Drawbar Dave

Vintage Valve Tonewheel Hammond Organ and Leslie Speaker Specialist. Valve Lowrey Organs, Vintage Keyboards Serviced and Repaired. Custom One Off Builds. Touring Preparation. On Site Repairs.

Richard's 1972 Hammond B3

Richard uses this organ to play and record with Van Morrison. The time had come to bite the bullet and get the foam removed from the manuals before it damaged any of the delicate resistance wiring. The organ also needed a scanner rebuild at the same time. The manuals were removed, dismantled, defoamed and cleaned. At the same time I added modifications for variable chorus and percussion level. The scanner had been over oiled in the past and I took it apart and bathed the componenents in acetone before wiping off with alcohol. Once the manuals and scanner were reinstalled I set about recapping the preamp and added a brilliance control. Other work included adding an output for a tone cabinet, upgrading the mains wiring and rewiring the outlet box which had some poor solder joints.

Richard's B3 Gallery

Lowrey Heritage DSA

I acquired this organ at the start of 2020 from a friend. I have always coveted the Lowrey Heritage Deluxe DSO made famous by the likes of Alan Haven and this DSA was a predecessor. Although it has all of the same tone and solo tabs of the DSO, it lacks AOC (Automatic Orchestra Control) and an internal Leslie. The Leslie is not a problem as I use a 145 or 147 with it as most professional organists did. 

The organ was in very good cosmetic condition but as it had not been played for 30+ years it was not a wise idea to turn just it on and try it out. 

Internally things were not as good. An electrolytic capacitor had failed and taken one of the Candohm/Muter high wattage resistors with it as I found after replacing all of the electrolytic capacitors and switching on. The high wattage resistor glowed orange whilst emitting smoke. A modern replacement resistor was sourced and for the first time the organ could be played and tested. 

Many of the tones did not play ie certain footages on certain keys were missing. In 95% of cases this was down to broken neons. These are used on the sustaining note keying and light up and conduct when they receive a voltage that exceeds a specific threshold. With age, the legs break off and render the associated tone silent. I ended up replacing nearly a hundred of them across the tone generator panel. This included pedal notes that were missing.

A lot of the switches had intermittent faults. A blow through with compressed air whilst holding the vacuum cleaner hose close followed by liberal amounts of contact cleaner cleared up the issues.

Another major fault was the pedal burble which can be broken into two separate issues. First of all the notes did not cancel each other. As they are supposed to be monophonic this meant that if a note did not cancel it would make the subsequent note played gurgle. A good clean of the pedal generator circuits with Isopropyl Alcohol and a brush followed by rerouting of some of the wiring solved this problem. The second issue was that when pedal sustain was used, the decay of the note would sound like an explosion. This was found to be down to the sustaining neons in the pedal assembly firing at random. Despite the reason for this being widely blamed on dampness and humidity, I discovered that in fact the busbar voltages were too high due to failures in the voltage divider network. I replaced the guilty resistors with higher wattage versions because this appears to be a design fault. I know of two other models with exactly the same symptoms and cure.

With all of the above completed, all that remained was to install a Leslie connection for my 147 or 145 and the work was complete.

Lowrey Heritage DSA Pictures

 

 

 

My 1937 Hammond BC

I acquired this Hammond BC in working condition but not original spec. The original amp, matching transformer, tremulant and rheostat box was missing. Due to the rarity of this model, especially in the UK, I decided to put it back to original spec as far as possible. Restoration work included; reconnecting the drawbar bussbars that had been cut in attempt to add split vibrato, same with the preset bussbars. Keys removed and cleaned, preset mechanism serviced. A donor tremulant, rheostat box and matching transformer from a BC was found in Sweden and in a trade of parts I was able to acquire them.

Next the tone generator needed to be recapped and calibrated to restore balance across the organ. This meant first removing the chorus generator to allow access to the main generator. I decided to remove the main generator as well and did the recap on my bench. While the generators were out I also replaced all of the mains wiring to the four motors and replaced some damaged oiling wicks. At the same time, the start and run switches were replaced.

Now the organ was taking shape, I still did not have a preamp. As the originals are rare, tonally flat response and need an external source of B+ power, I decided to use a TrekII SSP1-C. I have used their preamps before as well as many other of their products and they are a first rate company that I would strongly recommend. I also added their self contained spring reverb unit and rounded off my order with their TP-2B percussion unit, TS-2 tremolo control and finally their reproduction outlet box as the BC model historically came with the Leslie/tone cabinet cable hardwired into the organ and this was of course well past it's sell by date. Since the pictures were taken, the cabinet has been brought up to snuff with Howards Restore-A-Finish and the bench went to a local french polisher for a re-finish.

According to the signature and date under the upper manual cheekblock, the organ was signed off by Fred on 25th October 1937 and the restoration was signed off by me 82 years later in October 2019!

Hammond BC Photo Gallery

Greg's Scanner Vibrato service

Greg Boraman, owner of "The London Jazz Organ", a C3 that has been played by all of the great and good jazz organists including Jimmy Smith himself, asked me to carry out a service visit to rebuild the problematic vibrato scanner among other things.

