Player Piano Horror Story
by John A. Tuttle (MMD 001002)

Hi All,  You know the old saying, "Now I've seen it all".  Well, I've said that phrase so many times in the past 27 years that I now believe I'll never 'see it all'.  However, I saw something the other day that will make any conscientious rebuilder laugh out loud.

horrorStoryVacMod1.jpg (65 kb)
1.  Odd Vacuum Pump

This is no exaggeration.  During the evaluation phase of a LaRocca player with an Autopiano mechanism, I noticed what appeared to be a vacuum cleaner mounted inside of the piano.  Sure enough, that's exactly what was there, but it gets better (or worse, depending on how you look at it).  As 'bumper material', to keep the vacuum cleaner from vibrating against the side of the piano, the 'installer' (can't really call him a rebuilder) put open fiberglass on the walls of the piano.  And to make matters even worse, the exhaust from the vacuum cleaner was blowing right onto the fiberglass, spreading glass fibers all over the inside of the piano (see attached photo).

When the customer's wife came around to see how the evaluation was going, I pointed out the vacuum cleaner and the open fiberglass and she immediately started to break out with hives.  It was heartbreaking to watch as her arms started turning red, right before my eyes.

Needless to say, the fiberglass and vacuum cleaner were removed before I left the home.

Bottom line: 'Clever' does not necessarily mean 'smart'.

Oh, one other thing.  Instead of using a simple microswitch and small bellow to activate a small light in the spoolbox whenever there was vacuum in the reservoirs, this 'clever' person invented his own switch.  He screwed one bolt into each bellow board, cut the AC line leading to the light, and connected one wire to each bolt.  So every time the bellow collapsed, the two bolts made contact, allowing the electricity to flow to the light.  Talk about your recipe for disaster!  If you want a picture, I have one, but I think you 'get it'.
 


horrorStoryBassMod.jpg (80 kb)
2.  Bass Bridge Modification - What not to do

Gosh, I almost forgot about this.... It's a bit hard to put into words.

All piano rebuilders have run into the situation where the bass bridge has one large crack running all along either the top or bottom row of bridge pins.  It's not that uncommon.  However, you've probably never seen a modification to the bass bridge like the one I recently found in a LaRocca player.

Instead of simply replacing the bass bridge, the person who restrung this instrument decided to deform the bridge and reposition the entire bottom row of the bridge pins in the bi-chord section.  He simply cut-away about 3/8" of the flat portion of the bridge, drilled new holes, inserted the old pins and started stringing.  (see attached photo)

Where did this person get his training?  A barn?

Musically,

John A. Tuttle
http://www.player-care.com/
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 14:11:02 -0400


17 October 2000