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MMD > Archives > June 2012 > 2012.06.26 > 05Prev  Next

Parts for Nelson-Wiggen Cabinet Piano
By Andrew Barrett

[ Ref. Gordon Stelter in 120619 MMDigest ]

Dear Mr. Stelter and group,  I wish you the best of luck in getting
this piano back into playing condition.

Judging from what you said about the xylophone in this piano being
mounted horizontally in the top, that would seem to indicate what you
are dealing with is a Nelson-Wiggen "Casino X" which was made in this

I know of at least one of these existing today.  I don't know the
current owner, but it was formerly in the Jim Hamilton collection
of California (circa 1960s) and is pictured on the cover of his
"Quarterlodeons" LP along with several other instruments.  I've cc'ed
Mr. Tim Trager on this, since he has at least one instrument from this
collection and might know where the Casino X has gone, or at least who
has another one in original condition that could supply you with
photos, arrange for a visit, etc.

Regarding original Nelson-Wiggen parts, your best bet would be to find
out what happened to the build-up orchestrion that was listed on eBay
recently (item #200542409217); the original listing with pictures is 

It is based on a 61-key reed organ with (non-functional) piano pedals
added, and for innards has what appears to be an original Nelson-Wiggen
roll frame, transmission, and rewind/play shifter, an original
Nelson-Wiggen xylophone, an original Nelson-Wiggen triangle and action,
two(!) original Coinola bass drum beaters (one with the cymbal beater
attached) and an unknown tambourine and triangle action.

(To my eye, the tambourine action looks like a stock Ragola/Antique
Nickelodeon Company item, and the snare drum action looks possibly like
a stock Player Piano Co. beater and valve).  The coin trip mechanism
also appears to be Player Piano Co, but I can't see behind the roll
frame to determine whether there's a suction box (quite likely), or
perhaps even a Nelson-Wiggen or Coinola pump (less likely, but still
possible) lurking back there.

It appears that whoever built this had access to either a bunch of
spare parts or (possibly) a derelict Nelson-Wiggen 4X, since this
instrument appears to have many important parts from a 4X such as the
roll frame and shelf, xylophone and action, and triangle and action.
If this is true, I have to wonder where the rest of the 4X went, or
what happened to the two Coinolas that gave their drum beaters for this

I must confess I am not familiar enough with Nelson-Wiggen instruments
to tell you for sure whether the roll frame (mounted in the lower
center) in a 4X or 6 is the same as the roll frame (mounted in the top
of the cabinet) of a Casino X.  I would think so, but I may be wrong.
It could be like the different roll frames for the Seeburg L cabinet
piano versus the K or KT, which are not only mounted in different
places, but markedly different in construction.

Assuming you could find out who purchased this instrument and agree
to buy/trade out the old original parts for replacements (you could
substitute quality build-up parts, such as a PPCo roll frame and
a Ragola xylophone, for example), you would then have original
Nelson-Wiggen parts to work with, but again, the roll frame might not
fit properly.

I would advise caution in this regard, and have also cc'ed Mr. Dana
Johnson and Mr. Don Teach on this, both of whom know far more than I do
about Nelson-Wiggen instruments, and who could hopefully help you in
your quest for parts.  One thing's for sure, that big xylophone in the
eBay buildup ought to go to someone who is restoring a gutted 4X or 6
and needs it!

Best regards,

Andrew Barrett

P.S.: Here's some more Nelson-Wiggen information, to help you in your
quest for parts: 

(Message sent Tue 26 Jun 2012, 07:57:29 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Cabinet, Nelson-Wiggen, Parts, Piano

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