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B ^ IBM M7B 



The Pneumatic Player. 



Pneumatic Player 

The Regulation and Repair 
of some Modern Types 

By Harry Drake 

London: "Musical Opinion" Office 
Chichester Chambers, Chancery Lane, VV.C 2. 

M L I o S I 



TN the follozviiig chapters on player-piano actions^ 
-^ tJieir regulation and repair^ I do not intend to nse 
the language of science^ and this for two reasons. The 
first is that perhaps a feiv of my readers might not 
understand that lingo ; and the second reason is that 
I do not jnyself Fascinating as it might be to explain 
that every pneumatic, when at rest, contains billions of 
atmospJieric molecules, and that each pfieiimatic is sur- 
rounded by an equal number of billions, zvhich latter 
turn ivith the utmost fiery and slam to the pneumatic 
whefi their fellozvs in the interior are reduced in num- 
ber by suction. Yet to a majority of tuners a knoiv- 
ledge of such facts is quite unnecessary. It is enough 
for one to observe the ivork, and to knoiv just Jiow to 
regulate and maintain the movements of each part. 

It is very possible that I may tread some old fami- 
liar paths ; but I am sure I need not apologise for 
this, as to ma?iy the ground must be 7ieiv, — or perhaps 
lutth a fezu of the more experienced I may have the 
good fortJine to share my enthusiasm for some of the 
more intricate devices and the decided improvement of 

the player-piano in general. 




The Triumph-Auto ... 

.. page 7 

The Higel 


The Pianola 


The Stradola 


The Angelus 


The Kastonome 


The Pistonola 


The Malcolm 


Tracking Devices ... 


General Defects ... 



The Triumph'zAuto. 

THE Triumph - Auto is one of the most 
popular and well-known instruments. In 
the full compass instrument, we find that 
the control consists of the loud pedal lever, 
soft bass button, soft treble button, triumphodist 
switch, silent lever, ritard and accelerando lever, 
tempo lever, and re-roll lever. In the spool box, 
on the left hand side, is a metal lever, opening or 
closing the automatic damper lift. At each end 
of the tracker bar are the two overlapping holes 
or ducts which operate the pneumatic tracker 
shifter. As I propose later to deal specially with 
tracker shifting devices, here and now I content 
myself with the remark that when tracing these 
holes we find that the four tubes lead us to a 
double pneumatic and chest on the left of the 
spool box, and that it is necessary to unscrew the 
cap held by three or four screws where these tubes 
enter the chest. Clear the dust from the sieves 
beneath, at the same time blowing the dust from 
the tracker bar out of the tubes each time the 
instrument is tuned. (I may mention, in passing, 
that dust should always be blown from the tracker 
bar when air channels are enclosed, the reason 
being obvious, — i.e., to clear from a smaller 
entrance to a larger exit. Blowing towards the 


The Triumphodist. 

tracker bar is liable to pack the dust or fibrous 
matter in the small ducts.) 

The two narrow ducts are for accenting bass 
and treble. The large square duct at bass end is 
the automatic damper. The primary valves are 
easily accessible after removing the "step," held 
in place by about thirty-eight screws. The 
secondary valves are immediately beneath and 
their pouch board is about five inches wide 
held by about twenty- eight screws. The loud 
lever is purely mechanical and lifts the damper 
rod by wires and levers. The soft bass and 
treble buttons admit air, when pressed, to 
pouches in two small chests at bass and 
treble sides of the piano. These operate valves 
and collapse two pneumatics, which lift the ham- 
mers to the half blow. The whole mechanism is 



v.^ e 

Cap of Triumphodist Expression Box 
(Dotted lines indicate concealed air channels) 

'Con^;enient and easily adjusted. The only move- 
ment which perhaps calls for a little extra thought 
is the triumphodist It is operated in the follow- 
ing manner and is the subject of my sketch. 

When the triumphodist switch is pushed to the 
" on " position, the tubes A are closed and the 
primary valves (B) are at rest, admitting air to 
the secondary pouches (C). This raises both 
accenting valves (D), and the whole power of the 
pedalling passes through the governing pneumatic 
(E). This governor is held open by a spring, which 
of course is far less powerful than the reservoir 
springs. As the marginal holes on the roll, when 


solo is indicated, admit a pulse of air down the 
tracker tubes (F), the primary valves are instantly 
lifted, bringing the secondary pouches under 
vacuum. The valves (D) are drawn down and 
open the full power of wind from either the bass 
or treble section of the valve chest. This empha- 
sizes any note or notes that are passing over the 
tracker bar at the time. It is practically instan- 
taneous in action. The switch at the " off " posi- 
tion admits air through the tubes (A) and the 
primary valves are raised, opening thereby the 
normal exhaust from bass and treble. The silent 
lever operates the slide shown in my sketch, shut- 
ting off all wind from the main exhaust. 

The ritard-accelerando lever shuts off wind 
from the motor in one direction and opens an 
auxiliary port, increasing speed, in the other. The 
slide is found on the upper part of the motor 
governor, on the right of the bellows set. Beneath 
the governor is the tempo slide or re-roll. The 
re-roll opens rapid wind from the motor and at 
the same time shuts off the main exhaust (shown 
in the sketch). 

In strengthening or weakening the motor 
spring, always remember the old standard : 7ft. 
of roll per minute with the tempo indicator at 70. 

The automatic sustaining lever lifts the damper 
rod by means of a powerful pneumatic, operated 
by special perforations at the bass margin of the 
roll. A simple primary and secondary valve con- 
trol the large pneumatic, which usually contains a 
*' scissor" valve or similar contrivance to prevent 

In overhauling and repairing this instrument, 
it is necessary to bear in mind the fact that the 
pneumatics, though powerful enough for their 
work, are small ; therefore, the secondary valves 
require very little movement, — much less than the 


heavier pneumatics of ten or fifteen years ago. 
When one has regulated the valve to a movement 
of gV of an inch, the clothed wooden button should 
just clear a ruler placed across the edges of the 
valve chest. To gain complete access to the 
primary pouches, it is necessary to take out the 
action and unscrew the channel board at the back 
into which the leaden tubes pass. Unscrew the 
front step and take out the vertical screws at each 
end of the spool board and lift the upper action 
clear of the primary chest. Now unscrew the 
blocks on the upper portion of the chest and take 
out six or eight screws holding the valve board to 
the pouch board. It will now come apart and all 
the primar}^ valves and pouches are exposed. 

If the player has been in a damp place, the 
valves being so swollen that they have little 
movement, sift French chalk beneath the lower 
valve cap, twisting and pressing the valve against 
its upper seat until sufficient movement is ob- 
tained,-^say sVth of an inch. 

In tuning this instrument, if a crank be used, it 
Avill be unnecessary to take out the action ; indeed, 
it is not advisable to be constantly withdrawing 
the screws which connect it with the wind trunks. 
However, if the tuner has no crank handy, he will 
have to slip off the four small tubes at the bass 
end of the action and the motor tube at the treble 
end. Disconnect the two buttons on the tempo 
and re-roll wires. Unscrew the spool box rod to 
wrest plank and withdraw the large round-headed 
screws, two at each end of the pouch board. Lift 
forward and out. 


The Higel Action. 

MANY well known makes of pianos are 
to be found in which the Higel player 
action is installed. It may be recog- 
nised at first glance by its ebony and 
silver appearance. The player w^ork is invariably 
black, polished, w^ith the plated metal standing 
out in pleasant relief. The Higel player also pre- 
sents other features w^hich stamp its identity at 
once: the row of vertical metal tubes, for in- 
stance, situated immediately beneath the spool 
box and marked (F) in the accompanying sketch. 
These tubes are held in place by three screws, the 
upper gripping a slot, and the tw^o smaller screws 
holding the low^er end to the manual pneumatic. 
By loosening the upper and withdrawing the lower 
screws, w^e can slide the tube down and out. 
Beneath the lower flange are two air channels : 
the lower is the channel from tracker bar to 
pouch, and the higher is the bleed hole. This is 
where trouble most frequently occurs. Dust and 
paper fibre accumulate in time, affecting the rapid 
deflation of the pouch. But here we have a de- 
tachable tube which, when removed, gives us im- 
mediate access to the bleed hole, and thereby 
does aw^ay with the necessity of unscrew'ing pouch 
boards covering the whole valve action. This is 



a great advantage, for in the majority of cases it 
is the bleed hole, and nothing but the bleed hole, 
that is responsible for the crimes of a player 


Higel Valve and Pneumatic. 

(A) Metal exhaust chamber. (B) Pouch. (C) Valve. 

(D) Pneumatic. (E) Bleed hole. (F) Detachable 

metal tube. (G) Upper valve seat. 

The pneumatics of the Higel player are detach- 
able, and are each held in position by four 
screws to a metal air chest (A, see sketch). This 
pneumatic block is composed of light metal, and 
when detached can be taken to pieces by with- 
drawing the few screws attaching the metal plate 
to the wooden pneumatic. One of the advantages 
of the detachable pneumatic is that, should a 


central note defy all the tuner's or mechanic's 
efforts to correct its behaviour, it can be replaced 
by one from the extreme treble or bass pro tempore, 
and taken to the factory for repair. I do not ad- 
vocate this course, however, for I am decidedly of 
opinion that all small repairs should be done on 
the spot, and the necessary materials — glue, pouch 
leather, rubber tubing, &c. — be carried in case of 

We will now turn to the pneumatics, and also 
to tune, if we fail with the crank. Slip off the 
small tubes at the bass and treble ends of the 
action, marking them in some way for easy identi- 
fication in case of doubt when replacing. Dis- 
connect the spool box rod and the two round 
headed screws (one found at each end) that con- 
nect the metal standards to the air trunks at the 
key bed. Disconnect the re-roll and tempo rods, 
and pull the action forward first, and then out. It 
will then be seen how necessary it is to pull for- 
ward before attempting to lift. Two arms of 
metal, sometimes accompanied by a tightening 
screw, hold down the metal standards at the back. 

The pneumatics are now accessible and can be 
detached, where desired, with a spindle screw- 

Little trouble need ever be experienced with 
the^e players, though one case may be worth men- 
tioning as typical of a complaint to which all 
players are liable. The instrument in question 
had been for some months in a very damp place, 
and the valves (which, similar to those in the 
sketch, were of the single type) had in consequence 
swollen so much that their movement was insuffi- 
cient to exhaust rapidly the pneumatics. These 
valve discs are not threaded on a stem, but are 
held in place by a metal collar which is a fixture. 
Between this collar and the valve discs are thin 


fibre washers, and by reducing their number I was 
able to increase the movement and finish the job 
satisfactorily. Very little movement is required, 
as the pneumatic is a small one. 

The valve can be taken out of its chamber after 
unscrewing the metal seat (G). If, for purposes of 
cleaning and renovation, it is desired to take 
down the player entirely, one must be sure to 
loosen, or perhaps withdraw, all the metal tubes 
(F). This, of course, does not refer to the tracker 
tubes. After unscrewing the spool box board and 
lifting clear, it is a simple matter to disconnect the 
metal air chests, when the two rows of pneumatics 
are at your service. 

The control of the Higel player consists of a 
loud-pedal lever, soft-bass button, soft-treble but- 
ton, soft lever, tempo lever, silencing button, and 
the play and re-roll, the last mentioned being situ- 
ated in the spool box. There are also the auto- 
sustaining switch and the solodant. 

