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MMD > Archives > May 2016 > 2016.05.25 > 11Prev  Next

Provenance, Roll Tracking & Motor Value
By David Dewey

Provenance on mass-manufactured goods is often difficult, unless that
item has had very few owners -- like my 1930 Model A Ford, bought new
by Mr. Green, left out to sit on his passing, and finally Mrs. Green
passed it on to my family and eventually me.  However, all I can tell
you about it is that it was assembled in the San Francisco Ford
assembly plant.  I have no idea what dealer sold it new or where.
It is in the background of family pictures back to 1949 (the Greens
lived on the family's resort).

Same thing with _most_ player pianos.  Usually all one can find is the
year, or the range of years in which it was made.  Sometimes a store
decal can tell you where first sold, sometimes there are tuners' notes
that can give you some ideas.  I once found a long note under the keys
in one piano the told us where it was in 1934, and what work was done
at that time.  Some folks have researched particular player makes and
have uncovered quite a bit of information on production date.

Roll Tracking problem:

David, closer flanges on the take-up spool will likely give you more
problems; it sounds like the tracking fingers need adjusting; this
adjustment can be a  bit finicky, also the shifting bellows need to be
flexible and air-tight, and the valve pouches sensitive, and the valves
in good condition (if it has valves, some tracking mechanisms don't).

Damage on rewind is usually caused by the tracking mechanism not
centering and shutting off during rewind.  My Recordo has no automatic
tracking mechanism; one has to shift the tracker bar with a thumb wheel
to adjust the tracking.  Although I think I have everything in good
alignment, on old rolls I can get edge damage on rewind if I leave it
on the electric motor.

Fortunately my piano also has a foot pedal option, so I rewind with the
foot pedals so I can go at it very slowly and catch any edge curling
almost before it happens.  I learned this technique the hard way!  Not
many expression nor reproducing pianos have the foot-pedal option

And last (but not least), the value of an electric motor.  Egad,
a complex question as it depends on the motor's condition (bearings
good, cleaned & rebuilt, old and dusty/dirty?), scarcity of the motor
itself (some are harder to find than others), and then there is the
expense of shipping such a heavy item.

Finally there is the demand, or lack thereof for that motor.  Back
to the old car example -- just because a particular car is rare (or
scarce) does not automatically raise its value, it depends on how
popular that make of car is in the hobby.  Unfortunately our player
piano world appears to be in a value decline (for old upright ones,
a very steep decline, it might be compared to a cliff-- in my opinion,
of course!).  I would add a smiley face to that last comment, except
it's not a happy statement!

If you have a buyer, I'd work with him or her, otherwise your heirs
will probably send it to the recyclers when you leave this existence.
(And yes, I'm starting to follow my own advice about "stuff"!  For
an at least second-generation hoarder this is difficult!).

Play 'em if ya got 'em!

David Dewey

(Message sent Wed 25 May 2016, 23:17:52 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Motor, Provenance, Roll, Tracking, Value

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