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MMD > Archives > January 1999 > 1999.01.04 > 08Prev  Next

Sources of Rolls for Wurlitzer Instruments
By Matthew Caulfield

First, I want to thank you all for the advice and encouragement on the
subject of re-bushing the wind motor in a player piano.  Now to find
the time.  My sister should probably just send it to an experienced
technician, but I can't pass up the fun of doing it myself.

The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company was crafty enough to use a hole spacing
that was not industry standard for all its music rolls (except for
rolls for its earliest instruments and for the Wurlitzer harp;
Wurlitzer didn't make the harp or its rolls in-house).

Wurlitzer hole spacing is .1227" on center.  So cutting Wurlitzer rolls
requires custom-made dies.  The only production perforators equipped
with Wurlitzer dies that I know of are the ones owned by Play-Rite
Music Rolls, Turlock, Calif.; by Mike Grant, Columbia City, Ind.; and
by the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, North Tonawanda, N.Y.

Mike Kitner used to -- and perhaps still does -- offer a roll cutting
service that could produce 11 or 12 copies of a roll to virtually any
spacing, cut by frame punch -- a long and labor intensive process, but
one that does the job if no one else can.

Play-Rite has enough custom business for other types of rolls such as
Violano rolls, Welte rolls, etc., that it cannot be persuaded to set up
for Wurlitzer cutting unless someone can give them a monster order.

Ray Siou used to do that, ordering and selling Wurlitzer APP, 125,
150, and 165 rolls by the dozen-roll lot for no more than $15 per roll.
Those days are gone.  By the way, I think Ray would appreciate hearing
from his old customers.  He feels a bit abandoned now, and many of us
owe him a lot for what he did.

Mike Grant can copy original rolls in small lots, and though he is
kept pretty by his roll-cutting sideline (Mike is an electrician by
day), he is right now the best, if not the only, source.  Mike can't
meet Ray Siou's price because his perforator works very slowly and
makes only 4 copies at a time.

The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum is running one of the old,
original Wurlitzer perforators and can produce only rolls for which
they have cardboard masters.  They cannot copy directly from rolls at
the moment.  I would like to investigate the possibility of adapting
the other Wurlitzer perforator they have, and are now cannibalizing a
bit for parts, so that it could copy directly from original rolls.

Don Rand is one of the perforator owners who occasionally muses about
equipping a perforator with the necessary dies and tracker to copy
Wurlitzer rolls, but so far nothing has happened in that direction.

So aside from keeping and eye out for used rolls that occasionally
come up for sale (Wayne Edmonston used to advertise lots for sale in
the AMICA and MBSI bulletins, but not so much lately), you are limited
to the sources mentioned, I think.

Matthew Caulfield

(Message sent Mon 4 Jan 1999, 15:39:40 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Instruments, Rolls, Sources, Wurlitzer

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