Hello all, In MMD 980817 I was asked:
>[ Welcome aboard MMD, Douglas. What make is the 65/88 player?
>[ There's lot of interest in those, here in the Colonies ! -- Robbie
The dual standard player piano was made by Kastner and Co Ltd of
London, around 1911/12. As well as supplying the player mechanism in
their own pianos, Kastner also supplied it in a number of other makes.
The tracker bar contains a row of 65-note holes, and another of
88-note. Both of these are tubed to a brass switching unit mounted
behind the spool box. This unit is in three parts:
1) the input connected to the two sets of tracker bar holes
2) an output connected to the 88 stack pneumatics
3) a movable middle portion.
The middle portion is connected to a lever in the spool box, and is
used to switch between the two roll formats. By sliding up and down,
either the 88- or 65-note tracker bar holes are connected to the stack.
When in 65-note mode, the unused notes are blanked off.
To accommodate the different spool ends of 65- and 88-note rolls, an
adapter can be plugged into the 65-note spindle. Personally, I find
the ability to play both roll formats useful. I have found some quite
superb opera and operetta selections on 65-note rolls.
The main point of interest with this piano is the "Kastonome" accenting
mechanism. Peculiar to Kastner, the "Kastonome" can be used to accent
any number of playing notes individually, and simultaneously as the
unaccented notes. This is achieved by means of yet another 85 holes
in the tracker bar, one for each note (the top three notes are not
connected to this mechanism). These are arranged in 9 columns of 10
holes at the ends of the tracker bar. As can be imagined, tubing up
that tracker bar was an absolute nightmare!
The Kastonome works separately on the secondary valves, and controls
the amount of suction applied to each individual stack pneumatic.
This thus varies the volume of the relevant note. The percussive
nature of a piano is exploited by the Kastonome: only when the start
of a playing note and associated accenting hole coincide will it have
The system would appear to work, as by switching the mechanism on and
off could be used to vary the volume of the playing. (When switched
'off', all notes are played as accented, when 'on' notes are normally
subdued.) However, not having any suitable rolls it was not possible
to test the system in anger.
Unfortunately, I found that the tubing from the spool box to the
accenting mechanism tended to become tangled up with the piano hammers,
so I removed them (the tubes - not the hammers :-). With the original
tubes being lead, they could be shaped so as to avoid the hammers. If
I ever find some 'Kastonome' rolls, I may put my mind to finding a way
to overcome this problem.