Eldorado Barrel Piano Orchestrion

Some years ago we acquired a small and somewhat derelict piano orchestrion which, with the aid of Herbert Juttemann’s excellent book ‘Orchestrien aus dem Schwarzwald’ we have been researching.

The instrument has 24 piano notes plus another 8 reiterating notes, a two-beater snare drum and crash cymbal. It was originally weight-driven, though it did not come with one, and the long-term result of this method of drive was that the case was badly split, almost into two parts. Accordingly, we modified it to motor-drive instead……..

The felt piano hammers were completely worn through so we had them recovered. We also replaced the felt washers on the reiterating hammers. Fortunately the strings and pin block were in good shape so just tuning was needed in this area. The key frame has the scale marked on it, but we tuned it a tone flat of modern concert pitch. It does have an iron frame but we prefer to tune older instruments a bit flat to reduce the stress on the frame etc. The snare drum was devoid of skins but we had part of an old velum document, bought for the purpose, which made two good drum heads, along with some gut line to make up the snares………

Searching Herbert Juttemann’s book we discovered that the firm of Paul Bretschneider & Co marketed the Eldorado, though did not actually make it. “The Eldorado instrument is nothing more than the Stellina from the Stern company. The Breitschneider company changed the cabinet only slightly and promoted the orchestrion as a separate product“……….

From Issue 3(Winter 2015/16) of Mechanical Music World. To read this article in full become a member and receive a copy. Full details on ” Membership” page.