Two views of the same blower (Note the Air Filter on the Intake).
In a previous article, we wrote about American Theatre Pipe Organ manufacturers as listed in the “Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ Vols I & II”. We indicated that the late David Junchen, the author, was able to identify an astounding 90 firms who have manufactured theatre pipe organs over the years. Many of these companies had built only a few instruments, and Junchen indicates that 60 of the 90 firms built 19 instruments or less.
The key to Junchen’s ability to root out these 90 companies centers on his access to records on the blowers used by these organs. (The blower is the large electrically operated turbine which supplies air pressure to the instrument.) Junchen states that only 3 blower firms are known to have supplied over 99% of all the blowers used in American theatre organs: Spencer, Kinetic, and B.F. Blower.
By far the largest organ blower manufacturer is the Spencer Turbine Company of Windsor, Connecticut, which built and builds the “Spencer Orgoblo” centrifugal blower. As of 1985, Junchen indicates that Spencer, which is still in business today (www.spencerturbine.com), had manufactured over 37,000 organ blowers since 1905. Wurlitzer was their biggest customer.
The second largest producer was the Kinetic Engineering Company, which later was owned by M.P.Möller, Inc. They built about 23,000 blowers.
The output of these two firms accounted for over 90% of the blowers sold in this country through the 1950’s.
A much smaller firm, the B.F. Blower Company, built about 1,300 “Simplex” blowers, about half of which went to Kilgen organs. Of the other half, only a few ended up in theatre instruments.
A fourth small company, the Zephyr Electric Organ Blower Company, was also in business as part of the Schantz Organ Company. These blowers were used primarily on Schantz classical instruments, although about 1,000 were believed to have been sold to other manufacturers, mostly for small church organs.
Thus the vast majority of Theatre Pipe Organs in America are equipped with “Spencer Orgoblos” or “Kinetic” Engineering blowers.