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Rebuilders forum

  • 1.  Rebuilders forum

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 02-24-2021 20:01
    A client « accidentally » acquired a 7’2 » (early C?) Steinway from 1871. It has original board, likely original block. Keyset was converted to capstan screw (from rocker.). Metallic tubular action frame (Jim I’s favorite, heh heh!) Performance extremely poor. Magic line is not crossed during keystroke. I’m wondering if there’s a rebuilders network, specifically for old designs, and for those who may be interested in the challenge of resurrecting or redesigning some of the original features?

    Perhaps it has some design elements worthy of study- early soundboard/ribs, rim and plate design (plate does not contain tuning pin fields, it stops at the flange.) There’s a laminated bass cutoff that is additionally supported by bolts threaded into a sort of cast iron sub-plate that is supported by the belly rail. “Modern” legs and lyre.

    So my question is- any leads on how to get info to any potentially interested parties? Pics can be acquired.

    Thanks in advance.

    Joe Wiencek
    NYC


  • 2.  RE: Rebuilders forum

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 02-24-2021 20:40
    Hi Joe, your NYC chapter president is trying to secure my presence on zoom to teach my early Steinway restoration class, which covers this piano.  I am also teaching it "at" Orlando.  Happy to talk if you'd like to reach out.

    Regards,

    Bill

    Bill Shull, RPT, M.Mus.
    www.shullpiano.com
    www.periodpiano.org
    909 796-4226

    Sent from my iPhone





  • 3.  RE: Rebuilders forum

    Member
    Posted 02-25-2021 08:23
    A fair amount of my work involves vintage instruments and vintage actions. The aesthetic tastes of these critters resonates with my own aesthetics.

    I approach these from a number of different ways depending on the client's desires, re historic restoration, vs redesigns. The redesigns start from the premise that the aesthetic, ie what they were trying to achieve with the various systems, needs to be respected. If a redesign happens, its goal is to create a working action, using modern parts, but which is clearly chasing the original idea of the action, not trying to make into a modern factory offering. I do this often on vintage Chickerings. Not because, the action design of those instruments was challenged, quite the contrary, the design was exceptional. However they go to the dump because techs and clients are afraid of the parts availability problem, and just don't understand the Brown action or non-standard Erard/Herz settups. So sometimes, I redesign, respecting the excellence of the original design, and chase that original aesthetic.

    On straight historic restorations, the older I get, the more I respect the original fabric. However, it can be expensive to manufacture parts, if the wood is toast, missing, etc. So, its a process of determining if high function is required, and can the original materials continue to function in a restored state, or not, how much of the original fabric is still there, etc. Both budget and level of function are considered here.

    Also, there is Hampshire Piano, Craig Hair. They do a really interesting reuse of the original fabric. They only work on what they want to work on, so, their interests would need to align with yours, in order for them to take it on, I believe.


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



  • 4.  RE: Rebuilders forum

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 27 days ago
    Bill,
    Thanks so much for offering.  The piano traded hands before I got a chance to consult with the owner. I look forward to the chapter zoom meeting that you will present to the NYCPTG.  

    Joe





  • 5.  RE: Rebuilders forum

    Posted 13 days ago
      |   view attached

    I have seen a number of these conversions. Mostly, the conversion is made by technicians because they want a more service-friendly action.  While that is an argument, it should never be a deciding factor above action performance.

    I have yet to see an action where the oh-so-dreaded rocker capstans were replaced, that played better than before. Many play really badly.

    Rocker capstans are not that bad, you just have to know how to deal with them and have the right tool.
    And, when working on vintage pianos, it helps to have some respect for the designers and builders of these actions.
    Always.



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    Jurgen Goering
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  • 6.  RE: Rebuilders forum

    Member
    Posted 13 days ago
    I agree on leaving the rocker capstan alone. I was dreading them on a Bechstein I rebuilt a while ago, but decided to leave them and deal with the rockers. I'm glad I did...its a great action, and the connection does some really good things for repetition, I think. My first rocker hammerline took 8 hrs. I've gotten better, but now I'm out of practice. Jurgen's tool is a life saver, though.

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



  • 7.  RE: Rebuilders forum

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 13 days ago
    Jurgen,
    Is the case of the piano I encountered, the conversion did indeed, play awfully. Another piano I service with rocker capstans (a Briggs 85 notes c-c small upright) had many of the rockers cracked. I’m guessing that occurred because of a technician not understanding the adjustments, and just cranked down on the proximal screw only to remove the lost motion. If the felt around the sticker fork is hardened, the actions can be a bit noisy if not replaced with fresher bushing cloth I’ve noticed.

    In the action model, I’m trying to figure out the intent of the lead in the shank rest block on the wippen. Is that to limit the bouncing of the wippen upon releasing the key?

    Joe