Wednesday, May 23, 2018




                                     TOM THUMB REPAIR                                                       PART 8

As 2017 progressed, the Tom Thumb Player Piano lost it's enthusiasm and by the time we closed for the season, it was ready to be worked on.

Some jobs just hate to be finished.   After the unglued action was fixed, tuning was the next step.  While tuning, we broke a treble string.   While replacing it, we undid the wrong mating string, so we ended up replacing 2 strings.    Then at the bottom end of the scale, we broke a wound bass string, so we had to order a new one, made as a duplicate from Schaff.

In order to install it, we had to take the pump out to get at the bottom anchor point.   Then it turned out that the tuning pin would not hold, so it had to be removed and the hole shimmed.




Well, it is back together now, ready for final tuning.   Of course, we might break another string doing that.



Wednesday, May 16, 2018




                                              MAKING AN ORCHESTRION                                         PART 7


The piano we chose for this project is a 1909 Weber.   We have put the top shelf back in the piano and are about to test the piano playing part.


I got the test roll and discovered that the tube it is mounted on is undersized.   I unrolled it, made a correct sized tube and remounted the test roll.


Then I found that we have an interference between the moveable mount and the spring loaded plunger will not retract far enough to put the test roll into the roll drive.



I took the tambourine off, ground the necessary clearance and remounted it.   Now we are ready to try the test roll.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018







                                         TOM THUMB REPAIR                           PART 7


As 2017 progressed, the Tom Thumb Player Piano lost it's enthusiasm and by the time we closed for the season, it was ready to be worked on.

There has been a small leak in the shutoff valve which I could not find.    The back cover which holds the pouch has been modified and has motor cloth patches on the back, so I decided to make a new section.   The center of the photo shows the old pouch holder.    The right side shows the new part before cutting it to size.

There will be no unexplained leaks through the wood after we seal it.



Wednesday, May 2, 2018




                                                 Making an Orchestrion                                  Part 6


                            The piano we chose for this project is a 1909 Weber.    We have the upper
                            section  placement worked out.   We think we have everything properly
                            arranged, so we tubed the parts.   This is what it looks like from the rear.   



                           We fully expect that when we put this back in the piano, there will have to be
                            a few adjustments made, but we are pretty sure this is basically correct.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018




                                        TOM THUMB REPAIR                                                PART 6


As 2017 progressed, the Tom Thumb Player Piano lost it's enthusiasm and by the time we closed for the season, it was ready for some help.

You will remember when we took the pumps out to check them, we found a piece of a piano action in the bottom of the case.    Well it is time to fix that.   In order to do so, the piano action has to be removed and in order to get to it, the player piano roll drive section has to come out.;



With the roll drive out, the piano action can be removed for the needed repair.   The rest of the key striking mechanism is removed and the unglued part can be glued back in place.




Then the parts are reassembled and a few other checks are made and the piano action is reinstalled in the piano.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018





                                                      TOM THUMB REPAIR                    PART 5

As 2017 progressed, the Tom Thumb Player Piano lost it's enthusiasm and by the time we closed for the season, it was ready for some help.

Well, we have all the pump sections checked and repaired as necessary.


The gaskets are glued where the joints come, replacing the silicon sealer used in the last repair.   This is a more conventional method, but will probably not seal any better.   It will however make the job easier for the next person


After the dry fit and repair of a few stripped screws, the pump is reassembled and ready for putting on the auxiliary control parts.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018




                                                             BUILDING EXCITEMENT


The building was erected in 1906 and there have been many changes and additions since then.  Never a day goes by without some echoes from our past.   On April 3, we had a new issue.   The sink on the second floor blew a water line and flooded the area.



From there, the water ran down to the mezzanine and over the telephone Centrix system control box.



From there the water came through the light fixture on the first floor and from there we were able to catch most of the water in pans.






The leak was caught quickly, but it was large, so we got a lot of water in a short time.   Of course, besides drying out the wet areas, we lost our phone service from water in the Centrix  box.   After uncovering the pc board and drying it out, the phone came back in about 1 hour.

