How To

A Unique Interview on How to Repair Music Boxes and Other Mechanical Collectibles

Ballerina Music Boxes, inlaid music boxes, musical jewelry boxes, cylinder music boxes, and antique music boxes are delicate and beautiful. As most music box and antique collectors know, in order to preserve them, sometimes repair and restoration is needed. For this special work, it is important to choose a company that is reputable and an expert in this area. With a little research, these companies usually can be found no matter what part of the world you are in. One such company and expert is Mr. Jim Weir.

Jim does all kinds of antique musical box repairs and restoration. His work includes comb repairs, releading and tuning, dampering, cylinder repairing, and organ bridge work. Jim also offers all manner of musical box work on disc and cylinder music boxes.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Jim about his musical box repair and restoration business, which, by the way, is operated out of Scotland. Let’s discover more about Jim; his hopes, and get an in depth look as to what it is like to operate a music box repair and restoration business.

Jim started off with saying this about himself:

“What can I tell you about myself? Well, I’m 56 and have been working on musical boxes for the best part of 30 years. My wife and I live in Scotland with our two daughters; one’s at school and one’s at University. Depending on workload my wife and both daughters help with pinning cylinders; I guess it’s a family business really?”

1. Could you describe your online and offline business operations, your services and/or products in detail?

“I’ve used the Internet to find workshop supplies, including the machine I use for grinding and finishing repined music box cylinders. Other than that, my business is primarily offline. Most of it comes to me from people who already know me, although I’ve recently started advertising in the MBSI Journal. I hardly ever buy and sell musical boxes; I have a good workshop but not a retail shop or display counter. I have checked out potential purchases for customers, telling them what level of repair work they are likely to get into before they buy a specific musical box, and where a customer is looking for a particular type of box I’ve sometimes been able to find one, but other than that my main business is repair work, everything from full restoration to part jobs, particularly comb and cylinder work. I’ve got a very good team of pinners (the people who put the new pins into the cylinders for me to finish) and after advertising in the MBSI Journal, I’m beginning to pick up new individual work from customers in the USA as well as my regular trade work.”

2. What made you decide to start a business specializing in antique musical box repairs and restoration? What was your inspiration or motivation?

“I trained as a clock repairer. One day a customer brought in a 15.1/2″ Polyphon and asked me to `fix it’. That’s where it started.”

3. What have been your major challenges/obstacles over the years? How did you overcome them? ”

To reverse your question, I’m still trying to figure out how to overcome them. My worst problem, or `obstacle’ if you like has been myself. Some of the work I’ve done has been fairly intense; taking it on as if it were some kind of personal challenge has not perhaps been the wisest thing to do. I’m largely self-taught, and I’m not a good teacher, or a particularly good pupil come to that.”

4. What specific types of online or offline marketing tools are you using successfully?

“I’m not sure how successful it will be; it’s early days yet but I’ve just started to advertise in the MBSI Journal. I’ve picked up a couple of jobs that way. I don’t advertise anywhere else, and I don’t use any online marketing tools.”

5. Have you always envisioned yourselves doing what you are doing now? Has it always been a passion? What did you “want to be when you grew up?

“No I’ve not. When I was at school, I wanted to be a train driver. Musical box work has become a passion though; trying to get the best possible sound out of a musical box is part of what drives me.”

JIm will continue to give us an inside peek of the music box repair and restoration world in part 2 of this article series.

I’d like to personally thank Jim for taking the time to share with us this valuable information about his business as well as letting us get a sneak peak into the world of music box repairs and restoration. Jim Weir can be reached at combwork@aol.com or by telephone/fax at 01144-1575-572647.