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#1679313 - 05/17/11 10:48 AM original soundboard recrowning
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
We have been recrowning soundboards since 1980. Using steam to unglue them from the case intact! Followed by the ribs, buttons, and bridges, ect. Then the panel is rejoined,using the original ribs. The SB is pressed just like you would with new wood,and of course the bridges are reattached. We learned this from a luthier and applied this to pianos on a giant scale,the same way they repair fiddles. The word they use is adjustment. Adjusted for shrinkage. The only non-original parts are the dowling through the ribbs to the bridges,the finish and the bridge pins. And in some the bridge pins can be turned upside down. We have just completed a model C 1887 recrown #15. A 1913 M&H in a couple of months,recrown #16 and we are to begin an 1893 Steinway D this fall. Does anybody know of any other house that does this? Please let me know so we can share info,We would be very grateful, It has been a lonely road.

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#1679321 - 05/17/11 11:07 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
Larry Buck Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2362
Loc: Lowell MA
Richard, Good to see you here ...

I really enjoyed visiting your shop.
_________________________
"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."
Isaac Newton

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
http://www.facebook.com/EJBuckPerformances

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#1679329 - 05/17/11 11:16 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1082
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
Sounds like a lot more work than making a new one. Also sounds like it has a LOT of potential pitfalls. Are you re-capping the bridges? If not, how do you account for bearing issues that are sure to be in evidence? Are you removing compression crushed wood before rejoining? Don't you have to use new wood to replace the inevitably damaged wood that caused the need for a replacement/repair in the first place?

Since fiddles do not achieve crown in the same way that pianos do, why would any of this apply to pianos?

I know this is done in Europe, but haven't had a satisfactory explanation as to why it is necessary, why it is a good idea and why it could possibly be a viable repair.

Perhaps you could find someone who specializes in Antique Restoration, rather than rebuilding. They might have some info to share. Historical Restoration involves keeping the instrument as original as possible, though I've yet to hear one that I thought was representative of what the piano sounded like when it was new. Too many things have changed structurally. I've heard a couple of reproductions that were probably accurate.

Inquiring minds want to know. I understand you've set your course on this and have invested great amounts of time and effort. I'd love to have a better understanding of why. The questions above are meant to provoke thought, not emotions. (Since it will likely be misconstrued).
_________________________
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#1679626 - 05/17/11 07:38 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
David-G Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1245
Loc: London
This sounds very interesting and I look forward to reading more about it.

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#1679782 - 05/18/11 01:06 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1348
Loc: Michigan
I don't challenge your claim and have no doubt that it looks good and sounds OK, as well. However, you need to be clear that your "restored" board is not the equivalent of a new board and for the work you describe, I have a hunch the cost to the consumer winds up in the same ballpark.

You see, the damage to the wood internally at the level of the cellular structure has not been dealt with. If it was a compression-crowned board, then depending on its history of exposure to high levels of humidity (likely in New England) over a span of up to a hundred years, that internal cellular structure will have been compromised.

Beyond that, you have the issue of board thickness. You certainly can't make it any thicker than it was before and it is possible that it was too thin in certain areas -- or at least, could benefit from greater than original thickness.

Does it matter? That may be up for determination. If you are turning a compression-crowned board into a non-compression-crowned board, then maybe not. But I still wonder . . .

Why?
Could you explain your rationale for doing this amount of work rather than using new wood to make a new board? I can see it as an impressive demonstration of woodworking craftsmanship, but I can't see the musical purpose of it. Violins are not compression-crowned and therefore the transfer of procedure doesn't really follow.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#1679926 - 05/18/11 08:19 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: kpembrook]
Bill McKaig,RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 86
Loc: Tampa, FL
I did this to a Crown piano a number of years ago. This was before I began replacing boards. The amount of work involved is about the same. I would not do this again unless there was a vary specific reason to do so. If I did, I would replace the ribs and use a rib supported system. I think that would be the only way I could feel confident with the out come.
Bill
_________________________
Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com

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#1680019 - 05/18/11 10:58 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21928
Loc: Oakland
Quote:
I don't challenge your claim and have no doubt that it looks good and sounds OK, as well. However, you need to be clear that your "restored" board is not the equivalent of a new board and for the work you describe, I have a hunch the cost to the consumer winds up in the same ballpark.

