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#1229601 - 07/10/09 03:15 PM Replacing a vertical pinblock
SteveG_CT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/09
Posts: 131
Loc: Connecticut
I debating whether or not to replace the pinblock in my upright before restringing it. I will be removing the plate to clean and refinish it so I figure that this would be the best time to address the pinblock situation.

The existing pinblock is in okay shape with the original #2 pins still torquing about 80-100 in-lbs so I could probably just re-ream for larger pins. I have a sneaking suspicion however that if I don't replace the pinblock I will regret it later however.

Since my main goal in this restoration project is to learn about piano repair I'm not opposed to replacing the block even though I know this piano will never financially be worth the expense or effort. To that end, what is the preferred method of replacing a vertical pinblock? Reblitz mentions that some rebuilders replace the whole plank while others remove the pin holes with a router and then makes inserts out of new material to fill the voids. Can anyone give me some advice on the pro's/con's of each method?

Thanks.

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#1229751 - 07/10/09 08:18 PM Re: Replacing a vertical pinblock [Re: SteveG_CT]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5229
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Removing and replacing the whole pinblock in the typical vertical piano can be some difficult. Not impossible, mind you, but difficult enough that I can promise you'll never want to do another.

This leaves you with two options. Yes, you can do whatever to the original pin holes and repin with oversize tuning pins. I confess to having actually done this a few times back when dinosaurs still freely roamed the earth. The only problem with this procedure was that I never did like the feel of the tuning pins later on. They lost torque unevenly, never quite “felt” right under the hammer and were always a bit trickier to tune precisely. It annoyed me enough that I quit restringing with oversize pins in the original block something over thirty years back. I have long held that if the piano is worth the time and resources it takes to rebuild the thing it is also worth a new pinblock. They are simply not all that difficult or expensive to make and install.

The other option—and, for vertical pianos this is my procedure of choice—is to route out the original tuning pin field and fit an insert made up of new pinblock stock. It’s really not all that hard to do nor should it take all that long; with practice you should be able to finish the job in a good day. And you’ll have a nice new pinblock to drive those nice new 2/0 pins into. For details on how this is done look back a few months (a year or two?) in the Piano Technician’s Journal. There was an article with photos on the whole procedure.

The article does not mention this but I add a bunch of 3” to 3-1/2” screws around the outside of the inserts for insurance. I don’t like things coming loose. Ever. I started doing this after taking an upright apart that had been rebuilt by an acquaintance and finding the insert loose in the hole. He had fitted and epoxied the thing nicely, but over a period of three or four years it had pulled loose and was tilting forward some. In a piano with a full plate this might not have caused a problem but this piano had a three-quarter plate with a separate iron casting over the pinblock. It was starting to show. It taught me to take no chances. Screws are cheap.

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1230257 - 07/12/09 12:28 AM Re: Replacing a vertical pinblock [Re: Del]
SteveG_CT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/09
Posts: 131
Loc: Connecticut
Thanks Del. After reading your comments I think I will definitely replace the pinblock. I recently sent in my membership application to PTG and plan on purchasing most of the back articles of the journal so I will look for the article you mentioned.

Thanks again,
-Steve

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#1230280 - 07/12/09 03:32 AM Re: Replacing a vertical pinblock [Re: SteveG_CT]
jpscoey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/09
Posts: 306
Loc: Manchester, England, UK.
Originally Posted By: SteveG_CT
Since my main goal in this restoration project is to learn about piano repair I'm not opposed to replacing the block...


I admire your attitude here - replacing a pinblock is not going to be an easy job...

but will stand you in good stead in the future!

Just a fraction of an inch out of line with the drilling will probably make you wish

you'd never bothered in the first place -

Tryinng to get the coils to seat can be a nightmare!


But it's definitely a whorthwhile exercise if it's an 'experiment' for you -

a difficult, and time-consuming one, but it will really help you to assess whether this

type of work is viable on other jobs you may be approached with in the future.


Good luck to you... Let us know how you go?

.
.
_________________________
John Schofield. NTC Dip. , C.G.L.I.
Professional piano tuner/technician since 1982.
myspace

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#1230371 - 07/12/09 10:55 AM Re: Replacing a vertical pinblock [Re: jpscoey]
Erus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 386
Loc: Mexico
I don't know if this is the article mentioned by Del but, Chuck Behm (from Iowa) wrote one on "Installing Pinblock Panels in an Upright Piano", published in 2008.

I got a copy of this article from Chuck, in one of the photo sets he's been sending as part of his photo article on piano restoration.

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#1230476 - 07/12/09 04:10 PM Re: Replacing a vertical pinblock [Re: Erus]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5229
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Erus
I don't know if this is the article mentioned by Del but, Chuck Behm (from Iowa) wrote one on "Installing Pinblock Panels in an Upright Piano", published in 2008.

I got a copy of this article from Chuck, in one of the photo sets he's been sending as part of his photo article on piano restoration.


Sounds like it. What month in 2008?

It should also be available from the PTG home office (for a small handling fee).

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1230481 - 07/12/09 04:23 PM Re: Replacing a vertical pinblock [Re: jpscoey]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5229
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: jpscoey
I admire your attitude here - replacing a pinblock is not going to be an easy job...but will stand you in good stead in the future!

Just a fraction of an inch out of line with the drilling will probably make you wish you'd never bothered in the first place -

Trying to get the coils to seat can be a nightmare!

But it's definitely a worthwhile exercise if it's an 'experiment' for you - a difficult, and time-consuming one, but it will really help you to assess whether this type of work is viable on other jobs you may be approached with in the future.

Good luck to you... Let us know how you go?


Oh, let's not be too discouraging here; it's not that difficult a job. Having done quite a number of both I'd say replacing the upright block (using inserts) it is some easier than replacing the typical grand block. Especially if the grand block is glued and doweled in place.

There is no more danger of getting the drilling off when doing a vertical block that there is with a grand block. Both have to be spot on but there are good, reliable procedures for getting them so.

And setting coils correctly is important in any stringing job whether the block is replaced or not. But, again, there are good reliable procedures for getting them so. I certainly wouldn't call the process a nightmare. It's just part of the job. Hopefully our friend Steve will learn these procedures early on in his career.

My standard council to Steve--to anyone starting out in this work, for that--applies: it is never too early to contact and join a local PTG chapter. It is a good source of high-quality advice and training that can help ease the learning curve and keep a lot of challenging tasks from becoming nightmarish.

ddf


Edited by Del (07/12/09 04:25 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling check
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1230494 - 07/12/09 04:47 PM Re: Replacing a vertical pinblock [Re: Del]
Erus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 386
Loc: Mexico
Originally Posted By: Del

Sounds like it. What month in 2008?


I think the first part was published in May, but am not sure (the second part mentions "Starting from where we left off in the May issue of the Journal").

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#1238544 - 07/27/09 10:43 PM Re: Replacing a vertical pinblock [Re: Erus]
Dave@Concertek Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/25/09
Posts: 5
Loc: Washington, USA
All I can say is "why???" I don't think I've ever encountered an upright piano that was worth the time and expense of replacing the pinblock (which of course will necissitate restringing and lots of other complicated and annoying procedures. Enter it in a piano race or take to the recycler (we used to call it the dump) and get yourself a newer piano to practice on. I would have no objection to doing it if it's your piano and you just want the experience, but I wouldn't think of recommending it to a customer unless the piano had provable historical provenance, and even then it might be best to just leave it alone. My advice....get a new Fandrich.

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