General Public Rebuilding a Player Piano
Dear Rolls, Merry Christmas! My name is Denny Thomas and I live
in Coralville, Iowa. I've been rather slow in carefully reading my
Mechanical Music Digests and I just came across the postings pertaining
to a general-public-type person rebuilding a player piano.
I am definitely a general public category type person. Since I was
a little kid I always wanted to own a player piano and restore it.
Several years ago I found a really honest and knowledgeable antique
dealer who specializes in phonographs, radios, and players: Tom Dawson,
from Washington IA. He sold me a 1919 Brinkerhoff piano with a Shultz
player action. It was a basket case.
Armed with Tom's guidance, the book by Art Reblitz, the Internet, and
technical help from Player Piano Company, I rebuilt that player. New
tuning pins and strings, case repaired and refinished, total overhaul
and regulation of the action, and complete restoration of the stack.
In other words, the whole nine yards. I am an elementary music teacher
and it only took four years of my spare time to complete the project.
I finished last October and, joyfully, it plays and sounds beautifully.
From my personal experience I agree with the comments that a general
public type person can rebuild a player and do a good job, as long as
that person has patience and commitment, willing to face a zillion
frustrations, and is not in a rush, and is taking pride in the quality
of work being done.
The line in the Reblitz book that made me tense was when Reblitz
commented on the Shultz action. He recommends that a beginner restore
several easier stacks before tackling a Shultz. Well, I bought the
piano because it was in my price range and when I tore it apart and
then discovered the Shultz action, I was disheartened. Nevertheless,
it was simply a matter of full speed ahead.
I readily admit, I was extremely fortunate to have had access to an
experienced restorer and mentor as patient as Tom Dawson. He was
always unselfish with his time. I was blessed.
I'm not sure rebuilding a player is for everybody. All I can say
is that, for me, resurrecting that Brinkerhoff was a dream come true.
I play it everyday.
Best wishes for the new year.