Expand all | Collapse all

Help! Stuck pins due to feline corrosion

  • 1.  Help! Stuck pins due to feline corrosion

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-13-2021 20:29
      |   view attached
    Greetings all,
    I'm in a bit of a pickle. Likely just the tip of the pickle, as it were.
    I have a Yamaha G2 in the shop for a restring and cleanup. It looks like a pack of cats had inhabited it. The strings were extremely corroded, and there are bubbles of corrosion on the plate. I'm stuck on one of the first tasks: removing the tuning pins. However, they're not just stuck, they are STUCK. The tip on my tuning lever keeps coming off. My power drill with adapter tip can't handle it. As you can see in the photo below, the corrosion reaches a way into the holes (if you can't see it, trust me...).

    I'm wondering at this point if some kind of chemical is warranted: 3-in-one oil? WD-40? Mystery oil additive? Balsamic vinaigrette? If I were into homeopathy, I'd try even MORE cat pee. But I'm not, and anyway I heard the cat pee pipeline was attacked by hackers and they're all out.

    Any ideas about how to get these pins out? I even firmly attached a vise-grips to my drill adapter--pins will barely budge. I'm lucky I got the one out.

    Scott Cole, RPT
    Talent, OR

  • 2.  RE: Help! Stuck pins due to feline corrosion

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-13-2021 21:00
    Two suggestions:  Do you have a tuning pin socket that fits on a torque wrench, with the 3/8" square drive?  That will allow you to use a breaker bar, with a pipe on the end of it, if needed, for extra leverage.  Increased risk of pin breakage, of course.  Also, you could try hammering the pins in just a bit to break them free.

    I suppose you could also try pulling the plate before removing the pins.  If you're planning on replacing the pin block, that could be a quick path to freedom, if it worked.

    Or you could break the tops off all the pins first with the breaker bar and socket, and then try to pull the plate . . . .

    Floyd Gadd
    Regina SK

  • 3.  RE: Help! Stuck pins due to feline corrosion

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-13-2021 21:07

    Hi Scott


    What size motor is on your drill? I used a ¼ horse drill for most of my pin removals, but I recently bought a ½ horse, and it takes out pins with over 180 torque.


    The other suggestion is a large ratchet wrench with the tuning tip. Mine is about 12' long, which you can get at an automotive shop. And, ad Floyd suggested, you can put a longer pipe on it for more torque.


    Willem Blees, Bleespiano  808-349-2943


  • 4.  RE: Help! Stuck pins due to feline corrosion

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-13-2021 21:21
    A square socket will be better than a star for staying on the pin - if you can find one that fits whatever tool you have.

     Tap the pins down with a sledge and punch to break them free. (Support the block while doing so).

    Apply heat to the pins, then allow them to cool. A soldering iron would be too slow, perhaps a small soldering torch would work if used with discretion.

    It generally takes a fairly powerful 1/2 inch drill to remove tuning pins. An impact wrench is a good alternative. Air powered ones are cheapest, assuming you have compressed air available in the right pressure/quantity, but electric ones aren't that pricey.
    Fred Sturm
    "Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom." Leonardo

  • 5.  RE: Help! Stuck pins due to feline corrosion

    Posted 05-14-2021 08:09
    Hi Scott,
    Heat from a torch on the pin might free them up.

  • 6.  RE: Help! Stuck pins due to feline corrosion

    Posted 05-14-2021 13:07
    What size are the tuning pins ?  No to putting in 3 in 1 , WD 40 etc you will ruin the pinblock . If the block is to be replaced that will not matter too much. You can try using a small butane torch to heat the pin . Be careful using an impact wrench/drill and make sure the device is not cheaply made. Your local car mechanic may have some good ideas and you can rent tools from places like advance auto, home depot.

    If cats lived in it and used it as a pee piano there are probably lots of surprises yet to be found. I tell my clients to keep the lid down if they have cats when the piano is not in use. Sometimes a cat will jump up on the bench when I am working on a grand . Oh yeah keep your tool case closed if there are cats in the house

    PS the block probably is already toast

    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC