The mention in today's MMD of a Cooper roll frame brought my mind back
to the ex-husband & wife team of Jill and George Cooper out in Kansas,
and made me wonder what became of them. Does anyone know?
George Cooper was a maker of good-quality roll frames among other things,
and Jill Cooper produced very good replicas of Wurlitzer unit blocks.
Eventually she stopped due to her health, and I believe Gordon Forcier
bought her jigs. A note by Dave Vincent in MMD 2001.07.15 about
replacement parts for George's roll frames says that Gordy bought his
equipment with the intention of making frames.
The only place I know of where you can buy replacement unit blocks of
the Wurlitzer kind (as opposed to the Lauter/Lane plastic blocks) is
Player Piano Company. They are generally rougher than Jill's blocks
were and are coated with Pheno-Seal or a similar nasty plastic coating
rather than being shellacked. But their major difference is that their
valve stem lacks the screw thread which allows you to easily adjust the
throw of the valve. This fine-tuning adjustment is particularly
necessary when the unit blocks are used in a dual-tracker organ, if you
want to optimize repetition and performance.
I don't know who today is making roll frames of Cooper quality.
Matthew Caulfield (Irondequoit, N.Y.)