I was lucky enough to buy an item on eBay described as an 'Orchestrion'.
I could tell by the pictures that it was some unusual piece of
craftsmanship, but now that I have it at home, I still can't really
tell much about it, and I hoped someone on MMD might either recognize
it as their own creation or at least recognize if it has some unusual
The device is a 14-note pipe organ with a roll mechanism driven by an
electric motor (which drives the pressure pump and the drive mechanism
for the roll/book). It's about 30" tall, and has no provision for a
supply roller or a take-up spool. The paper channel is 4-7/16" wide
and has 13 equally spaced 3/16" holes that operate 13 of the pipes, and
a 14th hole of the same size that is offset by about 1/2" (so it would
operate somewhat sooner or later than the other pipes). There is also
a small hole at the treble end that operates a motor-control shutoff.
This appears to be a well-constructed home project to me, but others
will have more informed opinions. There may be other good questions
one could ask about this device, but questions I have are:
1. What is it's purpose (part of a clock, a doorbell, or just an
amusing automatic musical instrument?
2. Why doesn't it have a supply or take-up spool? Is it designed to
use very short loops of music, or a book? (or a mess of paper roll
3. Any idea who might have made something like this? The seller was
in Los Gatos, CA, but they didn't know anything about it's origin.
4. Any suggestions as to where I might find music for this machine
(or do I start punching my own?)
5. Any suggestions as to what I should do with this fine item?
(I thought that barring any better suggestions it might make a grand
door-bell, but I'm afraid my wife might disagree)
I figured that if anyone could answer this one, that person would be
an MMD reader!
[ I like the door bell idea, otherwise it could sound the hour
[ as a flute clock. I think the simple melodies heard on flute
[ clocks in the museums of Europe could be adapted. -- Robbe