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MMD > Archives > April 2004 > 2004.04.13 > 05Prev  Next

Reverting to Pedals for a Player Piano
By John A. Tuttle

"I Want My Pedals Back!"

Hi All,  I have been in contact with Claudine, and her Weber is intact.
From the picture I saw, the player mechanism appears to be an Aeolian
Themodist model.  The electric vacuum pump was installed in the typical
manner, i.e., vacuum hose attached to the reservoir, albeit on what
I consider the wrong side.  (In fact, whenever it is possible -- like
in this case -- I don't cut a hole at all.  What I do is install a "T"
fitting into the vacuum supply line.  That way originality is preserved
for the future. 

She indicated in her letter to me that it is still possible to 'Rewind'
the music roll with the foot pedals.  She did not tell me how fast the
unit must be pumped to rewind the roll.  So, I was not possible to
determine the basic condition of the exhauster assembly.  However, she
did say that it was basically impossible to generate enough vacuum with
the pedals in 'Play'.  Naturally, this means there are some serious
vacuum leaks in the system.

About a year ago, I encountered an identical player mechanism with
a very similar problem.  After running some quick tests, it was
discovered that although the reservoir "looked" good, it could not hold
vacuum for even one second.  Also, the air motor governor was leaking
like a sieve.  Checking the valves, it was found that they were in
'fairly decent condition'.  So, only the two aforementioned components
were rebuilt.  The result was a unit that could be pedaled without much

Naturally, rebuilding the stack would have made a significant
improvement in overall performance but, as is often the case these
days, the customer did not want to invest her money in something that
would be worth less when completed than it would cost to restore.

Besides, having been operated for a number of years with an electric
vacuum pump that was obviously set too high for some length of time,
the action of the piano was in pretty bad shape.  In fact, the hammers
were so wore out that they were down to the wood in most of the high
treble section and very flat in the tenor section, giving the piano
a very loud "honky-tonk" sound that irritated my senses.  Be that as it
may, the customer was delighted to be able to use the foot pedals again
-- a fact she said made the player "fun to use".

In closing, I suggested that Claudine perform a few of the tests that
I have listed on my web page "Testing Your Player" at

That should narrow down the component/s that are causing the majority
of the problem.  When she replies to tell me the results, I will point
her to the Player Technicians Listing at


John A. Tuttle
Brick, NJ, USA

(Message sent Tue 13 Apr 2004, 14:20:21 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Pedals, Piano, Player, Reverting

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