Home Installation of a Marr & Colton 2/5
Theatre Pipe Organ
South Freeport, Maine, USA
Pete Haskell
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Project Updates
Last Updated: 11-16-18
Summer 2005 - "The beginning"
Convinced by a friend that a small home theatre organ might be possible, I started thinking about available space in my house.

August 2005 - "Slippery slope"
The same friend steered me toward a Marr & Colton he had found, that might be the theatre organ for me. Made arrangements with the owner to have a look at it.

Sept. 4 2005 - "Wow!"
Had my first look at the organ, very nice, but I'm worried about the sheer size of it all. I will have to go home and do some careful measuring to see if it will fit, and go through the doors. Along with repairs, cleaning, painting, wiring, setup, and wind piping, I will also need a relay and power supply, since those are not included. Some of the Tibia pipes have water damage, and will need work.

Oct. 15 2005 - "Full Speed Ahead!"
Decided that it will fit, so I went through all the arrangements of reserving a truck, finding out about crews to help load and unload, getting moving supplies etc. etc. Moving day brought steady rain, following a week of rain, but I was able to get the truck to Massachusetts, get everything loaded, and return, without any problems.

My "Heathkit" console!
Oct 15/16 2005 - "OOPS"
Guess what - the console wouldn't fit through the door! Back it went into the truck, and I took it to a vacant garage nearby. The next weekend I took it completely apart, and moved it back to my house, in three trips with a small station wagon.

Combination action - a tight fit!
Early November 2005 - "Painting"
With the console all in pieces anyway, it was the best time to repaint it. That red color really had to go! This is a real "kitchen table" restoration!

One end panel in process, shows the pocket for a setter board
Late November 2005 - "Painted!"
Worked as fast as possible, to get the console painted and back together before the holidays. That pile of console parts made the living room pretty untidy! OK, so the top finials aren't original, but they add some interest, anyway. I'll stick with the Wurlitzer style music rack, too, since it was included.

Blends in much better with the room, than the red!
Thanksgiving 2005 - "Little Helper"
My "demon assistant" loves to poke around inside the console, and check out the wiring. Now, if only she could run cables.....

Waiting for the concert to start?
Fall 2006 - "Progress!"
It still looks like a pile of parts, but things are progressing. The blower has been cleaned and painted inside and out, and the VFD drive and load reactor acquired to power it. The Z-Tronics relay has been ordered, and received - all 22 circuit boards! The 5 offset chests have been opened and cleaned, and the magnets tested, and bad ones replaced. Some of the toy counter has been repaired.

Z-Tronics console circuit boards etc.
January 2007 - "Hurricane Spencer"
After cleaning, painting, replacing the motor bearings and reassembling, the 36" Spencer 3HP blower is ready to go. These things can really move some air! The 220 volt 3 phase motor is controlled by a VFD converter, which works very well. Now, it's back to work in the pipe room!

My version of the "Beast in the Basement"
October 2007 - "Percussion!"
My first attempt at building support framing. This frees up some floor space to make working on the main chests easier, and gives my cat a new "jungle gym" to climb all over! It's not every pipe chamber that has curtains, wallpaper, and carpet! This finishes the percussions. Now "the drums go bang and the cymbals clang"!

Toy counter, snare drum, cymbal, bass drum, glockenspeil, and xylophone
Spring 2008 - "Progress!"
Well, it still looks the same, but a lot has changed. All the chests and offsets have been opened, cleaned, and then tested electrically under pressure. The wind lines have been run for the console and swell motor. Next will be mounting the Bourdon 16' pipes and their offset chest.

My assistant making sure the Bourdon CCC is dusted out!
Fall 2008 - "More Progress!"
Things are looking pretty good! The Bourdon 16' pipes and their chest are mounted, winded, and cabled. There's an overhead "gun rack" mount for the lowest 6 pipes of the Salicional and their offset, which are also winded and cabled. The main console cable is in place, although not yet connected, and the main 12V power supply is installed.The 8 Z-tronics driver boards are mounted on a panel, ready for the chest cabling. The next step is to lay out all the pipe chests on the floor, to decide the best arrangement and see if everything fits! Then I'll have some support frames to build, and a lot of cabling and wind lines to install!

