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very tight pin

  • 1.  very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-09-2022 12:32
    I've got a little problem: I have a customer with a Steinway M. It was poorly restrung 30 years ago, but at this point I'm sure she doesn't want to pay for more work. Two pins, I think size 4, needed more torque, and took the opportunity to try and fix them while replacing two non-matching bass strings. I removed both pins, swabbed the inside of the holes with medium CA, and hammered them back in. One turned out well, the other is ridiculously tight, even after multiple tunings. I have a feeling the medium CA  is flexible enough to not wear in like the thin stuff. I can tune it, but I'm afraid one of these days I'm going to break the darn pin.

    What are my options at this point? Remove the pin and try a smaller size? Ream the hole a bit, like with a gun-cleaning brush?
    thanks!

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    Scott Cole, RPT
    rvpianotuner.com
    Talent, OR
    (541-601-9033
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  • 2.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-09-2022 13:38
    Scott,

    Exercise the pin by lowering pitch and turning it back and forth about a half turn in each direction repeatedly until the torque is reduced to the desired amount. Thanks to Jon Page for this excellent tip!

    Alan

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    Alan Eder, RPT
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    California Institute of the Arts
    Valencia, CA
    661.904.6483
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  • 3.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-09-2022 17:42
    Alan,
    That was my first thought--just work it. I'll try again next time I visit the customer. Holy smokes is it tight...
    Scott

    --
    Scott Cole, Registered Piano Technician and Doctor of Music
    Serving Southern Oregon and Northern California
    (541)601-9033







  • 4.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-09-2022 20:48
    Arrive equipped with extra leverage. I cannibalized three different Fujan levers to make a very long, very stiff device for just this task.

    Alan

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    Alan Eder, RPT
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    California Institute of the Arts
    Valencia, CA
    661.904.6483
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-09-2022 21:35
    Greetings,
      I suppose what I would do, if I was to have to tune this piano repeatedly, would be to loosen the coil, back the pin all the way out, (then, perhaps mic it to insure I hadn't inadvertently used a "mis-sized" pin), and then hammer it back in.  This has, in the past, usually reduced the torque by a quarter or more. 
    Regards,
    Ed Foote RPT





  • 6.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-09-2022 19:18
    Alan,
    Thanks, I did try that first. Hopefully more will help. Still, it's pretty unnerving to hear that loud snapping sound as it releases.

    Just curious though: Anyone out there ever actually break a tuning pin?
    What did you do? Try to break it up with a drill or something? Pretty hard steel.

    If you have, it would make a great Practical Technician article...

    --
    Scott Cole, Registered Piano Technician and Doctor of Music
    Serving Southern Oregon and Northern California
    (541)601-9033







  • 7.  RE: very tight pin

    Member
    Posted 07-09-2022 22:04
    Is a broken tuning pin extractor still available? It is reverse-threaded to screw onto the pin because it usually breaks at the becket hole.

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

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



  • 8.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2022 03:30
    Yep.  I use a tuning pin extractor.  But have never had to search for one via supply houses.  It has been a life saver for stripped pins as well as the occasional broken pin.  Reverse threads allow for it to grip the pin easily and unscrew the pin.  Really should be a home kit addition for that one time out of 100 that you see a pin in need...





  • 9.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2022 20:37
    Schaff list a broken tuning pin extractor (Product # 110) at 19.50. I have only had to use mine 2 or 3 times over 48 years


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    Tremaine Parsons RPT
    Georgetown CA
    (530) 333-9299
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  • 10.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2022 07:04
    You could try to use a heat source like a soldering iron on the tuning pin. Keep in mind that the heat transfer will also affect the
    tuning on that string.

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    William Motsko RPT
    Columbia MD
    (410) 740-7342
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  • 11.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2022 10:33
    Just found an article by Bill Spurlock in a Journal from 1994 on this very subject. He also suggested to heat the pin, or even drive it back out from the other side if possible (doubtful on a grand).

    ------------------------------
    Scott Cole, RPT
    rvpianotuner.com
    Talent, OR
    (541-601-9033
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2022 11:33

    I've had to deal with 2 broken pins, ever.

    One was early in my career & I didn't know as much as I should have. I barely started tuning & the pin broke at pin block level. Must have been ready to break because I didn't put much pressure on it compared to the other pins. I tried hammering it down & didn't want to hit it hard enough to get the job done. I didn't have proper supports for the pin block. In hindsight, I wish I had gotten proper supports in place and hammered it. I tried a screw extractor and you all know how that went. I ended up drilling it out and put in a new pin. It was fine after that.

    The second was more recent and came with something that will be of interest. A pin was broken when I arrived, at the pin block. The previous tuner didn't tell the owner and just removed the string (one string per hitch pin). I had proper support so hammered it out (made a video...lol) and replaced it. While tuning, there was ONE other pin that was so tight I was sure I would break it if I forced it. I called a tech friend who learned some things about this. He advised me to drop a bit of Protek around the pin. I know that sounds like sacrilege but he had done this several times and it always came out well. SO, I did. It worked beautifully. It is now 5-6 years later and the pin is perfect, no looser than the pins around it. *shrug* 

    Since this problem is with CA, I'm not sure I would recommend the same thing, but food for thought. ;-)  



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    Maggie Jusiel, RPT
    Athens, WV
    (304)952-8615
    mags@timandmaggie.net
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  • 13.  RE: very tight pin

    Member
    Posted 07-10-2022 12:46
    I am not sure why you want or use medium CA for tightening a loose pin. I have treated over 100 pianos with thin CA but always making sure it is thin as well as fresh. The medium CA swabbed on the threads seems like it would lock the pin into the block. The thin finds its way into the gaps that have opened between the threads of the in and the walls of the block. I usually wait for the CA to fully cure and get a good snap sound as I free the pin. CA has been a miracle worker.
    \
    \You should contact John Parham in Raleigh I think he did a chaper technical on removing broken screws, agraffes and maybe tuning pins. I thought I read recently about getting broken pins out from the bottom of the tp hole.  I should add that its important that it is very important to measure every tuning pin because there can be very minute differences even  a  box of new pins

