Building the Harmonette Conversion

by Peter Henderson

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The new-found portability I have enjoyed with my John Smith organ appealed so much that I bought one of Alan Pell’s Harmonettes, amazingly they are dimensionally the same. The Harmonette has a battery instead of a paper roll, which makes it a little heavier. The advantage with the Harmonette - you can have 200 tunes available in your pocket!

There are those amongst us who are traditionalists, I agree with them, but there are not so many who have actually made a set of pipes and spent weeks popping holes in paper rolls. This tends to make one look into other ways of making an organ using the latest technology.

I enjoyed making my John Smith pipes and began comparing the Smith and the Pell Harmonette and wondering if I could actually make a Smith/Pell/Wright/Henderson (SPWH) Organ!

Alan Pell was so helpful when I put this to him that a few days later my box of Pell/Wright electronics was being viewed in my workshop.

I always feel hesitant at the start of a new project but the way out of this is to do something positive, so I made a double acting bellows, just like the Harmonette’s. At that stage I had something on the bench. Now the job is easier to build a box, with the John Smith pipes to compare, the job rapidly got to the stage where I plugged into the battery and with everything hanging loose, switched on and turned the new handle. There was still a lot to make but it all worked and the SPWH organ was actually playing. I got carried away with Melvyn’s music and the inevitable happened, yes a loosely placed wire shorted and actually let the smoke out of one of Melvyn’s processors. What confidence it gave me in the whole outfit when the circuit board came back from Melvyn by return of post. All the smoke neatly put back into the processor and good as new. ( It was a bit more complicated than that! - MW).

My first outing with SPWH now called SMOKEY! Was thoroughly enjoyed with lots of our members who went to Chesterfield, we had a sunny day.

I now have another greater problem, have you seen the Glockenspiels in Peter Trueman’s small organs?  Who is going to make the first SPWHT chest organ?  IT COULD BE YOU!

Thanks to John S, Alan P, Melvyn W, and all the encouragement from another great organ builder - Peter Trueman.

Photos of Smokey

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