Repair Instructionals and Parts for Ragtime MIDI Machines

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Before you can trouble shoot a Ragtime O roll machine you must remove the front panel as shown below, but if you do not have a key you will need to buy one. There are two basic locks, the Money Lock and the General Lock. Most commercial cabinets came with two locks, keyed diffently and different colors to indicate that. The general key is for the employees to access the top of the guitar to tune it but it will not open the money box or the bottom where there is access to the money. This lock is always silver, but the key is brass. The general lock is brass, so is the key. Note the numbers in the photos below:

Money Lock

Money Key

General Lock

General Key

110volt 25 AMP relay operated by low voltage dc for Ragtime MIDI systems

These videos contain trouble shooting tips for Ragtime MIDI machines. There is a buy now button below each video. Please be sure that this is the part you need by following closely all instructions.

Before you can trouble shoot a Ragtime machine you must remove the front panel.:
Our pneumatics can be tested with 3 pieces of tracker bar (1/8") rubber tubing. Take a 15 foot piece and attach to the nipple. Attach vacuum to the supply nipple and then tape over the other side. With vacuum on, place the 15' rubber tube to the nipple at the back of the pneumatic. You will have to remove the little rubber cap. Do not lose it. Now place and remove your finger over the end of the tubing. The pneumatic should work quickly, maybe a little slow but it works. If it doesn't work, or is very slow, try it with a 10 foot piece and finally a 5 foot piece. If it doesn't work with a 5 foot piece of tubing, it is bad. 15 to 20 feet is the desirable amount. All pneumatics here can be tested in this manner except the no bleed pneumatics used in the Glockenspiel and the cymbal. They must be paired with a normal bleed pneuatic using a small T. Then test as the others are tested. Both pneumatics should work at the same time. Below are the various pneumatics you will need. All the no bleed pneumatics are piano pneumatics without a bleed. We also use piano pneumatics for some instruments. The only difference is the amount they open. The large skins open a little further for a longer stroke.

This is our Piano Pneumatic and with a spring added and no rubber bumper in the front is serves as a MIDI instrument pneumatic. A large skin version is available below if you want a 20% longer stroke, say for a bass drum.#A166

This is our No Bleed Glockenspiel and O roll Cymbal Pneumatic.#A167

This is our Large Skin Pneumatic, used for rewind and some instruments.#A166L

This is guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele, bailalaika, mandolin Fretter pneumatic.#166RF

This is guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele, bailalaika, mandolin Plucker pneumatic.#A166P

This is a piano stack of pneumatics. Our MIDI pianos all have 78. Our current O roll pianos come with 54 notes and a special tubing arrangement which sounds better than the previous 66 note stacks, costs less and stays in tune longer. If you have an older nickelodeon or Ragtime nickelodeon made before 1986 you will most likely need to upgrade to the new design and tubing arrangement. The older designs show signs of failing after 30 years, however the new design, since 1986, has not yet shown signs of failing. If you do not know the age of your conversion, there are some signs. Tan pneumatics, pneumatics with ridges across the back, purple skins, aluminum bodies or pianos with soldered together brass T's.are all between 1971 and 1986. Order either upgrade here.
Replace Stacks

Testing and Cleaning Ragtime MIDI valves


Step 1

Testing a Ragtime MIDI valve with a 9volt Battery. You may do this either with the wires connected or pulled out of their sockets. We do not use solder for this connection. Align the + terminal of the battery with the double pin connector on the MIDI valve and the - terminal with the single terminal as shown. Touch together both and listen for a faint click. This click is the magnet moving up and down as you touch and release. If you do this with the unit playing and the MIDI valve on the pneumatic with the vacuum connected you will be testing both the MIDI valve and the pneumatic together. The pneumatic will close when the terminals touch. If it doesn't respond as expected, try an ohm meter between the poles. It should have around 100-140 ohms. If the resistance is really high then the wire may be broken inside. You may then rewind it or order a new one.

