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Steinway Model K hammers and dampers on same flange.

  • 1.  Steinway Model K hammers and dampers on same flange.

    Posted 08-17-2013 11:11


    Hello list,

    Im about to disassemble the action of a 1920s Steinway Model K.   Ive already taken the levers off, and notice that the Hammers and dampers are connected to the same flange.  Ive not come across this before and the butt springs are on the damper slap rail which complicates matters. What is the best procedure for disassembly and reassembly. 

    Thanks

    Lee

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    Lee Innocent
    Piano Tuner / Technician
    Cardiff

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  • 2.  RE: Steinway Model K hammers and dampers on same flange.

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 08-18-2013 01:57
    Hi, Lee, I've written a little essay, your answer is hidden within! Steinway verticals designed in the 19th and early 20th centuries mostly used an action design which we in north America sometimes call a double flange action, referring to ...one horizontal flange doubling as the hammer and damper flanges. (It would more accurately be called a "double-ended flange."). The hammer return spring is also a frequently used idea in America, mounted on a separate rail as you noted. Some American verticals from this era used what we often call a Schwander butt, with the return spring mounted on the butt, but these parts were mostly imported. Many verticals built in America from 1880 to 1900 used the double-flange design, though without the rosette cut for the tubular metallic rail used on Steinways. The best approach with these actions is to pretend you've never seen a Schwander style, or European style action. For many of us in the US, that was the case in our early years of service. Were we lucky?? To your question, you have probably already fought with hammer assembly removal with the hammer rest rail in place. It is possible, but removing the rest rail makes hammer assembly removal easy. Be gentle with the intruding return springs. Rest rail removal is easy, as Steinway has a hanger bracket with two screws turned the other way for your removal convenience. Some Steinways may require loosening any obstructing flanges next to hangers. Some early Steinways with double flanges had butt plates like Schwander butts to retain the center pin for both hammer butt and damper lever, but the unforgiving American climate necessitated the elimination of the screw down plate on the center pin in favor of a traditional birds-eye for the hammer butt. Plates loosened, centerpins walked, centerpins slots wore, and the parts were useless. However, the system required that the dampers retained the "butt" plate. This is important because all service on the hammer assembly requires removal of the damper lever assembly, as you discovered. Just back the screw out enough for the butt to clear the centerpins in the flange, taking care not to tip the level sideways and ruin the centerpin slot. Of course, while carefully protecting the slot you will damage the damper on top.....so keep an eye on the damper assembly, especially in the sections which use a felt block to attach the wooden damper plate to the damper block. (Bass and middle sections). This is even more difficult in the tenor, especially where overdampers exist. Fortunately your K doesn't have a sostenuto, correct? Steinway verticals sometimes inserted a lever assembly intertwined with the hammer butts, making service even trickier. Removal is required for ease of access. If the damper levers are all intact (they easily break at the birdseye from overtightening the plate screw), the centerpin slots healthy, and parts intact, you can sometimes get by just renewing the buckskin, heel cushions and jack springs. This approach permits retaining the original parts, desired in conservation. If the parts are not usable, Tokiwa makes an accurately machined replacement part. If you are considering complete parts replacement, the modern style damper with a dowel block instead of a square block would be a more practical retrofit, eliminating having to square up the new heads (and reducing the knocking of your own head against the wall). Just respect the overall thickness of the replacement damper assembly or you will For history, and to be responsible to the client, photodocument the original parts. Many in the US don't like the Steinway vertical action built through 1930, but these actions played incredibly well and deserve respect, even if they also deserve appelations not repeatable here. Regards, Bill Bill Shull, RPT, M.Mus. Shull Piano Inc Bdshull@AOL.com , Sent from my HTC Inspire™ 4G on AT&T ----- Reply message ----- From: "Lee Innocent" To: "William Shull" Subject: [PTG Pianotech]: Steinway Model K hammers and dampers on same flange. Date: Sat, Aug 17, 2013 8:11 am Hello list, Im about to disassemble the action of a 1920s Steinway Model K. Ive already taken the levers off, and notice that the Hammers and dampers are connected to the same flange. Ive not come across this before and the butt springs are on the damper slap rail which complicates matters. What is the best procedure for disassembly and reassembly. Thanks Lee ------------------------------------------- Lee Innocent Piano Tuner / Technician Cardiff -------------------------------------------


  • 3.  RE:Steinway Model K hammers and dampers on same flange.

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 08-19-2013 16:37
    Thank you for that overview, Bill. When you said, "these actions played incredibly well and deserve respect, even if they also deserve appelations not repeatable here," one can't but agree, especially with the latter part of the sentence.

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    Mario Igrec
    http://www.pianosinsideout.com
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    Original Message:
    Sent: 08-18-2013 01:52
    From: William Shull
    Subject: Steinway Model K hammers and dampers on same flange.

