Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Collections Success Story- The Cremona G

Our Cremona G is serial number 11622; the piano action carries number 7500.

We have no information about the early life of this machine, but when Jake DeBence got it, the pipes, the air chest and the piano air chest were all missing.   The electric motor was missing.   The muffler rail was gone.  The good things were that the stained glass front was intact, the pump and roll drive were intact and the mandolin rail was still in place.  The modulating unit and the pressure reservoirs were also there.

Elizabeth started a search for a piano air chest and about 1970 Don Janisch provided a Cremona piano air chest from a model 10 or 20, which Jake adapted for this model G.   The air chest had more keys and more auxiliary valves than needed, so several functions were blocked off and not used in this application.   The modulating unit was bypassed.

A standard appliance motor (alleged to have been from a washing machine) was substituted for the missing motor and Jake had it playing.

When the museum obtained it with the rest of the collection in 1993, it was displayed and played as part of the main floor tours, until January of 2014, when it was moved to the second floor shop for work.   After posting questions on MMD, we gathered a lot of necessary information from many people about details of the work needed.   In June of 2014, The Laura Smedley Trust, administered by PNC, awarded a grant to pay for having a new set of pipes and the air chest made and we continued on the other work needed to bring it back to near original condition.

A new muffler rail was made.   The mandolin rail was repaired.   A correct motor was mounted and the pumps were rebuilt.   The piano air chest was reworked to provide attachment points for the pipe
pneumatics.   The modulating unit was rebuilt and put back on line.   The piano air chest tracker bar tubing connections were moved from the top to the bottom, out of the path of the new pipe connections for the pipe air chest pneumatics, so the fall board could be closed.   (When Jake adapted the piano stack, he just ran the hosed in front of and then over the top of the stack, which prevented the fall board from closing.)   The piano air chest valves were all checked and reset to proper clearance.   The piano action was repaired as needed.   In January 2015, Bruce Newman of Gold Beach, OR shipped us the new violin pipes and the air chest.   Installing them around a bigger than usual piano air chest was challenging, but accomplished. 

In late March of 2015, everything was working and the machine was placed on our main floor to again become part of the tour.   It sounds great.   A complete article with photos was in the MBSI Journal for Sept/Oct of 2015.

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