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Re-Tubing the Trackerbar

by John A. Tuttle

What is a Trackerbar?

The trackerbar is the part of the Player Piano that 'touches' the paper roll. It is located between the Roll and the Take-up Spool in the Spool or Roll Box.

How is the trackerbar Re-Tubed?

Lots of Player Pianos have flexible tubing connected to the trackerbar, and as the tubing ages it loses it's flexibility and cracks. When this happens, notes play when they are not suppose to play (called cyphering). This type of cyphering can only be fixed by replacing the flexible tubing.

Removing and Replacing the flexible tubing is one of the more intimidating jobs facing many novice rebuilders. However, Trackerbars are all basically the same in that each nipple on the trackerbar is connected to a corresponding nipple on the stack.

The tubing follows a very neat order in that the first note hole on the left end on the trackerbar corresponds to the first note on the left end of the Stack.

Each piece of tubing is connected to a note valve at one end and the trackerbar at the other end. It is the re-tubing of the trackerbar that is addressed in this treatise. Once the upper half of the player mechanism has been removed from the piano, removing the trackerbar is usually very easy. Directly in back of the trackerbar (on the upper side) there are normally two pieces of wood. Locate the screws and remove the two pieces. In some cases, parts of the roll tracking mechanism will have to be disconnected and put to the side temporarily. In a few types of players, there is also a piece of wood on the underside of the trackerbar. If so, it should be removed.

Now the trackerbar is fully exposed and you can see the tubing. The majority (or all) of the tubing is in a tight mass that looks almost impossible to remove. To begin removing the tubing, take a very sharp knife and cut the entire mass right down the middle from one side to the other. (Do not attempt to cut each tube length-wise.) Next, counting from the right (or left), gently pull every other tube (and it's associated trackerbar nipple) upwards until it no longer touches the tube and nipple on either side. Be careful not to bend the nipple any further than necessary. In some cases, the tubing can now be removed from the trackerbar. However, do not try to pull it off. First, try to push it 'ON' a little further. This will break the natural seal between the brass nipple and the rubber tube. Now the tube can very easily be removed and discarded. If the tubing will not 'push on' any further, proceed as follows. Now take a sharp knife and score the tubing where it connects to the nipple in a lengthwise fashion right down to the brass nipple. Then take the blade and spread the tubing where it is scored. This will usually release the natural seal and the tubing will pull off easily. If the tubing is very hard and cracks instead of scoring, refer to the other treatise on re-tubing the trackerbar at: www.player-care.com/tracker.html

After all the upper row of tubing is gone, proceed as above on the lower row, but turn the mechanism up-side-down. When finished, remove the trackerbar and clean and polish it for installation later and turn your attention to the section of tubing connected to the lead tubing. Removing this tubing requires more a delicate touch since it is not as forgiving as brass. If the lead tubing continues to break no matter how you handle it, it should also be removed and replaced with neoprene tubing as per the treatise at: www.player-care.com/tracker.html.

Now the tracker is ready to have the new tubing installed. My best recommendation for installing the new tubing on a transposing trackerbar is to start at one end and place each tube on in it's natural order, i.e., 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., as opposed to tubing the lower half or upper half first. After all the tubes are back in place, crush the tubing into a nice even mass as it was before you started. This is best accomplished with your fingers. I simply squeeze the upper and lower rows together as tight as possible. I do not recommend the use of pliers or vise-grips to do this job because the nipples would be mashed down. You will be surprised how easily they will push back into place. Then reassemble the remainder of the pieces.

Removing Old Lead Tubing and Installing Brass Nipples

Re-tubing a Transposing Trackerbar: An Email Exchange with a Customer

Player Piano Reference Materials - Click Here

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This page was last revised July 1, 2017 by John A. Tuttle, who Assumes No Liability
For The Accuracy or Validity of the Statements and/or Opinions
Expressed within the Pages of the Player-Care Domain.
Cartoon Graphics by E7 Style Graphics (Eric Styles)

Since "Player-Care" is an internet business, I prefer that we correspond via E-Mail (click here to fill out the 'Request Form'). However, if I'm not in the middle of some other activity, you can reach me at 732-840-8787. But please understand that during the hours from 8AM-5PM EST (Mon-Sat), I'm generally quite busy. So, I probably won't answer the phone. If you get the answering machine, please leave a detailed message stating the reason for your call. Also, repeat your name and phone number clearly and distinctly. By necessity, I prioritize everything in my life. And, if you call and just leave your name and number, and ask me to call you back, it might be a day or two before I return your call. Why? Because I don't know why you want me to call and I might not be prepared to assist you in an effective and efficient manner. If you leave me an E-Mail address (which I prefer), spell it out phonetically. The more you do to help me, the more I can help you in return. Don't rush. You have four minutes to record your message.

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