The loud lever operates mechanically on the 
damper lift, but is also controlled pneumatically 
by the roll, an auto-sustaining switch in the spool 
box being responsible. 

The two soft buttons admit air to primary and 
secondary valves, thereby reducing the wind 
power to a low tension. 

The soft or piajio lever lifts the hammers to the 

The usual tempo slide. 

Pneumatic silencing button. 

The Higel expression box differs from that pre- 
viously mentioned in that it is necessary to 
depress the soft buttons during the passage in 
which "solo" is indicated, for the reason that the 
air power is normal even when the solodant 


switch is at the "on" position. When the soft 
buttons are pressed, however, the power has to 
pass through low tension governors, and the 
marginal perforations on the roll immediately 
open large valves to the normal wind. 

All these valves and governors are found be- 
neath the key bed and are accessible after remov- 
ing the cap, or caps, of the expression box. In 
some models there are two boxes, while in others 
only one ; but they can be recognised easily by 
the tubes leading to them. Seldom do they need 
any attention: the cleaning of the bleed holes 
being the operation most frequently required. 

An obstructed bleed hole means slow response : 
so it is advisable occasionally to clear them with 
a piece of fine wire. As these expression boxes 
vary somewhat in construction, if not in purpose, I 
recommend the learner to unscrew the cap and 
trace the six tubes to their destination. The prim- 
ary valves inflate or deflate the large secondaries 
by tubes or concealed air channels. 

Should a player be inclined to speak when re- 
rolling, and the re-roll is pneumatically operated, 
it will be necessary to ensure that all the tubes are 
perfectly airtight, that the pouches are in a sound 
condition, that the valves have sufficient move- 
ment, and that no particles of grit or foreign mat- 
ter have lodged between the large valve and its 
port. If the re-roll is mechanical, however, and 
cuts off wind by a slide, see that the slide is not 
warped, and that it quite covers its port, when the 
lever is pushed well over. Occasionally these 
slides need papering down on a flat surface, such 
as a sheet of thick glass or metal ; and, if they are 
then blackleaded and burnished, their movement 
is considerably improved. 

The bellows set is easily withdrawn should it 
be necessary to repair. I should point out how 


vital it is that the bellows should be as tight as a 
drum. They are the heart and lungs of the player, 
and the slightest leak impairs the striking power 
of the pneumatics considerably. Many of us know 
that the honeyed phrases and seductive tones of 
the sergeant-major's voice are due to the excel- 
lence of his lungs. Let us bear this in mind, then, 
when dealing with an instrument that is also 
surely worthy of a " crown." 



T*he Pianola. 

EVEN now, when piano players have estab- 
hshed their footing in these happy isles for 
years, it is not uncommon to hear the re- 
mark : "Oh, a friend of mine has just pur- 
chased a pianola," — when all the time the instru- 
ment bought was of another make than that indi- 
cated. To the lay mind, all players are pianolas, 
which is, perhaps, a doubtful compliment to an 
instrument of such high and worthy reputation. 

Of course, I hold no brief for any make of 
player, my sole endeavour being to throw a little 
light on places that may appear dark to the minds 
of some of my fellow tuners. But the Pianola can 
always be recognised by the excellence and finish 
of its workmanship, — be it in the lever work, the 
motor, the valves or their uplifting pouches. 

The model most frequentl}^ met with has the 
valves situated beneath the key bed, and metal 
tubes passing through the keys connect the rubber 
tracker tubes to the primary pouches. These rub- 
ber tubes enable the spool box and upper action to 
be drawn forward after one has released the large 
screws at each end of the piano, disconnected the 
metal stays attaching motor and spool box to the 
wrest plank and slipped off the motor tube. The 
piano action can now, if desired, be taken out. 


When tuning, if a crank be used, it is unnecessary 
to move the player action. 

The motor has three double unit pneumatics, 
with three slides controlling the six powers. The 
face and slides overhang slightly to obviate any 
dust settling beneath the slides. The themodist 
puppet boxes (if two are employed, for they are 
occasionally combined) are placed at each end of 
the spool board. In my sketch (Fig. I.) I have had, 
of course, to condense the scale considerably, so I 
must ask my readers to attach no importance to 
the measurements. 

Beneath the key bed is the valve chest, at the 
top of which is a wooden strip held by many 
screws. By removing this, we disclose the bleed 
holes, and it is here that attention is needed when 
the repetition of the pneumatics is faulty. They 
should be cleared now and again with a fine wire 
and the dust blown from tubes and tracker bar. 
Should it be necessary to attend to the valves and 
pouches, they are all accessible when the tube 
blocks beneath the bleed hole board are unscrewed. 
These blocks are usually in three sections ; and it 
is not always advisable to detach the tubes, as dis- 
connections made too often loosen them to a 
dangerous degree. Simply unscrew the tube blocks 
and pull them forward. The pouches and valves 
are arranged in three tiers of single rank, and are 
therefore quite accessible. The primaries are found 
just beneath the bleed holes. 

Beneath the valve chest is the bellows set ; and, 
if we wish to get the bellows out for repairing pur- 
poses or to replace a string, we must turn the piano 
on its side and unscrew the floor. The bellows 
must then be unscrewed from the back frame, the 
control and motor tube together with the themo- 
dist tubes slipped off and the bellows drawn down- 
wards. There are generally two reservoirs (one of 



Fig. I. The Themodist in action, one note 


greater tension than the other) for crescendo 
effects. On the left of the set are two governors, 
one for the motor and the other for soft or low 
tension. For the novice to identify each, he should 
set a roll in motion and while pedalling press 
either of these governors firmly ; the motor will 
stop instantly when its governor is pressed. To 
test the low tension, push both soft levers to the 
"on" position and with the other hand press the 
governor, when the piano should be silent, though 
the roll be still passing over the tracker. Inside 
this governor is a scissor valve connected at one 
end to the pneumatic and at the other end to an 
armed rod, which is operated by both soft levers. 
This rod pushes in the scissor valve at its lower 
end, cutting off heavy wind. The pneumatic now 
controls the power, cutting down the exhaust to 
the strength of its spiral spring, which can be 
strengthened or otherwise by turning its milled 
nut to the right or left. The speed of the motor 
can be adjusted by treating its governor spring in 
the same manner. 

Screwed to the bottom of the valve chest is a 
small board, to which run two rubber tubes and a 
large exhaust tube. This board contains the 
themodist accenting valves, marked (G) in Fig. I. 
Unscrew it and you will see these valves and their 
pouches. They cover two ports, which when open 
call the full force of the powerful reservoir into 

The action of the themodist is as follows. 
When we have moved the themodist switch to the 
"on" position, the cut-off pouch (A) is drawn by 
the exhaust clear of the air channels (B), which 
are now ready for action. We push the two soft 
levers to the "on" position, which closes two small 
pallets beneath the keys (C). These pallets shut- 
ting off open air, the pouch (D) is deflated by the 


bleed hole (E) and the valve (F) comes to rest. 
Open air rushing down over the top of (F) inflates 
the large pouch (G) and closes the port (H). All 
this takes a fraction of a second. 

Now the roll comes in. A marginal perforation 
(K) admits air down the tube through B and lifts 
D. The valve (F) is raised and G is instantly de- 
flated, opening H to heavy wind (as in my sketch). 
The marginal holes being cut an atom before the 
note they accent, the melody is picked out very 

When the themodist is switched off, open air is 
admitted through the switch block to the pouch 
(A), which is drawn against the channels (B) by 
the bleed hole (E), and the valves (F and G) are 
only operated by the two soft levers. When these 
levers are not in use, they hold the pallets (C) open, 
so that under normal wind power the valve (F) is 
raised and G is lowered. 

In the full compass Pianola there is the auto- 
matic sustainer, which is operated in a similar 
manner to that mentioned in the description of 
the Triumph-Auto action. 

The tracker shifting device is often found to 
operate by means of the roll's edges, which open a 
delicately sprung lever or minute pallet. Should 
the spindle spring push the roll too far to the right, 
the pallet on that side is opened, air rushing into 
one of two pneumatics, destroying its vacuum. 
Having matters its ow^n way, the other pneumatic 
closes and pushes the roll to the left. Should the 
roll be pushed too far, the left hand pallet comes 
into play and pushes it back again ; so these inter- 
esting little fellows take every care to keep the roll 
strictly to the path of harmonious virtue ! 



The Pianola Grand can be tuned without re- 
moving any of the player action ; but should the 
piano action give trouble, it is imperative that one 
should have some' knowledge of the player 
mechanism. I 

The action is divided into two sections, — the 
upper (comprising the motor, spool box, primary 
valves and tubes) being above the key bed, and the 
lower (consisting of secondaries, pneumatics, gov- 
ernors and bellows set) being found beneath the 
piano. Fig. II. is a rough sketch of the latter sec- 
tion, and may be useful for. identifying the govern- 
ors and controls. Let us assume that we have a 
broken .hammer shank to replace. To withdraw 
the keyboard we must loosen and depress all the 
control levers. Unscrew the secondary tube blocks 
(6 and 7, Fig. II.) and the soft pedal block beneath 
the key bed ; disconnect the motor and primary 
chest tubes (not the tracker tubes), one at each end 
of the upper action ; disconnect the tempo and re- 
roll rods and unscrew the panel at the back of the 
spool box from the iron frame. The keyboard, 
primary chest and motor will now draw forward 
together. See that the themodist box is clear 
though, and take care that all the screws in the 
tube blocks are withdrawn. The primary chest 
can, if required, now be stripped, and the bleed 
holes and tubes cleaned. For the benefit of the 
uninitiated, I should explain that primary valves 
admit air to their work and secondary valves shut 
off the same. 

To remove a key, unscrew two nuts from the 
tracker box metal work. Disconnect from the 
hammer rail ; the same with tubes, motor and 
themodist puppet box, lifting off the primary chest 
bodily. To remove the secondary valve chests, it 



Fig. II. Lower Action of Pianola Grand. 

1. Reservoir. 2. Low tension governor. 3. Automatic pedal 
sustainer. 4. Motor governor. 5. Secondary valve chest and 
levers. 6. Treble tube block. 7. Bass tube block. 8 Re-roll tube. 
9. Low tension tubes. 10. Themodist tubes. 11. Tempo lever. 
12. Main exhaust tubes. 

is advisable to have the grand placed on its edge. 
Remove legs, unscrew tube blocks (if upper action 
is not already withdrawn) ; take out screws from 
treble and bass ends of valve chests (eight screws) ; 
disconnect large exhaust tubes at treble and bass ; 
unscrew iron bar (to which pedal box has been 
attached, the pedals, of course, having already 


been removed) ; take off tempo rod and lift chests 
forward, exercising great care not to rest them on 
the metal exhaust tubes at their ends. When these 
metal tubes are unscrewed, it is an easy matter to 
strip the valve chests and gain access to the 
pouches and valves. The action of the themodist 
and governors is practically the same as in the 
upright piano and needs no further description 
here ; but the re-roll is pneumatically controlled, 
the lever admitting air through a tube which 
opens a valve to full speed in the motor governor, 
and at the same time operating a pouch and valve 
in the low tension governor, shutting off the valve 
chests. One bleed hole in the motor governor 
deflates both pouches. 

