The photos which follow show new hammers installed in the action and regulation in progress.
McGuire Piano Blog
I do love my job, especially when it’s clear that my objectives are met. My objectives? … enabling the joy of music for my customers.
This 1905 Heine upright came to my shop as a neglected and beat up piano, but with “good bones”. For this piano, we erased years of wear with cleaning, repairs, and reconditioning.
Today, when I saw the customer fighting the tears, expressing joy in the result, and telling family stories of the music and the piano … then I know my objectives were met.
Technically this is the work performed:
- New keytops installed (many ivories were damaged or missing)
- New key bushings installed (giving the pianist a feeling of firmness and security when playing)
- Cleaned, stained and polished sharps (preserving the authenticity and beauty of the original ebony)
- Installed new dampers (the originals were worn and hard, preventing them from performing their function)
- Reshaped shaped hammers (improving the tonal qualities of the piano)
- CA glue treatment of pinblock (restoring the torque the tuning pins need to do their job)
- Action repairs (just making everything work!)
- Regulation, tuning, and voicing (the icing on the cake. Now the touch is smooth and responsive. The voice of the piano has clarity and uniformity)
- Clean, polish, and touchup the case (the pictures tell the story)
- Refinish keybed rub-rail (lots of door jamb damage went away)
Is it everything I want in a piano? NO. Is it everything the customer needed? Clearly, YES.
After completing work on the bottom board and keyframe, I’m preparing the piano for restringing.
Preparation for Restringing
Additional work to be performed before restringing
- Soundboard cracks will be shimmed
- Separated ribs will be re-glued to the soundboard
- New tuning pin bushings will be installed.
An Adam Schaaf player piano recently arrived in my shop for a complete rebuild. I’ll be doing the piano work, and the player work will go to a player expert. I’m pleased that my client has recognized the need for good piano work to precede good player work. With good piano work, the player mechanism can perform at its best.
Work began with restoration of the keyframe, bottom board, and pedal trap work.
Bottom Board and Pedal Trapwork
When boring piano hammers, keeping chips away from the jig surface is a constant need. I was tired of clearing the debris with a hand-held air nozzle. $36 in parts from Amazon helped me to create a nice solution. The heart of the solution is a 12V DC solenoid that is controlled by a magnetic switch. The magnetic switch closes when the drill press quill descends. Like a lot of shop improvements, I didn’t get payback in the first use, but the drilling process is much more efficient when using this new fixture.
Here’s the parts list:
While installing pedals on a 90 year old upright piano, I had the opportunity to upgrade materials, and have a little fun at the lathe. The old pivot system employed a hardwood dowel bushing in a cast iron bracket. The system was likely a good one for the first 30 years, but with wear, it became floppy and noisy, and broken. I chose to fabricate new bushings to be used in the old brackets using UHMW (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene) rod. UHMW is ideal for this application, since it is self-lubricating. For someone who doesn’t do a lot of lathe work, it presented a bit of a creative challenge, and I’m pleased with the result. I’m sure it will be serviceable for many years, and earns a lifetime guarantee.
The soundboard was tapered (diaphramized in Steinway terminology). First contour lines were routed into the board, and then the board was sanded to the contour lines on the stroke sander.
Profile of countour lines tapers the board from 0.26″ to 0.33″
The video shows use of the stroke sander to achieve the taper by sanding to the contour lines.
Ribs were shaped to a radius of 60 feet, then glued to the soundboard using cauls and compressed air clamping pressure. The photo below shows the last rib in the cauls. Typically I clamped 3 or 4 at a time.
After the ribs were glued, a radius was planed onto the ribs. This is a craftsman touch. Few will ever crawl under the piano to inspect this detail.