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MMD > Archives > November 1999 > 1999.11.03 > 04Prev  Next

Double Valve Player Piano Systems
By Craig Brougher

Several have written about removing primaries in a standard action.
This can be done successfully, even to the old, large standard valves,
but I don't recommend this to any but experts.

My first player was a Standard action and I was forever "experimenting"
around with it.  An inveterate tinkerer, I had it pumping easy.  I could
 play the old QRS version of the Star Spangled Banner March with one
pedal, and wondered why they needed two pedals.  Then I started getting
rather cocky, and decided I could do all this with just inside valves.
I didn't need the outside valves.

I was right, ultimately, but it took some doing.  The first few
attempts were disappointing.  I just stuck it out and figured out what
the valves were not doing.  I doweled in the primary pouch feed holes
and sealed them tight, removed the vacuum from the primary stack, and
put in bleeds that I could adjust.  Few owners want to redo valves 2 or
3 more times just to get it right.  But when I got done with this 1912
Standard action, it was even tighter than before.  (One of the "tricks"
to that action was, snippets of very light pouch springs between the
lifter disks and the stem guides which were adjusted to support the
weight of the valve when vertical.)

A few years later, when I had learned about a "reproducing piano"
but had never seen one yet, I decided to make my old Standard into an
"Ampico."  Much of the system was home built, but it had everything,
including a reroll and stop.  The pump was a quiet Player Piano Co. 650
deluxe suction box that worked quite well because it had a good control
on it that allowed the box to start up and run at half-power.  I could
still pump rolls quite easily too.  It had lost none of its ease of
pumping.  Matter of fact, was even tighter.

So even though the pouch circles on that action had to be punched at
1-5/8" diameter to cover the huge pouch wells, repetition was even
better than it was with the original primaries.  Believe me, Ampico
rolls will definitely test this for you, and at the low 5" vacuum

Some years later, a fellow who became a customer of mine later was
returning to Marietta, Ga. from the AMICA convention in California and
stopped by to hear this piano.  He told me he had finally found the
person who was going to rebuild his reproducers.  He had 4 of them to
do! I eventually restored them all, at his home.  One of them was a
1913 Haines Stoddard Ampico upright-- with a double-valve Standard
Player Action.  It's piano still had the pencil lines all over it from
factory piano modifications, which were done before the fixtures were
built.  This piano obviously was a prototype.

That gentleman's name was Carl Kempf, and just last night I received
word that Carl has passed away.  I just want to say that Carl was the
kind of person that I really like.  Honest, direct, thoughtful,
generous.  He was a consummate woodworker and had some of the most
fabulous veneers, which he had collected.  He built me (as a gift) the
most beautiful roll cabinet I have yet seen, from a rare strain of
"blister figure mahogany," which I took back with me when I left
Marietta.  I just couldn't recount the evolution of my first Ampico
without also remembering Carl Kempf.  He will be greatly missed.

Craig Brougher

(Message sent Wed 3 Nov 1999, 14:26:18 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  Double, Piano, Player, Systems, Valve

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