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Possible Purchase: 3m Allen

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  • Possible Purchase: 3m Allen

    A local church is modernising and has a 3m Allen that I may be able to purchase at a reasonalbe price.

    I know nothing about these, let alone know of what an acceptable offer might be, if parts are readily available, etc. etc.

    I'll try and attach a photo, so perhaps someone can identify the model and approximate year made. Any idea of a price range if this unit is moderately servicable would be helpful as well. Thanks, and have a great night.....Bill

    Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    Unfortunately, your photo cuts off some of the key console features that we could use to identify the series. All I can say for sure is that the console is a "D" type, the style that Allen used for many years for their larger church organs. It is 35 1/4" deep with the lid removed, so it will just squeak through a standard 3' door with the door, hinges, and stop moldings removed. Weight will be around 570 lbs +/- depending on what is inside the console.

    You can find the model number on the builder's plate, usually mounted inside the console on the top rear rail. Just lift the hinged top lid and you will see it immediately.

    The more I look at it, the more I think this is an old analog model of some kind. Is there a large blue cabinet full of electronics that is mounted remote from the console?


    • #3
      Hi Bill, it is hard to tell just what era and model that one is from that photo. A more front-on photo that shows the rest of the controls would be better to tell what model it is. I can't see if it has a card reader or not ( can't see the slot on that angle ) , but it does seem to have the drawer for card storage under the right side of the keydesk.

      For sure it is in a D console. A very fine console indeed, but it is 35&1/2" wide, if that helps your planning.

      All Allens are serviceable. Some are more complicated than others, but anything up to the Renaissance series can be fixed by anyone with some mehcanical ability.

      If it does not have a card reader, then it might be a large TC series. If it does have a card reader, it will be either a MOS or ADC series.

      Hard to advise on a reasonable offer without knowing for sure what model it is.

      - - - Updated - - -

      Also, if it is a larger analog TC series, it will have another drawer on the left side. Those drawers would contain the setterboards for the pistons.
      Regards, Larry

      At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), US-1, EL-25 ( Chopped ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755. 1919 Wangerin 2/7 pipe organ.


      • #4
        Click image for larger version

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ID:	586503 OK, here is the only other photo I have and so far I haven't been able to view the organ or talk to anyone about it, other than a very short reply to my email. Not sure if there are any speaker cabinets included. I'm pretty sure the organ itself wouldn't have speakers? Not sure how many channels or if Two cabinets would be sufficent. Also, would the swells allow a low enough volume to be used in a smaller room? Ha Ha, see, I told ya I know nothing about this. Have no idea of what a card reader would be like back when this was built, if it has one. Let's say it doesn't, but is reasonably functional, what might be a really good price?


        • #5

          I would suggest it is an analog organ, with a setter board combo-action, likely from around 1970.

          This organ is nigh near worthless in the marketplace. That doesn't mean it can't do service for a home or a church. Just that there will be no line-ups to snag this item.

          Is worth no more than $200, and that is on a good day.



          • #6
            It definitely is an analog--look at the nameplate, which does not say "Allen Digital Computer Organ." The console does have two drawers, which as Larry says will house the setterboards for the combination action. If the installation includes a large blue cabinet with the tone generators, the organ is probably one of the "Custom" models. If everything is housed in the console, it could be a TC model.

            Either way, these instruments were capable of a very nice sound if they had enough ranks of tone generators. Bill, let us know about the external electronics cabinet and any model plate that you find once you have a chance to inspect the organ.


            • #7
              Hi again Bill, Now we are good find what model it is. That is defiantly an analog model there. TC-5 , TC-6 , or possibly a 314. It has the setterboards for the combination action in the drawers under the keydesk. You can tell from a few items. You can see the cord hanging under the console from each drawer. That is how it is supposed to be- no worries there. The Crescendo indicator lights are where a card reader(s) would be on a MOS or ADC organ.

              I don't think this one is set up with Gyro cabinets, as I don't see the controls for them. But, it will have speakers as there are none in the console. That is good though. Grab them all, and sort out the exact installation for your home ( or wherever ) later.

