The Player Piano Transmission

The location of the player piano transmission is always the same no matter what type of player piano we're talking about. It is always between the Air Motor and the Take-Up Spool (See Lauter Diagram). There is always at least one piece of linkage connected to the transmission which, if followed to it's extreme other end, is connected to the Play/ReRoll lever. The lever itself can be located in various places but it is typically found under the 'Flip Board' directly in front of the piano keys. The second most popular location for the Play/Reroll lever is inside the SpoolBox.

Primarily, the Transmission serves three basic functions 1) It reduces the RPM of the Air Motor to a usable speed for driving the Take-Up Spool around, 2) It provides gearing which makes it possible to Rewind the roll using a motor which rotates in only one direction, and 3) It contains apparatus called 'brakes' which apply an adjustable amount of 'drag' to the roll as it moves, keeping the paper snug up against the tracker bar. Each of these functions will be explained later as necessary.

The greatest majority of Transmissions also have linkage which connects to the Tracking Service, which keeps the holes in the roll lined up with the holes in the tracker bar. This function is accomplished in a variety of ways, but most often the tracking linkage is attached to a 'cam' which pushes on the extreme right end of the upper roll spindle.

The transmission frequently gets over-lubricated. In that regard, more is not better. Quite often, the oil spins onto the forward and reroll brakes. In time, the oil turns gummy and creates excessive drag on the air-motor. Over-loading the air-motor causes stress and excessive wear on the motor valves, bushings and pneumatics, greatly reducing the life of the motor. Also, the speed of the music keeps getting slower and slower unless you increase the tempo.

If your brakes are dirty, clean the brake drums and spindles with a clean rag. Remove the contaminated felt piece and replace it with a felt of identical quality and thickness.

Musically,

John A. Tuttle
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This page was last revised on March 2, 2004 by John A. Tuttle.

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Now Playing: Midi File called Midnight , which was first conceived in September of 96. These tracks are presented in their unedited form exactly as I recorded them on 3/19/97. They need some work for sure but I doubt I'll have the time to do it. If someone wants to do it for me, I'll give them a Special Link at the top of this page for their effort.
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