Sorry, Larry, about the O roll mix-up. I got you confused with someone
else I was helping, probably. At any rate, sustain pedaling in old
arrangements didn't do anything, much of the time. You can disconnect
it and it still sounds fine in many cases, due to purposeful extended
perforations for that very same thing.
In a good tight player, extending the note perforations to simulate
a pedal took far less air than trying to do it with the sustain pedal.
J. Lawrence Cook explained that for standard player arrangements, often
they just added a little sustain now and then just to say they used it.
The idea was to sell the sustain pedal as an option on many players.
So when they made orchestrion arrangements, they used the same system
of coding, and many times the sustain was ancillary.
As far as the sustain being "random," however, it was not. If your
sustain pedal operates during times when it should not work, then that
is random. No roll would do that to you unless they got the tracks
mixed up, in which case it's a defective roll.
If you will turn off all other percussion and solo instruments and just
listen to the piano score alone, you will be able to tell if something
is wrong with the sustain pedal track.