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Valves and the Various
Units of the Player Action

PART II - 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.

(Continued from January 1928)

The Wind Motor

The wind motor is the prime mover of the transmission, and rotates in one direction only, irrespective of the position of the transmission control lever, that is, whether it is on "play" or "re-roll." Under no circumstances should oil or grease be used on the motor. All bearing and connecting links should work freely, and there should be no lost motion in the felt or leather bushings; otherwise, the moving parts are apt to be noisy.

The slide valves should operate smoothly and silently. Should the faces of the valves or the face of the motor show wear, remove the valves and note the type of the connecting wires on the slides. In order that the valves may not be thrown out of their correct travel when replaced use a perfectly smooth sandpaper block that is absolutely square on its face, and with No. 2/0 sandpaper dress down the valve face of the motor until it is perfectly smooth. Repeat this operation on the slide valves. Finish off with No. 6/0 sandpaper, dusting well, and work Dixon's dry powdered graphite on the face of the motor and the slide valves until the entire surfaces are well covered. Then reassemble the valves in their proper rotation.

Slide valves that are warped or twisted should be replaced with new ones. Should the face of the motor or the faces of the slide valves be gummed up they should be cleaned off with the best grade of benzine and regraphited.

On wind motors that have been in use for a few years several "birdies" may be found chirping, or the motor may be asthmatic. Should such a condition exist look at the rubber cloth on the motor pneumatics. It is pretty certain that small holes will be found in the cloth, which allow outside air to enter the pneumatics. To correct this condition disconnect the arms from the pneumatics so that they may be extended fully, and proceed as follows: cut from pouch leather as many patches about the size of a five-cent piece as may be required. Clean the cloth thoroughly, and trace around the edge of each leather patch about one-eighth of an inch with cold fish glue. Place a patch squarely over the center of each hole in the pneumatic, which should be extended to its fullest, and which will afford a fairly firm surface to work on. Do not smear glue all over a patch, as it will cause undue strain on the motor. Use the same method as when putting on a new valve pouch. Such repairs will prolong the life of the motor and are very effective, but should the rubber cloth be stiff or hard the safest plan is to recover with new cloth.

Test the motor for tightness by turning it over by hand in the direction of its normal travel. If the resistance in each pneumatic is equal the motor should be tight. In testing, close the supply nipple with the hand or with a piece of air-tight leather. The chain from the motor sprocket to the driving sprocket on the transmission should have just a little "lag," or slack, so that when the motor is running on re-roll at high speed the chain will not jump either sprocket. On most types of wind motors there is an idle wheel and spring to compensate for slackness in the chain.

The Transmission

It has truly been said that "cleanliness is next to godliness." How much more smoothly would the player action perform its task, and how much more musical satisfaction would be derived from the efforts of the performer, if all parts of the action were clean. That is the ideal condition we strive for, but alas! how hard it is to achieve, and largely through a lack of foresight on the part of the owner.

In order that the transmission may function properly it is necessary that all moving parts be clean and operate smoothly, and that all congealed grease and dirt be removed. See that the felt on the lower and upper brakes is clean, and that the top brake wheel is free from scum. With the transmission in the play position, inspect the top brake spring and see if it has the proper resistance. Do the same with the lower brake spring when the transmission is in the re-roll position. Then clean off the upper left-hand carrier shaft, and put a drop of oil on it. Test the springs and the bottom take-up spool for side play, and adjust them, but take care not to throw the spool out of alignment. Then with a good grade of grease, grease the transmission and chains, but not the top brake. Do not overdo the greasing, as its object is more to silence the operation of the transmission than to lubricate. A small bottle of benzine is a very valuable asset to the tool kit, and can be used to great advantage.

The Shifting Device

Of shifting devices for centering the music roll there are two types in general use, the mechanical and the pneumatic. The manufacturers who use the mechanical or frictional type cover the adjustments in their service manuals. It is extremely important to read these instructions carefully before attempting to make any adjustments, as extreme care must be used in adjusting the "U" hook.

