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MMD > Archives > January 2006 > 2006.01.08 > 07Prev  Next

Restoring Marshall and Rose Ampico Grand
By Nigel Perry

Happy New Year to everyone!  I have just had the good fortune to
acquire a Marshall and Rose Ampico 6-foot grand piano.  I have had
a lot of experience over many years restoring pianolas, but this
is my first Ampico.

I have managed to get hold of the Inspector's Reference Book.  This
book mentions nothing about model A or B, so I assume that it is A.
I have the grand tubing layout, and David Saul's "How to rebuild the
model 'A' Ampico".

I have this machine on its side in my workshop.  It is untouched
since new, and most of the black tubing is in bits at the bottom of
the machine.  I have started with the pump and have that on the bench.

The first thing that surprised me, despite the warning in David Saul"s
manual, was the extent of the corrosion of the metal elbows.  They have
dissolved to paper thinness and the resulting grey dust is in drifts
inside everything!  I am being careful to Hoover the dust away out of
breathing range.

I would be very glad to know if there is a UK source of both the 1-1/8"
elbows and the 1-1/16" tubing (10 feet required).

I had to reach right to the back of my mental cupboard for much more
patience than I usually need to strip cloth off pneumatics.  It would
have been tempting to have left well alone, except for the fact that,
as far as I am concerned, it is an all-or-nothing restoration.

The inside layer of this tough cloth is a white felt.  This is not so
much stuck as it is welded to the wood.  Only very prolonged heating
with a hot air stripper loosens the glue, and even then it is hard to
unroll the cloth without it pulling off slivers of wood as well.

The heads of the copper tacks are a mauve colour, and as my workshop
now smells "medicinal" with this piano in it, I am thinking that the
mauve may be copper iodide.  Could it be something in the dye of the
cloth?  This got me to thinking, "Just how dangerous and toxic is this
renovation process?"  This vast abundance of grey dust, the medicinal
smell, the smoke from bits of charred cloth, etc., are a concern.
Should we be working in fume extractor hoods?

Until recently I was supplying restoration materials to clients both in
UK and abroad.  I always noticed an increase in business as autumn and
winter approached, and the garden shed and workshop beckoned.  In summer
all the windows are open, but not in this weather.  A word of caution,
then, would not go amiss!

Another interesting thing is that this machine had been stored unused
for 20 years.  It came with a tea chest full of 69 rolls.  In the box was
a ring-bound notebook with copious notes written about growing potatoes
in USA, with interesting variations from state to state.  I think this
must score as the most unusual find concerning player pianos!

This pump has graphite-greased wooden linkages with impressive
self-adjusting bearings.  The machine has a 240-volt motor so it must
have originated here.  The serial number is HM 18570.  Can anyone
tell me the age of the instrument?

Best wishes
Nigel Perry

(Message sent Sun 8 Jan 2006, 11:36:40 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Ampico, Grand, Marshall, Restoring, Rose

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