Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/Gulbransen Pacemaker parts

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QUESTION: Hi Thomas,
I found your post from 2008 on repairing a humming Pacemaker and after a wide search I was hoping you might be able to help me. My folks were able to get a Pacemaker organ out of their church before it burnt, now they have received a newer one after rebuilding and are looking to sell this for the church. The problem is when it starts the large wheel in the back with the electrical connection sticking out the back of the organ has bad bearings. It starts with a slow click and when it's up to speed it's a steady clack and you can see the spindle rotate off kilter. Do you have any advice on either finding a replacement wheel or replacing the bearings? It looks like a model 1811LW however the sticker under the front ledge has 1855LW written/scratched in, serial number is 90183. Thank you!

ANSWER: Hello Steve,  I read your question several times to understand the situation.  We are talking about two instruments:  One that was rescued out of a church and a newer instrument that was gifted to the church.  One will be kept and the other sold.  One of them has a noisy tremolo system.  I am unclear about your description of an "electrical connection sticking out the back of the organ".

There are two kinds of tremolo units in wide use: one with a spinning speaker and the other with a spinning box in front of a stationary speaker.  In all cases, the moving part is belt driven by usually two motors which provide slow and high spin speeds.  

A common mistake in belt adjustment is to tighten the belt far tighter than it should be. This belt is not to be treated like a car's fan belt.  There should be belt adjustment and oiling instructions on the tremolo unit which should be followed exactly.  Failure to properly adjust the belt tension can result in problems such as you describe.

Replacing the bearings may not solve the problem if the shaft has been bent.  I suggest having the tremolo unit removed and examined to see if the belt (or anything else) is rubbing against the frame.  If the belt is out of adjustment, its pathway is pretty narrow and can rub causing a lot of noise.

The tremolo units are delicate once removed from the console, so care is important.  When oiling the bearings, be very careful not to get oil on the rubber tires that the motors use to drive the belt.  Also, depending on the configuration of the speaker, make certain oil does not drip onto the speaker's paper cone.

I hope this information is helpful.         

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Thomas, many thanks for responding.

It's the same organ saved from the church, the church has been rebuilt and someone donated a newer organ. So my folks have this organ at their house and hope to possibly fix and sell it for the church. Mom's a lay speaker and dad is the treasurer, I'm just a computer guy, so don't know what is what inside an organ.

I don't know if it's ever been serviced, it sounds like the tremolo is the spinning speaker type. That has an electrical connection on the end of the rod that protrudes beyond the back of the organ and is covered by a cap attached to the backing by two screws. Do you think it could be the belt has shrunk or tightened and just needs adjusting along with proper oiling? My dad likely has the mechanical proficiency to do that if I can locate the instructions on the unit.

Thanks again!

Answer
The belt is a cotton material that needs to slip in the motor' drive pulley on turn on.  Some companies describe the belt's adjustment as correct if it takes 5-6 seconds to come up to speed.  If you have a Gulbransen, I suspect you have a stationary speaker that downfires into the tremolo baffle. The belts are not likely to shrink or loosen.  

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Thomas Britanyak

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I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics. If you need a piano's date of manufacture, please go to http://www.pianoexchange.com/howold.htm or http://www.bluebookofpianos.com/pianoage.html I am happy to answer musical or technical questions, however, I CANNOT offer appraisals on pianos or organs. Please do not ask what an instrument is worth. For this service please contact an experienced local appraiser or try the following links: https://mmm1100.verio-web.com/blueb1/appraisal.html or http://www.57piano.com/questions.htm

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I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics.

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I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics.

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