              These Allen analog organs sound pretty good to tell the truth. Not as good as the digital ones, of course, but very respectable. I used to own a TC-4 and was very happy with it, but then I found a deal on an ADC-6000 and only one could stay due to space considerations.

              You really need to go see how it plays / works / don't work, Etc. before you can come up with a price. Three manual Allens are nice, so no matter what, it is a great console. You also need to see how motivated the seller is. From the photos, I would think it is in a church. If they are going all Happy Clappy, they may have no clue about what it can do, or anyone who can make it do it. Point out that you will have a lot invested in moving it, but that you will be putting it to a good use / home. Also point out that it is very old technology, and that may help with a good price. That helps with getting a great deal on organs from churches in my experience.

              Depending on the speaker compliment, and its playing condition, I would offer somewhere in the 200 to 500 range. Start low - you can always go up.

              You can turn it down at the amps if you need to- no big deal. As Don60 said, it might have an external rack for the amps. Be sure to check that out too.

              Good luck, and keep us posted.
              Regards, Larry

              At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), US-1, EL-25 ( Chopped ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755. 1919 Wangerin 2/7 pipe organ.


              • #8
                Definitely a setterboard analog organ; if it is a 314, the stoplist is somewhat limited, but if it is a larger model, there are possibly large racks of oscillators external from the organ. Make sure you see all of what is included with the organ, as most homwowners don't have space for the console, a couple of refrigerator-sized racks of oscillators, plus multiple VERY large speakers in their home.

                To be honest, I think the sound of the large oscillator analog Allens & Rodgers surpassed the first generation digitals unless the digital was a very large multiple-computer model. But that is my ears--yours may differ.



                • #9
                  To all,

                  Yep, its from the same church that musta paid mega bucks for it somewhere around 1970. I love the HAPPY CLAPPY, as it seems the only way we get to participate the way we were brought up is to make the music ourselves......I hope He will forgive me for calling what I am currently capable of producing 'music'.

                  OK, I now know it is an Allen 3-D-5 serail 42196. (Hope that's right, but it also sounds like someone's zip code! It has a bunch of speakers units, and I believe the gyro units, so perhaps I can 'fly" this thing? It also aparently has a large blower and terms like 'whind' and 'random motion' are mentioned in one old description of this particular unit. As far as I know, very few manufactureres, other than 'W', ever tried to amplify a reed organ, (some used the reeds as oscilators, i'm told.) so I don't know what the blower is about and if that is an item actually needed. Our local organ museum has an Orgatron, and I definitely am not a plumber....if you've ever seen the inside of such a beast. We've had it two years now and it's still not up and running. I'm afraid it's restoration may outlive some of its restorers! Back to the organ in question: It is quite big. Not sure if there are seperate amp cases, as none were mentioned and there seems to be a pretty complete list of pieces parts, but perhaps I missed it or the nomanclature just hasn't rang a bell.

                  Getting back to what was the gist of my original question, I'm not sure I can just hook three or four speakers to this and have a decent operating unit. I have heard 'tracks" mentioned by some, which might lead me to believe the sound leaves the organ in any number of different channels other than a conventional left, right , and sub base. If this is correct, I definitely don't have room for all the extra 'satelites'. Someone said these organs are very repairable, but they may have been talking about the later model units, so I don't know if I run into problems, should I undertake this, if parts are available and if they would be 'plug and play' or everything needing to be cut our and rewired/reworked/sodered, or, would it have been brazed back then. Ha Ha.

                  Anyway, its a beautiful piece and I appreciate all the current info and any more that might come now that I have supplied a model number. If nothing else, it keeps the conversation running here on the fourm.


                  • #10
                    The model number indicates a three-manual organ with five ranks of tone generators. This is one of the "Custom" Allens that were built near the end of the analog era. The tone generators and other significant electronics will be housed in a remote cabinet.

                    The Whind generators were small power supplies for the tone generators that created pipe-like random motion. The reference to "blowers" actually alludes to the Whind generators, not to actual fans that move air. The console might have three small lamps indicating that the Whind generators are functioning, possibly with a plate that says something like "Electronic Blowers." Again, these are not actual fans!

