Chapter 2 - fixing things

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I have to say, that the Hammond I got was in a very poor condition. In the life of this organ, which began sometime between 1955 and 1964, it changed colours three times. Originally it came in a oak, then one of the owners painted in metallic blue (yuck), a further owner then painted in white (double yuck). What got even more to me was the fact, that the left side of the organ, right beside the keyboard stuck out in a strange angle. I was told that the strange side element was the result of the organ falling of a trailer, thus hitting the road with that side, which then got damaged. And yes, the car was driving. But still, the organ worked and it was a Hammond, what could I wish more for ? So I took the organ home and wanted to bring it back to its old showroom shine. To do this, I had to take the organ apart, to take it apart - or better to be able to assemble it again later - I needed a service manual. So I went to a music shop which at this time was, and to my knowledge still is run by a guy we called lovingly "Pa März" because he knows everything about music instruments old and new and was like a father to us young musicians. So I went to "Pa März" and asked him for a copy of the service manual for the organ which he gave me. Before I left the shop I needed to go to the men's room and guess what I found there leaning on a wall... two Polymoog Synthesizers - the dream of every keyboarder, but at a price tag exceeding 15.000 Marks it stayed a dream for most of them . Of course I asked "Pa" what was wrong with them and he said that both of them are somehow broken and whether I wanted one of them for 500 Marks it could be mine - boy I did not have to think twice. Of course I wanted it even though it was broken.

Wasn't this great, I got a real Hammond M3 in exchange for a Hammond Clone and I got a Polymoog for only 500 Bucks, ok it was broken but I was confident that I could fix it - after all I built my first Synth when I was 16 years old, so I had some experience. "Pa März" gave me a copy of the Polymoog Service Manual and off I went with the Polymoog.

I took the Moog apart in my parent's house where we had a small, but fully equipped electronics lab, but fixing the moog was not as easy as I though... I don't know how many hundreds of electronic circuits I had to check and recheck. Finally I called "Pa März" to ask him for help, and of course he came by. We both decided that the culprit must have been one of the two UA726 circuits, which at that time were already more expensive than gold. And of course.... we zapped one of them by accident (by the way , the 726 was not the culprit). To get another UA726 I had to take one of the VCOs of my Formant synth apart, but at least I then had a spare UA726. Days later I found the Problem. It came from the power supply, one cheap UA741 was broken. After replacing it, the Polymoog worked like a charm, so back to the repair job on the Hammond.

The Hammond repair had many stages. First I had to take all the inner workings out of the cabinet to be able to do the woodwork. To be able to put everything back where it belonged I took placed the parts onto the floor of my living room, much to my girlfriend's disapproval because the living room has been also the bedroom and now became a “restricted area” for several weeks. With 40 year old vacuum tubes, the tone wheel generator, drawbars and keys all over the place there was almost no space left to walk.

Then I put the side panel of the cabinet back into a 90 degree angle and renewed the veneer of the cabinet. It took about two weeks to finish all that. Luckily it was summer, so I could do all the grinding and painting outside on the terrace. Hmmm, I just recall, that my girlfriend did not visit me very often during this time...

In the next step I cleaned all the electronic gear before I put it back into the cabinet. Then came the big soldering job to wire everything back together. You can imagine how scared I was powering up this electromechanical beast for the first time after my repair work. The swirling sound of the tone wheel generator filled the room and after actually hearing the classic Hammond sound when hitting a key on the keyboard I was relieved.

Sadly, now that I had all the gear a keyboarder needed, my work consumed so much time, that I did not have time to play with a band.

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