Never a dull day at DeBence!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018




                                         TOM THUMB REPAIR                    PART 4


As 2017 progressed, the Tom Thumb Player Piano lost it's enthusiasm and by the time we closed for the season, it was ready for some help.

Well, removing the pump section damaged the bottom board because of the way it was firmly glued to the frame, so we made a new part and prepared to recover the section.


After duplicating the original hinge section, we have the section ready to recover.


Our intent is to use a more conventional gasket and screw the attachment to the frame.  So that the next person will not have the issues we faced, the gasket will be glued to the bottom of the pump section.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018






                                              TOM THUMB REPAIR                         PART 3


As 2017 progressed, the Tom Thumb Player Piano lost it's enthusiasm and by the time we closed for the season, it was ready for some help.

We seem to be short of air, so the box pump was removed for checking.   It seemed weak, so further disassembly for more detailed checks was started.




The last repair involved gluing the individual pumps to the frame, rather than a more conventional gasket system.   A cork gasket was firmly glued on both sides, which caused a lot of trouble getting the pump loose and damaged the bottom of the pump, so we had to make some new parts and rebuild the pump.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018





                                       TOM THUMB REPAIR                          PART 2


As 2017 progressed, the Tom Thumb Player Piano lost it's enthusiasm and by the time we closed for the season, it was ready for some help.

After removing the box pump, we found a piano action part in the bottom of the case.



A little checking identified it as coming from this note.



The fix will be easy as the part has just come unglued and is not broken.   The challenge is that in order to get the piano action out, we have to remove all the upper player parts.   The piano needs to be tuned, so that will be done when the player parts are out.




Just another of those small jobs that grows as you progress.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018





                                            TOM THUMB REPAIR        PART I


As 2017 progressed, the Tom Thumb Player Piano lost it's enthusiasm and by the time we closed for the season, it was barely playing.



In February of 2018, we moved it to the office, where we had some heat and started looking for the problem .   The first check was the box pump.   It sits in the bottom of the case.



We removed it and started checking.   With all the inlets blocked, it could be turned with almost no resistance, indicating a leak or maybe several leaks.   So disassembly was started to allow the four sections to be individually checked.



Future installments will tell you what we found.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018




                                                               WHICH ROLL IS THIS

A lot of the music rolls in the DeBence collection have seen serious use.   The first damage that happens to a roll is often in the leader, done while threading the roll onto the machine.   It is easy enough to cut some off for a fresh start and eventually splice a new leader in place.

Often when this is done, the information as to roll number and tune list is cut off and not recopied.  At some point when you want a clear identification, it becomes necessary to completely unroll the roll and get the number off the inner end.   




To do this, you put it on the roll repair frame and hand crank it to the inner end.   You will probably patch a few tears during this process.   When you get to the inner end, you are apt to find the roll number on the inside of the roll.   Then you need a rollography to tell you the song list.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018




                                                 MAKING AN ORCHESTRION    PART 5

The piano we chose for this project is a 1909 Weber.   We have the upper section placement worked out, now we have to get serious about the lower area.

The vacuum box is placed on the right side against the top.


The xylo valves go on the bottom front.   The soft pedal pneumatic goes on the left, tucked about as high as we can get it.   The next step will be routing the vacuum hoses and pipes to feed all the instruments.



Wednesday, February 21, 2018

                                                         




                                                           PATCHING UP A VICTOR R

A nice Victor Model R "Royal" was brought in for a minimal cost patch job.    The mechanical part was easy, one of the three governor springs and weight assemblies had a screw come out of one end.   The screw was in the bottom of the case, so putting it back was easy.


After that was done, the turntable did not have enough torque to play a record.   This is a simple spring motor, so I thought maybe it needed to be cleaned and greased.   Did that.   Not much improvement.   The spring seemed to have lost much of its tension.   The short term solution was to decrease the needle pressure, by adding a counterbalance to the  horn, thus getting by with a reduced motor torque.


