Mechanical Music Digest  Archives
You Are Not Logged In Login/Get New Account
Please Log In. Accounts are free!
Logged In users are granted additional features including a more current version of the Archives and a simplified process for submitting articles.
Home Archives Calendar Gallery Store Links Info

Spring Fundraising Drive In Progress. Please visit our home page to see this and other announcements:     Thank you. --Jody

MMD > Archives > October 2000 > 2000.10.02 > 02Prev  Next

Player Piano Horror Story
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  You know the old saying, "Now I've seen it all".  Well, I've
said that phrase so many times in the past 27 years that I now believe
I'll never 'see it all'.  However, I saw something the other day that
will make any conscientious rebuilder laugh out loud.

1.  Odd Vacuum Pump

This is no exaggeration.  During the evaluation phase of a LaRocca
player/w an Autopiano mechanism, I noticed what appeared to be a vacuum
cleaner mounted _inside_ of the piano.  Sure enough, that's exactly
what was there, but it gets better (or worse, depending on how you
look at it).  As 'bumper material', to keep the vacuum cleaner from
vibrating against the side of the piano, the 'installer' (can't really
call him a rebuilder) put _open fiberglass_ on the walls of the piano.
And to make matters even worse, the exhaust from the vacuum cleaner was
blowing right onto the fiberglass, spreading glass fibers all over the
inside of the piano (see attached photo).

When the customer's wife came around to see how the evaluation was
going, I pointed out the vacuum cleaner and the open fiberglass and
she immediately started to break out with hives.  It was heartbreaking
to watch as her arms started turning red, right before my eyes.

Needless to say, the fiberglass and vacuum cleaner were removed before
I left the home.

Bottom line: 'Clever' does not necessarily mean 'smart'.

Oh, one other thing.  Instead of using a simple microswitch and small
bellow to activate a small light in the spoolbox whenever there was
vacuum in the reservoirs, this 'clever' person invented his own switch.
He screwed one bolt into each bellow board, cut the AC line leading to
the light, and connected one wire to each bolt.  So every time the
bellow collapsed, the two bolts made contact, allowing the electricity
to flow to the light.  Talk about your recipe for disaster!  If you
want a picture, I have one, but I think you 'get it'.

2.  Bass Bridge Modification - What not to do

Gosh, I almost forgot about this.... It's a bit hard to put into words.

All piano rebuilders have run into the situation where the bass bridge
has one large crack running all along either the top or bottom row of
bridge pins.  It's not that uncommon.  However, you've probably never
seen a modification to the bass bridge like the one I recently found in
a LaRocca player.

Instead of simply replacing the bass bridge, the person who restrung
this instrument decided to deform the bridge and reposition the entire
bottom row of the bridge pins in the bi-chord section.  He simply
cut-away about 3/8" of the flat portion of the bridge, drilled new
holes, inserted the old pins and started stringing.  (see attached

Where did this person get his training?  A barn?


John A. Tuttle

 [ See the photos at  -- Robbie

(Message sent Fri 29 Sep 2000, 18:11:02 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Horror, Piano, Player, Story

Home    Archives    Calendar    Gallery    Store    Links    Info   

Enter text below to search the MMD Website with Google

CONTACT FORM: Click HERE to write to the editor, or to post a message about Mechanical Musical Instruments to the MMD

Unless otherwise noted, all opinions are those of the individual authors and may not represent those of the editors. Compilation copyright 1995-2024 by Jody Kravitz.

Please read our Republication Policy before copying information from or creating links to this web site.

Click HERE to contact the webmaster regarding problems with the website.

Please support publication of the MMD by donating online

Please Support Publication of the MMD with your Generous Donation

Pay via PayPal

No PayPal account required

Translate This Page