I know my place in the "pecking order of rebuilders" -- I'm very
experienced and good but not one of the best in the country.
There were a few instances where I had to change the bottom valve
facings on Standard type valves. The leather was dry rotted and had
started flaking off. Usually I just clean it with leather cleaner
and then apply some silicone oil, check the wobble and make sure
there's no corrosion (verdigris) and clean that out if there is any.
I was discussing my "quandary" with my machinist friend. I told him
I was looking to get a hold of some high grade patent leather. It just
so happened that one of his customers had lots of high-quality patent
leather, he told me. I said "Great!"
It turns out the guy was a craftsman at making sexual leather stuff.
His legs were paralyzed and he was wheelchair-bound, but he found
a way to make a very good living making quality leather whips, bondage
equipment, etc. "Gotta pay the bills," he said. He sold me some
really good patent leather that worked out very well on my bottom
Lester player actions were not made with the same level of precision
as Standard player actions were. You need that "wobble" on a Lester;
it has been discussed in AMICA Bulletins going "way back."
The pipe organ rebuilders seal leather with silicone oil. Teflon is a
good lubricant to help a valve seat. Valve leather can be sanded with
fine sandpaper. How much friction does the buff leather you installed
have on the bottom facing, and how coarse is it?
Having not seen or tested it ourselves, we are just speculating and
floating ideas. But, this can also be helpful at times, and it may
even lead to solving the problem.
I knew that Tom Hundermark was much better than I was at reproducing
player pianos. I called Tom up and told him I wanted to pay him to
finish a job I was working on at the time. I told him what I thought
of the situation. What Tom told me was, "Seeing is believing; I need
to see it."