Wednesday, November 22, 2017

                                                                       AN AEOLIAN STACK

We are repairing an Aeolian player piano stack, which had some unidentified leaks.   The stack has three sections.   The first step  is to separate the sections as each must be repaired individually.

We are going to investigate the upper section first.   The section comes apart by removing the upper cover, which contains the pouches that activate the valves.

The top cover holding the pouches rests on a spacer, which must be sealed to the body.   To check that seal, we must remove this piece.

Now it is a matter of cleaning the joints to get a good seal on reassembly.   Check all the valves for proper clearance.

After reassembly and before you seal the back, check the valve top to pouch clearance, to be sure the valves have full travel.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


                                                      Sir Henry "Harry" Lauder

August 1870-26
February 1950
was a Scottish music hall and vaudeville theatre singer and comedian and a substantial landowner.

He was perhaps best known for his long-standing hit "I Love a Lassie" and for his international success.   He was described by Sir Winston Churchill as "Scotland's greatest ever ambassador!"   He became a familiar world-wide figure promoting images like the kilt and the cromach (walking stick) to huge acclaim, especially in America.   Other songs followed, including "Roamin' in the Gloamin", "A Wee Deoch-an-Doris" and "The End of the Road".

By 1911, Lauder had become the highest-paid performer in the world and was the first Scottish artist to sell a million records.   He raised vast amounts of money for the war effort during World War I, for which he was subsequently knighted in 1919.   He went into semi-retirement in the mid-1930s, but briefly emerged to entertain troops in World War II.   By the late-1940s, he was suffering from long periods of ill-health and died in Scotland in 1950.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

                                            ABOUT THE ROCK STARS OF THE 1920s

The Coon Sanders Nighthawks Band

Carleton Coon was born in Rochester, Minnesota in 1893 and his family moved to Lexington, Missouri shortly after his birth.   Joe Sanders was born in Kansas in 1896.   Sanders was known as "the Old Left Hander" because of his skills at baseball.   The Coon Sanders Nighthawks Orchestra was formed in 1919.   Sanders gave up baseball in the early 1920s to concentrate on dance music as a career.

The orchestra began broadcasting in 1922 on clear channel station WDAF, which could be received throughout the United States.   They were broadcast in performance at the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City.   They took the name Nighthawks because they broadcast late at night (11:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.).  By 1924, their fan club had 37,000 members.   Fans were encouraged to send in requests for songs by letter, telephone or telegram.   That move became so popular that Western Union set up a ticker tape  between Sander's piano and Coon's drums, so telegrams could be acknowledged during the broadcasts.    Their song "Nighthawk Blues" includes the lines:  "Tune right in on the radio/Grab a telegram and say "Hello" .   In 1925, they recorded the Paul Whitman and Fred Rose composition "Flamin' Mamie".

The group left Kansas City for the first time in 1924 for a three-month engagement in a roadhouse in Chicago.   The orchestra moved to Chicago the same year, where Jules Stein used the profits from a tour he booked, for them to establish the Music Corporation of American (MCA), with the orchestra as its first client.   The orchestra moved into the Blackhawk in Chicago in 1926.  The members of the  orchestra at that time were Joe Richolson and Bob Pope, trumpets; Rex Downing, trombone; Harold Thiell, Joe Thiell and Floyd Estep, saxophones; Joe Sanders, piano; Russ Stout, banjo and guitar;
"Pop"  Estep, tuba; Carleton Coon, drums.   In the following years, the Nighthawks performed at the Blackhawk every winter, doing remote broadcasts over radio station WGN.   Their reputation spread coast to coast through these broadcasts and the many records they made for Victor.   They undertook very successful road tours.

The orchestra moved to New York City for an 11 month broadcast engagement at the Hotel New Yorker, arranged by William S. Paley, who needed a star attraction to induce radio stations to join the Columbia Broadcasting System.

At the peak of the band's success, the musicians owned identical Cord automobiles, each in a different color with the name  of the Orchestra and the owner embossed on the rear.   The Orchestra's  popularity showed no signs of abating and their contract with MCA had another 15 years to run in the spring of 1932, when Carleton Coon came down with a jaw infection and died on May 4.

