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Player Piano in Belgium

The gentleman pictured just below, Wouter Smekens, has asked for my help. We have communicated a number of times via email and a couple of times via Skype. According to the owner of the instrument, it was working a few years ago. At this point in time, my primary desire is to find out everything I can about the player mechanism. Who made it? Where was it manufactured? Is there any technical information available? If you have any information, please contact me at:

As far as I can tell (from the pictures and our conversations), everything about the player system looks pretty generic. It employs pneumatic tracking, a four-chamber air motor, simple looking transmission, three-tier stack, an automatic sustain device, two main exhausters, one large reservoir, and an air motor governor.

One of the unusual aspects of this player is that it's the same general depth of a normal upright piano. It appears that the mechanism was specifically designed to 'fit' into an existing instrument. One could even surmise that the mechanism could be installed in numerous makes of pianos because the stack is mounted under the keybed in the same manner as the three major reproducing grand piano actions (Duo-Art, Ampico, and Welte-Mignon). Therefore the spacing (or scale design) of the pneumatics could be easily modified to accommodate different key arrangements, i.e. 28, 30, 30 or 26, 32, 30, etc. That being the case, one has to wonder if the mechanism was installed in other European instruments.

Lastly, Wouter apologizes for the quality of the pictures. They were taken with his laptop computer in a pooly lighted room. We hope to get better quality pictures at a later date.













Hello John,
First, I do not speak English so well. I write with the google translator. 
I hope it is to understand what I write.
Today I found on your website that:
http://www.player-care.com/wouter.html
It is certainly an action of Heilbrunn & Sons - Berlin - or a mixture of 
various components. But some parts are typical of H & S. I own a H & S Piano 
(ca 1910 +.) It is a Steinway piano - a converted Series piano.
typical:. the installation above the keyboard, the frame with spool box with 
curved lines, the parts of the transmission, the connection air motor - Transmission 
(This frame can be tilted upwards)
the arrangement of the levers for Tempo / Re-roll and the style of lettering,
The linkage below across the piano.

I have some instruments of this company found on the web. The design has changed 
over time. Ca 1910 Stack of the keyboard (the way on my photo design for series-piano). 
The instruments from perhaps 1920 (?) Stack above.
But these things I have not seen in this context.
untypical:
The air motor with 4 bellows (normal 5), the stack ... the roller guide in this 
constellation.
The instrument is believed to play only 65 tones - but with tracking!
The original Virtuola rolls have a different width than 65/88

H & S instruments were the instruments with the scale "Virtuola" 73 tones with 
expression-electric / pedal / pedal-electric.
My piano playing Virtuola and 65 grade. Later instruments have a replaceable 
Trackerbar (virtuola / 88/65)
H & S has advertised, mount the equipment in each piano / Grand. In France / Belgium, 
the instruments under the brand "Melodia" were sold. There was a time a cooperation 
with the company "Roemhildt" in Weimar.
In France the instruments as Della-Pleyel were offered. A few details: 
http://www.pianola.org/factsheets/pleyela.cfm
Perhaps special instruments were prepared on demand.
The H & S instruments are rare and forgotten. Unfortunately, there is almost no 
information on the Web.
I'm interested in good photos. maybe you can give me the contact.

Another thing in this moment: I have a Ampico-Grand(early Ampico with up side 
down valves). For the restoration, I will need some things from your offer. I 
am prepared and looking for the right things. I need to compile a list. But it 
is not yet time to do so. But one thing I am very interested: What is the best 
valve leather for the blockvalves?
Can you recommend something?
I know Columbia-Leather. I have been there already bought leather for the pouch 
(for another instrument)
Literature on Ampico I have found as well as a tubing schema. (It is slightly 
different from my instrument).
But this is all still in preparation. I send with a photo.


best regards from Dresden(Germany)
Uwe Posselt

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This page was last revised July 18, 2016 by John A. Tuttle, who Assumes No Liability
For The Accuracy or Validity of the Statements and/or Opinions
Expressed within the Pages of the Player-Care Domain.
Cartoon Graphics by E7 Style Graphics (Eric Styles)


Since "Player-Care" is an internet business, I prefer that we correspond via E-Mail (click here to fill out the 'Request Form'). However, if I'm not in the middle of some other activity, you can reach me at 732-840-8787. But please understand that during the hours from 9AM-5PM (EST), I'm generally quite busy. So, I probably won't answer the phone. If you get the answering machine, please leave a detailed message stating the reason for your call. Also, repeat your name and phone number clearly and distinctly. By necessity, I prioritize everything in my life. And, if you call and just leave your name and number, and ask me to call you back, it might be a day or two before I return your call. Why? Because I don't know why you want me to call and I might not be prepared to assist you in an effective and efficient manner. If you leave me an E-Mail address (which I prefer), spell it out phonetically. The more you do to help me, the more I can help you in return. Don't rush. You have four minutes to record your message.



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