I would like to differ with D. L. Bullock in regard to his method (not
so much his facts) in describing the poor heavy bellows cloth once sold
by PPC, and his remarks about Durrell. First of all, I take umbrage
with the way these paragraphs are stated:
> This is not caused by the springs. It is caused by the crap sold by
> Durrell Armstrong in the late 1980's and early '90's. We found the
> problem in the brown Aeolian pump cloth when we covered a pump and
> hooked it up on the table to test the Duo-Art system with.
> This upset me greatly knowing that I now had customers out there with
> time bombs in their bellows. I found the same problem in the heavy
> and light black cloth ten years after I put it in my piano. I have
> since never trusted anything from PPCo.
I appreciate the fact that we can voice disapproval and warn others
about products here. That is a good thing, and I for one have been
very vocal about PPCo's heavy bellows cloth, and what he used to call
his extra heavy (Boy, was it ever). I can recite instances, too. But
only one, because I try to test things before placing it on customer's
I will tell everybody this about Durrell. He is impeccably honest,
and a true gentleman of the highest calibre. You can trust that man,
because his word is his bond. The truth is, Durrell's suppliers
screwed him. He didn't get what he asked for, showed them that it was
bad stuff, and they just shrugged and said tough. It cost him over
Well, knowing about this early batch of stuff, I never used it to begin
with. I tested it first, then went to American Piano Supply Co. and
used their gold and black for rotary pumps. My last batch of the gold
and black was also defective! It had almost no rubber in it. But I am
not venting a tirade against American Piano Supply Co. (By the way,
that _early_ gold and black cloth is still pumping 30 years later, and
its rubber was black neoprene -- a total synthetic.
The fact that PPCo's cloth failed has absolutely nothing to do with
natural versus synthetic. The rubber is just as good as anything you
can get. It is made with natural gum which is white, plus it's fillers
and plasticizers -- it's the same stuff that's in all coated rubber.
The problem was in the way the rubber was applied and cured. Durrell
asked for two coats of calendered rubber and got one coat of spread
rubber. He has no way to test it, nor did he really know how to
specify it, and they aren't going to calender two coats, anyway because
it wouldn't work -- but they told him they would. He has to trust his
suppliers. I understand everyone's anger, but MMD is not the place to
vent against the man, personally. Say all you like against the
product. I did!
When you are a professional rebuilder, the cloth you put down is your
responsibility, not someone else's. They are one supplier out of a
dozen. If you can't do a better job of picking good material, and if
you don't know any better than to just toss on anything and then vent
your rage in print at the guy who sold it to you, then I suggest that
you've just told on yourself!
Regarding the straps found in reservoirs, that's almost universal,
access hatch or not. The straps should be strong pedal webbing,
preferably, to prevent stretching, but should be tacked and given a
chance to dry first, before the springs are put in. When glues other
than hot hide glue are used, they always allow a strongly sprung
bellows cover to "stretch." They all creep to a degree, and if the
cloth isn't well tacked, they can even allow carpenter glues to slide
off, because a constant strong tension on a flat joint using white
glues and carpenter glues is not stable under those conditions. The
cloth itself will not stretch. If it were that weak, it would tear.
Player Piano Co. presently sells the best heavy bellows cloth I have
ever used. I suggest that you stock up. The rubber is beautifully
calendered and correctly cured, and is about .030 to .035 thick. You
can only check this out by using acid to remove the cloth. Do it.
Check it first, folks. His heavy bellows cloth #55 is so far superior
to anything else presently available that if you are using something
else, then it is you, not Durrell, who are selling inferior materials.
But you got what you deserve when you intimate that you will never buy
anything from him again because he cannot be trusted.