Author Topic: Dating a Wurlitzer  (Read 3514 times)

Offline Rob A

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Dating a Wurlitzer
« on: November 21, 2011, 08:14:06 AM »
You can take a look at the EIA code on  the power transformer to get a very general idea. I have 2 later 200A's with the Wurlitzer logo's on the back, one transformer stamped 9th week of '81, the other is stamped 29th week of '79.   Of course Wurlitzer probably used whatever stock they had lying around, so while it is not a very accurate way to date, at least you can determine that it was produced after a certain week/year. 

Also same idea with the EIA code the back of the Vib pot.   

http://www.triodeel.com/eiacode.htm

Offline DocWurly (formerly Paleophone)

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Re: Dating a Wurlitzer
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2017, 11:32:51 AM »
Threads on this topic:

http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=9303.msg50803#msg50803

http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=9359.0

It is now clear that for all Wurlitzers from mid-1962 on, there are coded 8- or 5- digit date stamps on the wood of various parts of the Wurlitzer.  These may pre-date the assembly date of the instrument, but they are generally the latest and most accurate dates on the instrument.

The most reliably available and easiest-to-access coded date stamp is on the rear treble side of the main rail assembly, upside down, behind the damper arm rods.  You  will see a part number of "A-60-5" or, in many/all of the 1962-early 1968 examples, "A-60-2." The 8-digit stamp will be in the vicinity of that part number.

The other place an 8-digit stamp appears is on the keys themselves, usually repeated a couple of times on the far bass or far treble keys.  (There may also be part numbers or other stamps....you need to find the specific one that follows this format.)  This date may be chronologically very close to the other one, or it might differ by days, weeks, or even close to a year, so it is most accurate to check both stamps.  There is no consistency to which stamp has the latest date.  The dates seem to have something to do with when those respective parts were manufactured or inspected, as opposed to when the instrument was finally assembled.

The code is YMMDDxxx.  (The last three digits are perhaps an employee code, but that has not been confirmed).  Sometimes a 5 digit code is found on the keybed, usually under the treble and or bass keys.  These numbers may not match each other, and they mean YMMDD.

We are used to seeing 2 or 4 digit codes for years, which perhaps why this code escaped detection for so long.  The "Y" is a single digit, meaning it does not tell you the decade in which the instrument was made.  A May 13, 1972 instrument will read 20513xxx, but so will one produced in 1982 on the same date.  So you need to know the general range of years your instrument was produced.  But as no instrument was made for more than a decade, this isn't really a problem.

100 (prototype):1954
110: Dec 1954-early 1955
111:1955
112:1955-6
112A: 1956
120: very late 1956 to 1961 or early 1962
700 (console): 1958 to 1961 or early 1962

There is usually a conventional, if abbreviated, date stamp on the wood of the action of the 110 through 112. (There is sometimes a M-YY) date stamped into the SIDE of the lowest key on early models)  With the 120 and 700, the most consistent dating I've found is a piece of handwritten masking tape hidden on the back of the reed bar.  There may be other stamps on the wood or electronics (esp speakers) in certain cases.

Then the 8-digit code begins.  The early-mid 1960's models:
140/145/720: 1962-3
140A/145A/720A:1963-4
720A: 1963-late 1965
145B: late 1964-late 1965
140B/146B/146: 1964-1968
720B/726B/726: late 1965-1968 (max range presumed, very little data)

200 (no A) series, including 203W/207V/214V and 106/106P: late 1968-late 1974
200A series, including all other 2xx model #'s with an "A", plus 205, 210, 215, 270, and 200B: late 1974- May 1983.

The German 201 and 300 were made in the early 1970s.  They have date stamps on them, especially on the keybed under the keys, but don't follow the 8-digit code.


Exceptions:
***On earlier 1962 Wurlitzers, there is an 6-digit stamp. This is YWWxxx.  So a stamp of 228093 means the 28th week of 1962, or July 9-15, 1962.

***Very rarely, you may find an anomalous code.  For example, the second and third digit should only have a range of "01" to "12",  The 4th and 5th digit should be a number from "01" to "31" that would correspond to the number of days in the matching month. 

Keep in mind that these numbers were on stamps that would be seen backwards by the people setting them up.  It wouldn't be too difficult to flip a few digits.  In the cases I've found one of these codes, it's usually decipherable by checking the other date codes on the piano.

Here's an example: 
http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=9359.msg51349#msg51349

All other date stamps indicated this was a September-October 1967 instrument, but there was a stamp of "13907."  It appears this was DD-MM(backwards)-Y.  Human error.

***In addition, there is a range of early 720's from 1962 where the keystamper seemingly didn't understand the new 8-digit coding system, and used "YYMDDxxx" in bright red ink.  (Such a system would have become unworkable in the later months of the year).  On these, "62813208" probably means August 13, 1962.  (In fact, both examples I've seen of this share this code, and have an October 1962 code on the action/main rail, still using 6-digits.)

