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#1774953 - 10/22/11 12:58 AM Well built Hammond Organs..
Ken Knapp Offline

Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2125
Loc: Pennsylvania
Today I spent the day in West Pittston, Pa, where they had a bad flood about a month ago. I was called to a residence to see if I could do something with their B3 which was submerged in the flood.

The instrument was covered with mud. It had been allowed to dry out, so I proceeded to begin cleaning the various parts of the organ (preamp, tone generator, etc) to see what I was up against.

First I cleaned the preamp. Dried it out. Then applied power along with a signal on the input and an amplifier on the output. The preamp worked!

Then cleaned the tone generator and started it.. It was generating tones! Then I hooked the output from the manuals to an amplifier. I could play music!

Now this is not the end of the story. I will have to pick up the organ and the Leslie and go through everything and then re-assemble it, and then make sure it plays and sounds as it should. But these tests I did today show that it is still a viable organ. These things were really over designed when they were made, and testimony to that is that there are so many 60+ year old ones still going strong. I really expected that it was going to be a pile of junk. I do not think this would happen with any organ being built today.

Piano Organ Depot
Hammond Organ Technician

#1779149 - 10/28/11 11:25 PM Re: Well built Hammond Organs.. [Re: Ken Knapp]
Piano Peddler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/04
Posts: 351
That is a great testimony of the quality of the original B3 and Leslie, Ken! Those things were built like tanks. I have heard similar anecdotes, where a cargo trailer was submerged in a flooded drainage ditch and when they dried out the organ and speaker cabinet, everything worked just fine! Today's organs would disintegrate!
Craig Smith
aka "Piano Peddler"
Veteran industry professional
and keyboard musician

#1782115 - 11/03/11 12:32 AM Re: Well built Hammond Organs.. [Re: Ken Knapp]
Ken Knapp Offline

Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2125
Loc: Pennsylvania
Craig, that's why I am pretty much sticking to servicing them to the exclusion of anything else these days. I know them the best and a lot of people are not interested in putting a lot into other organs anymore. But if someone has a B3 or C3 they are pretty much willing to do what has to be done.

Today I worked on detailing the tone generator. Oiled every bearing, cleaned it up, got both the motors working properly, tightened screws, then ran it for about an hour. Every tone is working - that's good because it's the heart of the organ. The customer loves the tone it had before so replacing it was not an option.

Piano Organ Depot
Hammond Organ Technician

#1784355 - 11/06/11 06:53 PM Re: Well built Hammond Organs.. [Re: Ken Knapp]
Woody-Woodruff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/08
Posts: 615
Loc: Coastal Mississippi
I never noticed (and maybe I should have) after playing several different B2/B3's and C2/C3's years ago, but the sound from the tone geneator can vary from one unit to another and/or new versus old? They sounded almost exactly the same to me. Any slight variations could have been handled through the drawbars.


#1795701 - 11/25/11 08:23 AM Re: Well built Hammond Organs.. [Re: Ken Knapp]
Ken Knapp Offline

Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2125
Loc: Pennsylvania
Yes, there can be quite a difference in tone. This was not the case when they were all new, but the filters on the notes age and the passband on the filters shift. They don't go out of tune, but with the filters on the notes changing, some organs are brighter, darker, or have more "dirt" on the notes.

If I had to rebuild the filters it would sound brighter and many people would not like that. But most people have forgotten what they sounded like when they were new. I can tell the difference because I often hear them at a dealer's location and he has them side by side.

Piano Organ Depot
Hammond Organ Technician

#1796692 - 11/27/11 12:26 PM Re: Well built Hammond Organs.. [Re: Ken Knapp]
Dale Erwin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/06
Posts: 41
Loc: Modesto, Ca
Hi Ken
I have a client with a pristine Hammond RT-3 It needs service to get the motors going. Its a 1955. One owner. Amazing condition. Like a time warp. It is the B-3 in a church organ cabinet with a full pedal board.Extra keys on one end(I forget) The client is asking what it worth in working order. I am getting a wide range of opinions. Obviously you know your stuff.
Any thoughts. Please reply privately if more appropriate.
Pianos I know inside out,...organs? hmmm.
All I know is I love the sound of good Hammond
Much appreciated
Dale Erwin
Dale Erwin RPT
Piano Restorations
http://WWW.Erwinspiano.com ....Erwinspiano@aol.com
4721 Parker rd. Modesto Ca 95357
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#1797125 - 11/28/11 11:00 AM Re: Well built Hammond Organs.. [Re: Ken Knapp]
Ken Knapp Offline

Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2125
Loc: Pennsylvania
Hi Dale!

The RT3 is a neat organ. What really sets it apart are the AGO pedals. On the right the tabs are additional settings for the pedals, although on most of the ones I've seen they don't work. But that's ok because the pedals are perfectly usable without them. Other than that, it truly is a B3 in a church cabinet. They don't bring as much, though. I think it has to do with the weight. They are considerably heavier.

For one in working condition, I've had a dealer tell me he would pay no more than $800 for one. There are a couple on eBay with a buy it now for around $1500-$1800, been there a while with no takers. Price also varies according to location too. I have seen some deals on Hammonds on eBay, only to find they are in your neck of the woods and the additional shipping takes the edge off the good deal. The price will also vary depending if it is an organ alone, includes a tone cabinet, or a Leslie.

It sounds like your client's organ has sat without oil for some time and the tone generator has either stuck or it is tight. It's possible to get it going without too much fuss, although sometimes they require a more serious effort.

To start with, you need some Hammond oil. Enough for more than one oiling. The purists might well turn their noses up at this, but I always try to keep the costs down for my clients so I am willing to go outside the box when it will work. smile Then oil the organ. I will fill the two cups on the right two or three times to get the oil flowing. On the motor, only use enough oil to saturate the felt in the little bathtub. Too much will make a mess of the vibrato scanner. Let the oil soak in for maybe an hour. Then try to turn the generator by hand. You are looking for it to turn very freely. If it does, try starting it. If it runs you are home free. If not, let it sit a couple hours and try again. The oil has to get to the bearings and this could take hours, days, or weeks. If it is still tight, wait until morning and oil it again. then repeat the procedure. If the generator feels free but it won't run, it could be the run motor - this would be where the start motor brings it up to speed and the run motor does not catch. If this is the case, check the run motor - the one on the left of the generator. It should spin freely, but ALSO have side to side play in the shaft. This is essential so it is able to find a "sweet spot" in the magnetic field. I'd estimate at least a quarter inch side to side play. If it does not have it, just work it side to side until it loosens up.

That was the easy way. Sometimes they are stubborn and you have to be persuasive. This involves pulling the manuals and removing the generator. Then you oil each individual bearing by hand to free it up. Lots of wires to un-solder and put back. That's why I will try it without removing the generator unless the client needs it right now. It's the difference between oil and patience, and maybe $400-$500! laugh

Piano Organ Depot
Hammond Organ Technician

#1797132 - 11/28/11 11:05 AM Re: Well built Hammond Organs.. [Re: Ken Knapp]
Ken Knapp Offline

Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2125
Loc: Pennsylvania
Oh, one more thing. When a tone generator gets stuck the vibrato scanner often gets stuck too. Symptom is you have no vibrato once the organ is running. That usually involves pulling the scanner and doing what they call a rebuild on them. This is really a cleaning and oiling. Guys get around $300-$400 for that, but I seldom charge that much for it - it's not that big a deal when you've done a couple!

Piano Organ Depot
Hammond Organ Technician


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