The manual pneumatics • operate the piano 
action by means of levers and pitman rods. 

When I overhaul these grands, I withdraw all 
the player action from the piano and assemble the 
whole mechanism on trestles. Then it is possible 
to test the different movements and controls before 
replacing in those confined spaces where " the 
hand of man has never set his foot!" 


The Stradola. 

THERE are easier vocations than that of 
pushing a new path through the Congo- 
like forests of Old Knowledge ; and as 
each pla3^er, with its internal organs, arises 
in my mind, the beaten paths well known to 
many of us call me once again. This world of 
modern science and invention spins so rapidly on 
its axis that the marvels of ten years ago are sink- 
ing already beneath the horizon of our memory 
and will soon be out of date, if not as mystic as 
the cromlechs of my own dear moor of Devon. 

With this apology, let me turn again to the 
valves and pneumatics, which at any rate have not 
altered to any great extent during the past decade. 
The subject of the present chapter, the Stradola, is 
notable amongst other characteristics for its com- 
pactness, being constructed to occupy so little 
space that a piano of ordinary depth will contain 
its mechanism ; and as this of course means that 
the spool box action is close against the wrest 
pins there is no possibility of tuning the instru- 
ment without first withdrawing the player's upper 
work. This, however, presents no difficulties. 
The upper action is balanced on two metal dowels 
in the sides of the piano, and the usual stay 
attaches the spool box to the wrest plank. Before 


lifting out, we must disconnect a dozen thumb 
screws that attach the tracker tubes to a tube rail 
above the keys. Two thumb screws will be found,, 
one at each end of the upper action. When these 
are disconnected and the tempo and re-roll rod 
slipped off, together with the motor and tracker 
shifting tube, the upper action can be drawn for- 
ward and out and the tuning carried on. 

Everything up-to-date is found in the full com- 
pass Stradola, which is constructed to employ 
fully accentuated rolls. At each end of the tracker 
bar is a crescent shaped duct controlling the tracker 
shifting device. It is the same tracker shifter as 
that mentioned in connection with the Pianola, 
but without the delicate levers operated by the 
edges of the roll. Instead of these levers air is 
admitted in the usual way when the roll deviates 
too far to the right or left ; and this air, destroy- 
ing the vacuum in one or two of the power pneu- 
matics, the other being still under vacuum, pushes 
the roll into correct alignment again. 

There is the usual sustaining pedal duct, — a 
large square orifice which, by means of a lever 
and switch (the latter just beneath the key bed), 
operates a triple valved pneumatic at the bass 
end of the piano. The advantage of the triple 
valve is that a very small pulse of air is suffi- 
cient to lift the primary, which instantly lifts the 
larger secondary, which again immediately lifts 
the much larger tertiary and the pneumatic is 
collapsed. This sustaining pneumatic is also 
operated by a button, one of four, situated on the 
lockboard. The half throw hammer lifting 
device is operated by a similarly valved pneumatic. 
Both these pneumatics are screwed to the sides of 
the piano, beneath the key bed, from which they 
can be unscrewed and cleaned with the minimum 
of trouble. 






(floor of f>l*l>0/ 

y&lve hlock . screwed to kev beJ 


Accei\t\nQ jvn<utntitn 

Fig. I. Normal Condition. 

On the floor of the piano, just against these 
pneumatics, are the expression boxes containing 
the accenting and re-roll valves ; and between 
them is the main bellows, which can be taken out 
for repairs after withdrawing four screws and slip- 
ping off the two large exhaust tubes. 

The Stradola possesses a peculiarity which I 
have endeavoured to portray in the accompanying 
sketches by indicating those portions under ex- 
haust as dotted regions. The peculiarity is this : 
That we have a pouch which is not under per- 
petual exhaust during the playing period, but only 
when its chamber is exhausted by a quite inde- 
pendent valve. 

In Fig. I., it will be noticed that only the cham- 
ber beneath the valve (C) is, with its tube, under 
exhaust. (The expression box hardly concerns us 
now ; it must be understood that it is always 
exhausted when playing.) Open air passing down 
over the valve (C), over the lower cap of D to the 
pneumatic fE), leaves the valve (F) open to the 
normal wind. A wire, entering the expression box, 
connects the valve (F) to the pneumatic (E). 




LoLu I CM SI OKI valv€. 

b>/in<( divcr/'rct 
u»ro' /ow . 

^ tliinuiip ^-wiffli 

Fig. II. 


Sofl* fcufion deftr^ss^a; actenrino. valve m action 

tteivv W»M<i 

wiini'" ""jmi 


Fig. III. 


When the button (A) is pressed, the pallet (Bj 
is opened. Air rushes to the pouch, lifting C. The 
small valve chest beneath D is now under vacuum 
and E is collapsed, as in Fig. II., closing F ; and 
all the striking pneumatics are now influenced 
by the low tension, giving the piano effect. The 
pouch beneath D is connected to the tracker bar 
and the accentuated roll (when A is depressed) lifts 
D, as in Fig. III., allowing open air to rush down 
to E and instantly opening F to heavy wind. 

The re-roll lever, in addition to controlling the 


motor gear (which, by the way, is chainless and 
employs cogged wheel gearing), opens a pallet 
beneath the key bed. This pallet admits air to a 
primary down in the expression box, which prim- 
ary operates a small exterior pneumatic, the heel 
end of which closes a valve and port connecting 
the striking pneumatics to the reservoir and power. 
This pneumatic is further provided with a small 
spring to ensure its closing the port effectually. 

When one has taken out the bottom board from 
the piano, it will be noticed that in many models 
the valve chest extends beyond the pilasters ; but 
the trusses pull forward and out, when one has 
unscrewed the metal plates securing the same to 
the key bed. The valve chest is dowelled at each 
end. Withdraw the two block screws at each end, 
disconnect the exhaust tubes and it is free. Unscrew 
the tube rails, disconnect pouch and valve blocks, 
also the buttons and wads from the pneumatic 
wires and the player is stripped. 

The motor is of the four double unit type, but 
differs from the rocker principle in that there is a 
central slide block with the power pneumatics 
front and back. The pneumatics being attached 
each to its opposite unit, a steady and powerful 
thrust is obtained. 

Instead of a key stop being employed to pre- 
vent the movement of the keys when one is using 
the player, there are three or four pneumatics 
beneath the key bed, which being under exhaust 
the moment one pedals lift rods against the keys 
and so overcome any movement. The control 
consists of the four buttons, — loud, soft bass, soft 
treble and piano ; the auto-sustaining lever ; the 
tempo lever and the re-roll lever ; and there is 
nothing to present any difficulty in the way of 
repairmg and regulating when one has grasped 
that little knowledge of the pilasters and truss. 


The Angelus 

No one with any knowledge of players 
can have failed to notice the effects of 
time and usage on the bellows shaped 
pneumatics, and how frequently in the 
oft-used instrument a leakage develops at the 
corners and in the creases where the strain is most 
pronounced. The makers of the Angelus, to over- 
come this angular trouble, have employed a dia- 
phragm, or large pouch, to take the place of the 
bellows pneumatic ; j and these diaphragms are 
found both in the interior player and in the 
cabinet attachment, but with the difference that 
in the former the pouch is exhausted to operate 
the action of the piano, while in the latter it is 

The full compass Angelus player piano is con- 
structed to accommodate standard accentuated 
rolls; but in many models it has an additional 
perforation in the treble end of the tracker bar, 
which, by means of a large pneumatic, lifts all the 
hammers to the half blow. The construction of 
the whole player is so very similar to that 
described in the Triumph-Auto that it only 
remains for me to point out the method by which 
one gains access to the pouches and valves, to 
describe the outstanding features of the diaphragm 


pneumatic, the melodant, and the control. 

In the majority of cases, the main objective of 
the tuner, or mechanic, is undoubtedly the pouches 
and valves ; and to get at these we must remove 
the spool box, leaving the tracker bar standing on 
its two brass supports. Take out the top back- 
board of the box, withdrawing the screws from 
block at each side and releasing the clips just 
above. The tracker bar can now be released by 
detaching the two brass stays and unscrewing the 
tube rail at the back (about thirty screws). 

You will find that the spool board is usually 
divided into three sections, which is a convenient 
arrangement for gaining access to the primary 
caps. Just in front and beneath these sections is 
the primary channel board, or step, similar to that 
of the Triumph-Auto, and also like that player it 
has the secondary pouch board immediately be- 
neath the step, secured by about twenty-six screws. 
The removal of this pouch board exposes the 
secondary pouches and valves, and when it is free 
the primary pouch and valve blocks come away 

After withdrawing a number of screws from 
the secondary valve chest, the diaphragm pneu- 
matics can be drawn out and overhauled if necess- 

The bleed holes are of ivorite, and are situated 
at both margins of the primary pouch board. 

The bellows set, resting on two dowels, is re- 
leased by taking out two screws in its upper por- 
tion, disconnecting the main exhaust tubes, the 
motor tube, the silencing tube, and the pedal 
releasing attachment. 

On the left and right of the main bellows are 
the low tension governors and the divided melo- 
dant. Just above the treble governor is the motor 
governor, from the side of which project six 


screws. Turning these screws in reduces the 
amount of air passing through the governor; un- 
screwing them a few turns has a contrary effect. 
The spiral spring is easily strengthened or weak- 
ened to the correct tension, — that of obtaining 
seven feet of roll at 70 tempo. 

This is the action of the melodant: we push 
the lever to the "on" position, and two small 
slides in the low tension governors are then pushed 
over two heavy wind slots; we depress the bass 
and treble subduing buttons and so admit air to 
two large pouches in the low tension box. These 
pouches lift valves to cover the main exhaust 
ports and all power is passing through, and is con- 
trolled by, the low tension bellows governors, 
which are held open by a single spring adjusted 
by a regulating cam. 

Now, in the interior of the two large pouches 
just mentioned are small valves, and when 
a pulse of air is admitted from the accent 
perforations of the roll, these small valves in- 
stantly rise and instantly deflate the large 
pouch. Down drops its valve; the main ex- 
haust is opened, and the note or notes to be 
accented are emphasized by the normal heavy 
wind. To overcome the feeble pressure of air in 
the large pouch (which in the case of the ordinary 
valve thrusts it back instantly to its seat, being 
exposed at one end to the atmosphere), a light 
spiral spring is employed to assist in the rapidity 
of the movement of the valve. This rapidity of 
movement has mystified some people, but a very 
simple experiment will no doubt remove any un- 
certainty that may linger in the mind of the in- 
credulous. Connect, then, a piece of tubing six or 
eight yards in length to any valve nipple, covering 
the free end with the finger. Note how instantly 
the valve is operated by lifting the finger, and 


then realise that in all probability there is no 
player tube in existence with a greater length than 
six or seven feet ; possibly in the grands a few 
inches more. 

And now let us consider the control. From 
bass to treble, — it is soft bass button, soft treble 
button, melodant lever, re-roll lever, tempo lever, 
sustaining pedal lever, and the phrasing lever. 

