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MMD > Archives > November 2009 > 2009.11.16 > 07Prev  Next

Fixing a Weak Modern Aeolian Player Piano
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  I have to wonder if technicians have actually spent the time
to read all of the postings I've made about the modern Aeolian players
over these past 12 years.

Though it is redundant, I'll say it again. It doesn't take much of a
leak to prevent an Aeolian from operating well.  Sure, you can put in
a stronger pump to compensate for the leakage, but the problems still
exist, and usually they aren't that hard to fix -- if you know the
instrument and its weak points.

A few easy fixes are:

- Tighten the two nuts that hole the stack together at each end.
- Tighten the screws on the bottom of the cut-out device.
- Find and replace the few valve blocks that aren't working right.
- Remove the lost motion in the piano action.
- Regulate the let-off.
- Test(*) the air motor for internal leakage and seal the internal
  channels with Phenoseal if necessary.
- Patch the reservoir at the folds if it's leaking badly.


(*) Remove the air motor and plug the vacuum supply line. Then put on
a roll and run it around by hand.  That will show you about how much
of a difference it will make in the volume of the music by fixing the
leakage in the air motor.

All of the above jobs can be accomplished in about four hours.  Since
I've had lots of practice, I can do all of them in under three hours.

Bringing an ailing Aeolian back to life is usually pretty easy as
long as the bellows cloth is still fairly supple.  If it's stiff, then
rebuilding is in order.  However, I would discourage any technician
from installing a stronger vacuum pump to compensate for the wear and
leakage in the system.  Striking notes on a piano, that are out of
regulation, with a harder strike will only serve to wear them out
faster.  Also, using excessive vacuum will wear out aging cloth faster.

My advice is always to find and fix the problems that don't require
rebuilding -- first!  It's not that time-consuming to test the various
components in the system to find out which ones are causing the biggest
problems.  Fix the worst first!  Don't beat the piano with 'a bigger
hammer' (a stronger pump)'! 

John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

(Message sent Tue 17 Nov 2009, 00:16:03 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Aeolian, Fixing, Modern, Piano, Player, Weak

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