The all too typical "restoration" story.
Eliyahu Shahar was telling an interesting story about the Ampico he
bought restored only 20 years ago, in order to just make some minor
repairs on it and have a playing reproducing piano. What he discovered
was that the "total restoration" of his piano in the 1980's is very
typical of most of them.
I can definitely understand why few rebuilders ever replaced the
flaps and seats in most of the pumps the restored, but to this day
cannot understand how they could omit the valves. If a player is
anything, it is valves. Without that most important of all component
restored completely, it doesn't matter how large and impressive that
shop is, or how much you paid for the work. It's still just a "repair
job" to get you by.
> Before I started this project, I was thinking that the job was going
> to be a simple repair/replace the tubing and recover pneumatics. The
> piano was playing well (after it started) and I had even managed to
> get it to start immediately by adjusting the expression pneumatics
> and pushing in a few nipples that had come loose.
> To my dismay, when I got to the valves, I discovered that the leather
> which worked perfectly was so rotten that I could blow on it and it
> would disintegrate. I opened one of the valves and scratched the
> leather lightly with a fingernail and it shredded.
I have run into literally dozens of restorations like this, ranging
from 5 to 15 years old, none of which had their valves completely done,
but most required their outside leathers changed-- with immaterial
effect, so I assume it was for those who might give it a cursory
inspection(?). That is a far cry from "doing the valves."
I strongly encourage everyone to reexamine the pneumatic reproducing
player, as it is the epitome of expression pianos to date. If you
are really serious about your music, then you probably do not want your
Hungarian rhapsodies, etudes, and concertos played salon style with the
rest of your background music.