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Orchestrelle, Chapter 19.2
Rebuilding the Æolian Orchestrelle
58-Note Player Reed Organ, 1912 Model "W"
by Richard Vance
Copyright (C) 2001 by Richard Z. Vance
rev. A, 10 December, 2001

Chapter 19.2 - Preparing the Rank Pouchboards

    First the remnants od the old pouches are removed.  Here is a perfect demonstration of why hot glue is the best.  The old leather is simply wetted with a rag,  Then, after a few minutes, the old glue and the leather is simply wiped away.  No distortion of the critical pouch board face dimension due to sanding or scraping, And a lot less work as well.  The gasket and padding strips on the back are torn off, and the remaining scraps and the glue are washed off.  A "Scotchbrite" pot scrubbing sponge is handy for this; when wet, it won't scratch the wood, but it does take off a lot of gasket remnant easily.

    It was noted that when the glue was brushed across the array of holes to originally attach the gasket, a lot of big drops of glue were scraped into these holes.  Fearing that these drops might break off and migrate somewhere and cause trouble, the holes were whiffed out with a big twist drill.  Any remaining scraps of remaining dried leather, and a surprising amount of dust that had accumulated in the pouch wells, was cleaned out with a stiff brush.

    The pouch boards are made of some soft but close grained wood, which I assume to be sugar pine.  Aeolian sealed all the holes leading to the pouches, and the pouch wells, with their shellac-white pigment mixture.  Close examination of the wood showed some slight shrinkage cracking of the wood, which had the potential to cause slight leakage between the channels and pouch wells, along the direction of the wood grain.  Having no way to prove that this was indeed the case, I decided to be safe rather than sorry, and put on another coat of sealant.  I used Zinnser BIN, which I believe to be similar to Aeolian's original compound.

    First, the holes were masked off on the back.  The upper, narrow ends of the holes were recoated using a pipe cleaner. The pouch wells were recoated using a soft camel hair artist's brush.  Of course some paint got on the gluing surface, which I continuously wiped off as I went, with alcohol and lots of paper towels.

    Then the board was turned over, and the holes were coated again.  A pipe cleaner was used for the narrow, inner parts of the holes, and then the wider. back ids of the holes were coated using a brush

    The masking tape was torn off, and any meniscus of paint in the holes was poked out with a skewer.  The pouch gluing surface was very lightly sanded, not enough to remove any wood, but just to whiff off any remaining BIN on the surface.  Finally the wells were carefully cleaned out.  Aeolian, and everybody else who originally made sealed pouch boards, had it a lot easier.  They just dipped the whole board in the sealant, and then planed the board to its final thickness, leaving the holes coated but the gluing surfaces as fresh wood.

    Aeolian used a very clever method to assure that there was a good seal between the vertical channels in the back boards, and the passages to the pouches.  This is a difficult joint to seal, because of inevitable slight warpage or dimensional inconsistency between the very high back panels, and the equally long pouch boards.


    A line 3/4" from each edge of the board was drawn, and some 1" strips of the blotting paper was glued on.  Masking tap covers the last 3/4" on the ends of the board.

    One inch strips of thick deerskin were cut.  A template was made out of a strip of plastic with 3/8" diameter holes on 1" centers. The template was used to mark the strips for punching, using a felt marker, and the strips were punched...

...and glued on.  The pad strips were trimmed to length along the line of the masking tape.

    When the glue was dry, the blotting paper pad strips were trimmed to the width of the pouchboard.  I should have masked the edges of the pouch boards, because some glue dipped down on them, and had to be scraped off.  These pouch board edges are a gasket seating surface for the chest lids.

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