A Question about a 1911 Autopiano

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_mrj_442
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A Question about a 1911 Autopiano

Post by _mrj_442 » 05 Aug 2015, 03:54

I haven't posted here in quite a few years. Just moved our antique player to it's "new" home, which has made me think of some questions to ask. I had originally posted here in 2006. Got busy with life, and have not had time or money to do anything with the piano. Now that it is home, I would like to get some information about it if possible. Here's a link to the original post, which tells how we got the piano (had to re-register with a slight name change because I was away so long).

It was quite a job getting it moved again. I'm now trying to find out if there is any information out there such as company records, etc., that might tell when it was first sold. I have no idea where the lady got the piano, and don't remember her name. It would be nice to have some idea of the history behind it.

I've thought of another question concerning this. I've read about players and reproducing pianos, but never realized the distinction until now. I was reading that a regular player (at least in years prior to when this was made) had rolls that were cut by hand, as compared to a reproducing player, which cuts the roll as the piano is played. I had previously thought that the rolls were cut for a regular player on the piano itself, but apparently some were cut by hand. Is this correct?

As for this piano, I'm not sure what kind of mechanism was in it originally. It has the door for the pedals, but could it have possibly been electric, also? Something I missed in the original reply was that the box that i had found could have been a contact for an electric motor, although it looks like a vacuum box. Is it possible that this could have had an electric motor at one time? Enough of the mechanisms are gone to prevent me from seeing any place to mount a motor.

Here's some pictures of the piano and the serial number:
20150726_085028.jpg
20150729_180841.jpg
I would appreciate any information on this. I have posted on other forums, with little to no response. I received a response here when I first posted, so it makes sense to ask again.

Thanks for your time,

Jim

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Colin Nicholson
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Re: A Question about a 1911 Autopiano

Post by Colin Nicholson » 06 Aug 2015, 12:00

Welcome back Jim!

There are quite a few references to this make of piano in the Reblitz "Player Piano Servicing & Rebuilding" book - and a 2-page write up with some images on pages 106 - 107. Mentions a bit about affiliated companies, history etc., and a diagram showing the lower panel's pumping pedals, air chambers, bellows and lots of parts numbered, but no reference to those numbers.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0911 ... 1_2&sr=8-2

Unfortunately, (frustrating as it may seem), you will never get any personal historic information about your own piano.... even serial numbers don't open a 'blue print' book to previous ownership, how many owners etc. The only way to receive info like this is to rely on previous owners giving you the info.... but usually well lost by now, as you have mentioned.

The photo of the piano doesn't really do you any favours.... we see a box-standard player piano frontage -- Millions of them looked like this. Some interest may be created here if we could see the workings inside by completely removing the front panel, and also lifting away the fallboard (lid that covers the keys). If the player unit/ stack/ spool bar/ bellows/ pumping pedals etc are missing, there is nothing to add here.

The serial number is right - 1911 (ish) .... but that just gives a date, no history.
Also look up Kohler and Campell who were involved with these pianos.

Sorry, don't anything about how the paper rolls were produced.

I doubt if there was an electric motor to drive the bellows - maybe later DIY models?; it contained a Autopiano pump, motor governor and pedal pneumatics (which were more deluxe than standard models), and restoring these parts presents the usual problems with millions of screws and gaskets.

Most are still able to be tuned and played like a normal piano, but many now gather dust and don't work because removing the stack each time to tune it causes damage to the stack gasket each time.

Hope that helps

Colin
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_mrj_442
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Re: A Question about a 1911 Autopiano

Post by _mrj_442 » 07 Aug 2015, 05:25

Thanks for your reply! I know it will be nearly impossible to find out where it came from, unless I run into the woman that we got the piano from. I do know it will take a lot of work. I'll have to find all the parts for it, possibly from a "donor" piano, kind of like a "donor' car you would use to restore a classic car. I'm not one to shy away from impossible projects. I've been working on an '87 Olds 442 for about 5 years. It was "left for dead" in front of a barn, it didn't run, and had electrical and brake problems. I redid the wiring and brakes, and rebuilt the engine. Now it runs and drives! I still have to do the body and paint, but it's a good feeling to get something going that someone else gave up on because it looked impossible.

Here's a link to the pictures. I've found some numbers inside, but i don't know that they mean anything. I do see where the mechanisms are supposed to connect to, such as the sustain pedal and the reroll mechanism. I also saw where it looked like the vertical stack was bolted to the inside of the piano.

http://s238.photobucket.com/user/_AH_Olds/library/Piano

Thanks,

Jim

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Silverwood Pianos
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Re: A Question about a 1911 Autopiano

Post by Silverwood Pianos » 07 Aug 2015, 14:32

There are 3 groups of Player Pianos; Regular, Expression and Reproducing.

The fastest way to determine which is look at the rolls boxes to see what type the instrument plays or check the fall board for decal writing.

Reproducing rolls were all marked with the unit they were cut on.

More here;

http://www.player-care.com/pp_faq.html#what

The 1911 Autopiano;

http://www.player-care.com/1911-autopiano.html
Dan Silverwood
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Re: A Question about a 1911 Autopiano

Post by Jonathan the 2nd » 01 Jun 2016, 20:45

The set of photos of the internals of a player piano made in Chicago shows a list of Patents. Surely you have a goldmine of detailed information just waiting to be discovered in those patents .Modern rubber tubes would be better than old natural rubber . A nice project for a winters evening changing all those .
I remember climbing through a bombed out church window after the war with my young pals .The plaster debris was scattered all round but I tried the long wooden lever to work the organ bellows and we had a short musical interlude in the dust .

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