An extensive restoration of the 27-inch Style 5 music box
By Bob Caletti and Jonathan Hoyt
This article describes the restoration of a 27-inch Regina upright single play music box.
The music box had a lot of damage, was missing parts, and rats had gotten inside and eaten away the wood in some places. The music box was stored in a damp environment and consequently we would have to deal with corroded metal parts and loose wood joints during this restoration process.
When we received the box and did our initial review of what it needed, the list was long and extensive. The decorative gallery piece that normally adorns the top of this style music box was completely missing and the front glass was also gone.
Both columns on the sides of the front of the box were chipped and worn and the case had numerous scratches and dings. The sound board was missing along with the coin mechanism.
We were really going to have to dig in on this one.
Unfortunately, the rats preferred the carved locations on this piece, so our first order of business was to find a new piece of mahogany with the same grain pattern and direction. Once the pieces were cut to the correct sizes, they were glued into place and carved to match.
As the case was not structurally sound when it was received, it was disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled with a number of damaged wood pieces rebuilt and the casework squared. It looked like the case may have been impacted by flooding at one point due to the wood movement and debris in the base of the cabinet.
The restoration included teeth replacement as well as complete disassembly of the gantry, lapping, polishing and replacement of damaged star wheels.
In order to accurately make the missing parts we contacted everyone we could from the directory that was listed as having a 27-inch Regina Orchestral music box. Unfortunately for us, almost all of these machines had similar missing parts. We were finally able to find an original one close by. We arranged to take pictures of and get measurements from this complete example. The gallery was one of the major parts that was missing along with the coin box, coin mechanism, sound board panel, top cabinet panel, door lift spring and housing, hold down bar release lever, spring arbor, and governor parts. All of these would need to be reproduced.
The fabrication of the gallery was first. We made drawings and had an outside contractor make spindles and finials using a CNC lathe. The rest of the parts were fabricated in house. We started with a prototype and then worked our way to final pieces.
The missing mechanisms were accurately reproduced from original Regina line drawings that were converted to measured drawings, mocked up and finally fabricated. This enabled the mechanism to be accurate both in look and function.
It was wonderful to be able to complete an extensive restoration and bring back this instrument to full mechanical and aesthetic function.