My Piano Can I fix it?

General discussion about piano makes, problems with pianos, or just seeking advice.

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My Piano Can I fix it?

Post by hobbes » 27 May 2013, 13:30

I recently bought a lovely old upright at a recycling yard. It was a rather impetuous purchase at only 45 pounds.
I had the idea that I could restore it before getting it professionally tuned.
Well, after some internet/youtube video research I have managed to clean it throughout, remove the action and learn the basics of how that works. I managed to reattatched straps that had come loose, for instance.
My issue now is that there are still some hammers that are sticking: they play once then do not return to position, or do so very slowly. They are mainly at the far ends of the keyboard.
I've not had any success finding out why this might be, or if I have the skill to fix it.
Can anyone guide me in this? Is it doable or should I just call in a professional?
Thanks guys.

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Re: My Piano Can I fix it?

Post by Colin Nicholson » 27 May 2013, 22:42

You will need to get a piano tuner/technician to sort out any 'slow' or non-returning hammers.... this is a specialised 'trade' job that requires re-pinning the hammer flange [hinge part]. Trade only can obtain the parts & tools required. Not even 'general' piano tool-selling websites sell this gear. Not a difficult job but if you bought the tools required you would be looking in excess of £100 - and thats before buying a wide selection of centre pins.

Here is an explanation about re-pinning a whippen[lever] flange - same principal with a hammer ...... and yes, you need the right tools & its not cheap to set up your own re-pinning service! ... 16.12.html

Each hammer has a small rectangular red-bushed flange attached to the butt by means of a steel/chrome pin - where the hammer swings. [More modern mechanisms have a cord loop attached aswell, which connects to a small spring to assist the hammer's return]. Each flange is screwed to the action rail - old pianos - from behind newer pianos - from the front [ behnd the jacks].

If the piano has been subject to cold/ damp/cool conditions, or the extreme octaves are not played much, either the bushings swell, or the pin starts to corrode slightly..... and eventually you get [what we refer to as] "tight centres". Straight forward job for the piano tech. You also need micrometers to measure the pin size. Pins are extracted using a centre pin punch, and the tech must be careful not to damage or pull out the fine bushings ....

If you have just bought the piano recently - put it in a warmish room for a week or so, and you might find some of the hammers may start to work again as the flange & bushings contract slightly. Not all of them may work though.

If the tapes are broken - I wouldn't take the mech out just yet. Ask your tuner for some emergency clip-on tapes or get your tech to do the whole lot. Re-pinning a whole action is quite expensive & labour intensified - and probably cost about 10 TIMES the value of the piano for a complete repin. You may also find other centre pins are seized aswell - each note has about 4 pins.... 1 for hammer 2 for lever & jack and 1 for damper [if its overdamped there are more].

Here is a bench-fixed centre pin tool demonstrating a repin - however this would only be used in a workshop for speed. We also have hand-held centre pin punch tools that fit easily into our tech case. Note: one end has a pin attached to the tool for extracting the old pin - other end has a 'punch' for inserting a new pin. ......
051hammers 7.jpg
Centre pin punch with hammer & flange
AA Piano Tuners UK

Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
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Re: My Piano Can I fix it?

Post by Gill the Piano » 28 May 2013, 16:33

Play the piano keyboard every day at least twice, every note, top to bottom and back up again. This may help to get it moving if it IS just a simple matter of acclimatisation. It'll do you both good...
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: My Piano Can I fix it?

Post by Withindale » 28 May 2013, 18:10

You might find, as I once did on a 100 year old piano, that the hammer butts and flanges are dirty; in that case with some tarry stuff that I put down to coal fires. I was able to clean them up one by one out of the piano to good effect.

Maybe some photos including closeups would help people to give you more advice.

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