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MMD > Archives > August 2004 > 2004.08.31 > 06Prev  Next

Mystery 14-Note Player Pipe Organ
By Steve Cobb

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
a-la Link?)

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!

Steve Cobb

 [ 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

(Message sent Wed 1 Sep 2004, 03:50:20 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  14-Note, Mystery, Organ, Pipe, Player

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