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Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

  • 1.  Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago
    I don't find regulating these actions too daunting, but we are looking at parts replacement here on this piano that is in it's 99th year.

    I'd like to replace with WN&G wippens, so there is a lot of variety for wippen heels. Of course, I'll have to build up the end of the key for correct capstan height.

    So, this is a preliminary question -- I have yet to take measurements for "magic line" and other geometry parameters:

    Is there anyone out there who has modernized this action to use conventional wippens? What wisdom can you offer here re:
        --possible key/keyframe modifications (no gliders under balance rail) -- better to get new keys and action stack?
        --possible changes in touch resistance/effort?
        --what am I looking at that I'm not seeing?

    Thanks!

    ------------------------------
    Keith Akins
    Akins Pianocraft
    Menominee MI
    715-775-0022
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Member
    Posted 15 days ago
    I redesign actions with WNG parts all the time.  I did a similar Bechstein B a couple of years ago, and elected to leave the action alone, and I'm very glad I did. It turns out, that well regulated this is amazing action to play. The owner calls it "Organic". Without the slop built into the heel/capstan interface, it is a very tight action and the repetition is really excellent. It is a pain in the ass to adjust the hammer line, no doubt, but it is also quite stable.

    So, though I hate when folks don't answer the question, as I am doing here, I just wanted to encourage you to look at what this action has to offer rather than the negative aspect that usually is advertised.

    I did not analyze the action from a redesign perspective, so I can't help there...I hope lightning doesn't strike me for not answering your question...

    ------------------------------
    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 15 days ago
    No lightning from here, Jim.  And, I think your response might legitimately fall under the third sub-question about what am I missing.
    I appreciate the insight and the reminder that mechanically, the sticker system is quite efficient (for playing if not for servicing).

    Beyond the technical issues narrowly considered, though, I'm also thinking about some of the "meta" issues -- like, "who's going to service the thing after I retire?"
    I know of some highly competent technicians -- never mind those with limited technical vision-- who simply won't be bothered with service hassles such as having to remove 10 screws PLUS pop 88 stickers rather than just remove 10 screws to split the stack from the keyframe. (And, of course as you mentioned, setting hammer line is a pain which many technicians might not even be familiar how to adjust the rockers.)

    The flip side of that coin is the expense for the customer to retain the existing setup.  Even though I'm willing to work on it, I'm still going to have to charge the customer more just to lube keypins or whatever else is done with the action stack split off the keyframe.

    Also, the piano sits about 50' from one of the Great Lakes, here in the Upper Midwest, so humidity is a factor that I had hoped to reduce as an action-related issue by using the WN&G components (all I use anymore). As an indicator of the situation that is likely to be the case for all action centers, performing the hammer shank "swing test" got about .35 of a swing. I don't understand why the action even worked, to tell the truth.

    Again, thanks for your response and I invite others to contribute.

    ------------------------------
    Keith Akins
    Akins Pianocraft
    Menominee MI
    715-775-0022
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Member
    Posted 14 days ago
    I wouldn't change-it-to-change-it. Unless there is something really wrong with the parts, you're better off regulating what's there. It will take longer to regulate, especially the hammer line but if you have the Bechstein Capstan Offset Screwdriver, it's almost easy.

    I think on the last one I regulated, I wished I had installed a shim under the rocker arm at the pivot to better set hammer height without bottoming-out the front of the rocker arm.

    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 13 days ago
    And where might one obtain this magic offset screwdriver? I'm feeling the need to buy a new tool...

    ------------------------------
    Keith Akins
    Akins Pianocraft
    Menominee MI
    715-775-0022
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 13 days ago
    Jurgen Goering.

    ------------------------------
    Patrick Draine
    Billerica MA
    978-663-9690
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Member
    Posted 12 days ago
    yeah...Jurgen's tool is a life saver

    ------------------------------
    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11 days ago
    You can also just attach an extension to the handle of a generic hardware store offset ratcheting screwdriver.

    Joe Wiencek
    NYC




  • 9.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Member
    Posted 11 days ago
    >You can also just attach an extension to the handle of a generic hardware store offset ratcheting screwdriver.
    Tried that. The Bechstein tool is faster.


    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10 days ago
    So...
    I'm getting solid info about the benefits of just keeping the action as-is -- which is a possibility that I am open to.  However...

    Are there any contrarian observations out there about actually installing new wippens -- or is keeping 'em the consensus?

    Thanks for those who have contributed so far.

    BTW ... these wippens do not have a wishbone spring but rather the Renner style with single spring attached to the back of the rep lever and going through a "tunnel" in the rep lever support to a thread on the back side of the jack. I was most familiar with this style in the 60s/70s (and maybe later) Baldwin SF-10 and SD-10.