Rule #1, is do not make irreversible changes, so I made a small clip to hang the weight on.   If a proper restoration is made in the future, this can be removed and no sign it ever existed will remain.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018





                                                  Making an Orchestrion     Part 4


The piano we chose for this project is a 1909 Weber.   Having rebuilt the stack and getting it properly fitted in the case, the next issue is placing the other items and instruments.

We have placed all the pieces on the shelf and think this will work out, subject to finding that we have to readjust due to unforeseen problems in the future.


Based on the hope this will work, we have run the valves to the manifolds on the deck and have started tubing the tracker bar for this configuration.


We have not yet found a home for the triangle.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018




                                          REPAIR OF A ROLLER ORGAN      PART 7

Earlier we wrote about an Autophone Concert Roller Organ we received for evaluation and repair.  When it came to us, this is what we saw.



After rebuilding the pumps and reservoir, repairing the case, making the missing parts for the case, cleaning the reeds, making a new base and finally recovering and adjusting the valves, we have declared the job a success.    The valve adjustment took way longer than anticipated, because the adjustment is done by bending the tabs that contact the roller pins.   I assume in the factory they had gauges and fixtures to help with this.   Anyway, this is what we now have.




Wednesday, January 31, 2018



                                                          MAKING AN ORCHESTRION 
                                                                                PART 3


The piano we chose for this project is a 1909 Weber.   Having rebuilt the stack and having gotten it properly fitted in the case, the next issue is placing the other items and instruments.


We think this will be the way the top shelf will be arranged.   The wood block in the form of a pecking bird goes on the left.   The bass drum goes next, then the roll drive and last is the tambouring and snare drum combination.


The xylophone goes in the bottom and there is not much room left for anything else.   We have not yet found a home for the triangle.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018



                                                    MAKING AN ORCHESTRION
                                                                      PART 2


The piano we chose for this project is a 1909 Weber.   Having rebuilt the stack and having gotten it properly fitted in the case, the next issue is replacing the other items and instruments.


The roll drive has to go on the top of the stack, but how we place the other items is more flexible.   We have a tambourine, triangle, a wood block in the form of a bird, bass drum, soft pedal pneumatic and mandolin rails & its pneumatic.    The xylophone fills the bottom of the case, so not much room is left there.



It will take some time to sort this all out.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


                                                         MAKING AN ORCHESTRION
                                                                             PART 1

We have a few player pianos that have not been restored and decided to make an orchestrion out of one of them.    First we removed the player parts and fixed whatever problems existed with the piano action.


The next step was to rebuild the stack, eliminating the pneumatics not needed for the 66 playing notes  to be controlled by the O Roll we had decided to use and substituting connections for additional functions.

We obtained a Ragtime roll drive and now we are ready to start assembly.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018



                                                     NEW SILVERTONE PHONOGRAPH


We recently received a Sears Silvertone floor model phonograph.   The oak cabinet is in good cosmetic condition and the phonograph works and sounds fine.

Since most of the Sears Silverstone Phonographs were made by Columbia, I suppose this machine falls into that group.   There is no model number or for that matter any identification label anywhere that we could find, except for the Silverstone label on the underside of the lid.   From the case design, we suppose it is a 1910 to 1920 unit, but to date we have found no way to be sure of the manufacturing date.    If you have any info about this, please contact the museum at either debencemusem@verizon.net or at 814-432-8350.








Wednesday, January 3, 2018




                                       REPAIR OF A ROLLER ORGAN             PART 6


We were sent an Autophone Concert Roller Organ for evaluation and repair.

As the assembly progressed, we finally reached the point where we inserted a song and tried it.

It seems that the tangs on the end of the valves that are tripped when the song plays, are very fussy about being properly located.

The adjustments are made by bending the tangs.   When you bend them, it is easy to throw the valve faces out of good closure, so this turns out to be a fussy job.   Not only must they project the correct amount, but they must be vertically aligned to get the notes timed right.



Basically the ends must be correctly positioned both vertically and horizontally and at the same time, the valve face must meet the seat exactly.