For a technician in St. Louis, check out W. Singleton at:
According to the Pierce Piano Atlas, your Lauter was made in late 1906. However, I'm definitely inclined to believe the date on the keys and/or the plate over what's written in the reference book. It seems that the numbers in the reference book are consistently off by 8-10 years (too early).
The original finish on the Lauter was varnish. It can take on a waxy feel as it ages but that's usually the result of years of polishing with hard furniture wax or polish. Varnish cracks (or 'alligators') as it ages if exposed to sunlight. That's why the 'hidden' areas of the cabinet are usually still fairly clear. They are still able reflect the light rather than refracting it.
While Lauter did make players with a deep, rich red cherry finish, the veneer under that finish is most often red (or pink) mahogany. I've yet to encounter a Lauter with cherry veneer, and I live here in New Jersey where the vast majority of Lauter-Humana players were sold (having been made in Newark, NJ).
The brass flanges used in the piano action are available from at least two different piano supply houses. The "tab" part of the hinge is usually the part that bends, then cracks and eventually breaks. This happens most often when excessive force is used to tighten the flange. The force required is just enough to hold onto the flange pin so that the pin rotates inside of the felt bushings, no tighter.
Considering where the instrument has traveled in the years since you've owned it, I would suspect that a substantial amount of the leakage is occurring inside of the wooden block valves or that the pouches (which are also inside of the block valves) have become very porous. Another 'trouble spot' I've recently encountered is the valve chest itself. Being made from pieces that are sandwiched together, the chest will leak pretty badly if the glue is deteriorating.
The best way to determine where the majority of the leakage is occurring is to test each component in the system separately. I've put together some simple tests at:
Hope this helps.
John A. Tuttle
At 11:36 PM 12/24/01 -0600, you wrote:
I acquired my Lauter-Humana player piano (built in 1914) from my aunt and uncle in St. Louis in 1967. The piano followed me to Tallahassee for my senior year at Florida State, then to Boca Raton, Fla in 1968 and back to St. Louis in 1987. Although the wood is covered with what I believe is wax that has checked, you can see the beauty of the cherry finish on the underside of the lid which has never weathered and in which you can see your face.
The sound has always been excellent. The player worked for a while, but then became weak. I had the bellows rebuilt in the 70's and that somewhat resolved the problem. This is the heaviest upright I have ever moved. I removed the player action from the top and built a custom plywood case to protect it. This made it lighter to move and easier to work on the action when a hammer would break. Over the years I have also had to replace some of the little brass blocks that are screwed under the hammer pivot rod to hold the hammers in place. Trying to find the correct ones and matching screws so that the hammersdon't bind can be a problem.
Thanks for your info on finding the dates. The serial number on the sound board up top is 29342. The bass key has a penciled date of 5-5-14. The harp has a date of 11-7-13 as part of the harp mold. Maybe this info will help indetermining the truth of the other info you have found.
Do you know of a good rebuilder in the St. Louis, Missouri area? Any thoughts on worth? I noticed someone wanting to buy one on Todd Augsberger's mechanical music buy/sell/trade website. (Google found by just searching for lauter-humana.
and have a Happy Holiday
comments: John, thanks for the info on Lauter motor. Need cloth for motor bellows, and gasket material for around holes, (leather or felt ?) Also, for lower unit, had severe leak in wood board attached to back of pedals, need gasket material,wood board is 5" x 17 1/4", don't know if gasket is leather or felt. Also, there were two leather flaps there when I removed the board, If you think I should replace them while it is open, send those also. This player has been in the basement for about 20 years and not played so it's going to be a challenge. Anything else I need or should be looking for in the motor or lower unit © Terry G
I'm trying to visualize the problem with the movable board on the exhauster bellow. Perhaps a picture will be more helpful.
If the piano has been in a basement for 20+ years, the chances are very great that all of the bellows cloth in the lower section (or exhauster assembly) has to be changed. Also, it would be wise to replace the leather flap valves.
All of the Lauter-Humana players I've worked on used blotter paper in the exhauster assembly as the gasket material. You can usually find it at a crafts store.
As for the air motor, you'll need a 6" x 36" piece of Type A motor cloth. The gasket for the air flange is also made out of blotter paper. Also, care must be taken when working with the sliding valves. They are comprised of two pieces of wood that are joined with a piece of leather. Only very rarely do the sliders need to be taken apart. And if they are, great care is needed to put them back together. My best advice is to leave them alone.
If you can, send me pictures of the problem area in the exhauster assembly.
John A Tuttle
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