Apollo Piano Tracker Bar Variations

Spoolbox for Apollo Player Piano #4074.

(Photograph courtesy of Jere DeBacker.)

Spoolbox for Apollo Player Piano #4074. Built in 1906, the piano spoolbox has a wood tracker bar with a single row of 88 duct holes spaced at 6 per inch, and is connected to a stack that plays 88 piano notes. And so the piano can play both 88 and 58-note Apollo music rolls. For 58-note rolls part of the 88-note stack is idled by blocking off the tracker bar holes beyond the range necessary for the limited 58-note scale. To make use of some of the unused stack notes one of two couplers can be switched on to expand the operable piano notes. By coupling in an octave of bass notes the number of playable notes was extended to 70 notes, and by additionally coupling in an octave of treble notes the operable notes increased to a total of 82 notes, thus enhancing the music rendered by 58-note music rolls. The spoolbox has two interchangeable take-up spools, so that both 88-note rolls and the narrower 58-note music rolls can be accommodated. The wider 88-note take-up spool is shown installed in the spoolbox, while the take-up spool for the narrower 58-note rolls is laying loose below and in front of the spoolbox.

Downward view of the spoolbox for Apollo Player Piano #4074.

(Photograph courtesy of Jere DeBacker.)

Downward view of the spoolbox for Apollo Player Piano #4074. This angled view of the above pictured spoolbox better shows the various controls and their celluloid labels. At far left is a control switch labeled "Off—70," which when used with 58-note rolls couples in an additional octave of bass piano notes, extending the total playing notes to 70. At center is the tempo scale with various predefined tempo settings, and by moving the tempo indicator to the far right the spoolbox is put into rewind mode. There is a line of text along the bottom right side of the tempo label (not easily visible in this photograph) that reads: "The Whitehead & Hoag Co., Newark, N. J. Pat June 6, 1903." Directly in front of the tempo indicator is a switch labeled "88—58," which is used to block off any tracker bar connections not necessary when playing the narrow 58-note music rolls. The control switch at far right is labeled "82—Off" that, for 58-note rolls, couples in an additional treble octave of notes, which, if the bass coupler is also switched on, expands the overall number of playing notes to 82.

The treble sliding coupler valve for Apollo Player Piano #4074.

(Photograph courtesy of Jere DeBacker.)

The treble sliding coupler valve for Apollo Player Piano #4074. This photograph shows the top right side of the stack, with the dark metal contour of the spoolbox spring-motor partially visible at far left. At front center is the sliding coupler valve block with 12 rubber tubes going upward to the tracker bar. This sliding wood valve is the treble octave coupler, and is mechanically connected through linkages and the lever arrangement at its right, to the "82—Off" control switch inside the spoolbox. When in the "Off" position all 12 ports on the coupler block are closed off and therefore have no effect. By sliding the coupler block to the "On" position the 12 ports are simultaneously connected to channels drilled into the top of the valve chest that then connect the tracker bar tubing to the appropriate treble range valves, thereby coupling in a higher octave of treble piano notes. The metal rod with a flattened end that is screwed to the top left end of the sliding coupler valve is rather short, it extending perhaps halfway underneath the spring-motor, where it terminates with another flattened area that is slotted and that fits over a metal pin. The horizontal travel permitted by the slot length limits how far the sliding valve can be moved. There is a similar looking sliding coupler valve connected to the "Off—70" switch, but located on the other or bass side of the stack. Both sliding coupler valves are mechanically independent of each other.

The partially obscured transposing slider valve (directly behind the front treble coupler) is used to disable treble piano note positions on the tracker bar that are not needed for the narrow 58-note music rolls. The "88—58" control switch inside the spoolbox is connected by linkages to the similar transposing sliding valve on the bass end of the stack, which is, in turn, connected to the treble side transposing valve by a long metal rod that is mostly hidden behind the spoolbox. The bass and treble sliding coupler valves essentially re-purpose some of the blocked off tracker bar positions when playing 58-note rolls by coupling in an octave of the unused bass and/or treble piano notes.

Partial spoolbox with tracker bar from Apollo Player Piano #8685.

(Photograph courtesy of Jere DeBacker.)

Partial spoolbox with tracker bar from Apollo Player Piano #8685. This piano was built in 1909, and featured a wood tracker bar with two rows of duct holes. The upper row has 88 duct holes spaced at 6 per inch, and the lower row has 88 duct holes spaced a 9 per inch. This tracker bar could accommodate 88-note Apollo Grand, 65-note rolls, and 58-note rolls on the upper row of holes, and play standard 88-note, 9 per inch, player piano rolls on the lower row. This tracker bar is now mounted in Apollo piano number 13980, which originally had a Solo Apollo spoolbox with a brass tracker bar and 132 duct holes spaced at 9 per inch. Apollo piano number 8685 was parted-out due to a cracked plate.

Spoolbox for Solo Apollo Piano #11311.

(Photograph courtesy of Jere DeBacker.)

Spoolbox for Solo Apollo Piano #11311. Built in 1911, this Solo Apollo had a wood tracker bar with a single row of 128 duct holes spaced at 9 per inch. It was foot pumped only, and played both Solo Apollo rolls or the standard 88-note player piano rolls. The take-up spool is adjustable in width, so as to accommodate both the wide Solo Apollo rolls or the narrower standard player piano rolls.

Spoolbox in Solo Apollo Piano #14101.

(Photograph courtesy of Jere DeBacker.)

Spoolbox in Solo Apollo Piano #14101. Built in 1913, this Solo Apollo piano featured a brass Bar with 132 duct holes spaced at 9 per inch. Foot pumped only, the piano played both the 15-1/4" wide Solo Apollo rolls or the standard 11-1/4" wide 88-note player piano rolls. The take-up spool is adjustable in width, so as to play both the wide Solo Apollo rolls or the narrower standard player piano rolls.

Spoolbox in Solo Art Apollo Piano #18023.

(Photograph courtesy of Jere DeBacker.)

Spoolbox in Solo Art Apollo Piano #18023. Built in 1916, this Solo Art Apollo piano featured a brass tracker bar with 134 duct holes spaced at 9 per inch. The last hole on either end of the tracker bar is elongated (for a chain type perforation). The Solo Art Apollo system is electric motor pumped when playing Solo Art rolls, and can be foot pump when playing regular 88-note player piano rolls.

Spoolbox in Solo Art Apollo Piano #18312.

(Photograph courtesy of Jere DeBacker.)

Spoolbox in Solo Art Apollo Piano #18312. The Art Apollo Piano was built in 1916, with a brass tracker bar with 96 duct holes. It was electrically pumped for Art Apollo rolls, and foot pumped for regular 88-note player piano rolls. Hole #2 on the bass end is elongated for the damper pedal chain perforation, and holes 93 and 94 on the treble end are similarly elongated for the bass and treble soft rail pneumatics.

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