The best place to get advice on rebuilding player pianos is from
professional rebuilders. The Player Piano Co. tries to help people
who need help, and frankly, most of their advice is pretty
I agree with Andy Taylor that the PPCo article of rebuilding Simplex
pneumatics is pretty bad, but in all of this stuff, you have to ask
yourself, "Should I take everything I read at face value and dump my
88 covered Simplex pneumatics into a bucket of water, because it says
right here that's the way to do it?" Would perhaps one or two not be
a wiser choice -- if you were curious?
Regarding Durrell's telephone manners, they are impeccable, too. But
possibly if you were angry at him for "destroying my player piano," as
one person has already indicated to me personally, or in some cases,
refuse to pay your bill because you are angry, even when a refund upon
return has always been the policy at PPCo, then it is rather likely that
arguing with Durrell will get you nowhere, fast.
As with everything we learn, we must always consider the source. That
means, time in grade, the consistent track record over the years, what
is being claimed, and the way in which it is being claimed.
I would encourage everyone to test something -- first -- before they
jump in with both feet and ruin it. We have read plenty of things
right here on the MMD that would get you into hot water, too. And I
have never once read a retraction! Everybody tends to feel that they
are right. So with that knowledge going in, why not first check it out
and see to what degree the author is correct, and to what degree its
questionable (or maybe to what degree you may not quite understand what
he was trying to say?)
Yet that being said, certain people still wish to deal in absolutisms
and the last thing they would suggest to anybody seems to be, "Try it
out on something and see, first." Take your time, get your bearings,
and think of all the ways something can double-cross you, first.
Remember, if your piano has a so-called "time-bomb" in it, as a result
of bad material, ignorance, or poor technique, you bought it and you
put it there.
Remember this because it is very crucial: Don't make some grand
assumption that you know now what to do once you get a little
knowledge. It is impossible to tell someone all the steps and
preparation and fore-knowledge. Unless you can see that person
actually doing the work, you are going to miss a lot of necessary
preparatory information that will make the difference to most people.
And, most importantly-- it is impossible to teach care and
consideration and moderation in all things. So, what is taken one
way by one reader is understood another way by someone else.
Player pianos seem so simple. All you have to do is the same thing,
over and over again 88 times. Any idiot with half a brain could do it.
"Ya learn to fix one, and then ya just do it over and over again the
What is not understood is, the devil is in the details. These things
are simple, but boy, can they ever deal you fits! I still have some
unbelievable problems, but I take care of them by doing it over again
as often as it takes to get it right. And when it's all said and done,
all you have to say is, "Well, I just wish I knew, before I got into
it, what I know now."
Another very common ending to an amateur rebuild is, "Woe is me."
Analyze that common lament, which is cried out approximately 90% of
the time in the shop of every owner-rebuilder, and see if it doesn't
point up exactly what I am saying.
I am not discouraging anybody, here. I want everybody to realize the
difficulty they often run into and to plan for it. Not taking anything
for granted is a great way to start thinking about rebuilding a player,
even if you've done 50 of that same brand before.