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Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

  • 1.  Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Member
    Posted 20 days ago
    I don't usually mess with uprights to the degree I do with Grands. However, I have a really nice Schimmel upright which deserves the work, which I'm preparing for sale. Question is, mating, traveling and alignment are such a pain in the ass in an upright, that the quality of the work suffers to a degree that that resulting work does not represent a good enough improvement to justify doing the work at all.

    Is there any experience from a picky tech out there, on uprights, that can get around the shear inaccessibility of making fine adjustments to an upright hammer flange. I'm thinking, for this piano, which is worth it, I should pull the whips, to get that access.  I have tried working with the whips in place, and its just too cumbersome and inaccurate. Thoughts?

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    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
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  • 2.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 20 days ago
    Highly recommend the series of articles "taking the upright piano seriously" by Fred Sturm

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    Daniel DeBiasio
    Brooklyn, NY
    646.801.8863
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  • 3.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Member
    Posted 19 days ago
    I think traveling is essential in that it affects the rebound. You align the hammer to the line of travel. Obviously without the unacorda pedal, each hammer does not have to be exactly mated to the string plane but has an individual mating. This just gives you a bit more of a sweet spot because when you get there, it doesn't change. Spacing is done at the capo bar too. Again it doesn't matter which side of the hammer is favored. Centered is the best but you got a string width or two to play with. 





  • 4.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 19 days ago
    The biggest hassle is traveling because of access to the back of the flange and the time required getting the screw back into the rail.  I don't see a quick way to do that but I wouldn't remove the whips that's just extra work.   Spacing and mating can be done easily with the action in place and is actually easier than a grand because you don't have to be sliding the action in and out.  Mating is still critical on uprights and I check it routinely on appointments if I hear a problem there.

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    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
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  • 5.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Member
    Posted 19 days ago
    First and foremost how bad is the spacing and string to hammer felt alignment ? perhaps you only need to shim a few flanges and open up the spaces between strings of triple string unisons especially near the screws on the pressure bar if present. Some light hammer filing and some light sanding on damper felt might improve things but I would also check the pinning on the hammer flanges for adequate friction. Two things I would not do is take the whippens out because it is more work and may requires travelling/shimming etc. I think it would be easier overall to loosen the screws on the hammer flanges ever so lightly on those hammers not aligned or centered over the strings. maybe you will need to heat shanks a well. Its a good idea to remove the action and tighten up the whippen screws

    The 1980 February PTG Journal has plans to build an upright action regulation jig . It may be worth making one of these jigs for this project

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    James Kelly
    Pawleys Island SC
    843-325-4357
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  • 6.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 18 days ago
    Initially, I thought the same as you. Yes, it is somewhat difficult to remove and replace a hammer butt assembly in order to do travel, especially if you haven't done it that often. However, based on experience prepping at least 75 uprights to a high degree (as described in my articles, "Taking the Upright Piano Seriously"), I can say without hesitation that it is worth the trouble. Just bite the bullet and do it. Being it's a Schimmel, the process won't be that bad, as at least the spring will keep the flange at an angle so the screw can be retained in place during removal and replacement, with a bit of care.

    At a recent convention where I taught a class based on Taking the Upright Piano Seriously, I was in the room prepping for the class and a Beckstein technical rep popped in. He commented that they take uprights seriously in Germany. Seeing that I was checking travel, he said, "You won't find anything." He was right, I found two barely noticeable hammers that traveled just a wee bit.

    We are so used to American pianos, where even the most expensive never saw a bit of travel paper, and whose hammers have never seen a needle (let along had one inserted), that we assume it isn't worth the trouble. The reason American upright pianos (and most of the grands) stopped being prepped well in the factory was based entirely on cutting expenses. As a result, our expectations for uprights became very low, indeed. Which is why I went to all that trouble to write those articles. It doesn't have to be that way.

    ------------------------------
    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
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  • 7.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 18 days ago
    I see I left out an important detail in my anecdote about the Bechstein rep. The piano provided for my class was a German one - don't remember the make. Hence his ability to assure me I would find the traveling impeccable.

    ------------------------------
    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
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Member
    Posted 3 days ago
    I came up with a way to burn upright shanks and do the final alignment in a way that I really like...not messing with uprights to this degree usually.

    This is for a Renner upright frame...I don't know how it would work with other upright frames. The key is to remove the hammer rest rail, which on this frame is just 3 easy to remove screws. This gives ready access to the relevant parts.

    I wanted to use a square to read the hammer head's relationship to the string plane, but being an upright, the hammers you are not working on are in the way. I also wanted to use a heat gun to burn the shanks, with the same curved heat director I use with grand shanks, but said hammers were also in the way for this step. The trick was, with the hammer rest rail off, pull the jacks out from under the butts on the hammers you are not working on, and there is adequate room for a square against the strings.

    the low tenor hammers have their jacks pulled out from under the butts. A small aluminum shield hooks on the shank you are not burning to shield it from the heat.


