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Help with Baldwin SF Beam issue

  • 1.  Help with Baldwin SF Beam issue

    Posted 01-19-2019 19:31
    A client of mine has a Baldwin SF serial no 361492 which makes it just about 20 years old.  His old Dampp-Chaser system gave up the ghost just before Christmas.  I ordered a new one and installed it.  I was expecting to just swap the two systems out, but he'd already removed the old unit.  Just before I finished up he pointed out that the short beam connecting the treble side main beam to the rim around "where the fat lady sings" had shifted upwards somewhere between 1/16" and 1/8".  The beam in question has a nose bolt in it. He takes care of the Dampp-Chaser system so I've only been under the piano a few times to work on the pedals and once to install an undercover.  Neither he nor I remember seeing the damage before.
    He is the original owner and the piano has been in the same spot all of its life except for a few months the summer of 2017 when it got moved about 20' for some home remodeling and put back.  The only other major work done (other than routine maintenance) is that 3 years ago I installed brass sheeting in all the individual termination system parts of the upper treble as described in the PTG Journal article from Sept 2015 titled "Taming Baldwin Termination Pieces" by Sheffey Gregory, RPT.  No other damage or anything out of the ordinary were noted by either of us as we got out the flashlights and headlamps and took a really good look at the underbelly and structural components.  Just a visual inspection was done, no measurements such as down bearing were taken.  One side note, is that the soundboard ribs are very close to the beams...there was barely enough room to slide the rods for the dampp-chaser system in between and in some places there wasn't enough space at all.
    The piano is tuned on a quarterly basis and sometimes even more frequently.  The owner's house is of the passive solar design which means that the temperature fluctuates dramatically: 15 or more degrees on a daily basis during the colder months. Supplemental heat is provided by a wood burning stove in the same room as the piano.  The owner does his utmost best to regulate the humidity, but can't do as much about the temperature fluctuations.
    For the most part the piano does the same thing every quarter: +3 cents or so from about 3 notes below the tenor break through about B#4.  Then it's pretty much on until one note below and two notes above the treble break (always flat) and the top and bass sections are really stable.  The last two tunings, the piano has been much worst (+6-8 cents off and really affecting the bass section), but I attributed those to extreme weather conditions-the fall tuning happened in the middle of a really, really wet spell and the tuning a few weeks ago the piano hadn't had a working dampp-chaser in 2.5 weeks. 

    His questions are:
    1. Are the beams doweled or dovetailed or somehow connected together other than just a butt glue joint?
    2. Should we be overly concerned?
    3. Is there concern for additional failure?
    4. Is this a common issue?
    5.  What are some additional signs that we should be watching for?
    6, Other than visual inspections, are there any actions that we should take?
    7. Repair options?

    Barbara Stephens
    Mayhill NM

  • 2.  RE: Help with Baldwin SF Beam issue

    Posted 01-19-2019 22:02
    I don’t have the answers to all your questions but believe 2 yes;3 yes, 4 no; and 5 look for separation of the rim.
    Rarely seen a piano fair well with a wood stove but I live in the South. Others much smarter than me may completely disagree with my assessment.

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 3.  RE: Help with Baldwin SF Beam issue

    Posted 01-20-2019 08:09
    I assume the piano still sounds good or you would have said.

    Cindy Strehlow
    Urbana, IL

  • 4.  RE: Help with Baldwin SF Beam issue

    Posted 01-20-2019 18:22

    If there are no clear tonal issues I would tend to leave it alone, but check every 6 months or so to see if it is progressing. If so, then revisit the situation. If not...worry not.


    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH