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MMD > Archives > July 2001 > 2001.07.04 > 04Prev  Next

Adjusting the Player Action - Baldwin Manualo
By John A. Tuttle

Larry Mayo wants to know, "Exactly how far the pneumatic should close
before the finger engages the metal catch on the sticker and begins
to move it?"

(Baldwin refers to the 'finger' -- which is connected to the movable
pneumatic board -- as a "player finger".  The device where the player
finger contacts the piano action is referred to as a "lug".  Also, the
information presented below is in reference to the three-tier model
that was available from 1912-1928.  There is no information in the
manual about a two-tier model.  So the information below may be totally
useless to Larry.)

According to the Manualo Service Manual, once the piano action and the
check buttons (which check the throw of the wippens when the player is
being used) have been regulated, there is no need for further

Quoting from the manual, "With these checks and the piano action
brought to proper regulation, the balanced pneumatics of the "Manualo"
are always self-adjusted to perfect operation".

Based on that quote, it seems obvious that any apparent irregularity
in the amount that each pneumatic is 'open' (or 'closed' when the unit
is at rest) is controlled by the position of the lug and/or the amount
of wear to the leather on the player finger.  In a perfect world, all
of the striker pneumatics have exactly the same span, and therefore the
relative horizontal position of all of the player fingers in each tier
is the same.  Further, and in that same perfect world, the
corresponding lugs should be in the same relative horizontal position
(a straight horizontal line).

This leaves only two possible points where adjustment can be
accomplished.  One, adding or removing some leather from the player
finger.  And two, bending the metal lug.

Assuming that the striker pneumatics and the player fingers in each
tier are all in the same relative horizontal position before the player
action is installed, and that the thickness of the leather on each
player finger is identical, any difference in the amount to which each
pneumatic must close (from the fully open position) prior to making
contact with its corresponding lug is controlled by the position of
that lug.  The only way to change the position of the lug is to bend
it either up or down.

Here again, quoting from the manual (I find this somewhat comical):
"Should any accident cause a striker pneumatic to close tight together
instead of slightly open at the end of its stroke, the lug can be
carefully bent down.  If the striker should be stretched at the top,
the lug can be carefully bent up."

(What I find somewhat comical is that in Baldwin's mind, the only way
things can get out of whack is if there is some sort of an accident.
Obviously they never worked on an eighty-year old player piano in which
all of the soft materials are worn to varying degrees.  It also doesn't
take into account the possibility that the striker pneumatics were not
mounted correctly after the pneumatic cloth was replaced.)

In the manual, they also mention raising the stack to accommodate for
'settling' which may occur over time.  Their suggested remedy is to
shim up the stack at each end with cardboard.  And then they go on to
remind you that you have to cut a rectangular hole in the shim for the
bass end, but they don't tell you why.  Naturally, it's because that's
where the supply vacuum passes from the lower section to the valve

By the way, Baldwin 'Manualo' Service Manual is available at
Player-Care for $21.00 + $5.75 S/H (USPS Priority mail /w delivery
confirmation).  To place an order at our secure server, go to


John A. Tuttle ,

( Note to the editor: The Baldwin 'Manualo' player action is quite
different from other player actions with regards to adjusting the
pneumatic to the piano action.  Therefore, I believe the Subject of
this thread should be limited to the Baldwin 'Manualo' action.)

 [ But the basic reasoning and the problems and their solutions
 [ seem like they would apply generally to player actions in vertical
 [ pianos, the adjustment methods maybe notwithstanding.  Many thanks
 [ for sharing the information with us, John!  ;-)  -- Robbie

(Message sent Wed 4 Jul 2001, 14:40:42 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Action, Adjusting, Baldwin, Manualo, Player

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