iron instead of a spring arrangment. Enclosed and on the left side of the unit is the vacuum reservoir with a spill valve type regulator. The circular vent holes in the front cover are for intake of air for the blower.

Interior view of blower cabinet for a Standard Reproduco piano organ.

(Photograph courtesy of the Stevens Mortuary, Altoona, Pennsylvania.)

View inside the "soundproof" blower box for Reproduco #282965. The wood frame four-way rotary box pump is at the left, and the motor with the direct connected blast-fan are at the right side. The large leaf spring between the vacuum pump frame and the motor pedestal is to maintain tension on the leather belt going between the pump and motor. For the discerning eye it will be noticed that the wine colored rubberized cloth on the bottom bellows has partially come loose and needs to be repaired. This layout for the combined pump and blower cabinet is typical, but numerous variations have been observed. For instance, the location of the vacuum pump is sometimes moved forward, with a belt pulley on the back end of the motor shaft, instead of it being on the front end next to the metal hub that holds the actual blower fan.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson.)

Blower fan enclosure for Standard Reproduco piano organs. The blower cabinet and contents are quite unrestored, but useful nevertheless to show how the blower unit is constructed. The fan enclosure or shroud is made of plywood, painted and sealed with a durable coating, as is the blast fan itself. Peering into the central intake hole, the end of some of the narrow wooden vanes attached to the circular impeller plywood backplane are visible along the bottom circumference of the opening. The four little bolts surrounding the motor shaft hole fasten the fan to a flanged cast metal hub that grips the motor shaft. To the far right is the vacuum pump reservoir, and under the little square muffler box attached to it is the spill valve that regulates the vacuum level.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson.)

Closeup view of the off-side air intake port for the blower. Along the bottom circumference of the port the inner end of some impeller vanes are visible. These narrow vanes made of plywood are both glued and screwed to the circular plywood backplane so as to keep them firmly attached during the rotational stresses applied during operation. Each vane extends from near the center of the circular backplane to its outer edge. It is these vanes spinning at a high speed that generate the windpressure necessary to sound the Reproduco's pipework. The little stove bolts surrounding the motor shaft secure the plywood fan to the flanged cast metal hub that grips the motor shaft.

(Photograph courtesy of Dana Johnson.)

Closeup view of the motor-side air intake port for the blower. Here the inner end of the impeller vanes are easily seen due to the camera angle, which peers down into the blast fan cavity. The flange on the cast metal hub grippng the motor shaft is bolted to the fan's plywood backplane, with the front edge of the motor partially visible in the foreground. And so everythng about the blower, the blast fan and its enclosure, is made of plywood, except for the flanged cast metal hub and the electric motor that powers it.

Century Electric motor in the derelict blower cabinet for a Reproduco Unified Organ.

(Photograph courtesy of Jack Conway.)

View inside the pump/blower cabinet for a Reproduco Unified Organ. This particular blower unit was used to power a Reproduco Unified Theatre Organ, serial number 283561. This organ required a larger volume blower than generally observed for the smaller less demanding Standard Reproduco piano organs. The combined pump and blower assembly was powered by a 3/4 HP Century Electric Company motor. This original pump and blower unit was in use by the current owner when one day there suddenly arose an awful noise. One of the wooden fan vanes broke loose from the circular plywood backplane and instantly shredded other vanes, sending a shower of toothpick size splinters up the wind line. A German blower unit was then placed on top of the blower cabinet with its output piped into the cabinet's original windpressure reservoir and regulator, and a small Lee Silent Suction Unit was added as a vacuum source. The original pump and blower have stood unused since that noisy and destructive event.

Century Electric motor in the blower cabinet for a Reproduco Unified Organ.

(Photograph courtesy of Jack Conway.)

Closeup view of the original Century Electric Co. motor that powered both the blower fan and the vacuum pump for Reproduco Unified Theatre Organ #283561. In the dim bacground above and to the left of the motor the shadowy outline of the leather belt going to the vacuum pump pulley is visible.

Century Electric motor nameplate.

(Photograph courtesy of Jack Conway.)

The nameplate for the original Century Electric Co. blower motor used with Reproduco Unified Theatre Organ #283561. The motor is a Repulsion Start-Induction Single Phase Motor; manufactured in the U.S.A. by Century Electric Co., St. Louis, MO.; Type RS; Frame RS2; H.P. 3/4; Volts 110 or 220; Amp 10 - 5; Cycles 60; R.P.M. 1750; Serial No. 827035.

Replacement wooden blast fan impeller.

(Photograph courtesy of Jack Conway.)

Replacement plywood "blast-fan" impeller; top view. After the original blast fan impeller destroyed itself a new replica plywood fan was commissioned, and is pictured above. The center hole accommodates the motor shaft. The four smaller holes surrounding it are for the cap-screws that affix the wooden plywood backplane to the flanged cast metal hub that tightly grips the motor shaft. The wood has been painted and sealed with a durable coating similarly to an original Operators blast fan.

Replacement wooden blast fan impeller.

(Photograph courtesy of Jack Conway.)

Replacement plywood "blast-fan" impeller; edge view. The individual wide wooden vanes projecting outward are alternately spaced and have been both glued and screwed to the rigid plywood backplane. Although the look-alike replica fan was sturdily built it was not correctly balanced for high-speed rotation. And so when the new fan was installed and spun up for a test run the blower cabinet "walked across the floor" due to excessive out-of-balance forces, and so the unit was quickly shut down and the replacement fan never again spun-up after the initial but failed test.

Here is what the Reproduco instruction booklet had to say about the "blast fan:" The blast fan in your organ is carefully and accurately balanced and adjusted to run true on the fan casting and motor to which it is attached. CAUTION: Do not attempt to change motors without instructions from the factory as the least unbalanced condition in the fan will cause bearings to run hot, wear excessively and result in a broken blast fan or shaft. Fan castings are balanced to run true only on the particular motor to which they are attached and are Not interchangeable without adjustment.

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