Monday, 07 March 2016 13:04

Ch-Changes at the Orpheum

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Orpheum Organ Blower Room Orpheum Organ Blower Room John Bittner

It's hard to believe, but January 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of the re-opening of the beautifully restored

Orpheum Theatre.  The passage of time affects all things, so a little maintenance and TLC is required from time-to-time and for both the Orpheum Theatre and our Wurlitzer, it's happening now.

Orpheum Theatre

The Orpheum Theatre will be undergoing renovation between the middle of June through the middle of September.  It will be closed during this period to all activities including our chapter meetings.  We had hoped to have a meeting there in July, following the National Convention as we've done the past two years, but that will not be possible this year due to the work.

Orpheum Wurlitzer

Thanks to the efforts of crew members Tom FizzellPete Knobloch and others in the past, our Orpheum Wurltizer remains in good shape, but it too requires some updating.

Blower Replacement

The Orpheum Organ actually has two blowers supplying its wind.  While this arrangement is largely up to the task, there are times when the wind is not sufficient to meet the demands of the organ.  This condition has existed since the original installation.  Two years ago Bill Carr began researching the situation and consulting with experts. Last year he presented a plan to replace the two blowers with a single, more powerful, blower that is up to the task.  In addition to supplying an adequate volume of wind, this solution will result in a less complex system, with fewer points of failure, and one that is more energy efficient as well.

With the Board's approval, Bill put together and submitted a proposal to National ATOS requesting a grant to cover the cost.  National accepted our proposal and awarded us a five figure sum to accomplish this task.  The work is scheduled to take place later this month and the organ will be inoperative during the several weeks the blower is being installed.  After the new blower is installed, the organ will undergo a thorough maintenance and tuning.  Due to this work, it's become necessary to cancel our Orpheum Experiencemeeting in April.

Organ Relay Replacement


One of the many boards to be installed for the upgraded relay

Remember the early days of computing, before the Mac, Windows, and the mouse, when it was just you, a keyboard, a screen with green lettering, and DOS? Our Orpheum organ does because its relay and combination system are running under DOS. Of course DOS is long gone and no longer supported which makes us vulnerable to an unrecoverable computer failure. Unfortunately updating to a modern computer also requires replacing the relay hardware connected to it. The Board has voted to update the existing computer, software and Uniflex relay with the modern equivalents. Thanks to the support of our members and generous donations earmarked for the maintenance of the Orpheum organ from several of our members and friends, we have enough in our treasury to cover this approximately $7000 expense.

Changes & Legacy

We are indeed fortunate to have the beautiful Orpheum Theatre as the home for our Wurlitzer as well as a venue for the performing arts here in the Valley.  Together they serve to remind us that the goal and primary purpose of our organization is not to provide monthly entertainment for its members but rather to preserve and promote the theatre organ.  It is our obligation as the owners and caretakers of this instrument to maintain it to the highest standards.  That involves making changes and expending time and money to ensure its legacy.

The changes we are making cost nearly $20,000 and would not be possible without the support of our national organization and those of you who support our efforts through your memberships and donations.  If you are not a member or have let your membership lapse, please consider joining our chapter and national ATOS to support these efforts.

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