Barn find Comptons

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Barn find Comptons

Postby oldmuso2 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:08 pm

I am enquiring whether there is any interest in restoring two compton organs

The organs belong to the widow of a late organ engineer, who died about 10 years ago, during which time the organs have been stored in a horse barn, covered with tarpaulin and are covered in guano, straw, dust, muck and a dead squirrel!! They are in a right mess, but, strangely enough, the speakers seem to have survived and there is no evidence of rodent damage or rot.
The widow has no interest in the equipment and it will just rot or eventually be scrapped or burned. I am intrigued as these are pretty interesting and historic pieces of technology and am wondering whether anyone might be interested in rescuing them? The barn is in the middle of nowhere (Thanet, Kent, UK) and transport costs for these heavy and bulky items would be expensive. I've not got the no-how or room to restore them.

I went to the barn to buy two extremely heavy sets of 32 note radial pedals, to sell one and midi-fi the other for grandorgue.
Whilst there, I had a look at the rest of the “mountain”. We discovered two organs:-
1)- a Compton 347 consol
-electrostatic generator tower
-triangular and rectangular speaker cabinets, as seen on compton adverts.
2)- a Compton Melotone organ, which looks complete with twin amps (and believed to have been played in the barn, before the engineer died).
- “art deco” speaker cabinet belonging to the Melotone.
-a Rotofon!

Plus, of course, the two 32 note pedalboards.

We took a set of photos.

Please let me know if of interest.

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Re: Barn find Comptons

Postby Lucien Nunes » Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:37 am

Interesting, these things get everywhere, thanks for taking the time to report on them!

Each new 347 find is a surprise - I'll have to look up the numbers but I believe this is something like the 25th 347 logged in the last decade, out of less than 200 built. Whether it is of interest for preservation will depend somewhat on its configuration. For examples If it is an early example with rocking-stator tremulants then it is absolutely worth preserving as-is, almost regardless of condition. If a late one that has been extensively modified, which many have throughout the last 70 years, it might neither historically interesting, nor worth the considerable effort of making it playable (Comptons don't like damp, and if none of the capacitors have been changed, years of exposure will have rendered all 600+ of them usesless). If the Rotofon was the 347's speaker, then there is a good chance that the organ has been re-installed and/or maintained by Fred Allen for part of its life, as the 347 was obsolete by the time Rotofons started shipping but Fred liked to retrofit them. This is a double-edged sword, as Fred helped keep a lot of instruments in continues service and in good order, and did a lot of laborious capacitor replacement that would otherwise be necessary today, but often modified them extensively and few would make true museum pieces today.

A similar story applies to the Melotone, although I will say now that we have never had the chance to find one with the 'hipped' speaker cabinet still present. Even if the speaker drive units are damaged, which despite appearance they are likely to be after years in a barn, the speaker would be a great addition to the collection. If it is original to the organ, then perhaps the pair should be kept together. We have a very good 352 and a knockabout one for the handling collection that people will be able to play, but this could perhaps substitute for that.

So once again, thanks for your interest, I'll drop you a line...
Black was always meant to be a phase. The neutral phase.
Lucien Nunes
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Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:26 am

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