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#656038 - 04/04/08 12:55 AM Looking for Pointers on Player Piano Maintenance
Jon Ligon Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/27/08
Posts: 3
We just bought an old Hobart M. Cable player piano that's been converted to electric and we've got a guy coming to check it over in a couple weeks but I thought I'd go ahead and ask a couple questions concerning our issues.

The piano is absolutely beautiful and has been in the possession of a very musically inclined family and appears that they've taken pretty good care of it over the years.

There are, however, a couple of issues we need to address. The tracking doesn't want to line up with certain rolls and on others it lines up for awhile and then drifts off, while others work perfectly. It tends to want to drift to the right somewhat consistently.

Also, as of the last couple days, the speed isn't running as smoothly as it did when we first got it a week ago. The take-up spool tends to hesitate slightly, about once each revolution.

I'm just getting started in my pursuit of becoming a piano technician and player pianos will probably follow but I figure the more I learn now, the better.

I also wanted to ask, what all types of "preventative maintenance" should we be prepared to address with our player piano? I've read about the tracker cleaners and assume that they're a must have. If so, is there a preferred type or dealer to get them from?

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.


#656039 - 04/04/08 06:35 PM Re: Looking for Pointers on Player Piano Maintenance
Greg Seagraves Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/07
Posts: 63
Loc: Lawrenceville, GA
My first question is has the player mechanism been restored? I am gong to assume that it has not been based on the rolls not tracking correctly.. The tracking mechanism on a cable is not the best design but none the less it will still work correctly. On a cable, the tracer moves the tracker bar back and forth to keep the holes in the paper lined up to the holes in the tracker bar..If tge tracking pneumatic is not air tight that may be the problem. If the tracker bar does not move freely that could be the problem. Sometimes the tubing from the tracker bar to the valves an shrink in length a little and cause the tracker bar to bind when it tries to move. In this type of system it takes a lot of power to move the tracker bar back and forth and if everything involved with the tracker is'nt working perfectly, it will not track. Other manufacures controled the tracking by shifting the roll form side to side instead of the tracker bar which takes much less effort. The hesitation can be caused by several things but most likely the slide valves on the air motor are not moving smoothly. The slide valves move up and down agaainst the face of the air motor..If these surfaces are not smooth they can bind..This can sometimes be caused by someone putting too much graphite on the air motor..In high humidity the graphite can gunk up and the valves wont move smoothly..Incidantely a properly functioning air motor will run smoothly with no graphite. If the cloth on the air motor pneumatics is old and stiff binding can also occur. Maintenance on a player piano is almost none. A rebuilt player will function for years with nothing being done to it. A tracker bar pump removes paper dust particles from the tracker bar holes. New rolls are mainly the ones that have this dust. Player piano co in kansas sells these.

#656040 - 04/06/08 03:27 AM Re: Looking for Pointers on Player Piano Maintenance
Jon Ligon Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/27/08
Posts: 3
Thanks for the advice, Greg. I've sorted out the speed lag issue but am still having trouble from time to time with the tracking. I'm going to see if I can snap a closeup picture of it tomorrow and post it to see if I can give you, or anyone, a better idea of the type I have. It is the type where the roll is supposed to move back and forth, not the tracker bar.

#656041 - 05/21/08 05:34 PM Re: Looking for Pointers on Player Piano Maintenance
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2427
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Jon, and excellent site for all player piano related materials is http://www.player-care.com/

#656042 - 05/26/08 02:32 AM Re: Looking for Pointers on Player Piano Maintenance
Jon Ligon Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/27/08
Posts: 3
Thanks again for the advice and links. I've since worked out all of the problems with the player.

I guess my main question now, and I may start a separate thread or do some more searching through the archives, is where my best sources (if any) for tracking down (somewhat) comprehensive lists of rolls that have been made throughout the years. I've been told no such thing exists, although I still find that a little difficult to believe.

While reading about "Fats" Waller/J. Lawrence Cook rolls I found the following statement: "Over the years several Waller rollographies have emerged, the best of these using Mike Montgomery's exhaustive QRS numerical listing as source material."

Is anyone here familiar with Montgomery's QRS list or something similar?

Thanks for any help!

#656043 - 05/27/08 06:21 PM Re: Looking for Pointers on Player Piano Maintenance
Grandpianoman Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/05
Posts: 2427
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Jon, this list might help you...scroll down to "music". \:\)



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