    ------------------------------
    Keith Akins
    Akins Pianocraft
    Menominee MI
    715-775-0022
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Member
    Posted 10 days ago
    I really like the Schwander action. Adjustments are easily made from the back of the action. Butterfly springs are a pain to adjust but these are not. The rep height adj. is easier too. I prefer these reps but they are no longer made. I purchased the last two sets that Brooks had years ago.

    The only two draw backs to this action are separating/reinstalling the top action (stickers) and adjusting the rocker arms. Other than that, they work exceedingly well.

    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 9 days ago
    I guess the idea was (German of course) that if you do your stuff right you'll rarely ever need to separate the stack from the keys. 😉

    Pwg

    ------------------------------
    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Member
    Posted 9 days ago
    My take would be, that by tying the whips to the keys positively, not only do you take the slop out of the heel whippen interface, but you forces the key and stack system to remain in phase. Excellent repetition on these actions is bulletproof and easy to achieve, much easier than on an Erard/Herz action.

    I agree with Jon, on the Schwander action. The butterfly spring we fight with is such a lousy design. IN bringing a new whip to market, WNG missed the opportunity to improve or simply copy this aspect of the schwander action.

    ------------------------------
    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Member
    Posted 8 days ago
    I wonder if this might work: A steel capstan, anodized or coated with Teflon, and have a mild magnet above the heel cloth. But the magnet's attraction might cause more drag on the cloth. Just a stray thought to keep the rep and key together as a unit. I'll go adjust some back check heights now....

    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 8 days ago
    Sounds like a good project to come up with a capstan-like adjustment, somehow connected physically to the whippen, AND have relatively easy disconnect/reconnect capability...

    Pwg

    ------------------------------
    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    That's what Erard did. Reverse threaded square shanked screw.

    ------------------------------
    Fred Sturm
    University of New Mexico
    fssturm@unm.edu
    http://fredsturm.net
    http://www.artoftuning.com
    "We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same." - Carlos Casteneda
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 8 days ago
    <I agree with Jon, on the Schwander action. The butterfly spring we fight with is such a lousy design. IN bringing a new whip to market, WNG missed the opportunity to improve or simply copy this aspect of the schwander action.>

    Don't recall where I heard it -- somewhere I accepted as authoritative, at least at the time -- but supposedly there is a playing efficiency for the wishbone spring.  Machines can get faster repetition on it, or some such thing.

    Personally, I always preferred regulating the Schwander style action...
    And then, there is the Renner wishbone wippen with a PTFE screw adjustment...


    ------------------------------
    Keith Akins
    Akins Pianocraft
    Menominee MI
    715-775-0022
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 7 days ago
    SS says theirs is better and you simply have to know what you're doing to work with it properly, and if the other was better they would have used it. 😁

    Pwg

    ------------------------------
    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Member
    Posted 7 days ago
    A simple law of marketing says, facts are not required. Actually, facts and accurate information are not only not beneficial, but detrimental to sales. What matters is repeating your BS sales point over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over. You keep repeating it, until, even reasonable folks, can't tell the difference between your BS, which by sheer repetition has become a "known", and  actual verifiable information. It works great, if you are a sociopath.

    ------------------------------
    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 6 days ago
    Happens every day...

    Pwg

    ------------------------------
    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    603-686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    Note that Erard's action had the sticker, and it was removed by Herz in his simplification of Erard's design (in which he removed many of Erard's positive contributions to piano action feel and function). However, many of the imitators of Herz put the sticker back, including Steinway initially. Looking at grand action diagrams in late 19th century American piano service books (Quincy Norton 1887, Spillane 1893), stickers are are present. Interestingly the action is called "Swiss." Oliver Faust shows a capstan in his book of 1902, so American manufacturers probably started changing over around 1900, though European makers used them well into the 20th century.

    Along with the touch advantages of positive connection (linkage), another benefit is durability of regulation: no wipp cushion to compress. If you replace worn/compressed cushion felts or replace worn wippens with new ones of equal geometry, the capstans generally need to be screwed in two or more full turns, which means that they were adjusted that much over the life of the wipp cushion felt. How often was the piano in bad regulation (too little aftertouch) during that time?

    ------------------------------
    Fred Sturm
    University of New Mexico
    fssturm@unm.edu
    http://fredsturm.net
    http://www.artoftuning.com
    "We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same." - Carlos Casteneda
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: Bechstein model B (~6'6") mfg 1923 w/stickers and rockers instead of capstans and wippen heels

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    And, for a completely different era and different implementation of that concept, you have the Hickman action with an attachment to a circumferential groove in a modern capstan.

    ------------------------------
    Keith Akins
    Akins Pianocraft
    Menominee MI
    715-775-0022
    ------------------------------