Sanders attempted to keep the organization going; however, without Coon, the public did not support them.   In 1935, he formed his own group and played until the early 1940s when he became a part-time orchestra leader and studio musician.   In his later year he suffered from failing eyesight and other health problems.   He died in 1965 after suffering a stroke.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

                                                    You may be culturally deprived if:

1)  You cannot tell a band organ from a Calliope

2)  You never heard of Sir Harry Lauder

3)  Rudy Vallee sounds like a California location

4)  The word Graphonola means nothing to you

5)  The Coon Sanders Night Hawks sound like a hunting club

6)  You think Brunswick only made bowling alleys

7)  You think a "45" is just a gun

8)  If you think Nickelodeon is only a TV channel.

Visit DeBence Antique Music World at 1261 Liberty Street and let us add some couth to your life.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

                                      Donating to a Museum???

This way of passing on your collection item is not a bad plan.   BUT if you want your collection preserved and available to the public, there are a few areas that need to be considered, before making a donation of machines or literature.

1)   When you donate an item you lose all control over it.  Period.

2)   No reputable school or museum will guarantee much of anything about display or retention of a donation.   If they do make such a guarantee, don't believe them.   Over time, as the situation changes, the pledge will become undoable or forgotten.

3)   Your best indication of probable fate of your donation, is to check the fate of past such donations.  If they refuse to discuss that subject, then you have your answer and can walk away.   Your best chance for continued public access to your donation, is their past record of such access.

4)   You need to trust that if the item is eventually sold, it will go to someone who appreciates it.

We believe that DeBence Antique Music World is an example of a proper place to donate.   We hold in trust, what Jake DeBence collected, thus preventing it from being sold to and probably being hidden in many different private collections.   We keep all of it available for public view and performance.   We have received and added a number of major instruments over the last 20 years.

The Hammond/Aeolian Player Organ, the Nelson Wiggen Style 6, the Aeolian/Duo Art Grand, The Sohmer-Welte Upright and the Aeolian Duo-Art Grand Reproducing System all came to us needing repairs and have been restored and are exhibited and played for visitiors.

We have filled gaps in our phonograph and instrument collections with donated instruments which have been repaired and are now on display.   We have been given several non-working phonographs, duplicating items which we already have and have restored and sold them.   Proceeds from such sales are used for restoration and maintenance of the instruments in the collection and if the donors care, they are told where the money from the sale of their machine was used.

In summary, don't discount this way of passing on your collection items, as there are worthy places to donate an item where it will be restored, preserved, exhibited and played.   You just need to do your homework and research to find them.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

                                             Repairing a Reed Organ  -             Part 3

A Smith Reed Organ was brought to us for repair to playing condition.   This was not a restoration job, just a repair to good playing condition.

In the past, we had wire brushed all rusty screws before reassembly.  The advent of EVAPO-RUST has made this job a lot easier.  Just put the rusty screws in a bottle of it, wait 24 hours and you have nice clean parts.

As we proceeded in reassembly, we found the root of the stuck stops problem was a transfer of parts between stop hardware, which once identified, was easily corrected.

As with most older wood mechanisms, there were some split parts which we glued back together.

With reassembly completed, we checked to see if all the reeds sounded and had to free a few stuck ones.

The final job was recovering the front grille with the corrected cloth.

At this point, the job is essentially done and the organ is ready to return to the owner.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

                                                   Repairing a Reed Organ - Part 2

A Smith Reed Organ was brought to us for repair to playing condition.   This was not a restoration job,  just a repair to good playing condition.

We got the problem of the big stack leak under control, but further investigation showed some cracks in the top half where the valves mount.    These were sealed with silicon sealer for the larger ones and shellac based sealer for the narrow ones.

Now we can start reassembly.   The bottom of the air chest was put in place and then the top installed.

The valve push rods were carefully arranged when removed, so as to be able to install them in the same position they came from.   Before the next layer could go on, the stop slides which were hard to move, had to be freed up and readjusted.