The soft bass and treble buttons we have al- 
ready examined in their connection with the melo- 
dant. The melodant lever does quite a lot of 
work. Pushed to its extreme left, it opens the 
small slides in the low tension box and produces 
the crescendo effect by admitting heavy wind. 
At the centre position, the melodant is "on;" 
pushed to the right it is "off;" and pressed down 
it admits air to a pouch lifting a valve and collaps- 
ing a. large pneumatic which, lifting the hammers 
to the half blow, obtains the piano effect. So 
much for the melodant lever. 

The re-roll disengages the mesh from cogs in 
the winding mechanism, and at the same time 
opens air to a pouch and its valve, giving full 
speed to the motor by ignoring the governor. It 
also cuts off the valve chest by pneumatic pouch 
and valve; and, not satisfied with all this, it 
silences the valve chest when pressed down dur- 
ing the playing period for the purpose of skipping 
unpopular, or over-popular, passages in an}^ roll. 

The tempo lever works in the ordinary way, 
admitting more or less air through the governor, 
speeding or retarding the motor. 

The sustaining lever collapses a large pneu- 
matic and lifts away the dampers, but is also 
connected in some models by mechanical rods and 

Lastl}^ we have the phrasing lever, which is a 
rockmg tablet that, being connected direct to the 



Tracker ttjihe>. 

motor governor, controls the speed by pressing 
either end. The right end increases the speed, and 
the left reduces it, to the halt if necessary. 

Correct tracking is obtained by raising or 
lowering a lever sliding on an inclined metal 
thrust block on the right hand of the spool box. 


Should any reader have occasion to overhaul 
a cabinet Angelus, he will find that, though the 
diaphragm pneumatic is employed, it operates in 
an exactly contrary manner to the model we have 
been discussing. In the cabinet, the pneumatics 
are inflated and push out the metal cranks to their 
work, and this means that both primary and 
secondary valves admit air; whilst in the more 
modern interior player the secondaries behave in 
the conventional manner and exhaust the motive 

The accompanying sketch is taken from the 
up-to-date model. A is the primary valve, which 
when lifted by the perforations in the roll admits 
air to the secondary pouch, pushing out the valve 
(B) and collapsing the diaphragm pneumatic (C) by 
way of the air channel indicated by the dotted 
circle. The diaphragm being attached to the metal 
crank (D), draws in the crank and lifts the pitman 
(E) operating the piano action. The silence of the 
diaphragm, its remarkable response and durability, 
together with the efficiency of the melodant, have 
placed the Angelus in the front rank of the 
world's best known players. 


The zAutopiano. 


I WAS once asked whether there was an 
accenting device in existence which empha- 
sized any note in a chord struck simultane- 
ously ; '"for," said my interlocutor, "if the 
valve chest be divided, and the chord is composed 
of notes occurring in one of the divisions, the 
whole chord must be accented unless the perfora- 
tions are cut slightly out of alignment." 

In a case like this, the accented note is cut out 
of line, but so slightly that the ear cannot detect 
any irregularity. There is, however, a device found 
in the pre-war Autopiano — known as the Kasto- 
nome — w^hich employs an individual accenting 
pouch for every note, and this is the subject of the 
present chapter. Special rolls were cut for this 
accentor, but apparently they have been pushed 
•off the market by the advent of the standard roll. 
However, as there are a number of players existing 
•containing the device, it may not be out of place 
to describe its outstanding features. 

The Autopiano is the father of the Triumph- 
Auto and differs but little in construction from that 
instrument. But, whereas the Triumph-Auto em- 

Open air vent 
to control B. 

Action of the Kastonome. 

When free air is admitted to the chest 
(A), the purse (B) is drawn against the 
divided wind channel, and the bleed 
hole (C) exhausts the chokiug purse 
(D) ; normal condition. When, how- 
ever, A is closed to the atmosphere, 
the ordinary air pulse pushes open 
B, and the choking purse (D) closes 
the main channel in the specially 
made seat, and the power pneumatic 
is only collapsed through small holes in the rim of the seat (indi- 
cated by arrows). A marginal hole in the roll uncovers E, and 
the pulse of air shuts off B, accenting that note. (Kastonome "on"). 


ploys an accenting device (the Triumphodist) 
which accommodates standard rolls, the Kasto- 
nome is found only in the former. One cannot fail 
to recognise it by the additional number of per- 
forations at each end of the tracker bar. Each of 
these perforations admits air to a cut-off pouch, 
which causes a ring shaped pouch, situated imme- 
diately in front of the secondary valve, to 

These valves have special seats, in the rim of 
which are two small air channels. Between the 
seat and the ring pouch is a soft leather washer, 
which when pressed against the seat permits the 
striking pneumatic to be collapsed only through 
these holes, producing thereby a considerably 
modified blow. When air is admitted by the mar- 
ginal perforations in the tracker bar, the cut-off 
pouch is closed and the bleed hole in the ring 
collapses the pouch, which results in the normal 

The Kastonome is thrown on or off by a switch, 
the "on" position shutting off open air from a small 
chest at the back of the spool box. The "off" posi- 
tion admits air to all the cut-off pouches ; and, the 
ring pouches being then deflated, the pneumatics 
are operated by normal wind. 

When it is necessary to adjust, clean or repair 
the secondary valves, one must slip off the rubber 
tubes controlling the ring pouches, when the latter 
can be unscrewed from their stems ; and, after pull- 
ing off the choking washers, the valve and its seat 
are exposed. Two minute springs also regulate 
the size of the air channels of the rim of the seat. 

Player pianos were in the transition stage when 
this instrument was at the zenith of its popularity, 
and in many models the tracker bar is of the com- 
bined type, — 65 and 88 notes. The change from 
one to the other is obtained by a lever in the spool 


box, raising or lowering twenty-two small brass 
slides, which being grooved on the under surface 
connect the 65 or 88 tracker perforations to the 
requisite tubes. These slides are each pressed to a 
metal bar by a spiral spring and prevented from 
sagging out of position by two dowels. Occasion- 
ally excessive damp is apt to tighten these dowel 
holes, when the slide is held off the metal face and 
a cyphering occurs, — invariably in four adjacent 

The remedy is to enlarge slightly the dowel 
holes w^ith a fine rat-tail file or similar tool, but 
great care must be taken in gaining access to the 
slides. Should the inexperienced enthusiast un- 
screw the bar w^hen the action is in a vertical posi- 
tion, all the slides are liable to spring out of place 
and give considerable trouble in their replacement, 
to say nothing of the consternation they will cause 
by their sudden appearance on the carpet. The 
best method is to withdraw the player action (as 
in the Triumph-Auto) and, laying it face doivn- 
wards.-^rop it up quite horizontally with anything 
handy, — books, for instance. Then unscrew one 
end only of the four metal stays (which hold down 
the moving bar) and turn them up so that you may 
swing up the bar on its two wire hinges. If care 
is taken, the slides will not get misplaced, and any 
dowel holes that are doubtfully free can be eased 
and the bar pressed back into position again. 

In a very dusty instrument it is, of course, 
necessary to clean out the grooves of all these 
slides ; but this is hardly an operation that one 
would undertake in the drawing room. I have had 
little difficulty in adjusting these slides to their 
dowel holes with the aid of a piece of thin wire. 

In the grand Autopiano, the striking pneu- 
matics operate the action of the piano by extended 
levers, and are therefore situated above the key 


bed. To disconnect and withdraw the player 
action, it is only necessary to pull forward the 
metal levers, one at each end of the action. Dis- 
connect the tempo and re-roll rods, slip off the 
motor and tracker shifter tubes and lift the player 
action gently forward and out. 

If repairs are needed to the piano action, un- 
screw the levers and buttons in the lockboard 
before pulling the key bed forward. 

The bellows work, motor governor, low tension 
governor and soloist pneumatics are found beneath 
the grand, and are quite accessible and easily 
repaired when necessary. 

The player action of the Autopiano is found 
installed in many of the best known pianos, and 
is of such excellent workmanship that it is a con- 
solation surely to know that in the Triumph-Auto 
we have a player worthy to carry on its traditions 
and to perpetuate its memory. 


"The Pistonola. 

HOLDING an eminent position among 
the player pianos of the day, the 
Pistonola possesses features which carry 
with them the hall mark of a great 
amount of careful thought. As its name implies, 
the principle of the collapsing bellows in obtain- 
ing the necessary energy is entirely dispensed with ; 
and from the main power, obtained by the usual 
pedal operation to the units engaging the action 
of the piano, the piston is employed throughout. 

Quite recently, a writer in an American trade 
paper said : " It is plain that the bellows type of 
exhauster and equaliser has many disadvantages 
inherent in itself. It is leaky, it is hard to move 
and it is incapable of sustaining great pressure. 
Its one and only advantage is that it does not need 
an elaborately thought-out new design. Now, it 
is plain that, for instance, a steel cylinder fitted 
with an accurately ground piston would be a much 
better vacuum device than the ordinar}^ bellows. 
Such a piston in such a cylinder could be moved 
by the foot quite as readily as the bellows ; it 
would not be so leaky and it could be moved 
both rapidly and silently. It would also have the 
very great advantage of taking up much less 
space. Moreover, since the thrust would be verti- 
cal and not horizontal there would not be the pre- 


sent strain on the fastenings, with inevitable 
loosening sooner or later." The writer then goes 
on to state that the pistons necessary for such 
work could be constructed of hardened graphite. 

Now, this is exactly what we find in the 
Pistonola ; and when we remember that the aim 
of inventors in the player piano industry is 
to occupy as little space with the completed 
article as possible, compatible with efficiency, the 
manufacturers of the Pistonola have every reason 
for pride in their production. 

The Pistonola is an all-metal British player, 
adapted to accommodate standard and fully 
accented rolls. It is capable of being fitted inside 
any underdamper piano ; and as it occupies very 
little space it does not interfere with or choke the 
tonal qualities of the piano to any appreciable 

When we contemplate the ordinary bellows 
pneumatic, and realise that under exhaust the 
outer atmosphere is pressing not only against the 
moveable leaf but also against the collapsing 
sides, and then compare it with the effect on one 
end only of a piston, it is not difficult to believe 
that the cylinder and piston develop an energy 
twenty- five times greater than that obtained from 
the bellows pneumatic. 

As before mentioned, the pistons are made of 
hardened graphite, with a glass-like surface, and 
possess the great advantages of being self- 
lubricating, impervious to damp or heat, and 
have given proof that after several 3^ears' use they 
have in no way worn or deteriorated. The prim- 
ary and secondary valves are of brass, fitting 
freely into their cylindrical recesses ; and situated 
just beneath the primaries are dust-proof sieves to 
prevent any foreign matter affecting the move- 
ments of the valves. In the accompanying sketches 


I have had to enlarge greatly and distort the 
channels, &c., as in the Pistonola itself some of 
the channels are very little larger than a pin-hole. 

As an instance of the extraordinary responsive- 
ness of the Pistonola, I punctured a roll with the 
mere point of a needle, and yet this was sufhcient 
to obtain an immediate and decisive blow. 

And now let us examine the instrument from 
the source of power to that point where player 
ends and piano begins. 

