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MMD > Archives > February 1997 > 1997.02.01 > 01Prev  Next

Life of Materials in Pneumatic Instruments
By Bruce Clark

In response to Craig Brougher's letter on rebuilt Players that should last 20 to 60 years, I fully agree. They should!

My Seeburg Nickelodeon still has it's original pneumatics and pump cloth, still in excellent condition -- that's 75 years, and it's still going strong. The old spill valve is probably spilling 50% of the extra vacuum that it doesn't need!

In my case, I purchased an Ampico for my own use and enjoyment during my retirement years. I was fully aware of the importance of purchasing the best material; using the proper glue etc. for I am not anxious to do the work over again.

I purchased what I thought were the very best materials, from what I thought was the most reliable source. (where many of us purchase supplies) I did the work meticulously in 1994.

During a recent inspection of the player unit, I found holes in the pump cloth! and small leaks in the motor cloth! The pneumatics seem to be fine so far, and the neoprene hoses are good, but for how long? The materials do not come with a guarantee!

A fellow restorer related an incident of pouch leather that had a life of three years!

I assisted that fellow rebuild his Ampico back in 1956, and scolded him for not replacing the motor cloth on the tracker and rewind repeat pneumatics. His reply was: "... it is not leaking, so why replace it?" Today, I know I may have been wrong for scolding him. That original material is still on his Ampico, and still does not leak or show signs of wear! That which we replaced back then, was stricken with the" potato chip syndrome", and has been replaced a few times over the years.

It is frustrating do our best possible work using the best materials (sometimes the most costly) and see signs of failure in a short time.

In most cases, I do not think it fair to blame the supplier, as he had little to do with the manufacturing process.

In addition, I have noticed supplies are not consistent. One time I buy No.XX. best and finest pneumatic cloth, which turns out to be very fine indeed. The next time I buy the same No.XX. , I get the worst material I have ever seen! That is one of the reasons that influenced my retirement.

The technology was there in the 20's for the Seeburg... materials. Why can't these excellent materials of the past be replicated? If they are available, I would like to know! We all would like to know! Let's hear it from readers!

(Message sent Sat 1 Feb 1997, 14:32:25 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Instruments, Life, Materials, Pneumatic

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