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Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

  • 1.  Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-03-2022 11:03
    I have a 1964 Steinway 100 vertical piano under my care that is now experiencing jack return failure on one note in the bass section.  The wippen and jack flanges are at appropriate levels of friction, and I've taken some measures to ensure that the key is not binding on the rail pins.

    Normally, on a small vertical piano of this age, I can write it off to cost cutting measures in the factory -- failure to back-lead the keys, when such would actually be very appropriate.  But in this case, the design is clearly very intentional -- the keys are actually leaded forward of the balance rail.  Only one note is actually failing, though others around in have jacks that return less than fully.  A bit of downward pressure on the backs of the keys yields an audible snap as the jacks greet the hammer butt felt.

    Adjusting the capstan does not help.  I didn't run out to the car to grab my McLube and my key bushing iron, but I did heat up the end of a screwdriver with a pocket lighter and iron the front key bushing, such that nothing obvious in terms of excess friction appeared there.

    Weighting the front of the key in a piano such is this is counterintuitive for me, but the thing obviously worked for its first 58 years.  I'm reluctant to start removing lead, when evidently some thought and care went into placing it there in the first place.  Maybe properly ironing and lubricating the key bushings revisiting balance hole fit will make the difference, but it is not obvious to me that that is the case.

    Suggestions?

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    Floyd Gadd RPT
    Regina SK
    (306) 502-9103
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  • 2.  RE: Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-03-2022 11:31
    This model generally needs some leading to the back, if you want it to function properly.

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    Patrick Draine RPT
    Billerica MA
    (978) 663-9690
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  • 3.  RE: Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Member
    Posted 10-03-2022 13:07
    How about replacing jack springs ?  Over time they weaken even though they may appear fine. Also check the hammer return springs if present You should also remove the center pin on the jack, ream the bushing and burnish and repin. A little dag or lead from a number two pencil burnished into the jack top will help as well as checking that there is some lost motion. Check the hammer blow distance as well as the condition of the rest rail felt. 1964 vintage is 58 years old needing tlc throughout . The fact others around the one problem are sluggish means work is needed beyond tuning and fixing 1 note

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    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    (843) 325-4357
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  • 4.  RE: Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Posted 10-03-2022 14:08
    Maybe check the birds eye as well. Sometimes those get a little tight.Then just a light sanding with 600 fixes the problem.
    -chris

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    Chernobieff Piano Restorations
    "Where Tone is Key, and Mammoths are not extinct."
    865-986-7720 (text only please)
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  • 5.  RE: Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-03-2022 15:35
    Could it be the hammer butt leathers are going bad?

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    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (256) 947-9999
    www.professional-piano-services.com
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  • 6.  RE: Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-04-2022 07:01
    I've seen a similat thing on some Young Chang verticals where the sharps are leaded in front
    of the balance rail. The upweight on these was very low, and had to remove the leads and
    weight the backs of the keys. Curiously, none of the naturals wered weighted. I've also seen
    it on the Kawai 300 verticals where there were weights on the backs of the naturals and not the
    sharps.

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    William Motsko RPT
    Columbia MD
    (410) 740-7342
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  • 7.  RE: Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-22-2022 12:38
      |   view attached
    The half of a jiffy weight restored function. Key bushings and pins cleaned, ironed and lubed. Jack spring is strong. Wippen and jack center friction appropriate. Inspection did not convince me that reshaping the butt leather, or lubing the top of the jack would be the solution. I do understand the front weighting of the key was working against me.  My real question is, by what sorcery did the thing work for the first 65 years?

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    Floyd Gadd RPT
    Regina SK
    (306) 502-9103
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  • 8.  RE: Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-22-2022 13:18
    Glad you went with the half leads. You wrote "My real question is, by what sorcery did the thing work for the first 65 years?" My answer: while it's possible the moisture content of the wood in the wippen (before decades of "seasoning" aka drying) may have added barely enough weight to make the action function, I think they probably never functioned particularly well. Yet another experiment in action miniaturization that yielded bad results.

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    Patrick Draine RPT
    Billerica MA
    (978) 663-9690
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  • 9.  RE: Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-22-2022 13:53
    Sometimes when the hammers have been filed on consoles with low upweight, it becomes even lower. That can lead to repetition problems.

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    William Motsko RPT
    Columbia MD
    (410) 740-7342
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  • 10.  RE: Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-22-2022 12:42
    Also make sure that the jack post is not coming unglued from the wippen.  I've had three Steinway uprights that have had this problem from that vintage.

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    Christopher Storch RPT
    Belmont MA
    (617) 489-6436
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  • 11.  RE: Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-22-2022 13:49
    I've found that some of the Steinway console have low upweight issues.

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    William Motsko RPT
    Columbia MD
    (410) 740-7342
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  • 12.  RE: Jack Return Failure -- Steinway 100 Vertical

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-22-2022 14:38
    I've run into this recently with an S&S 100 and a Chickering about the same size, both from around 1950. The Steinway is going to need some weights.
    The Chickering either has synthetic butt leathers or they got really hard for some reason, they are uniformly a very dark brown rather than tan. They were checking at an inch or so and make a slapping sound as the jack hits the butt leather on a hard blow; restoring the checking to 5/8ths solved most of the "sticking" but the noise remains- the sound is the same as loose hammer heads.
    On one of them, it turned out that there was some resistance between the spoon and the damper lever felt, some lube cured that hopefully permanently. Often one will get that kind of sticking only when the damper spring is not in play, here it was the opposite.

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    Steven Rosenthal RPT
    Honolulu HI
    (808) 521-7129
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