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#1442665 - 05/24/10 11:36 AM Cracked bass bridge on spinet
TPN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/08
Posts: 34
I am considering trying to fix this bass bridge if it is at all possible. It is cracked along the pins from the top (tenor section) to about where the single bass strings start.

Is there anybody out there that might have a few suggestions other than to just "walk away"?
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Piano Technician/ Doublebass Player
PTG Associate Member

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#1442819 - 05/24/10 04:07 PM Re: Cracked bass bridge on spinet [Re: TPN]
Bill Bremmer RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/02
Posts: 3324
Loc: Madison, WI USA
Yes TPN, there will be plenty of technicians who would tell you they only rebuild Steinways and that to even think about the problem you have is beneath their dignity. Tell the customer to buy a a new Steinway grand. That is a real piano, what you have is junk.

So, now that that is out of the way, I will tell you what you really need to do. Loosen the strings sufficiently so that you can get them up and off of the bridge, parted so that you have access to the bridge pins. Get the piano on its back if you can, if not, tilt it back at least 45 degrees.

Get two grades of CA glue from either a piano supply house or a hobby store, the thinnest kind and the medium viscosity kind. Also buy the accelerator.

With the piano on its back or at least tilted back, reset any bridge pins with your fingers that have moved out of position to where they should be. Apply first the thin CA glue, allowing it to penetrate into weakened areas. Follow that with the thicker grade that will fill gaps. When all gaps have been filled, spritz the area with the accelerator. (Have a fan blowing across the area to carry away the fumes).

You can then proceed immediately to putting the strings back into place, turning the tuning pins and dressing the coils, pulling each string up to approximate pitch, etc. Once all strings have been pulled to approximate pitch, it will take only a couple of passes to fine tune and stabilize them.

You can easily save the piano in a couple of hours. Your customer will be happy and you will have earned a handsome fee for knowing what to do. Charge for the time it takes (probably twice what you normally charge for a tuning) plus what the CA glue and accelerator cost plus at least 50%.

This is a half day job. It should net you at least what two normal tunings would and then some, yet what you charge will seem very reasonable to the customer and you will have performed a permanent repair.
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Bill Bremmer RPT
Madison WI USA
www.billbremmer.com

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#1442846 - 05/24/10 04:56 PM Re: Cracked bass bridge on spinet [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT]
Zeno Wood Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/07
Posts: 481
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Wear rubber gloves and have your open bottle of CA solvent within reach.
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Zeno Wood, Piano Technician
Brooklyn College

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#1442867 - 05/24/10 05:31 PM Re: Cracked bass bridge on spinet [Re: Zeno Wood]
Gene Nelson Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1533
Loc: Old Hangtown California
If the split is more than superficial and wide enough to allow the bridge pins to travel you should use a good quality epoxy and plan on using clamps to pull the gap closed while the epoxy cures.
Take some time to clean the split (air pressure is good enough) as much as possible and be certain the bridge pins are where they need to be if they moved.
To add to the CA glue thread I would use an organic vapor mask and or have very good ventelation.
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RPT
PTG Member

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#1442908 - 05/24/10 06:39 PM Re: Cracked bass bridge on spinet [Re: Gene Nelson]
TPN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/08
Posts: 34
Thanks for the suggestions.

The crack in this piano is quite severe I figured already that it would require some clamping to bring it back together.

Gene, what would you consider to be a good quality epoxy?
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Piano Technician/ Doublebass Player
PTG Associate Member

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#1442990 - 05/24/10 09:08 PM Re: Cracked bass bridge on spinet [Re: TPN]
Gene Nelson Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1533
Loc: Old Hangtown California
West System.
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RPT
PTG Member

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#1443009 - 05/24/10 09:40 PM Re: Cracked bass bridge on spinet [Re: Gene Nelson]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21924
Loc: Oakland
What you need to do will depend on how bad the bridge is. If stuff has moved on it a lot, you may need to consider replacement rather than repair.
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Semipro Tech

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#1443163 - 05/25/10 03:31 AM Re: Cracked bass bridge on spinet [Re: BDB]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
If I remember correctly, Arthur Reblitz actually recommends removing the pins (at least the loose ones), filling the holes with epoxy, re-fitting the pins (possibly drilling and using longer pins if the crack is deep) and removing excess epoxy.

Is that method out-dated, or perhaps overkill?
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Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1443260 - 05/25/10 09:31 AM Re: Cracked bass bridge on spinet [Re: Mark R.]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2481
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
The best CA products I have used so far are Mecury Adhesives. I use these CA glues on high end LMR gliders and have seen structural failure occur before the joint is compromised. I have never had a bottle clog or go bad on me with this product because of the unique high quality containers they use.

Accelerants should NEVER be used with thin CA glues (under 50 cps rating). Accelerants generally weaken the lattice formation of all CA glues and produce a more porous joint during the anionic polymerization process of the glue. If you don't believe this, put two dabs of CA glue on a non porous surface and let one set up naturally and on the other, use an accelerant. The accelerated one will be more brittle and often foamy looking. Accelerants are generally used on thicker CA's where you are creating a fillet, bridging a gap or not requiring the strongest adhesion available. They are also used on substrates which have very low moisture content. I only use heptane based accelerants since they are general purpose and cover a wider range of substrates.

I have always used epoxy for the repair mentioned by the OP. Re-inserting the pins in epoxy is only an issue if you plan on pulling them out at a later time to make a better repair and in this case, thats unlikely. I use thin epoxy but not the ones that are classified as "finishing" epoxy. There are no issues of insufficient gap filling with epoxies if its done right. If a crack terminates within the confines of the bridge, I will drill the end of the crack with a small bit and fill that hole with epoxy also. The radius of the hole will prevent the crack from continuing and provide extra room for the epoxy. Work the epoxy in with pins or an artists pallete knife and then clamp and remove excess. The epoxy repair does require a second visit to give it time to properly set.

It would be wise to do an assesment of the overall piano since cracked bridges are usually a sign of, excessive age, poor materials/workmanship, bad climate or any combination of these things. Often other parts of the piano could be as bad off as the bridge or worse. If another spinet in better overall condition is available at near the same cost as the repair, I think you owe it to the customer to inform them of that option...it might be a bigger bang for the buck.
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Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#1443304 - 05/25/10 11:05 AM Re: Cracked bass bridge on spinet [Re: Emmery]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21924
Loc: Oakland
It all depends on whether you are doing this for a customer, or for practice. I have been assuming the latter.
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Semipro Tech

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#1443321 - 05/25/10 11:28 AM Re: Cracked bass bridge on spinet [Re: BDB]
TPN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/08
Posts: 34
Ultimately this service is for the customer but does present itself as an opportunity to try the repair for my own benefit. The owner is not that interested in the piano as an instrument and is planning to give it to a friend or use it as a plant holder. If I do the job it is with the understanding that it is not the best option - a new bridge or a new piano would be best.

My goal would be to keep it as simple as possible - use the existing pins and get the wood to bond as well as possible.

I have a couple pictures but i haven't figured out how to post them here.

Thanks again to everyone for sharing their ideas.
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Piano Technician/ Doublebass Player
PTG Associate Member

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#1443351 - 05/25/10 12:14 PM Re: Cracked bass bridge on spinet [Re: TPN]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2481
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
Good luck with the project, most glue projects end up good if you clean & prep them properly and choose the right glue. Do a search on the site, there are several good postings on how to post pics here.
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Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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