The dual-spoolbox Steinway Welte reported on by Tom Steuer in
yesterday's MMD is quite familiar to me, since I am the person who
designed and built the dual spoolbox. I performed this work in the
middle 1960s while the piano was owned by Kenneth Caswell. A decade or
so later, sometime in the mid 1970s, the piano was sold to one of the
Originally, the reproducing system was of the regular Red Welte type.
Mr. Caswell wanted to be able to play Green Welte rolls as well as the
Red, and commissioned me to design and build a custom spoolbox for him.
He supplied some original hardware, such as tracker bars and trans-
mission parts. To complete the job, I utilized parts from many
sources, including some new parts and also some Ampico items salvaged
following evisceration by a local music store. I don't know what
happened to the piano's original spoolbox.
The twin spoolboxes share a common electric drive motor. A small
Bodine unit with electronic speed control was used. Throughout the
project, every effort was made to maintain highest possible standards
of quality and workmanship, trying to turn out a product commensurate
with the extremely high standards found throughout the instrument and
its original pneumatic installation. No expense was spared; needing
one more of the small B Ampico-style switches than we had available,
Kenneth Caswell had a replica cast in dental gold! It's probably still
in place in the control area.
Although the spoolbox work was done in Texas, Mr. Caswell was living
in San Diego, CA, at the time the piano was sold to the Tushinsky
family. On Sunday, May 12, 1974, a photograph of the piano appeared in
an article featured in the San Diego Union -- I still have a copy. It
clearly shows the twin spoolboxes and the B Ampico-style controls in
the middle section.
The Hamburg Steinway piano itself was a joy to both ears and eyes,
a truly marvelous and spectacular instrument in every way. I wish I
could afford it!