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Old 16th Feb 2012, 12:21 pm   #1
EF80TVVALVE
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Default A few pianola questions

Hi, later on in the year I may buy a Pianola but I have a few questions regarding them. Firstly, how easy are they to restore, I think that there are a few forum members who own one but if they are too hard to restore, I may get one that has been restored. Secondly, I have seen that the rolls often have frayed edges from where the guides on the tracker bars rub along the sides, can this be repaired easily, I know that some people use tape to fix it when it begins to be a problem but I have saw that over the years, the binding of tape can break down causing the tape to shrink and turn crispy?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated
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Old 16th Feb 2012, 12:48 pm   #2
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Hi EF80

The person on here that you need to speak to first is

Jeffrey Borinsky

http://www.borinsky.co.uk/

Better known on here as


ppppenguin

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/member.php?u=583
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Old 16th Feb 2012, 12:49 pm   #3
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Hi EF80TVVALVE,

For answers to any questions on that particular subject, you really ought to join this forum:

http://pianola.forumer.com/
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Old 16th Feb 2012, 12:56 pm   #4
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Hello

I had a Pianola for quite a few years, I got it from a chap who restored them, the one i bought off him wasn't restored as I fancied having ago my self. The problem is there are quite a few makers out there who had there own slightly different way of making the player system and some systems are easier to repair then others, hence i got mine from a chap who new what was what . As you will know a lot of the rubber pipes in these contraptions now have perished and need replacing, the one i used to own had lead pipes going from the roll box to the bellows, so after replacing the larger bore rubber pipes to the wind motor and from the peddle bellows ect it worked quite well without having to do a lot to the valves ect that engage each note.
Most of the player systems have parts that were never intended to be opened to be serviced, just hot glued closed and are very difficult to open up. The best thing is to contact a restorer and have a chat with them about what you want to do, they will give you advice on what pianos to look for and which books to read, there are a few good books that give lots of guides and pictures. Armed with the right advice and literature you can restore them fairly easily its just you need a lot of space to work on them and lots and lots of time!
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Old 16th Feb 2012, 5:36 pm   #5
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

To add to my earlier posting, I find that the Pianola Forum has been offline throughout the afternoon. The link is a valid one though, so hopefully normal service will be restored soon.
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Old 16th Feb 2012, 5:58 pm   #6
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Thanks for all of the info and help so far everyone, I think that I might buy a working but un-restored pianola and see if I can restore it myself. If I can't then I will send it off for repairs. I don't know why I have quite an attraction to one, but many aunties and uncles are actually backing me up to get one! My mum had one in her childhood home but she hates the idea of having one in the house! I believe a bit of persuasion is in order

Thanks
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Old 16th Feb 2012, 10:20 pm   #7
Lucien Nunes
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

A player piano* is a great thing to own - all the family can have fun with it. There are some books on DIY restoration that take you through the process step by step, e.g. by Art Reblitz and Larry Givens. It might be worth getting one of these in advance for a taster. It requires patience, a reasonable amount of space and some basic woodworking equipment such as a benchtop disc sander, heated gluepot, lots of cramps etc. For your first attempt, don't try to tackle a reproducing piano (e.g. Duo-Art, Ampico) as their performance will be more critically dependent on the uniformity of your work and more expensive to sort out if you accidentally break something.

Once you've got one you'll never look back. One day I will get around to sorting ours out - 25 years since I did any work on it!

Lucien

* ps 'Pianola' is a trade mark for one brand, 'player piano' is the generic term.
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Old 16th Feb 2012, 10:30 pm   #8
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Hi, I think I will get a few books first! A duo-art type wasn't my first option as they don't really appeal to me as much as the standard types (don't ask me why!). I have given myself a year to get one as I need to get the money to cover cost, transport and materials for restoration
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Old 17th Feb 2012, 10:55 pm   #9
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Today I have done a bit of research and I have found that the 'Angelus' company made some very simple mechanisms. I like the style of the american player pianos as they are much box shaped than British ones, so maybe an american imported Angelus will be the ideal type
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Old 18th Feb 2012, 12:03 am   #10
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Be careful of the Angelus players as some of them use a very different pneumatic to operate the notes. They use a "pouch" rather than a bellows type and are much more difficult to restore.