The pedals are connected by tapes passing over 
eccentric rollers (which ensure the maximum stroke) 
to two heavily weighted pistons which resemble 
an inverted bicycle pump, employing similar 
leather washers. In the centre is the equalising 
piston, which owes its tension to a powerful spiral 
spring. The equaliser, as in other players, carries 
on the work as one pedal relieves the other and its 
dut}^ is to prevent a spasmodic result. Just be- 
neath these cylinders are the main exhaust tubes, 
about Un. in diameter, instead of l-{-in., as usually 
employed. One of these tubes leads to a shallow 
drum-like cylinder, just to the right of the treble 
pedal piston. This is the motor governor, and the 
piston is held up by a spiral spring, adjustable by 
means of a locknut to the desired tension (that of 
7ft. a minute, with the roll and indicator at 70). 
Extra pressure on the pedals draws down the 
piston against the spring and reduces the amount 
of power from the motor tube. This tube leads 
up to the motor, situated on the right of the 
spool box. This dainty piece of mechanism is 
about 6in. wide and Uin. in depth. It consists of 
four pistons, l|in. in diameter, and two slide 
valves. The pistons are brought under exhaust, or 
released by open air, through four ports of about 
Tin. diameter. The throw of the crank is about 


When we consider the usual motor port of 
approximate!}^ lin. by fin., and the vast amount 
of air being swallowed during its operation, the 
advantage of a :fin. port is too obvious for fur- 
ther comment. 

The motor engages the spindle and spool by 
direct cog and mesh gearing, obviating the em- 
ployment of chains. 

Reverting to the pedal cylinders, we will follow 
the exhaust tube that leads up to the low tension 

Attached to the right hand side of the piano, 
above the wrest pins, is a diaphragm governor 
connected to a slide valve, which is regulated by 
an adjustable blade spring. It is extremely sensi- 
tive and under heavy pedalling cuts down the 
amount of power ; but under light pedalling per- 
mits the spring to open the slide valve, thus main- 
taining an absolute regularity of vacuum. Its 
duty is to operate the primary valves, and it is 
connected by a tube to the frcnt metal tube run- 
ning the whole length of the player. From this 
m.etal tube, connections are made with each sec- 
tion of valves — nine in number — and it exhausts 
the air from the chamber (A, Fig. I.). 

Another main exhaust tube leads from the 
pedal pistons up to the tube marked Main Exhaust 
(Fig. II.j. From this accenting device, the heavy 
tension is the rear metal tube, and by similar con- 
nections in each piston section exhausts the air 
from B (Fig. I.) 

There are two of these accentors, one at each 
end of the player, and in their operation they 
differ completely from those accenting devices I 
have already described. The Pistonola accentor 
emphasizes the melody notes without cutting down 
the tension. The treble and bass buttons, also, do 
not reduce but increase the power. If you glance 


Fig. I. Pistonola Valves. 


A state of vacuum of light tension 
is produced in the chamber A ; of 
heavier tension in the chamber B. 
The roll admits air into the tube C, 
and the primary valve D is drawn 
up, lifting the coned pin E, destroy- 
ing the vacuum in the air channel 
beneath the cone. The secondary 
valve F is then drawn up by the 
heavier vacuum, thrusting up the 
ball valve G. This ball shuts off 
open air and brings the cylinder H 
under powerful vacuum, drawing up 
the piston J, which lifts the piano 
lever by means of the loop K. 

When the roll covers the tracker 
duct, the air pulse beneath the 
primary D is immediately absorbed 
round the sides of the valve, which 
drops into the original position, clos- 
ing the air channel to tne secondary. 

The countersunk holes L, be- 
neath each pinpoint, are connected 
one with another by grooves, and 
also to the heavy vacuum chamber 
B, and on the conclusion of a note 
they absorb any air in the channels, 
thereby ensuring a most effective 



EHehvy Ifnsion 

Fig. II. Pistonola Accentor. 

The ball governor 1 is held in equilibrium by the spring 2 
and the diaphragm 3, the latter being drawn down against 
the spring by the vacuum. A primary and secondary 
(similar to Fig. I., without the piston) exhausts the air 
chamber 4, and permits the spring to thrust up the ball, 
increasing the power through the port 5. 

at Fig. II., I will endeavour to make it clear. The 
ball governor is there at normal wind, ample power 
being obtained through the port 5 ; but on pressing 
the treble or bass button air rushes to the primary 
and secondary (not shown in the sketch), exhausts 
the accenting port, and allows the spring (2) to 
push up the ball governor and obtain a greatly 
increased air power through the port (5). Similarly 
the marginal perforations in the accented music 


roll carry out the same scheme. The tension spring 
(2) can be adjusted by its screw, to increase or 
reduce the normal power. 

Look beneath the key bed again, and on the 
extreme right and left will be seen two drum- 
shaped cylinders with primary and secondary 
valves precisely similar to the accentor, only con- 
taining a piston instead of the ball governor. 
These pistons operate the sustaining pedal and the 
hammer half blow ; both being operated either by 
buttons at the ke3^-board or perforations in the 
fully accented roll. 

The control is effectively simple and consists of 
the sustaining button, the piano or half blow 
button, loud bass button and loud treble. A 
phrasing lever, beautifully responsive, increases or 
diminishes speed from presto to the halt, and the 
tempo lever. In the spool box is the " play" or 
"re-wind" lever and also the automatic sustaining 

The whole player mechanism is wonderfully 
responsive and noiseless, and in my humble opin- 
ion marks a decided advance on those with which 
I have come in contact hitherto. For tuning pur- 
poses, it is only necessary to release two large 
locknuts above the spool box and two screws (one 
at each end of the piano) holding the angle iron, 
and the player action swings forward, giving 
access to the wrest pins and piano action. 


The ^[dalcolm 

MY first thought on removing the top 
door from a Malcolm player, Style 22, 
was one almost of regret that so much 
highly-finished work, a real pleasure 
to the eye, should be only observed of us player- 
men and tuners. I suppose an artist would hardly 
agree ; but the fact remains that finely polished 
rosewood or mahogany, or similar rich coloured 
woods, embellished with plated metal work, as 
found in this model seem too good to "blush un- 
seen," even if they don't "waste their sweetness on 
pneumatic air." 

Style 22 is a full compass pneumatic player, 
adapted for 88 and fully accentuated standard 
rolls. The control, from left to right, consists of 
first, the expression lever, which in its central 
position produces a nicely modified power. 
This is obtained by two slides in the low ten- 
sion valve chest half closing the normal air ports. 
Pushed to the right (marked "solo") to synchron- 
ise with the marking on the roll, it cuts out the 
normal air power, and the exhaust has now to 
operate through the low tension governor. The 
governor spring is regulated to greater or less ten- 
sion as desired by a butterfly nut. The expression- 













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box is situated just beneath the key bed on the 
left-hand side. The motor governor, with a simi- 
lar spring and adjusting nut, is also beneath the 
key bed on the right. 

To return to the expression lever: at the "solo" 
position the striking pneumatics, with the excep- 
tion of the accented, or melody, notes, are operated 
with a soft but perfectly distinct blow, and the 
marginal perforations on the roll uncovering the 
accenting ducts A (see diagram), air destroys the 
vacuum in the tubes B ; the pouch lifts the primary 
valves C ; and instantly exhausts a large pouch in 
the expression-box just mentioned. This pouch, 
inflated under normal conditions, permits the large 
secondary or accenting valve to fall, which opens 
a port under heavy air tension, and the note is 
thereby accented. To ensure a perfect accent, a 
small flap valve communicating with the low ten- 
sion is snapped up over the low wind port at the 
moment of accent. 

By pushing the lever to the left the normal 
heavy power is obtained. The controlling move- 
ments are sweet and definite, there being no spongy 
feeling of indecision on pushing a lever or button 
to position. You feel it is there ; and it does its 
work without any inclination to slide back out of 
gear again. 

Next to the expression lever are the two soften- 
ing buttons, bass and treble. On being pressed 
they admit air to pouches controlling valves and 
pneumatics, one at each side of the piano. These 
pneumatics, when collapsed, thrust back the 
hammers to the half blow. The movement is well 
known, but the method employed in the Malcolm 
is such that the piano action can be withdrawn 
without disconnecting any trace or button con- 
necting these two pneumatics. 


To the right of these buttons is the damper, or 
sustaining pedal, lever, a clean light movement of 
rod and levers. 

Next comes the phrasing lever. I have already 
pointed out the advantages of this slide, but I 
think it will bear repeating. Should it be desired 
to retard, or accelerate, the speed of the roll and 
to return immediately to a previous tempo, it is 
only necessary to set the tempo lever (the next 
lever to the right) at the original tempo and leave 
it there. The phrasing lever will vary the time as 
desired from presto even to the pause, and on 
being released falls back to its neutral condition. 
The tempo lever operates in the usual manner by 
admitting greater or less exhaust to the five motor 

The re-roll and play is the next lever again, 
and in its re-rolling possesses a very distinctive 
feature. When re-rolling, the tracker guiding 
ducts D are connected direct to the main exhaust, 
so that after each roll any paper fibre or dust that 
would in other cases tend to obstruct these import- 
ant holes is drawn clear away by the main exhaust. 
This excellent idea will, I am sure, be greatly ap- 
preciated by all who have experienced the effect of 
paper fibre — from new rolls especially — on the 
automatic tracker guides, with which so many of 
us are familiar. This desideratum is obtained by 
a switch block beneath the key bed, and is sim- 
plicity itself. The re-roll lever moves a wooden 
leaf to the right and links up two tubes E, leading 
from the tracker bar to the pouches controlling 
the valves F with the main exhaust. At the same 
tune this leaf admits air through the switch-block 
to large pouches, one in the motor control box ob- 
taining a speedy motor for the re-rolling, and the 
other lifting a valve which shuts off all power 
from the striking pneumatics and expression valves. 


These tubes and valves are easily accessible when 
the bottom door is removed. 

Next to the re-roll and play is the deletor but- 
ton. On being pressed, air is admitted precisely 
as in the re-roll to the rapid motor valve and the 
silencing valve. Its utility in skipping unpopular 
or hackneyed passages is well known. 

In the spool-box are two switch buttons; one 
is for the sustaining pedal to be controlled by the 
roll ; and the other is the melodist. It is consid- 
ered by many an advantage to be able to employ 
the accentor at will, and not leave the expression 
for ever to the roll. There are many players with- 
out this switch, but in those models, when the low 
tension levers or buttons are in operation, the 
accentor is bus}^, whether the operator desires its 
services or not, hence the advantage of the 

The pedalling of this model strikes me as 
remarkably fine. The pedal crank is connected to 
pumper and pedal by passing into two solid and 
simple wooden blocks. There are no washers or 
bolts to wear loose and wobble, losing thereby 
half the pedal power, but a straight centre push 
that gets in its work at once. The whole bellows 
set is held in two large wooden shoes by a couple 
of butterfly bolts. Four large exhaust tubes slip 
off, two small ditto, and two leading to the re- 
roll switch block, Avhen the set lifts out. 

The pumper flap valves are worthy of notice. 
With a thin covering of rubber material to obvi- 
ate damp and give elasticity to the flap, they are 
attached to a screwed panel. If it is necessary — 
and often it is — to get at the interior flap valves, 
which in time are apt to harden and leak, causing 
the pumpers to rob each other instead of the 
reservoir, one only has to unscrew these two panels 
and the interior flap valves are exposed. Hitherto 


it has been necessary to cut away the pumpers, 
and of course re-cover them, for this operation 

The piano can be tuned by a crank hammer 
without removing the player mechanism ; but if, 
for any reason, it is necessary to take out the player 
remove two screws at treble end, two at bass end, 
two in bass tube block, and disconnect the re-roll 
and tempo rods. Unscrewing the tube blocks does 
away with the necessity of slipping off the six rubber 
tubes from their nipples ; a proceeding which, too 
often repeated, tends to loosen the tubes and risks 
a leakage. 

