MONEYPIT - Mar '04

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M400 #1037

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MONEYPIT NORTH:  March 19-22, 2004


MONEYPIT was back in northwestern Vermont in March of 2004, again at Mellotron Professor Jerry Korb's place.

This year it was a celebration of bringing back Mark II #134 (ex. Mike Pinder) from a neglected state as well as getting li'l M400 #1037 back humming on its own.  There was also the chance to see Jerry's finely restored M300, sounding as nice as ever, and we revisited Julia, Jerry's Mark I.

Let's round up who was there this time:

Hosts:  Jerry and Mali Korb
AttendeesKen Leonard, Ken Merbler, Frank Samagaio (author of The Mellotron Book)


I unloaded M400 #1037 from the car after a 4+ hour ride from Boston through intermittent snow flurries and squalls. 

March 19 was the last day of winter, so, OK, that snow stuff is fine, but Saturday was springtime, so no more snow, right?  Ha ha haaaaa...yeah, OK.  My ride was a bit longer than usual because I happened to be listening to Edgar Froese's "Epsilon in Malaysian Pale" and in a fairly deep coma as I blew by exit 10 on I89.  No matter---I took the next exit and stopped in Essex, got some stout brewed by a local brewer, and got to enjoy a few more of the back roads of Vermont as I made my way over to Jerry's place. 

Jerry and Mali's home in Vermont is along a dirt road that was a bit rutted and sloppy but still somewhat frozen.  Already late, I had to stop for some geese that were taking their sweet time about crossing the road.  I was thinking feathery road pizza, but, ya know, that's not in the spirit of the peaceful Mellotron community, which is more content with boozing it up and burning things.  So I just gritted my teeth and backed off the gas.  Eventually I made it to Jerry's driveway, and drove the 540' and up the hill to Jerry's garage where we unloaded #1037 and brought it into the basement along with my bag of tools and the care package from the UK.

As always, it was a pleasure seeing Jerry and Mali (Mrs. Jerry) again!  They're wonderful hosts and most tolerant of us rowdy Mellotron people.

The Basement Workshop

Looking at the basement panorama plus what was upstairs, I think we had more than "fifteen feet of linear 'tron" in attendance:


Mark I - "Julia"


Mark II - "The Pindertron"


M300 - the one that was dropped off a forklift several years ago


JK MK6 - Jerry's home-made Mark V


(2) M400 - one Jerry's original machine, the other the "Mouseotron" #1037


It's hard to imagine six machines all in the same place, except maybe the Streetly shop, Pierre V.'s living room, or the Tokyo Mellotron Studio.  But this is the back roads of Vermont...?

Consider the rarity of an M300, the even more rare Mark I, and the unique JK MK6.  And consider the fortune to be able to see and play a machine owned for years by Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, now in excellent running order.  The M400s?  OK, they're cute, but it's more like having Beetles show up at a Ferrari convention:  We love 'em, but the bigger ones get the girls, right?

(And, for that matter, why aren't any girls interested in any of this, except maybe Maxine and mellotrongirl?  I should have stuck with guitar and kept my hair long.)

After I settled in and had a stout, Jerry and I wandered to the basement where we did a little work on #1037---and I got a sneak preview of the Pindertron.  I was disappointed that I couldn't stay an extra day back in October to see its arrival and what it looked like before, but from what pictures I've seen, the transformation is stunning.  Jerry ran the Pindertron through the amps in the JK MK6, and I was able to check it out.  Mechanically it's top notch now (cycling very well, now that the SSCUs have been reworked...troubleshot, then reworked again), the playability is excellent, and the sound is awesome.  But more on that later.

The evening began with a nice repast courtesy of Mali.  Later on Jerry and I drove on out to the quaint Burlington, VT airport where we chatted about things 'tronic until Ken Merbler and Frank Samagaio arrived on their delayed flights.  On the way back from the airport we all got to catch up, and Frank was sternly warned about waiting until the morning to see his restored Mark II.  Could you wait?  Well, we made Frank wait.

Ken and I got rooms at the Jefferson House B&B in the nearby town of Jeffersonville for the weekend (Debbie does a nice breakfast), so we were off for the night, leaving Frank to ponder the Mark II Pindertron with visions of pinch rollers dancing in his head.

In the morning the Mark II would be revealed, and later that day #1037 would come back to life, each machine having been dormant and in a non-working state for a decade or more.

Mt. Mansfield - Vermont
Mt. Mansfield

MONEYPIT:  Mellotron Owners of New England
a.k.a. "Mellotron Owners Needing Excessive Yen for Purchases for Improving their Trons"

A fellowship of those in the northeastern United States saddled with huge bills and creditors knocking at the door because of an unexplainable obsession with cantankerous "tape replay devices."

Well, actually, MONEYPIT gatherings are open to just about anyone, as long as at least one Mellotron owner from New England is in attendance.  So if your machine is in need of a weekend of TLC, give Jerry a shout, let me know about it, and let's meet in Vermont!  Any excuse for another MONEYPIT Adventure...

Disclaimers:  The Mellotron name is owned by Mellotron Archives.
If you get any fix-it-up advice from these pages, I'm saying this right here right now:  Your Humble Scribe is an amateur at things Mellotronic and electronic.  What YOU do with YOUR machine is up to YOU.
If you even think of asking me to repair stuff for you, I suggest that you get professional help.

Web Pages Credits
Photographs by Jerry Korb ("A" and "B" series), Ken Leonard, and Ken Merbler ("C" series)
Movie source from Ken Merbler, edited by Ken Leonard
Audio bits compiled from 4 hours of Minidisc by Ken Merbler, further distilled to mere seconds by Ken Leonard
Initial construction and text by Ken Leonard
Additional text (OK, corrections) from Jerry Korb
Editorial by Jerry Korb, Ken Merbler, and Frank Samagaio