Step 2

If the MIDI valve doesn't click or work with the 9volt battery as shown above, then remove the rubber cap and touch a metal pointed opject to the magnet inside the cylinder to pull it out, or tap it on the counter.
The magnet has two ends. One end serves as an air valve as it slides up and down the cylinder. This end has a plastic covering with a small hole in the center. When you reassemble it, make sure this end goes in first. You can see it in the photo. The other end is in the next photo. The magnets are neodemium. When we first began using them in our valves, they were used without plating or a plastic sleeve. Some applications in Asia, where the air was acid, rusted the magnets which caused the magnets to stick down as the rust migrated from one pole to the other. This rust is slightly magnetic and forms shard like pieces which can embed in the plastic valve seat. We found that plating the magnet helped resolve this issue. However, over time the magnetic field is so strong, it actually can lift the nickel plating and cause it to flake off as the small particals of pneodemium are pulled towards the other pole by the magnetic field. This is why it is inserted into a plastic sleeve, whick we make. This sleeve prevents the plating from lifting off. It has been 20 years and no further issues have been noted. Some of our early machines still have unprotected magnets and work fine. It seems to depend on the air quality. We try to build our products to withstand the harshest environments. We actually have some located outside in the desert of Nevada for years. They are coin operated and provide us with information on problems associated with heat and dryness. Some operate in the direct sun with temperatures that exceed 150 degrees F inside the cabinet.

Step 3

This end of the magnet is shiny because there is no plastic over the nickle plating. It is shown sitting on a piece of masking tape. Touching it to the sticky surface of the tape on both ends is how you must clean any iron dust which may have accumulated on the magnet. Iron dust is often present in the air around us, especially near highways as the brake rotors and drums are made of iron and wear a little each time the brakes are applied. You can often see the rusted powder on dirty rims. This procedure is actually rare, but when it is needed it is easy to clean them and they may never need to be cleaned again.

Step 4

Reassemble and test with the battery. Reassemble the instrument and test with a song. If nothing seems to get it working again then you may need to order a new one below.

MIDI valve for Ragtime pneumatics.

If you are converting a Ragtime roll operated machine to MIDI then all you need is the MIDI valve. It will plug into an existing hole in the top of each pneuatic. No T or elbow will be need either. However, if you are using this for an old player piano or band organ you may need a 5/32" elbow or T and a mounting bracket for each MIDI valve. They will ttach to any flat surface with brass screw or two sided tape. $3 each.

Mounting Bracket for M125 valves:

5/32" T with Cap to make elbow for M125 MIDI valves. $2 ea.

Sometimes the MIDI magnets have deteriorated with the magnet decomposing from it's own strength pulling molecules from the south pole to the north. We overcame this with Crome plating, then we encapsulated them in plastic to both form a soft seat for the valve and to help keep the plating intact. So far it has worked. If your magnets have deteriorated after 20 years of use you may need a few new ones. Please measure the inside of your valve chamber since the the new magnets are slightly larger than ones made 20 years ago. We had a redesign about 15 years ago. Replacement magnets for Ragtime MIDI valves with nickle plating and plastic jacket as shown. Be sure that you install them with the ring side down. You can easily see the difference. One end is flat and the other has a plastic ring which seals the valve.
Early Ragtime MIDI products made around 1990 to 1995 may not have magnet sleeves and may have a barrel a little too small to fit the sleeve. With these units you will have to purchase a new MIDI valve. The new magnet is .138" in diameter, with the sleeve. The old one was .125".
M125 parts

Unassembled MIDI valve, all parts and wire to assemble a working MIDI valve. Instructions included $17.50 each, quantity dicounts.
Quatity discounts

  • Click here for the M125 assembly instructions in PDF format with specifications.

  • Notice the new design of our magnet valve. The cone shaped tipped creates a near perfect seal when it closes and opens in less than half the time due to the shape. This improvement has revoltionized out automated guitars and banjos as now the pneumatics can keep up with the fastest licks! Unfortunately the iron core in the valve body must be moved correspondingly. The distance from the magnet (not the cone) to the iron core must remain the same. It is difficult to move, but it can be done. If you want to upgrade your system and move the core you can do it, wdo it here. The end result will be two fold. The pneumatic will open and close twice as fast as before and therefore use 1/2 or less the airflow. This leaves more vacuum to hold the strings down resulting in purer tones and riffs. Enjoy!
    Quantity Discounts

    MIDI programable any channel any note 128 MIDI notes processor. We run this with a 3amp 12vdc power supply. $450.

