Hi. I know of more than one instance of a buyer buying a converted
piano, thinking it is indeed an antique, _and_ paying the price that
the real coin pianos brings. The only thing "Antique" about these is
the old piano, and in most cases, you also get "Antique" hammers,
felts and strings too!
If these "conversions" were done right, then they would be fun to use
and watch, just like the original machines would be. Sadly, these
conversions are more "lookers" than musical. The Internet is littered
with these things for sale -- ever wonder why?
The basic ideal of converting regular uprights into players in my view,
is a good one. For one, uprights may be had cheap, and there is tens
of thousands of them around, so the educated buyer can pick a good one.
Sadly though, there is not any pneumatic "kits", that I know of, that
are worth installing.
One of these "kits" made to install in a piano has some serious design
flaws. They are made of plastic, but that is not the problem. The
most serious problems are the unit pneumatics themselves. The basic
problem with these units is that the windways and pouch inputs are far
too small, and cannot get enough air to work solidly. The valves are
made of a soft plastic, too small to began with, and it often sticks
on its seats.
The main reason that this stack is so leaky is that the pouch inputs
are too small. These are expected to operate with four or more feet
of tubing from a restricted plastic tracker bar. The valves don't get
enough air signal to operate properly and they won't come up all the
way against their outer seats.
Another point: fine regulation to the piano is impossible. The
pneumatics are fastened to a steel rod with nothing to keep that rod
from rotating. The rods also bounce. Some keys play okay and some
only go halfway down, and some are in between!
Then there is the issue of how the stack is installed in the piano --
PVC pipe and tubing draped everywhere. I think the pneumatic units
were designed first and the tubing was then just "dealt with" later.
The foreman of this company is quite aware of the problems of this
system, but the owner designed these things, and he seems to take
offense at any suggestion to improve them. Gee, that's too bad.
Regardless of my taking issue with these people, I still think the
idea is a good one, if designed correctly.
I have always thought if you wanted to use a stack that operated via
the stickers without complicated linkage, the old upside-down Baldwin
pneumatic would be the way to go here, since these eliminate their
own lost motion.
Another thing: don't try to build a two-tier stack; a two-tier stack
is very unforgiving. Always use three tiers; I have had muck better
luck. Then just sell it for what it is.