On July 19th, Cyrus Roton and the Bone Doctor went to San Bernardino to see fellow Walnut Hill Wall Of Fame member and great friend Paul Kealy to deliver a Hammond Concorde with a Leslie 725 speaker cabinet to his church, this great instrument being an unsolicited gift from Cyrus.
The Bone Doctor at the console
of the Hammond Concorde electronic organ.
The Hammond Concorde has the prerequisite drawbars plus it is endowed with several theatre organ stops. Paul was thrilled that the Hammond Company had made such an instrument and he was not expecting to have one in his church. The gift was a major surprise for Paul, one he was very pleased with.
The Bone Doctor at the console of Paul Kealy's Baldwin Classical Organ
As a token of his appreciation and gratitude for the work done by the Walnut Hill Productions team to preserve and promote the King of Instruments, Paul gave Doc a vintage Conn 650 analogue theatre organ. The donation of this vintage machine was something Paul had been planning since Doc left Florida in 2006.
The instrument was in nearly mint shape except for some minor dulling of the walnut finish on the horseshoe lid due to sunlight shining on it through a window in the home of the previous owner well before Paul aquired it.
This magnificent organ has three 61-note manuals and a 32-note pedalboard. The stops are arranged in true WurliTzer fashion, and there is a combination action with six pistons per manual for the Accompaniment and the Great. There are a number of other pistons for more functions and the expression is split between two swell shoes.
Cyrus Roton and the Bone Doctor jamming at Paul Kealy's church.
While at the church, there was a short jam session with Cyrus at the Baldwin and Doc on the piano. The acoustics of the sanctuary were nothing short of stunning as the sound of the organ and piano rang out to the strains of Back to Sorento. What a wonderful place! After the jam, the men set about loading the Mighty Conn 650 on the trailer for the trip back to Ridgecrest.
Upon inspection before loading, it was learned that the console speakers would need reconnecting because the wires had been routed to external speakers by cutting them to splice on a long cable for the remote cabinets. We also discovered worn pedal felts that would need replacing. According to Paul, everything on the organ works. There was even an owner's manaul containing detailed operation along with complete stop lists and registrations for the various pistons. Also, a spare power amplifer was included.
Cyrus Roton and the Bone Doctor load up the Conn 650.
The organ was loaded and the three gentlemen went to lunch at a fine mexican eatery near the church. On the way out of town, the right rear tire on Cyrus' van developed a bad valve stem and blew out, leaving the vehicle stopped in the middle of the freeway. The CHP stopped and helped us change the blown tire so we could continue on home to Ridgecrest with this beautiful gift. A few miles up the road, we found a tire store and replaced the blown tire, returning the spare to its berth below the rear deck.
The instrument was installed in the home of the Bone Doctor's girlfriend, Suzanne Donnally. This apartment has a large enough living room to accomodate the stately beast. The acoustics are perfect for recording and listening to the golden voice of this vintage instrument.
Cyrus Roton working on the Conn 650.
On July 21st, we went over to Miss Donnally's house to work on the Mighty Conn 650 Theatre Organ, lovingly named Gertrude. Cyrus quickly repaired the speaker wires and we discovered what to do to the pedals to take out the clacking racket. Also, he discovered four bad switching transistors in the buss bar circuitry and he now has replacements on order, along with some new felts for the pedals.
After the speaker wires were spliced and the horseshoe lid closed for the day, Cyrus took the bench to give the old gal a go. Doc took pictures the whole time. He got shots of Cyrus working on the console and more during his pleasure filled time on the bench. Cyrus was grinning from ear to ear like a young kid as the sound of the Mighty Conn rang out, filling the room with that glorious noise only a TPO can make.
Cyrus Roton at the console of the Conn 650.
After Cyrus played the huge beast, Doc took the bench and went down memory lane, remembering his prior experience with this model from the 70's. What grand tone! There are so many ranks to choose from, and all of them quite real. This machine is going to be a blast to play and record.
On July 30th, Cyrus and, Doc went over to perform the needed repairs to the Tibia buss bar circuits and install new up-down stops on the bass pedals. Now all that remains to be done is replace two buss bars in the pedals that control the Accompaniment to Pedal coupler, which is nonfunctional at the moment, but everything else works great.
Now that all the Tibias are playing and the pedals move quietly, the instrument has a tone that simply must be heard to be believed. The organ has unlimited bass. There are some sweet Tibias and the Vox Humana is to die for. Oh, and the English Post Horn will peel paint! There are four ranks of strings, one being a very lush VDO. There is also the famous Conn Min-O-Matic II Drum Machine attached and it works great, especially on the Latin rhythms.