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Electric Reproducing Pianos (The Artecho)
(Tuners' Journal - Cont. from July, 1928)

By Wilberton Gould, Member N. A. of P. T., New York City

Service, as defined by Webster: "An act of one who serves."

It is one of God's greatest gifts to mankind, for who is happy who does not serve? Hence it follows that service requires sacrifice. It is the foundation stone of every enterprise. Whatever it may be, its success or failure depends upon whole-hearted co-operation.

And may service and sacrifice continue to be the keynote of our progressive Association.—The Author.

The Artecho

Quietness of mechanical operation is highly essential for the efficient operation of any reproducing piano, and in order that this state may be maintained it is necessary to test the instrument when it is running "light" or with the "Repeat" switch at the "On" position, with the tempo at its maximum speed, and without a music roll in the spool box.

This operation permits the wind motor to operate at full speed, and any undue noise in the wind motor, transmission or gearing will be apparent at once and should be corrected immediately, as will be explained later in this article. Putting load on the wind motor, by braking the top right-hand shaft with the hand, should indicate if the mesh on the sprockets is noisy or too close. Place a test roll on the carrier plungers, and with blank paper and the tempo at 0 determine if the pump and electric motor run quietly. Use the manual control expression devices, and with the "Automatic" lever at the "On" position throw full load on the pump to see if the electric motor and the pump operate smoothly and quietly.. In some cases the motor may slow down because of too high a pressure on the pump. This, however, rarely happens, as the modern rotary pump is equipped, by means of equalizers and relief valves, to take care of an overload on the pump.

At this juncture let me say that when you are correcting any mechanical adjustments on reproducing pianos you should be sure that you know what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Do not use the hit-and-miss method. It is much better frankly to admit that you do not know than to go ahead and make adjustments that will lead you nowhere and that will injure your professional reputation.

If there should be any undue noise in the wind motor or the transmission gearing it should be eliminated at once. Remove the ladder chain from the wind motor, clean off the drive sprocket on the wind motor and transmission with benzine, and note if the teeth on the sprockets are rough ; if they are, smooth off the rough spots with coarse emery cloth, starting from the heels of the teeth and working upward toward the points. Be careful not to overdo the operation, because if the teeth are sanded down too much the chain may jump off at high speed. Therefore, remove only the rough edges.

Clean off the ladder chain with benzine, and with a good grade of grease lubricate the chain and replace it on the sprockets. It is a good plan to inspect the links to see if they are in line, and mesh correctly. See that the top and bottom transmission shafts are free, as well as the transmission shift lever. Use just enough of the lubricant to create a thin film on the moving surfaces.

Should it be found that the music roll does not run evenly or shows signs of "limping," inspect the motor governor spring, and correct. If the take-up spool drive shaft rubs against the spool box wall, something which usually does not show up when a music roll is not attached, the transmission as a whole will have to be removed, the high spot on the spool box dressed clown with a rat-tail file, and the transmission replaced.

Before removing the transmission unit loosen up slightly the screws in the transmission frame and test with the roll running to see if this affords any relief. Sometimes shimming the top or the bottom of the transmission unit will overcome the trouble without removing the unit. This condition is caused by a swollen spool box frame or by a bent transmission drive shaft, and the shafts may be removed without taking out the frame. This is rather an awkward operation, but with a little patience it can be accomplished.

"Limping" of the motor may be caused by faulty adjustments of the motor slide valves, sticking slides, binding arms or a bent motor shaft. All of these are but ordinary player troubles, and are easily traced and corrected.

If the electric switch cuts off when the music roll is covering the tracker bar, either running or at rest, the most logical conclusion to draw is that atmosphere is entering some place where it should not. The question is to find at what point. The switch primary should first be tested at the primary valve itself. Disconnect the tube of the primary and close the primary nipple by placing a finger on it ; then open it. Repeat the operation to make sure that the trouble is not at the switch itself. If it is not there, test for leakage with a test tube and nipple connected with the tube that leads to the tracker bar in the upright model, or to the take-up spool in the grand type, at the same time making sure that the paper is snug over the tracker bar. The take-up spool plunger on the left side may not fit tightly in the take-up spool because of a scored ball race or plunger, which will admit outside air and cause the switch to operate.

Remove the take-up spool and inspect the brass plunger for rough edges. Also test the plunger spring to see if it is weak. Strengthen the spring if necessary, or if the plunger is badly scored replace it with a new one. If the ball race is scored and the ball bearing does not rotate, remove the ball race, grease it well, and replace. Be careful that no grease gets into the spool port channel, as it will prevent atmosphere entering the spool port after the music roll has finished re-rolling and the switch will not cut off.

The unit valve itself rarely gives any trouble, and about the only trouble found there, aside from extreme temperature conditions, will be an enlarged bleed or a clogged channel from the switch control port.

Before replacing the take-up spool in the grand type, place a small amount of grease on the take-up spool plunger. This will serve the double purpose of helping to seal the port and of lubricating the ball race in the spool. Should it be necessary to remove the take-up spool plunger, either to line up the spool or to replace with a new plunger, loosen the check nut that will be found on the brass housing. Also loosen the plate on the inside of the spool box. A small nut will be found attached to the plunger itself with a small set screw. Loosen this and shift the plunger to the right, or take it out entirely. Reverse the process when replacing the plunger.

In the upright model, inspect the spoon valve and see if the leather is solid on the spoon tip. If it is worn down or cut in, replace with new leather. The spoon valve seats itself by gravity, being so balanced that it is positive in action.

In the next installment the Artecho test roll will be discussed and comments made on testing.

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This page was last revised March 9, 2021 by John A. Tuttle, who Assumes No Liability
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