Pianotech

Subject: possible to repair this bridge?

1.  possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 27 days ago
Essex grand, model EGP161, with treble bridge splitting halfway down into the root (see attached pictures).

Piano is 12 years old, now out of warranty, and the owner is talking (begging) with Essex-Steinway about them covering the repair or replacement. I told her I would ask the list about the possibility of repair.

I don't do this kind of work normally, but other than bridge replacement, are there repair options? Only thing I can think of would be to detension strings, remove bridge pins, try to epoxy and clamp, then strengthen the area with some horizontal dowels. Clean up bridge, drill, notch, pin, and hope it holds. There's just not much room to work with any traditional clamps, although maybe I could possibly use something like these, or modify them to work in this application.

I mentioned just hoping the bridge won't split any further, and living with the top 5-6 notes never in tune. Not the best option, but the other options might not be that great either.

Thoughts?

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John Formsma, RPT
New Albany MS
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2.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 27 days ago
From the photos it looks like excessive side bearing is the core problem. If that is the case, then replacing the cap along with a proper layout is the fix. Probably not what the customer wants to hear tho.
-Chris
#caveman






3.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
John, your original plan sounds practical to me.  If you want to ease off on the side bearing, it would be simpler just to move the strings on the capo bar.  There are no dampers to contend with up, so you have some latitude.  You're only constrained by how far you can move the hammers over.
 I don't know if you have enough clearance, but to solve the constraints on clamping it may be possible to drill horizontally through the bridge and use temporary screws as a clamping mechanism.  These could be then removed after the repair and the holes doweled through.

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Cecil Snyder
Torrance CA
310-542-7108
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4.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
Moving the string under the capo will not get you any real correction in side bearing. The relative position of the front and back pins are where you adjust for maximum effect.

My question would be whether this will go the the shop or not. Doing it on-site where you have to travel for repeat visits would be a mistake, in my opinion. If it were in an institution where you were there anyway, maybe, but on site travel to customer...I'd think twice.

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Jim Ialeggio
grandpianosolutions.com
Shirley, MA
978 425-9026
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5.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
John,

Your repair approach is basically sound. If necessary, Nick Gravagne has taught a method of using a maple dowel to recreate the contact point of the notch. I don't know if he still has that video available or not.

For clamping, using a wooden handscrew and relieving the back of the jaw so that it will fit between the bridge and the plate often works to get sufficient clamping pressure and it's a lot easier to install and remove. I always place wax paper between my clamp jaws and the surface just to insure it doesn't get epoxied to the bridge.

I hope this helps.

AG


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Allan Gilreath, RPT
Registered Piano Technician & President
Allan Gilreath & Associates, Inc
Calhoun, GA
706-602-7667
allan@allangilreath.com - www.allangilreath.com
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6.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
Isn't *anyone* going to mention the grain direction of the existing bridge cap?
Whether or not excessive side-bearing exists, as Chris C. suggests, it appears to me that the factory goofed and this portion (at least) of the bridge was doomed from birth.
I could be wrong...

__Alan Crane, RPT
alan2crane@gmail.com
316-680-6435

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__Alan Crane, RPT
alan2crane@gmail.com
316-680-7435
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7.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
Remove the wires in that section and epoxy/clamp the bridge back together. Drill into the front pin line for 3/8" pin block plugs, spaced apart and then placed between. Once dry, level to the bridge surface and layout new pin positions and drill. Renotch the front bevel.

Index the string lengths off the rear row of pins before drilling out the front row.

I've done this on bridges at breaks and ends. You can do the rear row too for improved side bearing if needed.

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Regards,

Jon Page
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8.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
Excellent idea. Now that's putting your thinking cap on. Nice work Jon.

Pwg

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Peter Grey
Stratham NH
603-686-2395
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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9.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
Edited by Jon Page 26 days ago
You could use a plug with large enough diameter to span the unison pinning. Here's one at a split-out treble strut notch. A portion of the bridge is still missing but the plug takes all the load. No need for cosmetics on this one. It's on the speaking length on an awful little grand and my first
experiment with this procedure.




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Regards,

Jon Page
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10.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
You can 'repair' the damage but the rest of the pinning shows gaps. I'd say a new cap is in order. Probably not good overall either.

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Regards,

Jon Page
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11.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
Agreed that repositioning the string under the capo doesn't achieve any "real" change in the side bearing, but moving the string to left does, in effect, transfer some of the overall  stress from the front pin to the rear pin.  And the front pins, because they're directing the force toward the near end of the bridge, are the ones that are splitting loose.

