Hi all, Dan Tamburro submitted a note about his Ampico A grand playing
slowly and it seems that it has been doing so since he acquired it at
There may be a couple of situations that can be investigated. The
simplest would be to take the top cover off the right top side of the
drawer. There is probably a screw at the right end of the drawer that
prevents the decorative cover from moving. The drawer rolls along an
"L" shaped metal rail with four evenly placed screws securing the rail
to the end of the drawer. Between screw #2 and screw #3 there is a
fifth screw which is not evenly placed. Remove this screw and the
decorative cover will slide back. It can then be removed, exposing the
transmission and other mechanical parts.
Move the Tempo lever back and forth and see if this motion moves the
connected rods directly without any sliding and loss of motion. If
there is no loss of motion, I would then check inside the back of the
drawer to see if, by any chance, the large hose feeding the governor
(a black box with a pneumatic on the bottom at the back of the
right-hand side of the drawer) has come off its large nipple at the
governor. If it has nearly come off the governor, air would leak in
and prevent the governor from regulating vacuum to the air motor,
making tempo changes nearly impossible.
If it has come loose, there will probably be a partial "loop" of large
tubing at the back center of the drawer. Crawl under the piano and
look at the back of the drawer for the large tubing. If there is some
large tubing that is not as straight as an arrow at the back of the
drawer, try to push is toward the treble end of the drawer, while your
son makes sure that it goes on to the big nipple on the governor.
If the big tubing on the back of the drawer is straight, you probably
have a problem inside the governor. But, one other thing that you can
do is to check out the transmission. With no roll in the spoolbox, put
the play-reroll lever into reroll. See if you can easily spin the take
There may be a brake on the take-up part of the transmission that is
gummed up badly, from its previous owner putting grease or oil onto the
felt pad. When playing 80 year old piano rolls, its usually a wise
thing to disable this pad pressing onto a disc in the drive train.
Next, put the Play-Reroll lever into the Play position. Manually turn
the brass chuck at the top right of the spoolbox and see if it turns
easily. You will see that it is moving a chain.
If there is a binding and difficulty in moving the chain, then there is
a possibility that either the transmission gears are gummed up from
years of use and no lubrication. There is also a possibility that the
transmission is stating to disintegrate, since it was originally made
of pot metal. If you can see cracks in the metal parts of the
transmission, then the transmission will need to be replaced. Readers
of this forum or AMICA can direct you to competent repair personnel
near to you, whether it is transmission trouble or a governor
situation, or maybe some other trouble.