                    I took my first lesson on my church's Allen Custom in 1974, shortly after it was installed. I have felt to this day that it was a magnificent-sounding instrument that held its own against the rather large Zimmer pipe organ on which I studied with my second teacher. Certainly, these Customs far surpassed the sterile-sounding MOS1 digitals until the latter sprouted more random and chorus features to break up some of the electronic sound.

                    As far as speakers, yes, these would have been multi-channel organs with many large speaker cabinets. At the time, Allen was still using open-back cabinets, so despite the multiplicity and bulk of the speakers, they did little to enhance the sound. Modern cabinets (including Allen's own HC series) would be much smaller and more capable. The only loss in eliminating the original cabinets is to some of the random motion in the flutes, which was implemented using the Gyrophonic cabinets. (If you have not already figured it out, the Gyros contain rotating plates on which the speakers are mounted.) Likewise, flute tremolo would be lost because it was implemented by increasing the rotational speed of the gyros. You could easily attach small electronic random-motion units and even external tremolo generators (such as Allen's TREM III) if you do not care to retain the gyro speakers.

                    I urge--no, I implore--you to try to give this organ a good home. Not many of these large Customs are left in an unmodified state, and they deserve to be played and appreciated. The big challenge will be to find a place for the tone generator rack. It likely has a lengthy cable connecting it to the console at the moment. If you remove the organ yourself or supervise one who does, be certain that this wiring is fully marked and preferably disconnected at a terminal strip rather than simply chopped off. If it is, you will probably have more than enough cabling to locate the cabinet at some distance from the console, perhaps in a garage or basement.

                    These organs are almost trivial to troubleshoot and repair on a "micro-electronic" level (individual tone generators, keying circuits, etc.) because the circuits were fully mature and documented by that time. (In fact, another Forum member just put out a little book that summarizes the analog Allens). The big challenge is the physical size of the instrument with the enormous multiplicity of tone generators and cabling. I would not be scared off, however; as another member said, repairs are quite feasible. And yes, Allen will still have critical parts and will still support an authorized technician if you request service through a dealer.

                    If I had the space, I would buy this instrument myself should you not be interested. I believe I would enjoy it more than my ADC 7000 for the warmth of tone and the versatility. I believe you will be very pleased with it after dealing with the logistical issues of moving and installing it. There are a lot of analog Allen fans here on the Forum, and we can definitely provide additional guidance and advice.

                    Of course, the first task is to make the deal. I am thinking of a price in the $500 range given the age and bulk of the equipment. But you could go a bit higher--maybe to $1000--if you truly fall in love with it.



                    • #11
                      Don's right about the Allen build quality, but where would you put that huge tone control center? Also, they stopped making these soon after the Computer Organ came out in Spring 1971, so you're facing a complete recapping of the generators, amps, etc. I just finished recapping the generators from a 3D4-- it's not a job for the impatient.
                      For a church with room for the tone control center and speakers- I'd say go for it.
                      Don't forget that this organ is totally unified and duplexed and has only four basic sounds playing all over the organ (plus the flute and string celeste).


                      • #12
                        Thanks Philly!


                        • #13
                          The tone generation system is really clever on these Customs. Yes, they are unified to the hilt, but in such a way as to extract more tonal variety than one might expect. As one example, a single rank of generators is keyed at different voltages depending on the stops that are drawn--a reed rank might receive full keying voltage to make it a Trompette but a reduced voltage (developed using relays and resistors) to make it an Hautbois. As a second example, multiple ranks or multiple notes in a rank are keyed simultaneously for stops that have complex harmonic content. Additionally, the ranks are divided into two banks (such as Swell-Pedal and Great-Choir) so that divided expression is possible. This division typically results in two of the divisions having reeds and two not having any.

                          The small analog Allens (one or two ranks) were not very appealing because these tricks could not hide the fact that only one or two basic sounds were available. With five or six ranks, the effect became much more convincing. The instrument in question here has five ranks and I would expect it to sound quite authentic. The Allen I practiced on had six and gave little hint of any artificial electronic sound.



                          • #14
                            Our longtime Forum member Dell Anderson posted this video of a very large Custom that has since been removed from its home:


                            Even with compressed Internet audio it sounds impressive!


                            • #15
                              Thanks for the video Don. Please check your PMs....Bill