The pneumatic type of shifting device is operated on the balanced air principle, and is normally under exhaust, or reduced air pressure, and so long as neither tracker port is opened in the tracker ear control type the pneumatics will remain centered, but the moment either of the tracker ear ports is opened outside air will enter the exposed port and upset the balance of either pneumatic, and cause the shifter to move the music roll either to the right or to the left. In the balanced valve type the same procedure is followed, and with the same results, but in the balanced valve type, which is controlled from the tracker bar ports, it is essential that all dust be kept removed from the tubes, bleeds and all channels leading to the valve box, as the shifting device will not operate if these are obstructed. When the transmission is in the re-roll position this type of shifting device is usually centered by means of either a lock pouch or an auxiliary pneumatic, so as to prevent a weaving motion of the music roll on re-roll, with consequent damage to the edge of the paper, especially on a speedy re-roll, and also to prevent the shifting pneumatic from operating on re-roll, should one or other of the tracker ears, or tracker bar ports, be exposed to outside air. The care and adjustment of the pneumatic type of shifting device is fully covered in the manuals of the manufacturers, and should be studied carefully.

Both types of shifting device are extremely simple in operation and are very sensitive in action.

The Tempo Governor and Rewind Control

The tempo governor gives but little, if any, trouble except under extremely adverse temperature conditions, when a slide valve may become warped or gummed up from some foreign substance on its face. Should a slide valve become warped the wind motor will creep, even though the tempo indicator be at 0. It is a good plan to inspect the tempo slide valve, and remedy any defect noted. If the valve is covered with leather the leather should be removed and the wood surface of the valve sanded down squarely and smoothly before replacing the leather. Clean off the valve face in the tempo guide slot, and at the same time clean with fine sandpaper the guide wire which passes through the felt bushing into the tempo box.

Where there is a metal plate in the tempo box sometimes the plate becomes gummed up. Clean it off with benzine. Also inspect the small spring on the slide valve, and graphite the board covering of the tempo box. Inspect the leather nuts on the guide wire to see if they are intact, and replace if needed. See that the tempo lever moves freely and does not bind in its guides. On some types of actions where the knife valve is separate from the tempo box it is wise to inspect the knife valve for leaks. A slight leak through the knife valve will affect the efficient operation of the player. Both the face of the knife valve and the face of the valve port should be perfect in their fit; if there is any leak it will readily be detected by a black smudge along the side of the knife valve port. Sanding the faces of the valve and the port may remedy this, but if very bad the faces should be planed down to gauge and thoroughly graphited with dry graphite.

The motor governor spring should be tested while the transmission is in play position, and strengthened or weakened as the case may require. Look also at the pneumatic stop screw, when the tempo is at 0. The motor should just creep at 10. Adjustment is made on the tempo guide wire which runs into the tempo box. Should the motor slow down under heavy pumping adjust the spring tension, and if this does not give relief, as a last resort only adjust the stop screw on the governor pneumatic. Slowing down of the motor indicates to weak a spring, and speeding up indicates too much tension on the spring.

On re-roll the top action should be cut off, so that no notes will speak. Should notes speak, look at the action cut-off valve; it may be warped or off its seat, or not cover the re-roll port, in which case it will be necessary to open the re-roll and action cut-off and seek the trouble. There may be a small bit of dirt on the valve seat, or the valve may be warped, or the leather nuts may be stripped. In the type of action cut-off valve which has a large pouch it may be that the pouch has shrunk. If this is so, proceed the same as with an ordinary valve pouch.

In squaring off a warped re-roll or an action cut-off valve care should be taken that a perfectly square surface is made, and this should be tested by a "T" square. Also see that the connecting joints are free, but that they do not have too much motion. It is always a wise plan to keep friction down to the minimum with any moving parts, as friction causes undue waste and unnecessary exertion on the part of the performer.

When a pneumatic action has a very speedy re-roll there is danger of damage to the side of the music roll from riding the flanges of the roll. There is also danger of the paper buckling on re-roll, and in the case of some electrically driven players this causes the electric to cut off, which is very annoying to the owner. It is a simple matter to remedy this objectionable feature. Open up the re-roll valve box, and restrict the re-roll valve opening. By using a piece of heavy felt the opening may be reduced one-quarter to one-half the original size, as the case may require. For good results the re-roll should not be faster than 130 or 140. One or two trials will show which is the most practical restriction, one-third or one-half. It is not a good policy to strengthen the take-up spool brake to overcome a speedy re-roll, particularly on the foot-impelled player. This causes increased friction, and heavy pumping is the result.

(The incompetent tuner cuts prices because he recognizes the fact that he lacks ability. Can you afford, Mr. Association Tuner, so to stigmatize yourself? - The Author)

End Part II


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