I, too, like Jon's solution of the plugs.  Mostly because I can't conceive how one would recap without pulling the plate?  Which would most likely immediately price the repair out of feasibility.

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Cecil Snyder
Torrance CA
310-542-7108
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12.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
John, I'll side step the repair options, and strongly suggest you email the photos to Steinway/Essex's service department. I had a client whose Essex (within the warranty period) had severe pinblock failure and soundboard cracking and the local dealer quickly arranged for replacement of the instrument.
Best,
Patrick

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Patrick Draine
Billerica MA
978-663-9690
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13.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
<John, I'll side step the repair options,

Best idea yet. This is Steinway's problem, especially on these awful instruments. This will be a headache for a tech to deal with, and then there will still be so many shortcomings in the instrument itself, that by providing this service, even if compensated by S&S, you will now own Steinway's problems by trying to deal with this.

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Jim Ialeggio
grandpianosolutions.com
Shirley, MA
978 425-9026
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14.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
I agree with this!

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John Formsma, RPT
New Albany MS
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15.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
Edited by Peter Grey 26 days ago
EDIT: In the time it took me to write this it appears the question was already answered, but I'll leave it as written...

Ultimately agreement here on this issue. The failure may have become a failure "outside" of the warranty period, however it can reasonably be argued that the cause of the failure was poor workmanship which was evident well within the warranty period.

However, I have a question, which Steinway would probably also ask (and rightly so):

Has this piano been regularly serviced (according to normal protocol) from the time it entered the home, and/or has it been exposed to extremes of humidity without any effort to mitigate...furthermore, since these things don't happen overnight, why was it not brought to their attention earlier (within the warranty period) when remedial action could have been taken more easily, after which, if it still failed,  the process would have begun within the warranty and therefore still covered by the warranty though technically beyond the warranty period?

IOW, has the piano basically been neglected till now, and now we are screaming that it is defective?  OR...

Did it appear to be fine all this time (under constant care by a competent tech) and "all of a sudden this happened"?  And if, under this constant competent care, why the warning signs were never noticed and brought to the dealers attention? If so, why, or why not?

This is how a lawyer (or insurance company) will look at it. (I'm not a lawyer but I know how they look at these things).

You get my drift? Not playing devils advocate...just being real.

Pwg

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Peter Grey
Stratham NH
603-686-2395
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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16.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
Totally understand this from the view of a manufacturer.

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John Formsma, RPT
New Albany MS
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17.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 26 days ago
I really appreciate all the responses!! Jon Page's idea makes the most sense for this situation. I will pass on that information to the customer.

The owner talked with David at Steinway (whose last name escapes me at the moment) as I was tuning the piano, and I also was able to talk to him briefly to describe the problem. Steinway emailed her yesterday they would not warranty the piano.

Patrick, the owner emailed them the same pictures I attached. I wish they would make an exception in this case, because it does look like it was doomed from birth...although I do understand the limitations of the warranty. One sad thing is that we don't know exactly when this problem happened. This was the first time I had seen the piano, and they had not had it tuned for around 10 years. It's very likely this happened well before the warranty expired and could have been replaced/repaired within the warranty period.

With regard to the other responses, I would have to do this repair in-home as I don't have enough room in my rather small section of the garage. I will need to think long and hard about even offering to do this kind of repair. Mainly for the inconvenience of having to make numerous trips and work in-home, but also because of the doubt of a successful repair. If it were my own personal piano, the repair attempt would already be in progress. :)

Thanks again to all!

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John Formsma, RPT
New Albany MS
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18.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 25 days ago
Edited by Peter Grey 25 days ago
I would give it a try (If I were in your shoes). Simply warn them that there are no guarantees other than you will do your best for them (but also be paid well for it).

I have repaired several like it successfully. But I really like Jon's approach. Superb!

Pwg

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Peter Grey
Stratham NH
603-686-2395
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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19.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 25 days ago
John,
This same failure crossed my path on a Korean piano (K&C) sold by a Steinway dealer. Fortunately, the failure occurred within the warranty period and the piano was replaced. Since then, I've advised my customers who may contemplate purchasing a new piano to refrain from that brand name. As a community of piano technicians, we know these pianos are bad news. In or out of warranty, this is a black eye in the face of Steinway. Who, if any would recommend to our customer to purchase these brands?
Roger

Virus-free. www.avast.com





20.  RE: possible to repair this bridge?

Posted 25 days ago
The plug repair is permanent. it's the rest of the bridge I suspect is not far behind with the gaps around the pins. False beats hear we come...

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Regards,

Jon Page
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