Pianolas are great fun and relatively simple to restore but very repetative whith 88 of nearly everything!! One thing you will need, however, is a glue-pot as hide glue is the best adhesive to use to enable future generations to re-build them.
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 2:24 pm   #11
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Buying a player is like crossing a minefield; easy enough as long as you know where the mines are!

Here's what I was told:

Avoid complicated 'reproducing' types. A well-maintained Duo-Art playing a well-cut roll correctly is breathtaking. The same piano in non-working condition will exhaust your enthusiasm and your bank-managers patience before it ever utters a note.

Avoid 65-note players. They have an extra twenty-odd years of decay on top of the two- or three- lifetimes' worth that the popular 'jazz-era' examples all have by now. Also, no-one cuts 65-note rolls anymore, and second-hand ones are less common.

Avoid unnecessary complication. As far as GB is concerned, the nearest to a 'standard' format was the 88-note Aeolian. Anything which differs materially from this is best left until more experience is gained.

Following this advice, I bought an Aeolian. It was still complicated, but fortunately the technology (and the jargon) is that of the organ-builder, and I have some experience of that. If you can find your way round a simple 2-manual Harrison & Harrison with tubular pneumatic pedal action, you should have no major problems.
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 2:33 pm   #12
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

All good advice so far. Suggest joining this forum:

http://pianola.21.forumer.com

The forum owner (at least I think he's the owner), Adam Ramet often seems to come across player pianos that need a new owner. Would be worth contacting him. This is Adam's own website: http://www.undergroundpianola.com/ He is nothing if not a true enthusiast and also a very good musician.
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Old 23rd Feb 2012, 5:41 pm   #13
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Things are beginning to progress! I have contacted someone who has a Canadian imported 'Bell' pianola, it is working (although it will need restoration) and it is a very simple machine! The seller will be able to keep it until later in the year (when I have the space as my existing electric piano will be moving upstairs). I'll let everyone know how it goes!
Thanks
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Old 23rd Feb 2012, 6:43 pm   #14
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Quite likely has a Higel player action. Thes can work very well indeed. beware if it has the Higel metal action which can suffer from strange warping and "pot metal" decay problems.
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Old 4th Mar 2012, 5:24 pm   #15
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Hi, just an update, I am unable to fit a pianola in the house as the one that I want won't get in without dismantling some of the woodwork. However, from time to time, I see that there are often spares on ebay for them (such as the main mechanism etc) so I have decided to buy an Eavestaff mini piano, then build a pianola inside, it will be a great learning experience for me and with so many spares around, it will put them to use instead of being disposed of! I was thinking of using electromagnets and making it all electric but then you lose the fun of adding expression etc!
I'll let everyone know how it goes!
Thanks
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Old 4th Mar 2012, 6:31 pm   #16
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Hi EF80TVVALVE,

You'll have quite a job building anything inside an Eavestaff Minipiano! There's barely room for what's there already, plus the fact that the internal layout is somewhat different to a normal sized piano.
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Old 4th Mar 2012, 6:36 pm   #17
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Yes, I thought that it will be a problem, but it will look nothing like a minipiano by the time I'm finished! I am thinking of extending the board under the keyboard to the edge of the keyboard and extending the foot pedals to give it a little more space!
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Old 5th Mar 2012, 12:30 am   #18
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

word of warning make sure you get an eavestaff with the tuning pins under the top!! not under the keyboard! google kemble minx, you want an eavestaff like that, the other type are just a nightmare!
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Old 6th Mar 2012, 5:12 pm   #19
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

Hi, Is there anyone on the forum that has a 88 note push-up player or know of anyone who has one for sale? I won't post a wanted thread as it doesn't have much electrical relevance, but if the mods would rather want me to post a wanted then please PM me and I'll do it,
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Old 6th Mar 2012, 5:26 pm   #20
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Default Re: A few pianola questions

88 note pushups are rare. Not quite rocking horse droppings but almost that way. 65 note pushups are much more common but I would not recommend anyone to buy anything 65 note as their first instrument.

If you can find a way to accommodate it, Mikey405 of this forum is selling his player piano at the moment. I haven't seen it but it seems like a nice instrument. I don't think he's too far away from you either. but, like most player pianos, it's heavy and the front to back size is bigger than a normal piano.
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