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MMD > Archives > February 2017 > 2017.02.14 > 01Prev  Next


Tubing Nickelodeon A-roll Coin Pianos
By Don Teach

First off, my apologies to those that don't receive my private
emails answering some questions.  My server and your server don't
seem to like each other so I am going to attempt to answer all the
questions I have received recently.

In order to understand how to tube a nickelodeon piano then one
really has to understand the workings of all the parts that they
restored in the process of restoring a nickelodeon.

Basically a nickelodeon piano is a coin operated player piano that
typically plays a multi-tune music roll.  For each coin deposited the
piano should normally play one tune.  If two coins are deposited the
piano should play two tunes.  When the roll has played the last tune
on the roll the piano automatically rewinds the music roll and the
mechanism goes back into the play mode stopping before the first tune
on the roll is played unless there are credits on the coin mechanism.

This coin mechanism is known as an accumulator.  Most of these can
accommodate up to twenty coins or credits.  Some early machines can
only do five credits.

The mechanism that controls the forward and reverse of the roll
frame is sometimes referred to as the rewind pneumatic or shifter.
In a Seeburg, Western Electric, Coinola and some others this mechanism
uses a lock and cancel type of valve or mechanical latch system to
lock the gears in the rewind or play mode.  Seeburg used two different
types of these with the early one closing a large pneumatic to rewind
the roll while a little hook lever would capture the pneumatic in the
close position to hold the gears in rewind.  A second smaller pneumatic
would release the lever.  These are often changed to the later style by
some restorers.

In later Seeburgs they used a lock and cancel type of valve
arrangement controlled by two pneumatics on the back of the rewind
pneumatic.  When the large rewind pneumatic closes it also closed a
small pneumatic on the back of the unit that opens a port to the
valve that closes the large pneumatic there holding it in the rewind
position.  When the play hole in the roll opens when the roll is
finished rewinding it then has a small pneumatic that closes the other
small pneumatic shutting off the open port to the rewind valve.

Coinola used a physical rewind pneumatic system where the large
pneumatic closes and a lever latches it closed until a small pneumatic
pushes the latching lever to release the large pneumatic so it can
open and have the machine shift into the play position.  There are
others that have two pneumatics that shift the transmission frame
into rewind or play.  The bottom line is all coin pianos have some
arrangement to shift the roll frame from play to rewind back to play.

The coin accumulators can have a spring-loaded counter wheel in them
or they may have two pneumatics to work the counter wheel.  The ones
with two pneumatics also have a valve located somewhere to work the
credit pneumatic in the accumulator.  The model with two pneumatics has
to have two valves of which one is always connected to vacuum so that
it can add credits whenever the piano is on.  If the valve was supplied
suction by the stack then the piano could not add credits while it
rewinds the roll.

The other valve that shuts off the piano has vacuum only when the
roll is playing and not rewinding so that it doesn't shut off the
piano during rewind.  There is also a port that opens when a coin is
dropped in the units with two pneumatics so the credit pneumatic can
add credit to the accumulator.  Seeburgs and some Cremona pianos used
this mechanism with two pneumatics and maybe others I have not seen.

In some pianos playing the Style A music roll there are not enough
valves to work the soft pedal and mandolin rail independently as the
roll scale would suggest.  These two units are operated off one valve
that is tubed to the mandolin rail perforation in the roll.  You can
add a valve to work these two units independently should you desire.
I suggest you try to copy one of the original valves in the piano.

Tubing one of these pianos should be done according to the roll
scale.  Since you have restored all the parts then you know their
function.  Study the roll scale and think that the builders probably
made everything so that the tubing layout would be neat.

I have found that any valve boxes in the piano are usually close to
the pneumatic that they need to operate.  For example, in some Seeburg
K models there are two valve boxes, one on the right side under the
spool shelf and one on the left side.  The one on right side would not
be controlling the sustain pedal on the left of the piano but would
most likely be controlling the pneumatics in the coin accumulator on
the right side of the case.  In other words, they didn't criss-cross
the insides of the pianos with a bunch of long tubing runs.

The last question is more of a personal response to "What are doing,
Don?  Why are you not making parts, etc.?"  The answer is I have been
unable to accomplish all that I would like to accomplish due to
circumstances beyond my control.

Don Teach
Shreveport, Louisiana


(Message sent Mon 13 Feb 2017, 18:48:05 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  A-roll, Coin, Nickelodeon, Pianos, Tubing

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