Toe Board Refurbish and Repair

Randy A. Bergum
September, 2008

The purpose of this article is to review a successful Refurbish and Repair of the Wurlitzer Toe Boards. Topics covered include refurbishing Pallet Valves, Toe Boards, and repairing cupped Toe Boards.

General Description

Wurlitzer toe boards were made with three layers of wood stacked vertically. This composite construction provides stability as the grain movement in each layer can partially negate the others.

In order from Bottom to Top, the layers and descriptions are as follows:

This surface seats against the main chest gaskets, and has narrow slots milled for the pallet valve seats
Larger slots are milled here - said to act as a concussion chambers. This arrangement also allows the top layer to have toe holes placed within a wide range side to side.
Toe holes and chamfered for pipe toe seating.

Over the years Wurlitzer made improvements in the toe board design as follows:

Springs attached to a stay that is screwed right to the board with a domed leather nut and thin felt punching, dimple in pallet wood, three guide pins.
Slot in pallet and spring has a loop formed at the contact point. Can also have a dimpled brad for spring bearing point, or a small nail in a slot.
The Spoon contact surface is changed from a simple rod to a broad contact surface. The springs are removable and are constrained by an overhead stay. Five guide pins are used on the pallets.


Pallet Valves

Pallet valves should have originally been adjusted to contact the center of the Secondary Pneumatic Flange. The spoons dodge right and left to avoid screws and hardware inside the chest, as well as poorly placed pneumatics.

Note: Before removing the pallet valves, number them so to replace back in the original positions. This will help you minimize readjusting all the spoons back to the optimum spots.

Remove the Springs

Stripping and Refurbishing the Pallets

The pallets have two layers of valve leather that can be pulled off easily by hand.

Note: Sometimes you will encounter Mystery Glue (White PVA glue, or anything else) that will not come off with hot water. Sand off old leather and mystery glue on belt sander - remove the MINIMUM amount of wood, but ensure that the final surface is flat.

Installing the Leather

Leather is two layers of valve leather available from reputable Organ Supply Houses and can be had in prefab strips. For Manual Chests there are two widths: 2-5/16” and 3-5/16”

Toe Board

To Assemble

Toe Board Cupping

The bottom layer of a toe board can cup, especially if exposed to moist conditions.

To check, place a straightedge across the pallet seating surface and shine flashlight at back of edge. If there is cupping, light will show through. (see arrow below)

Photo #1: Cupped Valve Surface and Gap

To Repair:

Photo #2: Valve Surface After Skimming

At this point you will want to releather the pallet valves, as they will have taken a set to the old cupped seats and will murmur after reassembly.

If the guide pins were damp, they may have rusted at the surface of the wood. To fix this do the following:

Now reassemble the spring guide hardware, and install the pallets and springs.

Photo #3: Finished Toe Board

Cross Talk Between Notes

If the chest was exposed to water, some of the glue may have been damaged that binds the toe board layers together. In some cases an air channel will open up causing cross-talk between notes and murmuring. Some folks have solved this by stripping the toe board and pouring burnt shellac into each toe hole (as per factory), then rotating the entire board around such that the glue coats the entire interior surface, effectively sealing the leaks. (anecdotal info.)

Many thanks to John Ledwon for help in preparing this article.

Return to Wurlitzer Tools and Repairs Menu


Copyright © 2008 and Beyond Randy A. Bergum All Rights Reserved