There is no need to fit the Paper Tension Rollers

by Melvyn Wright

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Do Not Fit the Paper Tension Rollers - They are not needed and can cause problems.
The beauty of an organ operated by a vacuum underneath the music roll, or by pressure from above the music roll, is that it doesn't need any contrivance to hold the paper down onto the tracker bar.  The air pressure does all the work.  In fact, many paper roll organs (and pianos) are deliberately designed at extra cost to take advantage of this feature. They either use a separate vacuum supply to read the music, or they have the roll mounted in a pressure box.  Now, the John Smith design already uses a pressure box because of the way it works, so it seems bizarre that it should also need to be fitted with rollers to hold the paper down onto the tracker bar!

So I removed these rollers and (as expected) found them to be completely unnecessary.  I found that the air pressure is more than enough to keep the paper pressed down onto the tracker bar, and the organ plays perfectly without them, and there are no leaks.  I don't really understand why these rollers are mentioned in the plans at all.

The paper on the supply side of the tracker bar is always below the level of the tracker bar anyway, so it doesn't need a roller to hold it down.  The paper on the take-up side does rise almost to the level of the tracker bar at the end of a long roll, but I found it was not enough to cause any leaks.

These rollers are unsightly, noisy, spoil the view of the music through the window, and could cause tracking problems and damage to paper music if they are not aligned accurately.  They also increase the paper friction considerably, which can lead to slippage and stalling of the music.

So my advice would be to leave these rollers out until the organ is finished, and then decide whether they are needed or not.  If you find that they are needed, it is far preferable, and easier, to raise the level of the tracker bar instead of installing these ugly, and cumbersome rollers.  This can easily be done by adding a spacer block underneath it to raise it up a few mm.  Although I found that  even this was not necessary.  I just removed the rollers and carried on playing!

I would be interested in hearing if anybody has removed (or not fitted) these rollers, and found them to be necessary.

"Hi Melvyn, When out recently on a very cold day with my John Smith Universal, the music kept sticking, I took out the 2 tension bars from the pressure box, and from then on I had no problems. I will probably leave them out now after seeing your advice on your website - DC"

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