    32 outputs Driver board for our 128 note Processor. $37

    This is how they connect. There are two 12vdc leads to connect as well.
    MIDI M375 Pipe valve for Ragtime Calliopes and Birdcalls.
    $5 each. This is a pneumatic spring, most are black. It is especially made of virgin acetel. It last longer than steel without breaking for more repetitions. There is also a lighter version which is brown, but not common. If you need brown they are the same price. Although the plastic springs never break, they do fatigue easier than steel. Steel is better for high performance and for weight which will be pushing down on the spring with gravity indefinitely.
    Two strengths

    $12 each. Steel Spring replacement for all plastic Springs.

    Runs on 12-36 vdc or ac. This is a photo of a Ragtime Low Pressure motor. Note the pressure elbow on the side for 3/4 inch pipe. These are used in our table top calliopes and flutes. Accordions may run on pressure or vacuum depending on what instruments accompany it. If with pipes, the accordion will run on vacuum to balance the system.

    Runs on 120vac. This is a photo of a Ragtime quiet vacuum motor. Used in our Marimbas. Accordions may run on pressure or vacuum depending on what instruments accompany it. If with pipes, the accordion will run on vacuum to balance the system.

    This is a normal Ragtime Vacuum motor. If you have and older unit and need a replacement, it will probably be taller and painted black. For the last 20 years they have been white with black top and black bottom. They have mostly been round. Some ultra quite boxes were built for pianos with the room. They are square with this round motor inside for sound insulation. Ultra quiet motor not shown. This is the replacement for the one inside. If you want to upgrade, order the Ultra Quiet. Be sure you have plenty of room for it. There is a third option and that is the commercial model. It is a brushless motor with a liftime of 30 years. It is very expensive, but necessary for 24 hour continous use.
    This is a photo of a Ragtime Brushless Pressure/Vacuum motor. These are used in pianos with pipes, calliopes or some pianos with accordion if it is on pressure when they must run continuosly.

    This is a photo of a Ragtime Pressure motor. Note the pressure elbow on the side for 3/4 inch pipe. These are used in pianos with pipes, calliopes or some pianos with accordion if it is on pressure. Accordions may run on pressure or vacuum depending on what instruments accompany it. If with pipes, the accordion will run on vacuum to balance the system.
    Ragtime Replacement motors

    This is a set of 6 of out pluckers. They slide over the control arm. Snap in place. If your clutches (ratchets) are fine, you may replace the pluckers. Availble one at a time or as a set of 6.
    Pluckers Only

    If your pluckers are not broken but the ratchets don't grab quickly, they may be worn out. It is recommended that you replace them all at the same time.
    Complete Plucker Assembly

    This is an Ultra small PC running Windows 10. Notice the CD slot which shows just how small it is. This comes with a USB coin/dollar bill interface. Does not have a serial port so if your coin op or touch screen uses one they will have to be changed to USB versions.

    $1,795 PC with Bandplay only.
    $2,795 with 200 MIDI songs for your unit.
    $7,795 with all 20,000+ arrangements that are in stock now.
    Utlra small PC

    If you choose the complete set of all MIDI songs we have it includes all the MIDI files we have, up until the day your order. Around 20,000 versions. Some songs are arranged in several ways like: guitar solo, Piano Solo, Accordion solo, Accordion with pipes an piano, Steel Drum solo...etc.

    This is a replacement for all 15" monitors which are serial port operated. It is a 15" USB Touchscreen by Microtouch. It is an excellent, long life, professional monitor.

    This is a transforming laptop. Pull the screen off and it becomes a tablet. There is a USB port and power port on the tablet so it is complete. Comes preprogrammed with Windows 10 Bandplay and songs for your instrument. Ready to play. Runs a coinop or bill acceptor as well. Just make an adaptor panel that the monitor fits in and it fits in the original screen frame.

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    Last Update: June 1,2021
    Web Author: Ken Caulkins

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