Music Box Repair
There are rules so fundamental that we all abide by them. Honor thy father and mother. Throw out the garbage before it rots. Never trust a politician or a used car salesman.
I am about to enunciate another rule of this ilk. This rule is so elegantly simple that once you understand it you will know all you ever need to know about antique music box repair.
Here it is: Never pay anyone to repair your music box.
Reason is the soul of the law, as the legal profession says. And here is the reason for the rule. The cost of repairs will always exceed the value of your antique music box.
Maybe you find a box that seems to be a bargain. It just needs a little work. Most sellers in the universe I inhabit have heard that antique music boxes are worth a hideous amount of money and are incapable of assessing condition, but maybe your seller lives in a different neighborhood and is willing to rake a little off the price. Allow me to repeat, the cost of repairs will exceed the value of the box.
I'm going to give you some rough guides for estimating the cost of repairs in a minute. But first I need to say a word about the professional repairmen.
There are only a handful of people who do music box repair for a living. They are all very good at what they do, and after they are done with your box it will truly sing more beautifully than Caruso. If your box is of great sentimental value, or is of such inestimable value that it is worth restoring, then you should strongly consider their services.
But none of these people want to do piecework. Let's say all you want to do is replace two broken teeth. The professional antique music box repairman will tell you that his policy is Complete Restorations Only. This means he will not only repair the teeth, but he will polish and retune the comb, regulate the dampers, polish and lacquer the cylinder, and so on.
Once in a while someone comes along who will do only the teeth, typically a retired person who has repaired music boxes for a hobby. Word spreads and he is soon swamped with work. He then remembers that he retired because he didn't want to work so much, and returns all the combs to their owners.
You can drop a rebuilt engine into your '57 Chevy, so where can you get parts for your antique music box?
Let me disabuse you of such a notion. Almost every part for an antique music box must be hand made. Okay, a few people have reproduced stuff like dishing wheels and even Regina dampers. But most parts will require the collaboration of a skilled machinist. You might find someone to cut a gear or two for a couple of hundred dollars, but I can't imagine how much it would cost to say, remake the dies for stamping out the dampers on a New Century. The cost of repairs will almost always exceed the value of the box.
Having delivered my little caveat on the cost of repairs I am now going to look at specific repairs. When possible, I am going to give you a dollar estimate of the cost of each repair. In some instances, these estimates are just a guess on my part, because I haven't sent a box out for repairs in years. I try to buy a box in good condition, or live with it in the condition as found. Since you understand now that no one wants to do piecework, then you understand that these estimates represent part of the cost of a larger repair, or the equivalent value of your time spent in performing the repair. In a small number of instances you may discover that I lied to you, and that the cost of repair is far less than the value of the box.
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I'm not sure if this will be of any help, but you might try checking your phone book for a jeweler. A jeweler works with intricate things all the time. If its the music box movement itself that is broken he might be able to fix it. If he can't, he'll surely know what route to take in having it restored. I also found this link for Meekins Music Box Company in New Jersey. Hope this helps, good luck.