If you have an un-restored Aeolian Orchestrelle and do not play it for
a few weeks, particularly in the summer months, there is a very strong
smell of rotting leather. This is much stronger that from a player
piano as it is a pressure operated machine and the smells are being
blown to you at exactly nose height.
The only way to cure this is to replace _all_ of the leather in the
instrument. Even on a model "V", the smallest pressure instrument,
there are 5 x 58 leather pouches, in fact one for every note. There
are 11 x 58 on the largest model "Y", but the top four ranks are so
high up, at 8 feet high, only giant people can smell them!
These pouches inside the tone ranks are in addition to primary and
secondary leather pouches for firing the valves; leather flap valves
etc, plus pneumatic 'tosh' / cloth on the main feeders and reservoir.
Some later models had rubber tubing but pre-1900 wooden windways were
used which do not smell like rotting rubber does. With about 1,000
hours work the smell could be removed.
Twenty years ago I kept a time sheet of restoration of my own model
"V", I gave up keeping the time sheet once I reached 400 hours --
about half way!
I wonder what other 'smelly' stories owners have of instruments: dead
mice, dead rats found inside?
Kevin McElhone, Northants, England