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MMD > Archives > August 2009 > 2009.08.17 > 01Prev  Next


Servicing Kimball & Other Modern Player Pianos
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Here's some sage advice to every technician and tuner who
tunes and services player pianos.  *Always*, and I mean always, have
the customer operate the player mechanism _before_ you start working.
If the customer says, "It doesn't work," then you're off the hook.
If the player does work, then you had better know what you're doing
before you start taking it apart.

Removing the power cord from the wall outlet is a common sense
practice.  Anyone who doesn't remove the power cord is asking for
trouble.

As for the problem with the Kimball Electramatic, more information is
needed before any useful advice can be given.  There are three basic
models of the Electramatic and three variations, making a total of six
models (A-F).

The easiest way to check the 'Play/Rewind' sequence of operations is
to (a) cover the tracker bar with a piece of tape, (b) activate the Play
switch, (c) raise the spoon until it is just clear of the groove in the
take-up spool.  If everything is working properly, you can then poke
a hole in the tape in the center of the tracker bar to activate a note.

After determining that the system works in Play (and still holding the
spoon in the 'up' position), pull up the tape on the left end until the
Reroll port is open.  The note should stop playing, and the unit should
go into Rewind.  It should continue in Rewind until you left the spoon
drop back into the groove on the take-up spool.

Common problems with the Play and Rewind cycles in the Kimball involve
the 'on-and-hold' switch (which is located in the bottom of the piano)
and/or a spoon switch that has been raised above its upper limit.

Since the 'on-and-hold' switch is nothing more than a leaf switch
that's activated by a small pneumatic, it can be checked both visually
and with an ohmmeter.  The spoon switch (which is located on the left
side of the spoolbox) can also be check visually.  When working
correctly, you can see the switch change state as the spoon is lifted
out of its groove on the take-up spool.  If it's out of adjustment,
which is not that uncommon, there are two small nuts that can be
loosened slightly to re-adjust the function of the switch.  This is
a "fine adjustment".

The switch should activate just a few thousandths of an inch before the
spoon clears the top edge of the take-up spool.  If the paddle, which
operates the switch, is out of its correct location (under the long
leaf of the leaf switch), you should loosen the switch mounting screws
and position the switch so that the long leaf and the paddle are
correctly oriented.  While the long leaf can be forcibly raised over
the paddle, it might bend the leaf and create a problem.  Sometimes,
the leaf gets bent when the spoon is raised too high -- like when
someone tries to play a large long-playing roll on the unit -- which
makes it necessary to physically bend the left back to its correct
location.

In closing, I know that the above information sounds vague to someone
who has no experience with these units.  However, the instructions for
properly adjusting the spoon switch are given if the Kimball Service
Manual, and no attempt should be made to work on the system without
having the manual close by.  All of the Kimball manuals are available
at  https://www.buysecure.com/playercare/reprints.html#model-a

Musically,
John A Tuttle
Player-Care.com
Brick, New Jersey, USA


(Message sent Mon 17 Aug 2009, 15:05:08 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Kimball, Modern, Other, Pianos, Player, Servicing

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