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MMD > Archives > November 1996 > 1996.11.12 > 09Prev  Next

Ragola Orchestrion Conversions
By Michael Woolf

Bob Ebert (Digest 96.11.08) asks about Ragola orchestrion conversions. I'm no expert but have built a few of these kits and here are my comments.  I don't know the kits Craig Brougher described but he refers to aluminum extrusions.The Ragola units are all plastic extrusions and I admire them for the following reasons:

   1) Their design has its own integrity.  It is not an attempt to
      replicate original historical orchestrion technology but is an
      original approach using modern methodologies.  What you
      arebuilding is a modern realization of a pneumatic orchestrion.

   2) The units provide an affordable means for a collector to acquire
      an orchestrion.  New Zealand has no original orchestrions or
      nickelodeons, so any instruments here have been impoorted in
      recent years.  Here in Wellington my friend Jim Harper and I have
      built two complete units and have another half-built at time of
      writing.  (Although there are a few Ragola instruments in
      Australia they were imported in complete form.  We believe we are
      the first builders south of the Equator!)

   3) The instrument is fun to build.  We're not experts and we can't
      afford to buy on today's international market where anything like
      a restored orchestrion could well be worth in excess of $US20,000
      - plus freight, and with the $NZ worth about 0.70cents US . . .
      But by buying a gutted upright ex-foot-pumper, restoring the
      piano and case, and then dealing with the Ragola Co. we have
      achieved several fun instruments.

I should say that I have no connection with the Ragola Corp. but I've found them good to deal with.  If Bob wants to contact me directly I'd be happy to give more specific information.

Best wishes to all

michael woolf
new zealand
(location - bottom of the Pacific Ocean, east of Australia)

(Message sent Tue 12 Nov 1996, 01:27:36 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Conversions, Orchestrion, Ragola

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