In MMD 03.04.23 Ian Griggs from Sydney is looking for a tracker bar
pump for his player piano. I would like to warn people about the use
of the tracker bar pump on some of the newer 1970 and later players.
I am speaking primarily about the newer players like Universal, which
used Perflex or similar rubber material for the pouches.
When you use the pump, it exerts a large vacuum on the tracker bar
holes to pull any paper dust from the lines. This helps keep the hoses
and bleeds free of the paper dust. While keeping the lines free of
dirt, this pumping also exerts a large stress on the pouches.
If the pouches are weak and/or made of Perflex, they are certainly
going to split open under the added pressure. You can usually detect
a broken pouch by (1) the note doesn't play, and (2) listening to the
amount of air going into the tracker bar hole for that note. If more
air is going through the bad note hole, you could have a broken pouch.
This condition doesn't hurt the player but it does spoil the music.
Even under normal playing of the piano, the Perflex pouches can split.
Using the tracker bar pump only causes the failure to happen earlier in
the life of the player.
I should note that I have not seen a split pouch on a player that used
the traditional pouch leather. Even when the leather is fairly old,
it seems to hold up under this added stress of the tracker bar pump.
Do I recommend using the tracker bar pump? The answer is usually 'yes'
as long as it isn't a Universal player.
Pete Knobloch (Tempe Arizona, USA)