Sunday, July 29, 2007

I Never Learn or.....

How NOT to make money.

When first starting in the piano business, I had quite a bit of free time on my hands. It not only takes a while to build up a clientele, it also is an investment in time to learn the business. Since at the beginning I had plenty of time, I was quite willing to take on piano projects that otherwise would be money refinishing and "fixing" old uprights for resale. The experience was great educationally speaking but all that labor for a $400 to $800 return, well, my hourly rate was in the negative! (I realize that that is truly not possible. However they don't make coins in THAT small an amount!)

So, as I learned and as my business grew, refurbishing old uprights became out of the question. Unless, of course, they belong to a customer who contracts the work.

I moved on to more interesting and not quite so poorly paying cool stuff.

Player pianos and reed organs.

Yes, I started out by buying, restoring, and selling. I feel it is always best to do that major learning curve on your own instrument, not a customer's. I LOVE rebuilding players, nickelodeons, reproducers, and reed organs. I did quickly find out that they are not for speculating. Once again, limited market and low hourly rate make it necessary to work only for a customer rather than hoping for a retail market.

So why did I agree to take on this Moline Chapel Organ?

Foolishness, nostalgia, added to free, delivered, established history, ornate, sucker, just couldn't say no.

All I had was a small picture to go by so I really didn't know what I was agreeing to accept. At worst it would be parted out, or maybe an attractive desk could be fashioned from the case parts. Now that I've seen it and have it here, it will be restored. After all the other projects I have going on! Once restored I will do some free advertising and see if I can get an extraordinary amount for it. If not, I haven't a clue as to what I will do with it. I haven't the space to keep it.

In the meantime....what to do with it until I have the time to do something with it! I decided that it would have to be "gutted" just as I would if doing a restoration for a client. The parts would have to be carried down the stairs to the workshop. Then the main portion of the empty case would have to be carefully carted down the bulkhead stairs and everything reassembled to await that time in the future when the work would be done.

The big problem arose when I had no one able to help carry the case. There are some things that I am not patient about. Waiting for help is one of those somethings. There just had to be a way to do this on my own. Here is my solution. Don't worry. It worked. All the easily removable case parts were taken off and carried down first, then all the "guts". Here you see the main portion of the case taken apart into two side halves, the keyslip, and the bottom struts. All is well and put back together down in the workshop. When the day comes to finish the project and advertise the organ for sale, I'll have to repeat the disassembly to get it back upstairs! It should be faster the second time!

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