The Malcolm patented piano lever is a distinct 
improvement. In the older-fashioned square-ended 
levers, there was always a risk of the pneumatics 
catching and tearing something away unless great 
care was taken to push all hammers back to the 
strings when pushing the player action into posi- 
tion. The Malcolm lever is spoon-shaped and 
rounded, so that where the pneumatic plunger 
engages it there is a rolling motion, which reduces 
friction to a minimum. It is only necessary to 
glance at the black-leaded plungers of a pla^^er 
employing the flat lever to see by the naked white 
surface the amount of friction that exists at this 

Tracking Devices 


General Defects. 


Tracking Devices. 

WHEN the full compass plaj^er piano 
arrived on the scene and relegated the 
sixty-five note instrument to the glories 
of the past, it was found necessary to 
devise some method to ensure correct tracking, as 
eighty-five or eighty-eight tracker ducts have con- 
siderably narrower partitions than those employed 
in the sixty-five. The rolls being exactly the same 
width, this compression was unavoidable. 

In many players, accurate tracking is obtained 
by hand power, a milled thumbscrew, or a lever, in 
the spool box, moving the roll to right or left as 
desired. But this constant supervision considerably 
detracting from the pleasure of the operator, the 
automatic device was not long in making its ap- 

If we examine the perforations of a full compass 
roll and compare them with the tracker ducts, it will 
be noticed that the latter are unmistakably wider 
than the former. This allows a slight deviation of 
the roll before two ducts are uncovered by the one 
perforation, producing that deplorable discord so 
well known to owners of dusty and neglected instru- 
ments. Even before a discord is produced, however, 
the deviation of the roll cuts down the amount of 
air power to the pouches and greatly affects the 



Front Elevation. 

Fig. I. 

Side Elevation. From Tracker 

Inner Duct 

response, so that the adoption of an automatic 
shifter greatly enhanced the reliability and charm of 
the pneumatic player. 

I have endeavoured to sketch, in Fig. I., a well 
known and popular device ; but for the benefit of 
those of my readers who have not yet had occasion 
to dismantle or strip it, an account of its interior 
economy may not be out of place. 

This tracker shifter is not always found in the 
position shown : it frequently consists of horizontal 
pneumatics in the place of vertical. But the result 
obtained is in each case the same, and the valves 
and pouches are identical. It operates in this man- 
ner. At each end of the tracker bar are two air ducts, 
the outer overlapping the inner. The inner ducts 
come into action in the event of a shrunken roll, 
the outer being those principally concerned. On 


pedalling, we exhaust the air from the chamber (A) 
through the tube (B). Should the roll deviate to the 
right, and uncover the outer hole on the left of the 
tracker bar, air rushes in and lifts the valve (C). 
Now, observe that this pulse of air, before it lifts the 
pouch beneath (C), passes beneath the cut-off pouch 
(D). This cut-off pouch is fed by the inner hole on 
the right hand side of the tracker bar. The valve 
(C), being raised, admits open air to the power pneu- 
matic (E), shutting off the vacuum therefrom and 
leaving all the power to the other pneumatic (F), 
which promptly takes advantage of the inertia of its 
opponent to push the roll into alignment again. If, 
in its zeal, it oversteps the mark and the roll un- 
covers the outside right (which sounds like a soccer 
match !), it falls a victim itself to its utter disregard 
of ca'canny principles, and the balance of power 
changes once more by the lifting of the valve (G) 
and the falling of the valve (C), which takes place 
when the left outer duct is covered by the roll. 

We find, in the case of a shrunken roll uncover- 
ing both outer holes, the valves (C and G) are raised 
together, and the pneumatic powers are dormant. 
But our shrunken roll Is still assertive and swinging, 
let us say, to the left uncovers the Inner right hole. 
In rushes the air and inflates the cut-off pouch (H). 
This pouch presses a disc and pouch (D) over the 
channel holes which are lifting (C). Down drops 
that valve, and the pneumatic (E), coming into 
vacuum, pushes the roll to the right. The exposing 
of the left inner hole operates the pneumatic (F) in 
a similar manner. 

These power pneumatics are coupled together, 
and are connected by a rod to the cam, which altern- 
ately pushes the roll to the left, or permits the spiral 
spring In the left hand roll spindle to push the roll 
to the right. It is a very effective automatic tracker; 
but, like every other device connected with the 


player piano, it needs the attention pretty frequently 
of someone who is thoroughly conversant with its 
requirements. The accumulation of dust impedes 
its response, and occasionally the paper fibre from 
new rolls packs itself in such a manner beneath the 
cut-off pouches that the only remedy is to replace 
them with new pouches, after cleaning out tho- 
roughly the air channels beneath. This is a very 
simple operation for a man who knows idiich of the 
six pnitches are at fault. They are those two which 
cover the double channels and are without bleed 
holes. If the wooden cap into which the four tubes 
pass is unscrewed, and the dust is blown from the 
tracker and from the sieves then exposed each time 
the instrument is tuned, there will be very little fear 
of this obstruction arising beneath the pouches. 

An ingenious, if simple, tracking device is depicted 
in Fig. II. Valves and pouches are dispensed with; 
and, although this shifter employs only one power 
pneumatic, it is constructed in many models with the 
double power as well. 

As the principles concerned are precisely the 
same, a description of the one-power pneumatic will 
doubtless enable anyone to understand the operation 
of the two. 

Let us remember, in the first place, that the spiral 
spring in the left hand roll spindle is pushing the roll 
to the right. The right hand spindle is resting 
against a metal plate attached to the heel end of a 
power pneumatic's moveable side. When we begin 
to pedal, we exhaust the air from the pneumatic, 
which, exerting more power than the above men- 
tioned spiral spring, pushes the roll to the left. 
Beautifully adjusted at the correct position, on the 
left of the tracker bar, is a small projecting lever 
very delicately sprung. When the edge of the roll 
presses the lever, the rear end opens a tube ; air 
rushes through into the power pneumatic (no pouch 



Fig. II. 

I • 

i I 

» i 
II • • 

I I 

The pneumatic (I) is exhausted by the tube (2), and 
the metal plate (3) pushes the roll to the left. The 
edge of the roll then presses open the pallet (4), 
admitting air to the tube (5), destroying vacuum in 
(1), which permits the spring (6) to push the roll 
back into correct alignment. 

or valve, j^ou will remember) and destroys its 
vacuum. The spiral spindle spring takes advantage 
immediately of the temporary weakness of the pneu- 
matic and pushes back the roll to the right. At first 
glance, one would imagine that a great amount of 
hissing would result from this operation, but the air 
is only exhausted from the power pneumatic through 
a hole punched in a disc little larger than the normal 
bleed hole : yet this is sufficient to obtain a vacuum 
power greater than that exerted by the spindle 


In some models, the outer sides of two pneumatics 
are rigid, and the central portion is attached by a rod 
to a moveable tracker bar, which of course has, in 
such cases, to employ rubber tubes in place of metal. 

Such are three of the best known automatic 
tracker guides found in the player piano of to-day ; 
and, simple as they appear to a man with a continu- 
ous acquaintance with them, there is something very 
admirable in the brains that conceived them and the 
hands that set them to their work. 


Some General Defects. 

IT is highly essential in dealing with the trouhles 
by which the pneumatic player is afflicted that 
method should be employed; and this not only 
in the identification of any defect, but in jotting 
down on paper the nature of the fault, for a constant 
dismantling of the mechanism is injurious, to say the 
least of it. I have known an enthusiast unscrew a 
pouch board for the benefit of one dumb note, and 
replace it, only to find that another within the octave 
was suffering from the same complaint. With due 
diffidence, I will explain my own method of pro- 

First, draw the tester roll over the tracker bar 
and place the re-roll lever at "play," with the tempo 
lever at zero. Now pedal vigorousljs and if the pedal 
feels tight to the thrust, the bellows are all right. 
Should the pedals fail to "pull up," and there is a 
lack of pressure, make a note of it, and carry on to 
the next item. Placing the tempo lever at 70, con- 
sult your watch and see if seven feet of roll (which 
may be indicated on any roll) passes over the tracker 
bar in sixty seconds. If it does so in less time, make 
a note of it: we will weaken the spring of the motor 
governor later on. If it passes in more time, we 
must strengthen it. Stop the motor at every dumb 
and non-repeating note, making a careful note of 


them. You will have had plenty of opportunity dur- 
ing this test to notice if the roll runs smoothly, or if 
it jerks, or otherwise misbehaves itself. 

Let us assume that No. 13 from the bass is dumb, 
that No. 18 fails to repeat, and that No. 45 is cypher- 
ing. Here we have three very familiar defects; and 
yet when I state that there are, to my own know- 
ledge, twenty-one causes for a dumb note in a double 
valve player, I can quite imagine the incredulity of 
the novice who has dealt with his half-dozen. For his 
benefit, I will append my list, with suggested reme- 
dies, which in many cases are quite obvious, though 
always essential. 

in a Double Valve Pneumatic Player, together 
with their remedies. 

1. Blocked Tracker Bar: frequent occurrence. 

Clear the tracker bar with tJie suction bellozus, 
aided if 7iecessary with a strip of zvire ; but in 
every case see that the accumtdated paper fibre 
is cleared out. 

2. Blocked Tracker Tube: frequent occurrence. 

Slip off the tube from the nipple and bloiu the 
dust FROM the tracker bar. If the tube is of 
metal ^ unscrezv the tube rail and do likezvise. 

3. Leaking Primary Pouch: rare occurrence. 

Place a tuning ivedge, or a flat strip of zvood, 
over the bleed hole, and covering the tracker duct 
blozv to the tracker bar. Seccotine is reliable 
for gluei^ig dozvn a lifted pouch. 


4. Clinging Primary Pouch: rare occurrence. 

This is caused by the pouch clinging to tJie glue^ 
or size, with which the pouch chamber is lined. 
Blow French cJialk beneath the pouch. 

5. Stiffened Primary Pouch: frequent. 

Caused by damp. Rub tJie pouch well zuith 
French chalk, or better still replace witJi a new 
and supple pouch. 

6. Slack Primary Pouch: frequent. 

A slack pouch fails to lift its valve. See that 
a cardboard disc is glued, BY ITS CENTRE 
ONLY, to take up the slackness, and that the 
valve button is just clear of the disc. 

7. Enlarged Bleed Hole : frequent. 

Glue a piece of stifF paper over the old bleed 
hole, and pierce a smaller bleed. 

8. Sticking Primary Valve Cap: very rare. 

Sift French chalk beneath the valve cap by a 
thin knife blade or similar tool. 

9. Tight Primary Valve Stem : very rare. 

Reduce the stem by scraping zuith a knife. To 
strip a primary valve, scrape off the glue on the 
primary cap and puncJi out the stem. The stem 
is only secured by the touch of glue on the cap. 

