The OHS Pipe Organ Database

BuilderID 1273

Builder Identification

Chicago, Illinois, 1889-1890; succeeded by the Latham firm.

Additional Notes

  • From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, revised edition, by David H. Fox (Organ Historical Society, 1997). -

    Makers of water motors in Chicago, Illinois, 1889-1890; succeeded by the Latham firm.


    • Stopt Diapason #43 (Newsletter of the Chicago Chapter of the Organ Historical Society).

  • From the OHS Database Builders Listing editor, December 2, 2016. -

    The water motor was a variation on the water mill, but using running tap water instead of a natural stream. Small motors using the public water supply came into extensive use in the 1870s and 1880s in the United States. A water motor consisted of a small water turbine that was suspended in a metal casing.

    The smallest water motors were used to run sewing machines, jigsaws, fans, and other similarly mechanized items. The larger water motors were recommended for operating coffee grinders, jeweler's and locksmith's lathes, grindstones, and church organs replacing the 'bellows boys' who pumped the earlier organs.


    • Lloyd Alter, "Unintended consequences: motors driven by tap water"
      ( accessed Sept 13, 2015.

    Since churches of the era did not pay taxes for public utilities, this supplied a free power source to operate the organ. William Barnes claimed this kept the devices in use for a while after electric blowers became common. -Ed.

Database Entries

There are no entries in the database that describe organs by Climax Water Motor.

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