***Instruments with date stamps that differ by more than a year have probably been Frankensteined together.  It is easy enough to replace a keybed.  In one case, I believe I found a 1970 main rail screwed into a 1962 model 140, with all the original action parts replaced.






« Last Edit: December 01, 2018, 11:22:50 AM by DocWurly (formerly Paleophone) »

Offline Tonewheel

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Re: Dating a Wurlitzer
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2018, 06:56:59 PM »
Very interesting and helpful thread!

My 200A has A-60-5 and 60914282 stamps.

Would this make it Tuesday, September 14, 1976? The serial number ends with L, suggesting Logan, Utah.

Thanks
1955 B3, Leslie 21H and 147. Hammond 100 with weird Leslie 205. 1976 Rhodes. Wurlitzer 200A. Yamaha DX7/TX7. Korg M1. Yamaha C3 grand, 67 Tele blond neck, Les Paul Standard, PRS 24, Gibson classical electric, Breedlove acoustic electric, Strat, P Bass, Rogers drum kit, Roland TD 12 digital drums, Apollo quad, older blackfaced Fender Twin, other amps, mics and bits and pieces cluttering up the "studio."

Offline DocWurly (formerly Paleophone)

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Re: Dating a Wurlitzer
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2018, 10:22:30 PM »
You got it.  That's the ballpark, based on the action rail assembly or inspection date, though the final assembly date of the whole instrument would have been a little later.  You can also triangulate with the transformer and the 8-digit stamp on the keys, and get a more accurate reading.

What's the serial number?  I have a surprisingly scant amount of data on Wurlies from that year.  I'm gonna guess that the first three digits are 106 or 107.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2018, 10:26:49 PM by Paleophone »

Offline DocWurly (formerly Paleophone)

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Re: Dating a Wurlitzer
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2018, 11:01:46 AM »
Some other things to look for:

*The capacitors of mid-60's Wurlitzers, specifically with 140 or 140B amps, have pretty clear coding of YYWW.  So a capacitor reading 6650 would have been from late December 1966, and the keyboard is probably from early 1967.  Sometimes these dates are surprisingly close to the other dates you'll find in a Wurlitzer.

*Speakers can give you a hint.  In the 1950's Wurlitzers (specifically the 120 and 700), the speaker is sometimes the latest easy-to-locate source of a date on the thing. The first line will be a part number, and the second line will include the date. If you find the number "232 933" on the back bracket of a 700 speaker, "232" is the company code, and 933 means "33rd week of 1959."  In the later 720 and 720A series, however, they were using up the 12" speakers from the 700's, and you might easily find a 1960 speaker in a 1964 instrument.  So these are only very rough guides. (On the other hand, the speaker dates are sometimes the latest dates in a 1962 Model 140 and a 1968 Model 140B!)

*On a 120 and 700, the other best clue as to the date of the instrument is usually a piece of masking tape hidden on the back of the reedbar, with handwritten scribbles on it.  And the serial number will give you an idea of whether it is an earlier (circa 1957 for 120, circa 1958 for 700) or later (circa 1961) instrument.




Offline izzythecat

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Re: Dating a Wurlitzer
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2018, 11:45:13 AM »
One thing that was not mentioned - tube codes.

I recently acquired a pristine example of a 720a. I disassembled it to clean out the 5+ decades of dust and to check the condition of the mechanicals. As I cleaned the dust off the tubes, I noticed they were all branded Wurlitzer, original equipment. All the silk screened print was clear and complete.

As I am a tube aficionado, I easily found the date codes on the tubes. The preamp tube 6K11 was built by GE during the 22nd week of 1965. The rectifier tube, the 6CA4 is an RCA produced during the 17th week of 1964. The power tubes, 7868, were twins, manufactured by RCA during the 9th week of 1965. (Date codes can be deciphered here - https://www.tubemuseum.org/)

The 8 digit stamp on the keys had the first numeral smeared, both on the bass side of the keyboard and the treble side. The stamp reads X0421370.

The speaker only had a part number and manufacturer code stamped on it, the manufacturer being Carbonneau. I suppose I could pull the pots to see their date codes but that will be for a later time.

With the preamp tube being the youngest of the bunch, I think I can confidently say that this is a 1965.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 11:50:18 AM by izzythecat »

Offline cinnanon

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Re: Dating a Wurlitzer
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2018, 01:22:25 PM »
The 8 digit stamp on the keys had the first numeral smeared, both on the bass side of the keyboard and the treble side. The stamp reads X0421370.

My 8 digit stamp code was 40422442 (1964) but the action is stamped 50304055 (1965). Your keys are probably 1964 also.

The speaker only had a part number and manufacturer code stamped on it, the manufacturer being Carbonneau.

My carbonneau speaker reads 651109-1, 719, 417 which probaly 1965 also. What's yours say?