Bourdon 16' pipes and their chest, and the overhead Salicionals and chest!
November 2008 - "It Fits!"
All the chests are in their approximate locations, although not connected to anything, and the offsets are on their support legs. The saw horses under the main chests will be replaced with permanent support framing, but the height will be about the same, and the regulators actually fit underneath. Plus, there's room to work around everything, more than shows in the picture. I may have height issues with a couple of the taller pipes, but I'll face that later! Now I'll have to break down and work on the regulators, while they're still accessable!

All the main chests, offsets, and regulators, relay panel in the background.
April 2009 - "Wind!"
The 8" galvanized wind duct from the blower to the main regulator is in place, and the 4" and 3" lines to the 5 rank main chest are connected, as well as the lines to the Salicional and Bourdon 16' offsets. The Vox regulator and chest are connected, and also the main and Vox tremolos.

Under the main chest, showing galvanized wind line from blower, 4" line to 3 ranks of main, and 3" lines to 1 rank of main and Sal and Bourdon offsets.
April 2009 - "Wind!"

Under the other end of the main chests, showing Y connection to main trem, and 3" line from Vox Regulator to Vox main chest..
June 2009 - "Pipes!"
Progress! All the Bourdon/Flute pipes are in place, on both the offsets and the main chest, as well as all of the Vox and Trumpet and some of the Tibia and Salicional on the main. The lowest octave of the Tibia is installed on its offset, and there has been a trial fit of the low octaves of the Trumpet and Salicional. All the installed pipes have been tested using a test lead, and also have been tuned. The Trumpet pipes still need cleaning and repair, but most of them play surprisingly well!

August: All the offset pipes are now in place. Left to right: Salicional, Tibia, Trumpet, Tibia, Flute (hidden), and Bourdon 16'.
November 2009 - "All The Pipes!"
All the pipes are now in place on the main chest. They have all been tested and tuned, using a test lead. Now it really looks like a pipe organ! Now, it's on to the console!

Main chest. Ranks, left to right: Vox Humana, Tibia, Flute, Salicional, and Trumpet.
January 31, 2010 - "Success!!"
It Plays! Things started to come together really quickly, and today was the day! It still needs a complete tuning, but it sounds great! (But then, I might be a little biased) There's still plenty to do, but the major things are done! All the ranks and traps are connected, and can be played either from the console, or from MIDI files on a PC.

The last major step was building the card rack, mounting and wiring the ten Z-tronics circuit cards, and installing it in the console.
February 27, 2010 - "Music!"
Boy, this is fun! I've been smiling for three weeks! I've done two complete tunings and taken care of a few issues, and it's sounding great! This makes the last four years really worth while!. I find that recording a loud organ in a small space is a challenge, but when I figure it out, I'll be posting some MP3 files.

March 2010 - Change of plans: The MP3 files are so large that they use up all my web space and bandwidth, so I've posted some YouTube videos of the organ instead!

June 2011 - Since the video and audio on those postings weren't very good quality, I've added some more with better audio and still photos.

Marr & Colton Videos - YouTube

July 2010: The finishing touch - I built end caps for the console to replace the ones that were lost years ago. These are fairly close copies of the originals.

"A hush falls over the crowd, as guest organist Mr. MIDI takes the bench for another successful concert"
October 09, 2010 - "Another Project!!"
Just what I need - another project! This is a Farrand reed organ, chapel model. It has 15 stops and plays well, but could use a little work. The Golden Oak woodwork is in excellent condition, and is beautiful! The keyboard is perfect. The price was right, and they delivered it!.

Farrand reed organ, chapel model, 15 stops. Probably built around 1907.
October 09, 2010 - "Toe Studs Upgrade!"
The very unreliable original toe studs have been replaced with much better ones, all thirteen of them! Now every toy plays without having to repeatedly fiddle with the stud..

The 13 Allen style toe studs, of much better construction than the original ones.
July 14, 2014 - "New MIDI Player!"
I've replaced the laptop, which plays the MIDI files on the organ, with a neat little MIDI player. This stores all my files on SD cards, and is much quicker and easier to start up when I want to play the organ.

The SD-MIDI ReadeR by Klinger Organs. It's a neat little device about the size of a VHS cassette. (Remember those?)
October 2017 - "Bells"!
I had a chance to add a Thomas Orchestra Bells unit to the organ, by adding a MIDI driver board to the bell box, and connecting two power supplies to it. It's on a long MIDI cable from the console.

Thomas Orchestra Bells, 30 note, compass: G3 to C6
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