Hi All, As intimated previously, I plan to write a number of articles,
as time permits, about the Universal player pianos that were made in
Today I'd like to tell you about two common problems. One involves the
auto-sustain pneumatic. The other involves the electric vacuum pump.
The auto-sustain pneumatic problem is relatively straightforward. For
reasons which defy good sense, the manufacturer decided to seal the two
holes, that are used to access the bellow's mounting screws, with Duct
Tape. As with the tape that was used to seal the bleed clean-out ports,
this tape dries out over time and starts to leak.
The indication that the tape is leaking is that every time the sustain
perforation crosses the trackerbar, the volume of the music drops off
substantially. So, as I stated once before, if you're having a problem
with a Universal player, change all of the 'adhesive tape' first. It
only takes a few minutes.
Next is the vacuum pump. In later versions of the Universal, which
carry the name Classic Player Piano, Wurlitzer, or Baldwin, the
air/hose fitting on the pump was secured in place with hot synthetic
glue, like that from a hot glue gun. Since this fitting is under some
degree of stress from the tubing that connects to it, -AND- because the
pump gets more than a little warm when used heavily, that fitting gets
loose and allows the atmosphere to enter.
The easiest way to determine that there is a problem with the pump
is top attach a vacuum meter. Set the Volume setting to its highest
setting. The vacuum level should be 24" or greater. If it's less than
20", there is definitely a problem with either the pump or the fitting.
The other way to tell there is a problem is to physically remove the
pump (two screws) and tug on the fitting with your fingers. If it's
Okay, it won't come off. If it's loose, it will come off fairly
easily. Obviously, the corrective action is to glue it back on with
a hot glue gun. I recommend the Industrial strength hot glue, which
melts at 450 degrees, not the craft-type glue that melts at 250
That's it for now. The next problem has to do with the tubing that
runs from the trackerbar to the stack. It can cause a number of
John A. Tuttle