Stinson Band Organ Company
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Don Stinson's Band Organ Notes
Stinson Band Organ notes are authored by band organ architect and builder Mr. Donald Stinson. Stories includes experiences, past and present, encountered during design and repair of mechanical band organs, along with Don's unique experiences during his early days with the New York Central Railroad.

One thing that organ builders and repairmen encounter is anorgan which develops some kind of a problem after it is repaired or rebuilt. Most of thetime we can give a few simple instructions over the phone to clear up the difficulty withno need to make a service call.

In this segment I will relate one exception to the rule whichstands out in my memory. We had just finished an extensive repair job on a Wurlitzer l46organ and received a call from the unit manager complaining of many sticking notes. Theremark was also made that the organ had just left my shop and they did not expect to haveproblems so soon.

After arriving at the location I discovered the organ had beenvery wet and the water had ruined the pallet valves which meant the organ would have to becompletely torn down and repaired again. The manager of the unit simply could notunderstand how water could have been in the organ. The company returned the organ to myshop and we were authorized to replace the pallet valves and repair the chest again attheir expense.

A few short weeks later we had the same call and found water inthe organ again. Once more the organ was returned to us and the third set of pallet valveswere installed. This happened one more time but one of the higher supervisors was there atthe location and found the problem.

As this traveling show would begin to unload the very firstthing off the truck would be the organ. It had been a very rainy season and after theorgan was unloaded it was then used for a ‘work platform to assemble the carousel.After a good dressing down the unit manager always had a cover on the organ and it wasnever used again as a work platform.

This was the only organ I have ever seen being used as a workplatform in a hard rain. The only good part of this story is the profit I made in settinga world record of replacing the most pallet valves in an organ in a three month period.

Back at the old New York Central Railroad, I received a call togo on a two day field trip with the same supervisor I was working with when we found thewasps in the flood light tower. This time we were instructed to remove old wiring whichwas no longer needed due to buildings being removed.

I had also heard through the grapevine that he might have me up another flood light tower. The towerturned out to be the first job when we arrived and this time I had no trouble changing thebulbs. This tower was not as tall but was different in construction in that it had a smallsquare hole at the top of the ladder which you had to go through to stand on the toplevel. After arriving back at ground level he looked at me and said, "now son, I amgoing to show you a different way to climb this tower." He proceeded to climb up asfar as the hole and from there hung from his arms out to the edge and over the side rails.He then came down the same way and told me he just might be too fat to fit the hole in theplatform. He did look like an ape at the zoo swinging out and over and taking the veryrisky way to the top. I know he could get through the hole but just wanted me to know hecould still climb better than I could even at his age.

From there we started the wire removal job and very shortlybecame black as the ace of spades. We were covered with grime and grease and it was justconsidered part of the job and was performed with no complaints until lunch time. I wasinstructed to wash the grime off my hands and face and we would go for a small bite toeat.

We both cleaned up fairly well but our clothes were still blackand covered with grime when we went into a very fine hotel restaurant which was equippedwith white table cloths and everything first class to cater to the business people of thattown. He then instructed the waitress how to bring his meal, when to bring the salad, whento bring his coffee and when to bring the refill.

As for me, I would have felt better if I could have had my mealwhile hiding under the table out of sight. When we left he gave the waitress a very largetip and told her she had followed the instructions correctly.

I found out laterthat he spent much of his off time at theopera and shows in New York City and he was a very well educated man. A little grease andgrime did not change him from the gentleman he was when he was off the job.

And so it was at the old round house.

Next Band Organ Note No. 10, September 1999
Previous Band Organ Note No. 8, June 1999

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