My first homemade "O" roll orchestrion was a 1922 Neuman Brothers piano
that started out in life as a regular upright, and not a player.
The two-tier stack was homemade. I started out with 1"x4" maple
boards, and the upper and lower valve seats were nylon washers for
a CB radio antenna. The valves were Player Piano Co. "standard"
guides, discs and stems. The valves were vertical, and the pneumatics
were upside down, to engage the screws on the piano stickers, like on
an old Baldwin Manualo. The stack was compact enough that the folding
fallboard was kept in place. The pneumatics were covered with far more
span than needed, with jack regulating eyes and letoff buttons inside
the pneumatics to limit the stroke, serving as a stop rail.
The spool frame was from RAM (Ragtime Automated Music). I threw away
the plastic tracker bar and installed a "real" brass tracker bar. The
suction box was home built and the equalizers were salvaged from an old
standard foot pump.
The xylophone was unique, and worked flawlessly. The beaters were
made from an abbreviated upright piano action, with every other hammer
and whippen removed. The felt was removed from the hammers, leaving
the molding, and then slotted pieces of wooden dowels were glued to
the hammer molding to form the beaters. This had the advantage of the
beaters having an escapement, and dampers as well! It was loud and
clear. The pneumatics were of the same design as the stack, except
without the bleeds. This looked rather weird, with its own set of
wippens, hammer butts and backchecks!
The mandolin rail was made from spring loaded standard valve stems,
when needed, it would slide sideways, and the hammer shanks would bump
the tips into the strings. The drums came from a pawn shop.
The piano ended up sounding just as good as any of the build-ups and
I was very proud of it. The piano was in the shop for three years,
until a certain fellow came by and wanted it, so I quoted a price that
I thought was too high, but alas, he paid me without a whimper. My
next addition was to be an accordion and stained glass, but I never
got that far.
Tempola Music Rolls
San Fernando, CA