    The square...the two holes make it easy to hold in place against the strings to gauge square. One holds the square indexed off the string plane, perpendicular to the angle of the hammer molding, and reads to the molding, which on uprights has not been tapered

    Then mess with the flange screw to align hammer laterally to the strings. Proof is in the pudding, spacing was excellent, and after filing hammers, its sounds real nice, without messing much with the hammers or string mating.


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    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
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  • 9.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 3 days ago
    Jim, admirable. I would like to add that there are smaller, more aimable heat guns, (about 600º I think). I worry about the unintended areas that hot air is blowing.



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    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
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  • 10.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Member
    Posted 2 days ago
    Do you have a link for this tool, Steve. Do they have the all important curved deflector that fits on the nozzle?

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    Jim Ialeggio
    grandpianosolutions.com
    Shirley, MA
    978 425-9026
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  • 11.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    When heating shanks in an upright with a heat gun, is the deflector attachment enough to protect from burning up hybrid piano parts behind the shanks? In Yamaha Disklaviers there are fiberoptic cables that will melt if heated. How do you protect against that, while using a heat gun to "burn" the shanks into alignment?

    Richard West







  • 12.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    Watch out!
    Best to take a class with a Yamaha service rep before getting very far into Yamaha player systems.
    Have your chapter put in a request to Yamaha.

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    Ed Sutton
    ed440@me.com
    (980) 254-7413
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  • 13.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    There are small butane torches that make just the right amount of heat for working in a vertical action. It doesn't need a cord and waits patiently in my tool box for rare needs. These torches are available in top hardware and woodworking stores.
    I had a very cute, ultra tiny butane torch for artist work in silk screen, not much larger than a pen. Not good; it made a very tiny, very hot point of heat, would burn a spot but not bring enough wood up to bending temp.

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    Ed Sutton
    ed440@me.com
    (980) 254-7413
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  • 14.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Member
    Posted 2 days ago
    Don't know Richard...I make a point of avoiding players of any vintage.

    However, the curved deflector that slips onto the nose of many heat guns, I think for heating shrink wrap, really does a decent job of deflecting the hot air so it circles the shank, and exits vertically, up or down, not back. One would have to experiment or, use the tools Ed suggests or Fred suggests in his articles. Me, flames give me the willies. I use cheap aluminum shields as I show above for all kinds of protection in this work and other work. They are available in any lumber yard as "step flashing", can be cut easily with a utility knife, and bend ultra-easily.

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



  • 15.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    I have a Portasol torch, that has a deflector. It works well, though I find I almost always use an alcohol lamp, for uprights as well as grands. Faster than an electric heat gun, simpler than the Portasol to operate. 

    That's what they used at the Sauter factory (alcohol lamp). When I saw them doing it, I was initially skeptical, but I found that if you have a smooth, reasonably fast motion, there is no issue with catching felt on fire or whatever I was worried about. Just keep the flame moving. (Do avoid checks with ecsaine instead of leather, as it will melt or catch fire pretty easily).
    Regards,
    Fred Sturm
    University of New Mexico
    fssturm@unm.edu
    http://fredsturm.net
    www.artoftuning.com
    "Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom." Leonardo








  • 16.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Member
    Posted 2 days ago
    It's called an embossing tool. 500 degrees and $20. $30 for the designer (fashion painted) ones at Micheals or the other chain hobby stores. You probably have to modify to attach the deflector but it's plastic. drill and screw or make a longer "handle" for the deflector and use some hair ties to hold it on the body of the embossing tool





  • 17.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    Jim, I'm not sure about attachments but the actual nozzle is made out of stainless and you could probably fashion something pretty easily with the aluminum flashing you mention. If you go on ebay and put in heat gun you will see what's available.
    As Keith mentions, "embossing tool", they use them in electronics for heat shrink tubing.

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    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
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  • 18.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    Jim, you piqued my curiosity, here are couple out of many solutions on Amazon.

    https://www.amazon.com/TACKLIFE-Handheld-Embossing-Wrapping-HGP35AC/dp/B07YVDT6TG/ref=sr_1_147_sspa

    https://www.amazon.com/ECG-J-900-Automatic-Ignition-Cordless/dp/B004GE89OA/ref=sr_1_237

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    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
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  • 19.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 2 days ago
    This kind of embossing tool is like the device I purchased which didn't work well.
    I suggest someone buy it and report on how well it works.
    Many years ago Bill Spurlock wrote about the small butane torch, which can be used for many purposes, such as heating and loosening hammer heads and easing damper guide rails by heating the wire briefly and lifting it to iron the bushing, as well as burning shanks.

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    Ed Sutton
    ed440@me.com
    (980) 254-7413
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  • 20.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted yesterday

    I prefer one of these. Both the blower and temperature are controllable, and the nozzles are quite small.  

    https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F264518759419



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    David Stocker, RPT
    PNWRVP
    Olympia WA
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  • 21.  RE: Picky Hammer/String alignment and mating on Uprights

    Member
    Posted 11 hours ago
    That heat gun is 220v. You can find the 110v one at the bottom of the page.
    Looks good for $40.
    Thanks

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    Keith Roberts
    owner
    Hathaway Pines CA
    209-770-4312
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