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Lăuter-Humănă -- Questions and Answers!
Below are email exchanges I've had with the owner/s of Lăuter-Humănă players:
HI Doug,

For a technician in St. Louis, check out William 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 hammers
>don'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 in
>determining 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
>and have a Happy Holiday
>Doug Traxler
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Terry G

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 

Hi Terry,

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

If you can, send me pictures of the problem area in the
exhauster assembly.


John A Tuttle

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