Schrapel Player Piano
Philipps (Ducanola) Player System
Below are some pictures and correspondence related to the Schrapel player piano. It is located in South Australia. Click on each image to see the full sized picture. It has been found that the player system was made by Philipps of Frankfurt, Germany. Their 88 note player was introduced in 1911 as the Ducanola. Apart from pneumatic systems for their own production line, they made them available to other piano manufacturers to build their own players. Scrapel pianos will be one of these that bought the player systems from Philipps. That is why no mentioning of Philipps or Ducanola is made on this piano. The pillow-pouches in Philipps actions were usually made of zephir skin. If you have any technical information about this player system, please contact John Tuttle -click here.
Hi John, Thank you for your wonderful supply of information on Player
Pianos. I have just brought home another..I suspect it is a rebadge of
a German make, its name is Schrapel, likely by Schrapels Emporium in
the Barossa valley (historic German region near here in South Australia)..
The Piano plays beautifully, but there is a major air leak somewhere.
All the bellows were recovered 16 years ago and appear to be sound.
However, Many notes don't work and there is a serious amount of leakage.
On pulling the front off the stack... it has 1" square Pillow Pouches
made of light rubberized cloth... and they all leak! (some of them make
crackly noises when inflated)
There are also larger Pillow Pouches back inside (I haven't pulled it
down that far yet to get photos or sizing).
1) Are these Pillow pouches something you can sell me?
2) What adhesive should I use on them?
3) Can you identify the maker of the mechanism or the piano?
4) Are there any technical manuals available for this style mechanism?
I have never seen a mechanism with that type of pillow pouch. However,
I would guess that they were originally made out of zephyr skin, not
rubberized cloth. It looks like the rest of the mechanisms, including the
valves, were completely restored, and if that's the case, the pouches
would still be good -unless they were restored using an inferior cloth.
As for the leakage, it seems possible to me that the pouches are
actually holding the valves slightly 'up' or open. It would only take
about a dozen of them (in that condition) to reduce the stack vacuum to
I'm curious to know what the other 'larger' pouches are used for, but if
there are just a few of them, they might be for peripheral devices like
the auto-sustain, bass and treble soft, or the tracking device.
I'll be writing to the Mechanical Music Digest to see if anyone has
seen a similar player system, but I'm certain I don't have any technical
information about the system. That being the case, I've started a file
on the system and hope to collect as much information as possible
for future generations.
John A Tuttle