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Baldwin vertical issue

  • 1.  Baldwin vertical issue

    Posted 02-26-2018 12:01
    I recently tuned a Baldwin vertical from about 1980, and had some issues with jacks s-c-r-a-p-i-n-g their way back under the hammer butts. While most neglected pianos I come across have too much lost motion (this piano had never been tuned, at least since the 90s, and required a 100+pitch raise), this one had too little, and giving back a tiny bit of lost motion made things better. But not as good as I wanted. Even with too much lost motion, some jacks still scraped their way reluctantly back with audible complaint. I've heard I could try strengthening the jack springs and weakening the hammer springs, but I don't thing the owner wants to invest any more in making the piano better than it is.

    My question is: why would the jack still rub if there is obvious lost motion? It seems like a contradiction. Is there some kind of design flaw these pianos are known for? Is ti possible the jacks are simply too long? I must be missing something obvious.

    One thing that made me suspicious about the quality was the tuning pins. Many many had only two coils, and many had very loose coils. Nothing to do with the jacks, but still a possible indication of overall quality control in that era...

    Scott Cole, Registered Piano Technician
    Serving Southern Oregon and Northern California

  • 2.  RE: Baldwin vertical issue

    Posted 02-26-2018 12:46
    The problem with the jacks is the Corfam. There's lots of info in the archives.


    Jon Page

  • 3.  RE: Baldwin vertical issue

    Posted 02-26-2018 13:27
    Thanks. It did cross my mind due to the noise. But did Corfam also produce excess friction to the point of causing regulation issues?

    Scott Cole
    Talent OR

  • 4.  RE: Baldwin vertical issue

    Posted 02-26-2018 13:34
    Yes, the Corfam can become unglued at the top of the butt and hang down and get caught behind the jack. Because it gets hard, the catcher is a problem. Years of Corfam use, 1974-1984.


    Jon Page

  • 5.  RE: Baldwin vertical issue

    Posted 02-26-2018 13:36
    I agree. Scott, check out the texture of the artificial "buckskin" and I think you'll find it is the texture of petrified wood.

    It wasn't Baldwin's fault. Suede was a huge fashion statement at the time they changed to "Corfam", so they got priced out of the natural leather market. The corfam worked okay until Dupont changed the formula without informing Baldwin. Once it all started to turn to rock, it was already in so many pianos that we see it over and over again to this day.

    Go with ecsaine to replace it, put on with CA glue. A dab of white glue along with it helps the bond (see my article in 1997 -- October? to see how this works.) Opinion varies over whether it's easier to take off all the hammers to get to the butt leather, which will then need respacing, or whether it is easier to remove all the dampers so the hammers will rotate for access without removal. I think I lean toward leaving the hammers on the rail. The dampers are easier to put back on, and you avoid having to file and possibly travel the hammers.

    You can assure the owners that though the ecsaine is also artificial, it is good stuff, and will last and do just fine.


    Susan Kline
    Philomath, Oregon

  • 6.  RE: Baldwin vertical issue

    Posted 02-26-2018 14:49
    If you regulate the checking correctly, more than likely the jacks will do their own correctly. I don’t know, just try it!

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 7.  RE: Baldwin vertical issue

    Posted 02-26-2018 15:39
    Yes, ecsaine is now the "standard" in the industry...However, I have to say that I have had WAY more problems with faulty checking (particularly with verticals) since this material has become ubiquitous. This includes new pianos and new action parts. Although I understand the reasoning behind it, I still cannot say that I like it.

    Anyone else had this issue?


    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH