by Howard Wyman


The decorating of the organ case is determined by the builders taste. At the band organ rallies that I have had the pleasure to attend, I have seen several home-built Style 105 organs and each one is different. The basic shape is similar but the ornamentation varies. However, I know of at least one organ being built in which the case will be more like the early Style 125 organ. The top half is open at the front and halfway back on the sides with a column at each front corner supporting the top.

For my organ I kept pretty close to the design shown in an illustration that Wurlitzer used in their catalogs. An example is shown in Figure 1. Fortunately I had purchased the carved trim for the drum wings at the mart at a band organ rally, however I was not certain what I would do about the carving on the top of the front.

Finally, using some carving tools and a rotary tool I did the carving myself. It looks OK if you do not look too closely. I carved these pieces out of oak. The crown molding around the top of the case, the tops of the drum wings, and the molding around the top of the base are also oak. All of these parts were stained golden oak. Before attaching these pieces I painted the large areas of the case an ivory color. I wanted a fairly smooth finish like one would obtain by spray painting, but not only did I not own the equipment for spray painting I also did not have a very large space in which to work. At the home improvement store I found a small foam roller that is normally used for trim work and this is what I used to apply the paint. It worked quite well.

The "finished" organ is shown in Photos A and B . I used a clear plastic insert in the center of the lower panel on the back of the organ so that one could see the bellows operating. I have put the word finished in quotation marks because I consider the organ still a work in progress. The opening in the back where the roll frame is located should be covered with a removable panel on the right and door on the left. I plan to use imitation gold leaf to add some pin striping to the base and around the openings in the front. Also some painted flowers would probably look nice in certain areas but I really have not decided what I want yet. In the meantime I am quite happy to just sit back and listen to the music. I spent many hours building this organ but I can truly say that it was a LABOR OF LOVE

Editors note: Howard is a retired electrical engineer and lives in Florida. Most of his career was at the Army Night Vision and Electro-Optics Laboratory. He became involved in mechanical music with the purchase of a non-working player piano. As you will see in his articles, Howard is a highly skilled craftsman. Building your own band organ is a real accomplishment and Howard does beautiful work.

Howard can be contacted