10. Insufficient Primary Valve Mov^ement: frequent. 

Slip chalk beneath the primary valve and twist 
the valve to each face until sufficient movement 
is obtained ; or, in cases of excessive damp, 
release and reglue the stem. 


11. Loosened Primary Valve Stem: very rare. 

Clean and reglue the stem, observing the correct 
moveniefit, — approximately o7ie-tJii7'ty-second of 
an inch. 

12. Blocked Secondary Air Channel : rare. 

Clear dust by means of a piece of tubing or wire. 

13. Leaking Secondary Pouch: rare. 

Glue down, or fix new pouch. 

14. Clinging Secondary Pouch: rare. 

Blozu in French chalk, as in No. /j.. 

15. Stiffened Secondary Pouch: rare. 

Proceed as mentioned in No. 5. 

16. Slack Secondary Pouch: frequent. 

If the disc is all right, turn back the valve to 
just clear when pouch is deflated. 

17. Sticking Secondary Valve: frequent. 

Sift French chalk beneath the valve discs and 
their seats. 

18. Stripped Secondary Valve Stem: frequent. 

Thread a neiv leatJier disc on the stem, or 
replace the disc itself. 

19. Insufficient Secondary Valve Movement: fre- 


Adjust the movement of the valve by twisting 
the discs (if threaded), or reducing the washers 
in other cases. 


20. Leaking Pneumatic : rare. 

S/i/> a knife beneath the pneumatic ; force it off; 
re-cover^ and glue it down carefully when com- 

21. Broken or Displaced Pilot: rare. 

Seiid a pattern to the suppliers. 

There are really only two considerations cover- 
ing these defects, and they may be summed up in the 
one word, — valves, the horizontal and the vertical. 
When dealing with the former, one cannot mistake 
the pouch board with its thirty or forty screws that 
being removed exposes all the secondary valves. The 
vertical valves are usually in two or three tiers, and 
the action in these cases has to be withdrawn and 
unscrewed at the bass and treble ends by sections to 
gain access to the pouches. 

There is no real difficulty in dismantling a player; 
but great care is necessary in re-assembling, and 
every attention must be given to the tightness of 
channel boards, tubes, and air trunks. 


In all probability, the next most familiar trouble 
to the dumb note with which the tuner has to deal is 
the cyphering note. This is readih^ identified when 
the tracker bar is covered and pedalling causes a 
hammer, or hammers, to rise to the strings. 

The double valve player produces, approximately, 
eight causes for this complaint ; but our old enemy 
the damp is responsible for the majority of these, as 
indeed it is in a high percentage of player defects 
generally. Proceeding from the tracker bar, cypher- 
ing is almost certain to be caused by 


1. Leakage, or Disconnected Tracker Tube. 

TJiis condition is frequently met zvith. If the 
tube is of rubber, in the course of time it crcccks 
at the point where it covers the nipple, or short 
metal tube, in the pouch or channel board. The 
remedy is obvious. Renezv the tube; and for 
this purpose the tuner should carry a few feet 
of different sized tubing with him. Hoivever, 
sJioidd the tubing be of metal, the trouble is 
probably caused, 7iot by a puncture, but by the 
tube springing from the nipple at the tracker 

When the tube is located, by unscrezving the 
spool box panels, a touch of seccotine round the 
nipple will overcome the difficulty. But care 
must be exercised that no film covers the mouth 
of the tube, or a dumb note zvill residt. 

Shotdd the leakage be zvhere the tube enters tlie 
pouch board, draw out the e7id carefully from 
the socket and apply just sufficient seccotine to 
produce a slight bead or collar on replacing the 

2. Tight Primary Pouch. 

This again is of frequent occurrence and is in- 
variably caused by damp. After removing the 
primary pouch board, see that the valve is not 
restifzg o?i the pouch. When at rest, there sJioidd 
be a slight space betzveen pouch and valve. This 
space varies in different makes ; but observe tJie 
adjustment of neighbouring satisfactory pouches. 
The tight pouch is holding the primaiy valve 
from its seat, and air is in consequence passing 
to the secondary pouch. The correct method is 


to dismantle the valve action and remove the 
primary set, so as to expose the pouches. S/wuld 
these be old and stiff, it is better to renew the 
lot; but if comparatively new, spri?ikle French 
chalk over the pouches and rub them down with 
the thumb. This stretches the pouch leather and 
permits the valve to seat. Test each pouch be- 
fore re-assembling, in order to see that the I'ub- 
bing doivn operation has caused no fracture in 
the pouches. 

3. Defective Valve Cap. 

This is rare. Occasionally foreign substances 
— a splinter of luood, a chip of glue, and so on — 
may lodge beneath the valve cap and hold it 
from its seat ; and in rarer cases still, the years 
have hardened the leather face of the cap to the 
leaking point. Obstructions beneath the cap can 
be removed with a piece of piano wire ; but if 
the leather is indeed too hard to be airtight, chip 
tJie ghte from the valve cap, punch out the stem, 
and re-cover the cap with a disc of sheepskin, 
observing when you replace the stem that the 
valve has the correct movement, as indicated by 
its neighbours, and remembering not to glue the 
stem, but only to apply a touch wJiere the stein 
emerges from the cap. 

4. Obstructed Bleed Hole. 

TJiis is a rare occurrence, and is attributable to 
the dead air beneath the pouch failing to exhaust 
tJirougJi a completely closed bleed ; the pouch 
inflating, cyphering follows. Clear the bleed 
with a piece of fine ivire. 


5. Leaking Secondary Air Channel, or Tube. 

A frequent source of annoyance. Should the 
screws holding the cJiannel boards to the air 
chest have stripped and fail to hold, air is liable 
to pass into the channels, the secondary pouches 
being thereby inflated ; or, if a screzudriver too 
wide has been used carelessly, the screwhead 
sinks into the channels, with the same result. 
The screwholes in such cases shoidd be plugged, 
and fresh holes bored adjacent, but of course 
between the cha?inels. If tubes are employed, 
proceed as in the case of No. i defect. 

6. Tight Secondary Pouch. 

To make good this frequent defect, remove the 
pouch board — or, in the case of vertical valves, 
dismantle action — and proceed as in No. 2. 

7. Defective Valve. 

Foreign substances zvill be found frequently to 
hav- lodged between the inner valve disc and its 
seat, causing the striking pneumatic to collapse. 
If this is so, clean zvith zvire ; but should the 
valve be stripped, one must unscrezv and lift off 
the valve seat, threading on a nezv disc, or discs, 
in place of the old. In tJie course of time, these 
discs are liable to set tight on the stem ; and, if 
they are not exactly at right angles to the stem, 
they are liable to cypher. In that event, zvork 
tJiem slightly, until quite flexible, so that tJie 
main exhaust may drazv them tightly to their 

8. Leaking Pouch Board. 

Proceed as in No. 5. 



It is a question whether my next section should 
not have headed the Hst of pneumatic player worries, 
for it frequently occurs in the dry, as well as in the 
damp-affected instrument. However, it shall be our 
next consideration. The non-repeating note is com- 
mon in all players that do not receive the regular 
attention of the tuner or player expert. The trouble 
is frequent, and is usually the result of 

1. Obstructed Bleed Hole. 

SJiould the suction bellows fail to clear the 
bleed, it is necessary to unscrew the primary 
valve board, or slip, and clear the bleed with 
fine wire. It is then advisable to clear the lot 
at the same time. 

2. Loose Tubes. 

This trouble is rare. When a tube is leaking., 
yet not sufficient to produce cypJiering, the rapid 
deflation of the poucJi is greatly affected, and in 
consequence tJie repetition also. Make sure that 
the tubes are perfectly airtigJit, as in dealing 
with a cyphering note. 

3. Stiff Pouches. 

Again rare. Damp - stiffened poucJies affect 
adversely the repetition. Proceed as in No. 2 
for a cypJiering note. 

4. Insufficient Valve Movement. 

TJiis is frequent, and is caused usually by damp 
szuelling the leather valve faces. If a primary^ 
rub down ivith French chalk (see instructions 
for a dumb note in preceding section) and 


increase the movement of tJie valve. If in the 
secondary^ and the discs are threaded oji the 
stem, turn up the disc until the valve has suffi- 
cient play ; or, if the discs are adjusted to the 
stem by washers, reduce their 7iurnber to obtain 
the same result. 

5. Too-great Valve Movement. 

A troicble frequent enough. If the valve is not 
stripped, turn back the disc to the desired move- 
ment. In the secondary valve, this shoidd be 
approximately one-sixteenth of an inch. If 
dealing with a primary, see that the stem is not 
loose and that its movement is a little less than 
one thirty-secojtd of an inch. 

6. Stiff Pneumatics. 

TJie only, thougJi expensive, remedy for this 
somewhat rare trouble is to cover the whole set. 
In ims hipping pneumatics, if the moveable leaf 
is cut off, a hot iron will speedily loosen the 
glued base. 

7. Broken Pneumatic Spring. 

Rare. Some player pneumatics are provided 
with a light spring at the hinge of each, hi the 
uncommon event of these springs breaking, the 
rapidity of the pneumatic s movement is con- 
siderably reduced. lift out the ends of the old 
spririg with a kiiife and fix a new one of the 
same sized wire. 

8. Lost Pneumatic Motion. 

Set up the metal capstans to the action butts. 
In the case of an old instrument, re-clothe the 
butts and regtilate all capstans to the touch. 


In dealing generally with player troubles, a great 
deal must be left to the discretion of the tuner or 
mechanic. For instance, the question of valve 
regulation can only be answered by considering 
the size of the pneumatic to be exhausted. Some 
of the large pneumatics of twelve and more years 
ago require a valve motion of about one-eighth of 
an inch to ensure rapidity of action; but with the 
greatly reduced size of the power pneumatic, the 
modern valve itself has lost considerable bulk, and 
in consequence is satisfactory with half its former 


The loss of power in the pneumatic player is 
generally the result of a leakage in the main bellows, 
in the valve chest, or in the large tubes connecting 
one with the other; though occasionally the valves 
themselves are faulty, and only experience will 
enable us to locate rapidly the trouble. It is well to 
bear in mind the vast importance of obtaining as air- 
tight a condition of the whole player as is humanly 
possible; for, if we regard the valve chest as a box 
from which we have greatly reduced the air pressure 
by pedalling, it would need only a few punctures 
such as a bradawd would produce to considerably 
reduce the vacuum, or power. And if only half-a- 
dozen valves, which are each about the size of a 
shilling, fail to seat perfectly, then six shillings' worth 
of power is immediately lost. 

Naturally, when I speak of 'Vacuum," my readers 
realise that I use the word in a figurative sense only. 
A perfect vacuum would burst in every pouch and 
pneumatic with which we have to deal. What occurs 
when we operate the pedals is that we considerably 
reduce the atmospheric pressure in the valve chest, 


and the admittance of normal air produces sufficient 
work to operate the action of the piano on its way to 
restore the balance again. 

