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MMD > Archives > June 2001 > 2001.06.02 > 07Prev  Next

Replicating Spool Frames
By Don Teach

Wurlitzer roll frames have been replicated in the past ten years or so.
The patterns do exist.  I think that the pattern cost and machining
cost are obtainable for a more reasonable price than has been expressed
in the past MMD.

I am the one that has most recently done some of the work for Dave
Ramey's Banjo Orchestra roll frames.  I used a CNC lathe to make enough
parts for 25 roll frames.  His roll frame is a copy of a Western
Electric roll frame I gave him several years ago.  His gears are stock
Boston Gears.

I have found that if I make parts in lots of 100 or more then the price
is reasonable.  I made Wurlitzer 5-tune changer spool chucks and sell
them for $50.00 each.  The quotes I had from another source put them at
$125.00 each for my cost in lots of six.  I made 200 of them for $50.00
each and I think that is reasonable.

Mr. Ramey once said that if I was going to go to the trouble of making
a coin piano, then why not go to the trouble of copying an original
coin piano.  He has made several Seeburg H models, a Coinola SO, and
several other models.  His Banjo Orchestra is based on the one and only
original surviving example of the Banjo Orchestra.  He made several
changes, but all are based on his knowledge of coin pianos.

I built a Cremona K and several other collectors have made other models
of the Cremona.  Most of today's well known restorers have had to build
stacks and many other parts of coin pianos because parts were missing
or just poorly rebuilt in the past.  It is sometimes easier to start
with new wood than try to salvage worm eaten white glue covered old

Art Reblitz, Dana Johnson, Dave Ramey, Hayes McClaren, and just about
any restorer you may have seen mentioned in the Bowers' "Encyclopedia
of Automatic Musical Instruments", have replicated many of the parts
found in old coin pianos.  They do not make changes in the original
instrument with new ideas of their own.

Another reason to copy old original designs is because the home-made
coin pianos that I have seen usually sound nothing like the original
old coin pianos.   For example, the drums in an original Coinola do not
stand out above the rest of the piano as a solo instrument.

I have not experienced problems with squeaks in my original Wurlitzer
rolls frames.  I think a nice reproduction should be made, and I
suggest that if one wants to build a copy of a Wurlitzer band organ,
then go the extra step to copy it exactly, roll frame and all.

But to each his own.

Don Teach

(Message sent Sat 2 Jun 2001, 15:34:18 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Frames, Replicating, Spool

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