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    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    (843) 325-4357
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  • 14.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2022 12:56
    Jim - Because this works SO much better. After using CA for 20 years, I have now had blocks I treated with CA fail. This is so much tighter and solid. I believe it will last much longer and it doesn't create the mess the thin CA does. Tim will tell. The "a little dab will do ya" method of thin CA has never worked for me. Always fails. This works. ;-) https://youtu.be/jzcVgeNQx5k

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    Maggie Jusiel, RPT
    Athens, WV
    (304)952-8615
    mags@timandmaggie.net
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2022 14:48
    Maggie,

    So what you did was to "synthetically" replace material in the top part of the hole (which of course is the area of greatest wear).  I have done similarly sometimes.

    I am curious as to whether your product of choice just happens to be Rapidfuse by DAP...yes/no?

    Peter Grey Piano Doctor

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    Peter Grey
    Stratham NH
    (603) 686-2395
    pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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  • 16.  RE: very tight pin

    Member
    Posted 07-10-2022 15:18
    I guess we develop what works for us the best. In my case early on thin CA was messy  trying to get it out of the bottle and the flow was not predictable. When I started to use epoxy syringes and drawing the glue up I found that I could control the flow and see what I was doing. I got better and better at it and my results have been outstanding regardless if the piano was a grand or vertical,I have logs showing pre and post inch lb torque readings . Rarely is it a one pass or just a dab and I make sure to go around the pin. One advantage I have found with thin is it will find its way through cracks in the block and fix them too. The tell is when you see the glue come up on adjacent pins. It is not always possible to see cracks looking up through the action cavity. By the way a good way to check a blok is use a big mirror or the forward lens on your ipad. I know that the glue sets in a short time but I always let it cure . Most wood glues have a set time but directions say let the repair set  A McPhail grand that I tuned had a very poor pin block which required 2 passes of CA. However the high treble kept slipping and on closer inspection with an IPAD I found hairline cracks between many tuning pins. After more thin CA it was fine.

    Early onIy purchased an industrial glue system that allows you to control how much and where glue can be delivered. I am planning to put it back to use to do CA as well as apply PROTEK.  Our high year round humidity may have contributed to my success with thin CA

    ------------------------------
    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    (843) 325-4357
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2022 15:23
    Peter - No. I use fumeless/foam safe.

    Jim - I should have specified what I meant by mess. When the CA comes up around pins other than the one you are doping, it is filling the space between the pin block and the plate. This is a mess for rebuilders. Having said that, I will do that on a piano that is headed to the dump, anyway. ;-)

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    Maggie Jusiel, RPT
    Athens, WV
    (304)952-8615
    mags@timandmaggie.net
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  • 18.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-10-2022 16:10
    James, would you indicate what is your industrial glue system that allows you to control how much and where glue can be delivered...

    Best,
    Allan Sutton, m.mus. RPT
    www.pianotechniquemontreal.com







  • 19.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 07-11-2022 08:11
    I second the suggestion to measure all tuning pins, James. Back in my restringing days I decided to measure a set just to see how uniform the pins were. I found that I could easily sort them into 3 or 4 sizes and that they could be elliptical, not round, in cross section. The same pin could also have different diameter depending on where I measured. I extended this practice to measuring other things, e.g., strings and center pins. I don’t mean that I did that always but it was worthwhile to do it once in order to find out the realistic range in a set of anything nominally round in cross section.

    Bob Anderson
    Tucson, AZ




  • 20.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 30 days ago
    Thanks for all the replies. At my last visit a couple of days ago, I started with the most simple answer: work the pin. It did seem to work and I'm no longer afraid the pin will break.

    ------------------------------
    Scott Cole, RPT
    rvpianotuner.com
    Talent, OR
    (541-601-9033
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: very tight pin

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 28 days ago
    Hi, I would purchase 2 boxes of tuning pins when replacing a pin block and sort them.  Using the largest in the bass and smallest in the treble.  I usually had 5 piles of TPs.  If the previous rebuilder did not do this the pins were probably not the exact same size.  I'm saying you probably mixed them up when reinstalling.  Always support the pin block and the key bed (I've seen key beds crack up if they aren't supported as well) when installing the Tuning pins with a blow and keep your pin punch at the same angle as the tuning pin hole as not to do damage to the string side of the Tuning pin hole.   A #4 tuning pin will rub on the cast iron plate and is not a good choice for repair or restoration.

    Was there room to tap the pin in deeper (supporting the pin block and key bed)?  Did you wait for your glue to dry to put you tuning pin in?  How can you control the size of the hole if you let it dry first?  Glue is a temporary fix and I believe a very last resort.  Maybe the previous restorer didn't support the pin block and the laminates are all separated.  How is glue going to do enough through a TP hole to fill those gaps?  Maybe after 10 or 20 years thats all you will get with #4 tuning pins in an old pin block.  Why not just recommend a rebuild?

    I know a rebuilder that uses a plastic laminate to shim the understringing felt and CA glue/Acetone and others will melt the shim.  I'm glad that you had success with backing up the TP.

    I worked in a shop when I was still in school for Piano Tech work and he had broken a pin after he installed larger size tuning pins.  It had to be punched through the hole.  He never supported anything.  I'm also sure that he never measured his Tuning pins and never reamed or brushed the pin holes.

    Do no damage!  Just my thoughts on this.

    ​​

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    Jessica Masse RPT
    Western Michigan University
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