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MMD > Archives > May 1996 > 1996.05.08 > 04Prev  Next


Phillips PC-7 and the Pillow Fight!
By Ron Yost

Hi Stephen K.Goodman and Digestees!

Thanks to Les Smith and Stephen K. Goodman for your very helpful explanations of pillow-pouch making in the Digest recently [96.04.15 & 96.05.05], and to Mike Ames and David Wasson for calling with their lengthy explanation! Now all I need is the time to get to my Phillips and apply the info. (And about 3 stout lads to help lift the heavy action out of it - being vastly [but beautifully] over-engineered, as the German Orchestrions were.) For those interested, my PC-7 is just like the one pictured at the top of p.568 of Bowers' "Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments"; except mine doesn't have an automatic roll-changer (sigh).

It's a very clean piano, with no cracks in the soundboard (none visible, at least) and the beautifully engineered suction pump operates via a metal camshaft - no wooden pump sticks. The pulley nearest the motor in the picture is directly on the camshaft. The pump has not been recovered but looks brand new.

The one component missing is the motor! Does anyone have any advice as to a suitable American replacement? Or, perhaps, a spare European original they'd be willing to sell? I know I need a slow-speed motor (1025 r.p.m.?), but what H.P. would be adequate? The double-reduction built-in via the pulleys means the speed will be greatly reduced, and the effective H.P. increased, so I doubt it would need a very large motor. I realize the electrics will need re-wired in any case.

I made a mistake in my original post by saying the pillow pouches are pouch leather - they are, of course, zephyr skin - a material I've not worked with before. I don't believe there's any coating on the existing pouches, though it would be hard to tell after all this time. Stephen says the zephyr skin is very porous but I thought zephyr skin was_less_porous than leather? I'll have to check that one out as I sure don't want to alter the bleeds - which would be impossble anyhow as they're a celluloid strip buried down in the beautiful wooden tracker bar/bleed box/fluf-catcher ass'y. One curious thing about the Phillips PC-7 is the roll runs backwards - from bottom to top! It uses the same Mandolin-PianOrchestra (PM) roll as other Phillips and Wurlitzer PianOrchestras, but reads it upside-down! Wonder why?

It has a 30-note Xylophone (top 30 notes) and the lead tracker-bar tubing for those 30 notes runs directly up to the xylophone valve box FIRST, and then back down to the stack valves. Odd?

Mike Ames was nice enough to call and explain in great detail how he and David Wasson had figured out a 'production line' method making for pillow-pouches. In the interest of adding to our 'pool of knowledge' here, I'll try writing it up. If Mike and David read this and I've left out any important bits, please let me know so I can make corrections!

They made them in a long 'tube', using a turned metal mandrel, and cut them up in little pieces afterward. He first opened a few pouches up using a microwave oven and calculated an average size for the longest dim. Then, subtracting about 1/8" overlap, turned a round metal cylinder a couple feet long the circumference of the needed size. They next covered the mandrel with a layer of Radio-Shack plastic shopping bag material so the zephyr 'tube' can be slid off the cylinder easily. (Mike says the R.S. bags are the most 'slippery'.)

Using a syringe, they apply a thin bead of *liquid* hide-glue along one edge; roll the z.s. around; run a finger along the seam to seal it and leave it sit to set up. Then it's slid off the mandrel and cut-up into the required lengths, allowing for about 1/8 in. extra on each end which will be glued and folded-under to seal the pouches. Each one is flattened and creased, with the seam in the approximate center of the bottom (where the hole will be). Mike punches the holes with a hand-held 1/4" paper hole-punch and he used paper hole-reinforcements for the gaskets - the hide glue on the reinforcements sticks like mad to the z.s. [Problem is finding the reinforcements. I can't find any of the old-style which were some kind of woven stuff. All the new ones seem to be plastic and self-adhesive, which won't do at all. I have an old box of them, but not enough. Anyone have any they'd like to sell, as their value just increased dramatically!? :-)]

Then he uses the syringe again and squirts a very thin bead of glue inside each open end and folds them under; placing a weight on them 'till they're_almost_dry. He said if one catches them before they're completely dry you can 'pop open' any that are sticking in the corners of the fold by placing the hole over a 1/4 in. nipple and *gently* blowing on it. The pouch will pop open, and any stuck areas will open - unless they're too badly stuck, in which case they're tossed away. This is also how they're checked for leaks once they're dry (the escaping air can be heard and felt). Allow for a few extras anyway, as some will doubtless be useless.

That's about it for the Patented Solana Instruments Method <g>, and I'm most grateful to Les, Mike and Stephen and all who've helped me out with the art and science of Pillow Pouches!

About the liquid hide glue: It may not be available outside the U.S. Here, it's made by Franklin (of Tightbond fame [or infamy]). I think it's composed of a mixture of hide glue and glycerin (along with some form of anti-rot ingredient), so the hide glue remains liquid at room temperature. I haven't tried making my own, but I'd bet adding glycerin to hot hide-glue would work?? Anybody tried it? Craig B. perhaps?

Thanks again, and I'm anxiously awaiting the new song, Stephen! Anything I can do to help?? Oh, and to Phil Jamison: I need a couple of lamps too!!!


(Message sent Wed 8 May 1996, 20:59:49 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Fight, PC-7, Phillips, Pillow

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