Let us proceed, then, from the source of power — 
the main bellows — and endeavour to locate a weak- 
ness,^ or lack of response, dealing with the defect 
when found. In the first place, push the playing lever 
to re-roll, which cuts off all power from the valves, 
and, gripping the motor, pedal vigorously. If the 
bellows are sound, the pedals will quickly " pull up," 
and the reservoir (or equaliser) expand very slowly. 
Should the reservoir open rapidlj^, the trouble is in 
the bellows set, and we must now disconnect the 
wires that pass into the control boxes (do not disturb 
the inside buttons, as these will give the correct ad- 
justment when replacing); unscrew the bellows from 
any backstays or the floor of the piano; slip off all 
exhaust tubes, and lift out the bellows set bodily. 
When on the bench, we can glue small patches of 
leather over the trunk holes, and operating the pedals 
— or pumpers, if the pedals are detached — get at 
every part of the bellows and test thoroughly. 

A leakage usually develops at the corners and 
angles of reservoirs and pumpers; and, if too far 
gone for patching, cut paper patterns of the correct 
size and re-cover with the rubbered cloth obtainable 
from the supply houses. 

The modern reservoir is supplied with a trap 
which, when unscrewed, exposes the springs and 
interior screws holding the reservoir to the bellows 
chest. In some models there are exterior screws 
through two or more blocks. When the reservoir is 
detached, it is easily re-covered. The pumpers have 
generally to be cut away from the chest before it is 
feasible to re-cover them. Before replafcing, see that 
the flap valves are perfectly soft and pliable. If time 
has hardened them, remove and replace, as it is 
most essential that these valves, especially those be- 


tween pumpers and reservoir, are quite air-tight. If 
they are not too ancient, they can be greatly softened 
by rolHng between the pahiis of the hands, and 
stretched to a condition that will give satisfactory 
results for some years. Observe if the governor 
bellows are quite sound before replacing the bellows 

Let us assume that the bellows are now as tight 
as can be desired ; and that, having replaced them 
and connected them up, we are still dissatisfied with 
the result. In that case, we shall have to carry our 
investigations to the upper regions, — that is, the 
wind chest. If we find that the valves have sufficient 
movement to exhaust their pneumatics rapidly, it will 
be necessarj^ to dismantle and unscrew one of the 
central valve seats. The edge maj^ be corroded with 
a sort of verdigris where the seat meets the leather 
disc; if that is so, unscrew the seats, and either 
rub them down on a perfectly flat sheet of fine glass- 
paper, or provide a new set. 

Perhaps the valve discs are too tight on their 
stems, and fail therefore to come back snugly to their 
seats, or they may be cut or worn at the surface. 
New valves are the remedy in this case ; or, if the 
surfaces are good, gently work the discs until they 
are flexible. Remember that only a very few leaking 
valves are sufficient to reduce the power to a wretched 
state of inefficiency. 

Glance at the pouches, and see that they are not 
damp-stiffened. If they are, rub them pliable with 
French chalk. Finally, examine the pneumatics and 
see that they have not developed small but terribly 
effective holes at their corners and angles. It is not 
advisable to patch these small and sensitive pneu- 
matics, for, no matter how carefully the work may 
be done, they are liable to be considerably stiffened 
by this process, and are in such cases extremely un- 
satisfactory. Unship the lot and re-cover with rub- 


bered cloth prepared for the purpose, taking every 
care that your strips of cloth are wide enough to 
permit the pneumatic to open as fully as it did orig- 
inally, or you will let yourself in for a peck of 

After these operations, I venture to think that the 
response of the player will fuUj^ justify the labour 
and patience expended on it, and that it will in every 
way come up to expectations. 

And now let us turn our attention to the motor. 
The usual complaints are a jerky motion, too great a 
speed under heavy pedalling, and too slow a move- 
ment when speed is indicated. The jerkiness is as a 
rule attributable to one or more of the following 

1. Tight, or Unburnished Slides. 

Unscrew the guides and blacklead and highly 
polish the motor face and the slide faces ; and^ 
should the guides press on the slides in the 
slightest degree, glasspaper the former until 
the slides are perfectly free. 

2. Leaking Slides. 

If the slides are worn, or grooved, place a sheet 
of fine glasspaper on a perfectly flat suiface 
and rub dozvn the slides itntil they are quite 

3. Badly Regulated Slides. 

When the motor pneumatics are collapsed, and 
again when they are FULLY extended, the lower 
edge of their slides shotdd be JUST UNCOVER- 
ING the bottom ports. Regulate the buttons ta 
obtain this result. 


4. Tight Shaft and Connections. 

TJie shaft sJioidd be almost loose in its bear- 
ings^ and the slide and pitman connections the 
same. If tigJit^ ease bearings ivith a rat-tail 
file. Never oil, as this siuells the cloth 
bus J ling. 

5. Tight Collars. 

TJiese are sometimes adjusted too close against 
the brackets. Alloiv abont one eighth of an 
incJi lateral movement of the shaft. 

6. Leaking Pneumatics. 

Carefully patch zuith tJiinnest of leather, if the 
poivers are not S7ifficiently ivorn to need 

7. Stiff Pneumatics. 

In rare cases the pneumatics have ^^ set,'' and 
stiffened, especially at extremes of extension and 
contraction. By disconnecting the pitmans and 
pressing the pneumatics l2ghtly, afterzuards 
ptdling them out to their fullest extent, they 
are greatly eased and are more pliable. 

8. Tight Spindle Brake. 

TJie brakes are ustially adjustable, and it is 
only necessary to turn back, very slightly, the 
roundhead screw attaching the brake spring to 
its block. 

9. Loose Spindle Brake. 

Should the brake be too feeble, the roll zvinds 
loosely on the take-up spool, a7id at the end of 
a long roll a bad jerking often results. Tighten 
the brake spring. 


10. Tight or Loose Chain. 

An ^^ idler zvheeV as a 7'iile takes up the slack 
of a chain ; but in the fixed type of idler ^ if 
the cJiain is too tight, it pulls up the motor, 
and if too loose tJie chain may jump on the 
sprocket wheel. Adjust by releasing tJie lock- 
ing screw on the fixed idler spindle, ease, or 
take up slack. 

11. Tight Metal Gearing. 

A touch of oil is necessary where metal passes 
tJirougJi metal bearings, as, if the bearings are 
too dry, they are liable to tighten on a long roll. ' 

12. Too Powerful Spindle Spring. 

The spiral spring in the left hand spindle is 
occasionally too strong, and at the end of a long 
roll assists to pull up the motor. Take out the 
spri7ig from its socket and cut off a couple of 

13. Weak Governor Spring. 

TJiis is also the cause of a motor failing to 
register the correct tempo. Vigor otis pedalling 
in such a case tends to cut off too much power, 
even to the point of jerkiness. Strengthen the 
governor spring by adjusting tJie locking pin, if 
dealing with a spiral ; or if zvitJi the V type, 
open out the spring an incJi or tzvo. If, 07i the 
other hand, the speed is too rapid and tlie motor 
''^races'' on heavy pedalling, it is necessary to 
zveaken slightly the gover?ior spring, remember- 
ing always the standard speed of seven feet a 
minute with the tempo indicator at jo. 


In conclusion, I should say that I have, of course, 
only touched upon the fringe of troubles to which 
such a complicated piece of mechanism as the pneu- 
matic player is prone. An ocean of minor defects 
still lies before the virgin keel of the beginner : but 
in those seas Experience only can be the navigator 
to bring the tuner safely to port. 

Printed by the Proprietors of "Musical Opinion," 

(A. W. Fitzsimmons and W. P. Fitzsimmons), Chichester Chambers, 

Chancery Lane, London, W.C.2. 

Second Edition. 
Price 5s. net. Post free 5s. 4d. 

"Restoration of Organs." 


A Practical Guide to the Organist in 
Country and Isolated Parishes. 
" Organists, the clergy, and churchwardens, in rural and 
isolated parishes, having on their hands an organ obvi- 
ously in need of repair, are often at a loss to know what 
to do. The instrument may not be so bad that the organ- 
ist himself could not, if he knew how, remedy its defects. 
On the other band, it may have come to such a pass that 
it needs to be thoroughly restored. Mr. Matthews comes 
to their aid with a handy little volume, 'The Restoration 
of Organs.' The work of a thoroughly competent writer, 
it goes carefully into all the parts of an organ, explaining 
them so lucidly that, with careful study an organist could 
not fail to discover the cause and nature of the defects in 
his instrument." — The Church Times. 

Mr. Vincent Willis writes: "You have treated the 
subject thoroughly yet concisely, and at a most opportune 

Post free 2s. 2d. 

Manual of Piano Tuning 

A Theoretical and Practical Manual 


The work is divided into two sections, the first 
concerned mainly with practical rules, and must 
prove of exceptional utility to all tuners, for what- 
ever their standing there are few who will not wel- 
come a study of these pages, thereby acquiring 
steady and firm reasons for the practice they follow 
in their craft. This section is a model of clear ex- 
position, and will doubtless be accepted as a stand- 
ard manual. The second section concerns the 
scientific basis of tuning ; and here, though the 
subject-matter follows the teaching of the great 
scientist Helmholtz and his no less eminent trans- 
lator Ellis (with whom Mr. Moore was associated), 
it is presented in a manner easily to be understood. 

Office of "Musical Opinion," 

Chichester Chambers, Chichester Rents, 

Chancery Lane, W.C 2 

Price 2s. 6d. net. By post, 2s. 8d. 

Repairing the Pianoforte. 

" ' Repairing the Pianoforte' is a handy and prac- 
tical guide which very many of our own readers 
will find most useful, especially just now. Even 
in ordinary times, of late years, the average piano- 
forte tuner seems to have learned next to nothing 
about repairing, thanks to the specialising in most 
piano factories ; and just now he is busy elsewhere, 
like many more of us. Besides which the whole 
art of pianoforte building and repairing is one of 
the standard hobbies of ' ours ; ' and if, as 
with others, for the time it has taken a back 
seat, there will be still hundreds glad of the 
wrinkles given in this little volume, which bears 
the stamp of genuine knowledge and experience 
throughout — The English Mechanic. 

Price Is. net. Post free, Is. Id. 

Repairing the Player Piano 

"It contains a number of diagrams which make clear 
the general arrangement ot the player-piano parts. The 
information is simply put, and appears to be quite practical. 
The pamphlet gives a large number of general hints, which 
every user of the player-piano will find useful, and will 
answer the requirements of many querists who have recently 
asked where such a book could be ob\.a.ine<i."— Bazaar. 

Post free. Is. Id. 

Repairing the Reed Organ 

" Many a pianoforte tuner has, to his chagrin, had cause 
to realise the fact that it is not possible to become a com- 
petent repairer of the reed instruments that generally 
absorb part of his day's work merely by reading occasional 
articles on the subject, and for this reason the little book 
just issued under the above title from the office of Musical 
Opinion and Music Trade Review (Chichester Chambers, 
W.C 2) is assured of an extensive appreciation. Although 
costing only a shilling it sets forth clearly and concisely 
the defects most frequently met with in the American organ 
and its once popular, but now worsted, rival, the harmo- 
nium, ranging from bellows to keyboard, suggests the 
best tests and their method of application, and points out 
the remedial measures to be adopted, while the instruc- 
tions are illuminated by a dozen diagrams. The tuning of 
the reeds also receives adequate attention. We see no 
reason why the average skilled amateur mechanic armed 
with this handy guide, should fail in adjusting or repairing 
his own organ or harmonium, especially in these days when 
professional assistance may not be available.' — Bazaar, 

Published at the office of Musical Opinion, 
Chichester Chambers, Chancery Lane, w.c.2. 









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