Greg's Scanner Rebuild and Service

Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1

This organ is always referred to as the "Pete Townshend" organ because it was used on "Baba O'Reilly! and "Won't Get Fooled Again" as well as many other Who tracks. This is misleading as this organ is so much more than a celebrity endorsement organ.

It can be said that the TBO-1 was the natural successor to the DSO-1. It is solid state compared to the valve DSO-1 but compared side by side, the tabs of the same name actually do sound the same. Unfortunately Lowrey dropped the 5 1/3' and 2 2/3' Quint tabs by now so you cannot get the same nasal tone of the Heritage range.

I acquired this organ from a recording studio in Pershore. It was mostly in working order although the usual dirty switch contact problem blighted a few switches. It has a built in Leslie connection for a 145 rather like the DSO-1 and sounds fantastic through my 145 or 147. This is one of those reliable classic organs that I could never get rid of. Every time I play it I find new tonal palettes and inspiration. Run it direct from the headphone socket through a DI into effects units like Mr Townshend did and you can find a whole new world of sounds and textures. I like using an ensemble effect with delay and you can stray into polysynth territory!

Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 Pictures

 

My 1968 MKII Farfisa Compact Duo Combo Organ

This was my second Farfisa Compact Duo, replacing my 1966 MKI model. This one was filthy, the case was broken, some switches were broken, it did not make any sound. Once I managed to restore sound, it was out of tune. All in all I replaced about 130 electrolytic capacitors and about 4 germanium transistors.

That was 4 years ago and she still plays loud and strong and in tune! Some of the plastic switch actuators had broken. These organs are too rare and valuable to break for spares, so a work around was needed. I was able to fabricate metal hooks from heavy duty paperclips and bond them in place with super glue gel. So far they have lasted four years!

I am fortunate enough to own a Binson Echorec 2 Model T7E which is now paired with the Farfisa to nail those early Pink Floyd tones.

MKII Farfisa Compact Duo Pictures

Alex's Hammond TTR-100 Service and Repairs

I was contacted through the website by the owner of a Hammond TTR100 which is a genuine Hammond UK portable version of the T-Series. It had stopped making music and had developed loud static and scratching noises instead.

Once in the workshop, it was quickly discovered that one of the multipin plugs, connecting the two halves of the organ, had failed. A lack of securing screws and years of use had contributed to some of the internal wiring connections being loose. I removed and cleaned all 24 of the female connectors in the plug using a small file and contact cleaner and then re-made all of the solder connections. This was repeated for the male socket in the organ too. With new screws as well this repair should last for ever.

The owner also requested that I added a dedicated padded line out for his Neo Ventilator, but we went one better than that, also adding a second jack that allowed him to control the Ventilator from remotely from the organ whilst keeping the organ's stock 147 outlet working too.

The owner wrote to me afterwards "Thanks for doing a super job and very promptly. Learned a fair bit about how they work in the process too!" 

Hammond TTR-100 Repair and Service

2012 Bill Beer Chop Replica

I built this chop myself based on the design of the late great Bill Beer who built portablised B3s for music royalty. Stood on folding hairpin legs with a solid state custom preamp, this organ featured spring reverb, aux in, line out, bass, treble, percussion levels, master volume, 2x effects loop for upper and lower manuals and outputs for 3 different Leslie types. One remarkable feature was that the manuals could be pivoted up like the bonnet of a car and the top and back panels removed for all round access to the tone generator. This particular model was a copy of Pink Floyd's Bill Beer organ played by the wonderful late Rick Wright.

Rick Wright's Bill Beer Chop Replica

High Power Touring Leslie

A 99p eBay auction win for an empty Leslie 251 and a Leslie 760 in a very badly damaged cabinet became the basis for this project. Always a fan of the Bill Beer organ sound, I decided to use the same JBL 2482 upper driver and E-140-8 bass speaker that Bill specified in his Leslies.

The original power transistors were swapped for a more robust spec and the twin amps and active crossover were recapped and checked over for correct values.

The cabinet had no mouldings, rear panel or upper support. I made a replica back panel from scratch, along with the upper support. The replica mouldings came in rough lengths from Valhalla Woodworking in the USA and I mitred and fitted them myself.

To make this Leslie more flexible, I added a separate jack input for footswitch speed control and signal so that it did not need a combo preamp or Hammond to run it.

The cabinet sported a quick release rear panel and extra bracing for the rigours of life on the road.

High Power Touring Leslie

Leslie 147 With a Saggy Bottom

I purchased this late 60's/early 70's 147 in a sorry state. The ply bottom/floor panel had started to split apart and some of it had already come off. I had to crack out the router and make a new panel from scratch. It needed the stepped rectangle hole for the lower drum bearing to be mounted as well as the fixing nut for the amplifier. I also completely rebuilt the amplifier with new capacitors, resistors and diodes as well as a TrekII solid state relay. Both motor stacks were torn down, cleaned, oiled, reassembled and adjusted for smooth and quiet action.

Leslie 147 Repairs

Hammond RT3 Becomes A C3

One of my earliest escapades was to convert a cosmetically challenged RT3 to a C3. This involved reducing the cabinet length to C3 spec, installing a 25 note C3 pedal switch (which incidentally came from "The Stranglers" old C3 organ!), some rewiring including a complete new pedal loom from the switch to the generator and a full bare wood refinish. See what you think;

RT3 to C3