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Anatomy of a
Wurlitzer Valve

Anatomy of a Wurlitzer Valve

So here is a question I hope will generate some interesting dialogue. My next project in the shop is a Wurlitzer player piano stack, vintage 1926. The stack does not have valve blocks and the decks must be sawed apart to access the round pouches (Type 3 in Reblitz book). The metal top valve seats are the same as those used on the individual valve blocks one finds in other Wurlitzer products.

I have never rebuilt a Wurlitzer valve and, once I "parted it out", I took the trouble to draw up a graphic of all of the pieces using my architectural skills (see attached). I was surprised to find so many layers in this little piece. I was also glad to find that it is an adjustable valve, making setting the gap easy once assembled.

How does one typically rebuild these? My approach will be to reuse the wood stem and the fiber disk with stamped brass threaded stud. Aside from that, everything else will be new material to match the exiting as much as possible.

The upper 13/16" diameter fiber disk will be replaced with a new 3/4" disc because that is the only size I can find (at Erie Organ Supply). The laminations of pouch leather, pneumatic cloth, woven material, leather, etc., will be glued up in sheets with PVC-E glue prior to being punched out. I will then glue the punchings to the fiber disks with hide glue. The linen material will only be glued at the perimeter to maintain stem wobble.

Other thoughts or suggestions? Hope everyone enjoys the Holidays.

Joel Cluskey
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Anatomy of a Wurlitzer Valve (PDF file

Originally published in the Mechanical Music Digest on Fri, 25 Dec 2020 14:12:15 -0800 (PST)

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