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MMD > Archives > February 2011 > 2011.02.17 > 05Prev  Next

Help with Newer Player Mechanism
By Bill Maguire

I may not be overly fond of these newer instruments but the instrument
may even exceed my customers standards and I respect that.  I find many
of you exaggerate how bad these instruments are.

I haven't had success getting these newer player owners to upgrade to
a good quality older restored instrument when I felt the situation
warranted it.  It's not likely to happen because most the player piano
owning public has a different perspective on things and priorities than
most on this forum.  That "piece of junk" Musette might have high
sentimental value for them and no other instrument can take its place.

I try to adjust my approach to my customers needs and wants, which
from a marketing perspective is smarter than trying to change the
mindset of the entire player piano owning public in the New York City
area.  I'm constantly defending my competitors when the customers say
"that crook told me to throw my piano out and tried to sell me an
expensive piano," or "They wanted to charge me three times what you
charge and sell me parts and work I don't need."

I know my competitor is a good guy who means well, but he' not on the
same wavelength as most newer player customers.  I know his approach
is favored by most on here, but it's not mine.

Because of my lack of electronics expertise, I don't do much work on
the following player mechanisms Kimball, Wurlitzer and Lemac (Kohler
& Campbell).

I have done real well working on Universal players with occasional
help from John Omiatek at QRS Story & Clark, although circuit boards
and roll drive motor parts may not be available.  John can repair the
circuit boards.

I like modern Aeolians.  For all the cost cutting they did, I think
it's a very compact and airtight design.  I like the "Standard style"
tracking device and bottom bellows.  I find people in the vast majority
of instances will not spend more than $1500 to $2000 to restore these
pianos.  I can cost effectively get these to play well and make good

I find the valves on these usually work fine; the leakage does not
affect the playability much with the foot pedals and not at all with
the electric motor.  The pneumatics need recovering -- that's the main
reason most of these no longer work.  I check the valves to see if they
are working well and relatively airtight _before_ removing the stack.

In my view, there is no need to go crazy removing every bit of the old
pneumatic cloth in this instance.  I like the hinge end to be clean,
though.  I recover the air motor and governor, tracker, hoses, bellows
cloth, seal the wood, tuning pitch raise, lost motion adjustment and
miscellaneous repairs as needed.  I usually just seal the bottom
bellows because the cloth is still strong but there is leakage through
the cloth.

I will mention in writing there is no guarantee the player will be
easy for them to pedal and I can install a used Aeolian suction box
(automatic reroll or shutoff at extra cost) and I can guarantee it
for an additional $300 if need be.  I have restored two foot-pedal-only
newer Aeolians in the above mentioned way.  They foot-pedaled very well
and the customers are still happy.

The cost of a set of new unit valves is $25 each ($2100 total,
I believe) if they are still being made.  If I can get someone to
make _only_ the valve then I don't need the whole unit with the pouch.
I can easily remove the top section of the valve unit.  I may just
have these made myself.

Bill Maguire

(Message sent Thu 17 Feb 2011, 22:25:03 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Help, Mechanism, Newer, Player

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