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For information about rebuilding the Simplex pneumatic blocks, by Bruce Newman, watch his YouTube video at: Rebuilding Simplex Player Piano Unit Pneumatics
Here's an email that arrived on February 4, 2004, and my response.
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2004 18:07:51 EST
I have recently purchased a Granby piano, made in England, with a Simplex B8 action. I'm new to this, but always wanted one. The pump bellows work ok, and the wind motor turns ok when pumped. I've removed the player action to clean and visually check for damage. It all looks in reasonable order. No rips or visible damage to the pneumatic stack, lead pipes, etc. I connected a vacuum source to each inlet tube; one tube each side of action. And with the exception of 4 or 5, all the pneumatics are slow and sluggish. Is it possible to buy replacements? Or do I have to recondition myself? (A task I do not fancy. I'm all thumbs.) All pipes need replacing, and its my intention to buy an electric pump from you, along with any other parts, and the pipe work. If you supply, please try to help me get this pianola giving enjoyment again. I've got the piano technician coming next week to check over and tune the piano side of things. You have a great web site. Best regards, (name withheld)
There are no direct replacement parts available. What I would suggest as a starting point is that you get a copy of the Simplex Service Manual. That way you'll understand how the system operates, and troubleshooting it will be a lot easier. The manual is available for purchase on-line at:
Information about testing the various components of the system can be accessed from the web page at:
One of the common problems with the Simplex mechanism is the Transposing Trackerbar. Hidden between the lead tubing (leading up to the trackerbar) and the brass trackerbar are 88 pieces of 3" tubing. In many cases, that tubing has small cracks which allow air to seep into the system and activate numerous notes simultaneously. When that happens, the foot pumps can't generate enough vacuum to overcome all of the loses, and nothing seems to work. To examine the tubing, take a bright light and look 'underneath' the trackerbar (the area just above the take-up spool). Then move the transposing lever right and left to see if any of the tubes are cracked. If the are, that's a big part of the reason why the unit won't play.
Another relatively common problem with the system involves the two control boxes that are mounted underneath the keybed. Quite often, I have found that the glue joints in the boxes are fractured. This allows vast amounts of air to leak into the system. Hear again, examining them with a bright light should reveal if there is a problem. And even if there aren't any visible cracks, I would still remove the boxes, close off one end, and suck on the other to see if they are air-tight. If they aren't, then there's a problem.
One other fairly common problem involves the screws that hold the valve/pneumatic blocks to the wind truck (in the upper half of the mechanism). To check those screws for tightness, you must first remove the valve cover. Just below the spoolbox there is a long rectangular piece (about 4 ft. x 7 in.) that has screws going all the way around the perimeter of the piece. First, remove all of those screws and then remove the piece. Behind it, you will see about 176 other screws in sets of two. Those screws hold the valve/pneumatic blocks to the wind truck. The screws should all be very snug - Not 'Gorilla' Tight!! Once they are all snugged up, replace the cover and test the unit again.
As for the Electrification Kit, it is available for $365.00 plus $35.00 S/H. It comes with detailed installation instructions. You can order it online at:
The tubing is also available for purchase on-line at:
If you'll measure the diameter of the air fittings on the exhauster assemble and the air motor, and send them to me, I'll gather everything (mentioned in this email) together and send it to you all at once. That will save you a fair amount in shipping costs. I accept Visa, M/C and Discover.
I hope you find this information helpful. Considering the depth of the information, I will use it to make another web page at Player-Care. The page will be located at:
John A. Tuttle
Now Playing: "I've Got A Secret", by John A. Tuttle.
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