    Hi, Lee,

    I've written a little essay, your answer is hidden within!

    Steinway verticals designed in the 19th and early 20th centuries mostly used an action design which we in north America sometimes call a double flange action, referring to ...one horizontal flange doubling as the hammer and damper flanges. (It would more accurately be called a "double-ended flange.").

    The hammer return spring is also a frequently used idea in America, mounted on a separate rail as you noted.

    Some American verticals from this era used what we often call a Schwander butt, with the return spring mounted on the butt, but these parts were mostly imported. Many verticals built in America from 1880 to 1900 used the double-flange design, though without the rosette cut for the tubular metallic rail used on Steinways.

    The best approach with these actions is to pretend you've never seen a Schwander style, or European style action. For many of us in the US, that was the case in our early years of service. Were we lucky??

    To your question, you have probably already fought with hammer assembly removal with the hammer rest rail in place. It is possible, but removing the rest rail makes hammer assembly removal easy. Be gentle with the intruding return springs. Rest rail removal is easy, as Steinway has a hanger bracket with two screws turned the other way for your removal convenience. Some Steinways may require loosening any obstructing flanges next to hangers.

    Some early Steinways with double flanges had butt plates like Schwander butts to retain the center pin for both hammer butt and damper lever, but the unforgiving American climate necessitated the elimination of the screw down plate on the center pin in favor of a traditional birds-eye for the hammer butt. Plates loosened, centerpins walked, centerpins slots wore, and the parts were useless. However, the system required that the dampers retained the "butt" plate. This is important because all service on the hammer assembly requires removal of the damper lever assembly, as you discovered. Just back the screw out enough for the butt to clear the centerpins in the flange, taking care not to tip the level sideways and ruin the centerpin slot. Of course, while carefully protecting the slot you will damage the damper on top.....so keep an eye on the damper assembly, especially in the sections which use a felt block to attach the wooden damper plate to the damper block. (Bass and middle sections). This is even more difficult in the tenor, especially where overdampers exist.

    Fortunately your K doesn't have a sostenuto, correct? Steinway verticals sometimes inserted a lever assembly intertwined with the hammer butts, making service even trickier. Removal is required for ease of access.

    If the damper levers are all intact (they easily break at the birdseye from overtightening the plate screw), the centerpin slots healthy, and parts intact, you can sometimes get by just renewing the buckskin, heel cushions and jack springs. This approach permits retaining the original parts, desired in conservation.

    If the parts are not usable, Tokiwa makes an accurately machined replacement part. If you are considering complete parts replacement, the modern style damper with a dowel block instead of a square block would be a more practical retrofit, eliminating having to square up the new heads (and reducing the knocking of your own head against the wall). Just respect the overall thickness of the replacement damper assembly or you will

    For history, and to be responsible to the client, photodocument the original parts.

    Many in the US don't like the Steinway vertical action built through 1930, but these actions played incredibly well and deserve respect, even if they also deserve appelations not repeatable here.

    Regards,

    Bill

    Bill Shull, RPT, M.Mus.
    Shull Piano Inc
    Bdshull@AOL.com




  • 4.  RE:Steinway Model K hammers and dampers on same flange.

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 08-19-2013 23:11
    There are some challenges to working on this action. One of the hardest to get the mind around is spacing hammers and travel. If you loosen the screw and twist the flange a bit as you would on a "normal" piano in order to space the hammer to the string, what you are doing is changing the travel (while simultaneously affecting the spacing). If you place "travel" paper under one side of the flange, thereby tilting it, you are not affecting the travel, but you are affecting the spacing. Once you get this through your brain, it becomes a little easier to work on, but there is still the challenge of the fact that whatever you did to the flange for spacing and travel will cause you to do something else to the damper wire. And the challenge that if you come upon one with fairly loose flange screws, tightening them can have unexpected consequences. And if you are setting up new parts, you can't really put the dampers in first and align them and regulate them with the hammers out of the way, then install butts and hammers. 

    So while it functions fine when well prepped, it is a challenge to get it well prepped, and you have to adapt your methods to fit the design. I guess one of the things that leaves the truly bad taste in the mouth is the fact that many of the after market replacement parts that were available in the mid to late 20th century were pretty poor quality, and were not precisely made, with catchers of different lengths and whatnot. And then the problems were exacerbated by installing hammers of the incorrect bore distance. In any case, that has been my main experience with these otherwise lovely instruments: trying to figure out how to make a piano of the mess some "rebuilder" made. A little cussing has entered into it, as Mario says.

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    Fred Sturm
    University of New Mexico
    fssturm@unm.edu
    http://fredsturm.net
    "When I smell a flower, I don't think about how it was cultivated. I like to listen to music the same way." -Federico Mompou
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