Suction Box Installation Instructions

Suction Box Installation Instructions

Model SS - 50 inches water vacuum
Model DS - 70 inches water vacuum

Choose location for the suction box itself - Many players have sufficient room to install the suction box to the right of the foot pump assembly. Trapwork, stack hoses, sustain pneumatics and other player components are often installed on or near the bottom board to the left of the foot pump assembly, usually making mounting to the left of the pump impractical (but not always….). Sometimes it is necessary to remove the right-most reservoir to make room for a suction box. Sometimes the reservoir is mounted with screws and gaskets, making that part easier…. sometimes it is not - making it more difficult but not impossible. Existing holes in the trunk can be sealed with bellows cloth, a piece of wood, and/or utilized as the installation point for the brass connector. Some folks choose a remote location like a basement beneath the player or an adjacent room like a garage. I’ve personally never done this but have heard of it being done. This will likely require a longer hose than is included with the kit (we do sell that hose by the linear foot) and lengthening of wires from the control unit/switch (if your kit is so equipped).

Choose location for the brass connector. Most often a good location is in the right reservoir (preferably the non-moving board) but on occasion it may be necessary to use the exhauster (again, preferably the non-moving board) or even the trunk. Rarely is it feasible to tee into the stack supply (but I have seen it done…). Some reservoirs have an “access panel” which, when removed, allows inspection of the interior of the bellows and servicing of springs and flap valves - this provides an opportunity to visually inspect the location of the springs and avoid drilling the mounting hole for the brass connector into a location already used by a spring or other hardware. Some installers choose to use the panel itself, or even make a new one and save the original (though I’m of the opinion it does not affect the value on the vast majority of these players to use the original). Personal choice. The 1/2” connector is for players needing an extra connector for a rewind pneumatic - it can be capped if not needed.

Drill a 1 1/4” hole (I find a Forstner bit to be more accurate, but the spade bits work too) in the selected location. Test fit the connector. If all fits and looks good, glue in the brass connector (if the straight connector in the kit doesn’t fit due to space considerations, 90 degree connectors are available). I glue the connector in with PVC-E glue (available in my eBay store) but Plumbers Goop from the local home improvement or hardware store works very well also. Wait until the glue hardens to connect the hose.

Power cord - Some of our kits include a power cord (and have a socket mounted in the body) and some do not. How you get the power cord from inside the piano to the outside is up to you - some installers drill a hole in the soundboard (sounds terrifying and destructive but it really doesn’t change the sound), some drill through the bottom board and some loop the cord over the top of the lower frame panel (sometimes called the “kick panel”). Whichever way you choose, be SURE not to install it in a location that would allow the caster to roll over it or any mechanisms inside the piano to contact it and potentially damage the cord.

If the kit includes a cord, choose the route out of the piano you prefer for the cord. Connect to the socket in the body of the suction box. DO NOT plug into the wall outlet until all other electrical connections (if any) are completed!

If providing your own cord, choose a cord at least 18awg with 3 wires - black, white and green (ground) for 120VAC or black, red and green for 240VAC. If it is a cord over 8’ long consider using 16awg wire - the wire needs to be rated for at least 7 amps at 120 VAC or 4 amps at 240VAC. If connecting a switch or a motor controller, it should be installed between the black wire from the power cord and the black wire from the top of the box. With few exceptions (actually none I can think of) the white wire (red if 240 volts) from the power cord should be connected to the white wire (red if 240 volts) from the top of the suction box and the green wire from the power cord should be connected to the green wire from the top of the suction box. Choose the route out of the piano you prefer for the cord. DO NOT plug into the wall outlet until all other electrical connections (if any) are completed!


If you purchased a kit with the dual (play/rewind) control unit and play/rewind switch - choose a convenient location to mount the control unit (usually under the keybed). Take care not to mount the unit so far back that it interferes with removal and installation of the lower frame panel. Attention needs to be paid to the route the wires will be required to take to connect to the suction box and the play/rewind switch. The play/rewind switch should be installed such that when the player is set to “play” the switch is in the rest position, and when the transmission lever is moved to “rewind” the switch makes a slightly audible click and is then in the rewind state. Choose a location to mount the switch with the aforementioned orientation in mind (often under the keybed, but on occasion with players such as the Baldwin Modello without a transmission lever in/under the keybed it may be easier to mount near the transmission), attach with the included screws, and tie the waxed thread to a lever that has sufficient movement to activate (and deactivate) the switch when the transmission is shifted from play to rewind and back.

Connect Wires - After the control unit and the play/rewind switch are installed, connect all wires (color to color) using the supplied wire nuts. There are only two wires of each color, so by connecting color to color, correct wiring is assured. Secure any loose wires and bundle excess wiring using supplied wire ties and cable clamps. Verify that no electrical wires are in contact with any moving levers, rods, etc. so that wire insulation does not become damaged.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS PLEASE CONTACT US! Best bet will be by email - Note that a photo or two can greatly help us see what is going on and make suggestions. When you purchase from us or any of our distributors you also get the tech support along with the vacuum motor, so please feel free to contact us.

Ragland Piano Company
314 Main Street, Texarkana, TX 75501
phone 903-791-1758
Facebook, Instagram & Twitter - raglandpiano