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Hi All,

W. Deane Wiley wrote:

When the hammers are resting on the top back of
the keys, how much play,if any, should there be
between the back of the hammer and the top of the
wooden button attached to the wire coming from
the pneumatic?

I'd like to start by saying that I know of no
modern Aeolian player that has the striker
pneumatics connected to the keys. In all of the
modern Aeolian players, the striker pneumatics
strike the underside of the keys via a wire and
a wooden button which are connected only to the
striker pneumatic. The wooden button hits a piece
of felt which is glued to the bottom of each

There is no way to answer Mr. Wiley's question because
the wooden button at the back of the key is not
connected to the pneumatic. It's connected to
the wippen in the piano action. Let me explain...

The only Aeolian players that have the button at
the back of the key are the players with a drop
action (where part of the piano action is below
the keybed). The buttons are used to adjust out
the lost motion that occurs as a result of using
the piano.

There is a little bit of a trick to correctly
adjusting the lost motion in a drop action. The
trick is, don't try to get "Zero" lost motion.
The geometry of a drop action is such that reducing
the lost motion to 'zero' increases the likelihood
that the jack won't get underneath the butt as
quickly as possible. Having a small amount of lost
motion (a few thousandths of an inch) actually improves
the repetitive capability of the action.

So, how do you measure 'a few thousandths'? Actually,
you don't. You turn the button clockwise until the hammer just
starts to move away from the hammer rail. Then you turn
the button counterclockwise one-half of a turn. Then,
play the note a few times -to set the button back in
its groove- and then press ever so lightly on the
front of the key to see if there is any lost motion.
If there is no lost motion, turn the button counterclockwise
one-quarter of a turn, and repeat the above procedure.

What the technician must insure is that the button is
firmly pushed into the hole at the back of the key. He
can do this physically, by pushing the button into the
hole, or by playing the note rather forcefully. And, while
all of this may sound quite subjective, it doesn't take
long to get the 'feel' of 'a small amount of lost motion'.
Personally, I've found that both methods work fine. All
drop actions have a notoriously slow repetitive capability
because of all of the extra weight and angular changes.
So, you do the best you can with what you've got.....

John A Tuttle
Brick, NJ, USA

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This page was last revised July 1, 2017 by John A. Tuttle, who Assumes No Liability
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