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Hammond M3 Organ Issue
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WurlitzerEP
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#1
6th October 2011
Old 6th October 2011
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Hammond M3 Organ Issue

Hi all, new to the joint (ahem, forum that is ). I just bought a gorgeous 1960 Hammond M3 from a church thrift store. It wasn't working when I went to see it, but everyone including the pastor swears up and down that it worked perfectly until they moved it to the front of the store for my pickup. When I arrived, it may have been sitting in direct sunlight/heat for a little under an hour, so I figured a tube probably expanded and broke seal and that it would be an easy replacement/fix. So I offered em 50 bucks to take it as-is, and surprisingly got off way cheaper than I thought I would. Now the problem remains of diagnosing the issue and getting it running so I can hear my bargain in action...

I've never owned a classic electric organ before, but to the best of my knowledge I'm starting it correctly: I hold the Start switch up for 5-10 seconds, then hold the Run switch for the same amount of time before releasing "Start." All of the tubes light/heat up, but I don't hear any sounds of anything kicking in or starting up. The only sound I can evoke so far is if I hold down a few keys of the lower manual, I get the slightest signal hum (the more keys, the thicker the hum, but never above a whisper no matter what I do). No such noises come from the upper manual whatsoever. The only other noise I've been able to coax from it was by flipping the percussion rocker switches; this produced a very brief, soft pulse of signal hum as if you were plugging/unplugging an instrument cable with its signature "pop" dampened immensely. This may not tell you much, but they're the only clues I have thus far; what are the possibilities/solutions? Where would you start in troubleshooting this type of thing? If anyone has any bright ideas I'll definitely give em a whirl and get back to you; I'm dying to hear this puppy in action! Thanks in advance for any suggestions you can offer.
#2
6th October 2011
Old 6th October 2011
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arasandvolodkas's Avatar
 
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It might need oil or maybe the tone wheels are stuck for some reason?
#3
6th October 2011
Old 6th October 2011
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Where are you located? PM me with your phone number and I may be able to help.
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#4
6th October 2011
Old 6th October 2011
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Or both?
#5
7th October 2011
Old 7th October 2011
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when you hold the start button, do you hear a grinding kind of sound (or a softish whooshing at least)? If not, your tonewheels are stuck and the church folks are telling fibs (because they wouldn't suddenly lock up between one day and the next). You're going to need to go online and find the instruction to free up and lubricate them, then go on from there. Doesn't sound like a tube problem at this point.
WurlitzerEP
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18th October 2011
Old 18th October 2011
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It was outside near a road when I picked it up, so I couldn't tell if/what subtle noises were made before we moved it, but when I got it home it made several somewhat soft growls. These intermittent grinding/starting noises occurred for a few days and then suddenly stopped between two attempts, maybe 30 minutes apart. Since then I haven't heard a peep.

I finally got the back off of it to poke around and see what's going on. I have somewhat of a background in electronics: I can solder, build and repair PCs, I remanufacture laser printer cartridges for a living, but most of this old technology/mechanics is greek to me. Motors have never been my forte, but from what I understand from piedpiper's help (thanks again) is that there's a starting motor and then a second motor takes over to keep it running. The starting motor doesn't always initialize properly but can be set manually with two people.

Thanks for all the help so far, I'm just going to be looking for documentation/diagrams of how some of this stuff works; I still need to pick up some oil and contact cleaner. It seems like there's a big division on whether or not 3-in-1 oil is OK to use, so if anyone wants to weigh in on that or has any other suggestions/helpful documentation, thanks in advance. Also apologies for poor forum etiquette, I got a prequel to this thread stating that questions don't belong in this section... I don't see any other sections of the forum that seem like they'd be any more appropriate, however. The only mention of questions is a forum for audio engineering Q's and I don't believe this qualifies... The only other similar post I saw before this one was in this section, which is why I picked it. So where should it have gone?
#7
18th October 2011
Old 18th October 2011
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Ah, don't sweat it, I can't imagine someone seriously slagging you for asking the question here. Have you looked up the organ forums? They have a lot of trouble shooting help and advice...

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19th October 2011
Old 19th October 2011
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Coomon M3 failure is the rectifier tube. Nothing works if this tube is bad.
WurlitzerEP
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19th October 2011
Old 19th October 2011
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Oh yeah, either didn't notice or forgot to investigate further into organforums when I was doing my initial research, thanks!

I finally got some oil today and I only poured a small amount in each reservoir initially, but it did at least get me back to the point where it's making some noise. Right now I'm inclined to think that Tim's (piedpiper's) theory about the starting motor being the trouble is probably correct; it's something to do with a long little pin on the right side of the circuitry that pops out when I try to start it, and when I let go of the Run switch I just hear a short little rattling grind to a halt. Next time I've got a friend over to flip the switches for me I'll try to manually start it by flipping that pin back into place.
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19th October 2011
Old 19th October 2011
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to clarify for the readers, the starter motor is pulled into the engaged position by an electro magnetic solenoid, that often fails. It can be manually pushed into position with your finger on the protruding end of the axle of the starter motor at the far right hand end of the assembly when viewed from the back. The problem is that you can't reach it and still reach the switches, so it's a two man job, unless you can juryrig a lever, as I have, since I never did figure out how to fix it properly...
WurlitzerEP
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19th October 2011
Old 19th October 2011
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I mistakenly said run switch just now but I believe it's the starter switch that's actually bringing about noise at this point. If I flip it all the way up, it does nothing but if I back off about a centimeter then you can hear the solenoid going crazy at the far end, so maybe that part is actually working correctly now? It's just not engaging the Run motor once I flip the run switch; the only outcome I've gotten so far at that point is when pressing the keys you can hear a thick signal noise coming through (still holding both switches at that point) but none of the pitched notes are sounding.
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19th October 2011
Old 19th October 2011
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next step, second person, so you can actually see what's going on while the switches are manned by someone else...
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24th October 2011
Old 24th October 2011
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Call Murph Wanca at Nashville Pro Hammond.
WurlitzerEP
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27th October 2011
Old 27th October 2011
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Finally remembered to get someone to run these switches for me while they were over: just as I suspected, the initial solenoid starts up just fine when flipping the first switch, although you have to find the sweet spot on the switch, just a little bit behind the fully upright position. It rattles back and forth at what I'm assuming is an acceptable, working rate though. Sadly, the moment you flip the next switch, it stops.

I did think of something else to try: manually turning the tonewheel generator on the left to initiate the second motor after the first one's going perhaps? Didn't think of it in time to try it with help though, so that'll be next time, unless anyone has any better ideas. If that's the correct step, which direction should I turn it? Until just now, I assumed it rotated in the direction of the wheel, but there's a long thin pin of metal that would stop it from making a full rotation unless I'm missing something. I just noticed that the axis (between the wheel and circuit board, the part with a spring coiled around it) can be pushed in and out in the same trajectory as the solenoid, so I'm guessing that's the direction I need to jolt it in, in order to initiate the second motor. I still need to post on organforums and look for some more detailed specs to fully understand how this all works of course, just thought I'd update right quick while I'm thinkin of it.
#15
27th October 2011
Old 27th October 2011
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Another guy to try is Bill Brown in Minnesota. I contacted him and got lots of advice about an A102 I was going to buy. I think his site is bborgan.com

WHen I did backline work he serviced all of our Hammonds and Leslies. He is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to Hammonds and usually happy to answer questions.

Peace,
Ree
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