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MMD > Archives > February 1999 > 1999.02.05 > 08Prev  Next

Repairing Damaged Piano Rolls
By John Ward

I've been reading the thread on roll reading techniques with great
interest.  With the help of a friend, I plan to begin some experiments
of my own this spring, and all this information is most helpful.
Meanwhile, all I have is my player piano, so Spencer Chase's frustra-
tion of trying to play damaged rolls pneumatically sounds very

I "inherited" a lot of rolls from a record collector; he acquired these
over a period of years but never had a piano.  He paid no heed to their
condition, and of course a lot of them are in trouble.  Being deter-
mined to hear them, I started trying things to render them playable,
and would like to share a little of what I've tried.  No doubt many of
you have even better methods; of course I'd love to hear them too.

I've had amazingly good luck flattening warped rolls just by ironing
them.  I use a small iron, sold in hobby shops for applying covering
to model airplanes; I think it is also sold in photo shops for mounting
slides.  If the edges have been repaired with Scotch tape it gets
messy, but often the heat will remove the tape so you can redo the

The repair tape I use is Film-O-Plast, which is made expressly for
repairing paper documents.  (I don't understand why QRS recommends
Magic tape.  Not good.)  Film-O-Plast is sold by archival paper supply
shops, and comes in several formulas.  Type "P" is a very thin, strong
tissue that is nearly transparent.  Thios works very well, but you've
got to apply it right the first time.

I've been experimenting with type "R", which is a more delicate tissue,
with a heat-sensitive adhesive.  It's not as strong, but can be folded
over an edge and holds up pretty well.  The big plus is the adhesive,
which lets you position the tape precisely, then iron it in place.
While the adhesive is hot the tape conforms to the surface; an edge
repair comes out flat even if you're a bit sloppy.  Heat (or acetone)
will remove the tape if necessary, so the repair is not cast in stone.

Since the tape is transparent (type "R" is translucent), it should also
be fine for repairing rolls for optical reading.  The long term proper-
ties of the adhesive are unspecified, but the paper is acid-free, so
should outlast the rolls.

With apologies to Ampico owners: If the edge is totally wiped out,
I replace it with new paper.  This requires some surgery -- I lay the
new paper under the old, secure them both in place with weights, and
cut away the jagged edge, making sure the blade cuts through both
sheets.  This leaves a clean edge and a new patch that matches the
gash.  Using the above methods to attach the patch, I've had great
success.  Of course, if the bite is really deep, you'll lose some
notes this way, but at least you can play what's left.

Hope this is some help,

John Ward

(Message sent Thu 4 Feb 1999, 21:04:12 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Damaged, Piano, Repairing, Rolls

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