Wallace Venable is correct that Valley Forge Music Rolls is no
longer in business. The laser perforator that was used to produce
those rolls is still owned by Donald Neilson, Sr., in Norristown,
Pennsylvania. But Frank Himpsl, who ran it, has moved to Colorado
and no longer has easy access to the machine. I am told that there
is someone in the Neilson organization who knows how to run the
perforator but has no time to do it.
The laser perforator would be a blessing to people needing single
copies or short runs of copies of music rolls, if someone in the
Norristown area could be taught to run it. I know at least one person
in nearby Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, who has expressed interest in
Play-Rite Music Rolls, Inc., in Turlock, California, can cut Wurlitzer
rolls from MIDI files but they do not do any single-copy or short-run
work. This has both an economic and a technical basis. Technically,
the perforator does not cleanly cut just one or two copies; I think
that you need at least a half dozen thicknesses of paper to get clean
cutting. Economically, it takes as much labor and time to cut a full
run, which is about sixteen copies, as it does to produce a short run.
Mike Grant, in Columbia City, Indiana, was cutting Wurlitzer rolls
in shorter runs than sixteen copies, but not from MIDI files. His
perforator began showing so much wear a few years ago that it couldn't
satisfactorily operate all of the seventy-five punch pins that a
Style 165 roll requires, although he could still cut 150 and 125 rolls,
working around the inoperative punches. But Mike has told me that,
given the work involved and the market for rolls, his enthusiasm just
isn't there today.
I am told that the late Julie Johnson was having a very versatile roll
perforator made for her in Europe. But at her death, the total cost of
the machines manufacture had not been paid so the machine sits in the
shop of the person who contracted to build it.
Irondequoit, New York