You see, the damage to the wood internally at the level of the cellular structure has not been dealt with. If it was a compression-crowned board, then depending on its history of exposure to high levels of humidity (likely in New England) over a span of up to a hundred years, that internal cellular structure will have been compromised.


I have no idea what the "equivalent of a new board" would be other than one that looks good and sounds good. Nor would I know what "the damage to the wood internally at the level of the cellular structure" would be. If you cannot see it, and cannot hear it, how is it damaged?
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1680135 - 05/18/11 02:40 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4234
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada

Originally Posted By: Dale Fox
Historical Restoration involves keeping the instrument as original as possible, though I've yet to hear one that I thought was representative of what the piano sounded like when it was new.

Considering that none of us were alive when the instruments requiring historical restoration were built, there would have been no opportunity for any one of us to hear them when new.
That makes this a moot point.
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1680164 - 05/18/11 03:26 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Mr Fox:Remember the question was to help me find one or others who do this method of repair. There is no one here in New England that I know of and I have been inquiring for years. Ed Swenson in upstate New York, not too far from here,in phone conversation a couple years ago, said they have been doing this for years,but did not identify any one.You are the second to mention europe. I figured with this vast network of comunication and exchange someone would know. I'm still waiting.
I will try to answer your questions as acurately as possible. I have never installed a new board. I dont know how much time that takes. This process has beome more rapid with each recrown. Some time in the near future we will know. One major cost factor is that we dont need any new material and we dont have to wait for years before it is ready. Of course the condition is a factor in time consumption,for example last year we did a M&H BB cir 1900. This SB had extensive damage; there were 193 screws, many of them did nothing. Who ever did that must have put them in just in case it might come loose. As opposed to this, an 1887 Mod C we have here now, had no screws or shims. This went much faster and required far less time. As for pitfalls? What do you mean? What pitfalls? Compression damage? I have not found any evidence of crushed wood at least in the ones we have done. This seems to be a phenomenon in the last 30 to 40 years or so. And as to the spruce we use to make repairs, we steam apart junk pianos. I have enough beautiful wood- a seemingly endless supply. This wood matches so well we often have to point out where it is. How this is like a violin repair? I was referring to the method of SB disassembly and the relieving of acumilated shrinkage stress distorting the shape of the top of the fiddle. In a piano the SB looses its crown. We have found these old SB's to be almost an inch smaller perpendicular to the grain, longditudinally almost none.Why is it a good idea? There are a few, It is extremely stable, having shrunk as much as it has, how much more will it shrink? especially with the climate controll systems we have today. It is genuine to the manufacturer,and to say that it superior to new wood,well if you hear the clarity and amazing power then listeners can judge for themselves. With this you can have softer hammers with no loss of volume.

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#1680594 - 05/19/11 01:57 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1082
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

Originally Posted By: Dale Fox
Historical Restoration involves keeping the instrument as original as possible, though I've yet to hear one that I thought was representative of what the piano sounded like when it was new.

Considering that none of us were alive when the instruments requiring historical restoration were built, there would have been no opportunity for any one of us to hear them when new.
That makes this a moot point.


Dan,

I think, possibly that you missed my point. Most likely because I didn't explain my train of thought very well. My point is that the good, high quality reproduction I've heard (new instrument built as closely as possible the same method and materials as the original was built, in this case a fortepiano) sounds far different than historical preservations of the same period instruments. The historical preservations never sounded as good or worked as well. Perhaps my miscommunication is the result of using the word "restoration" when I should have said "preservation".

IOW's, A new instrument built with new materials vs. an old, worn out, instrument patched up the best it can be without replacing the old worn out parts for the sake of historical authenticity. In that context, would you still consider that a "Moot" point?
_________________________
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#1680695 - 05/19/11 07:41 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Richard:

If it works, the method must have some merit. I don't know much about the subject but enjoy reading posts about it. I wish there were two of me so I could get into rebuilding. Then I would know more. I wonder how much would have to be steamed apart on an old upright.

I see the loss of crown as a tuning stability problem first and a tone problem second. Since this seems localized to where the loss of crown actually is, in my limited experience, (at the treble break) I have to wonder about the claims of cellular destruction being the death knoll for a soundboard.

Welcome Aboard!
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1680727 - 05/19/11 08:48 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: UnrightTooner]
Bill McKaig,RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 86
Loc: Tampa, FL
I don't see loss of crown as a stability problem. If anything it would help stability... a collapsed board would have less movement with humidity swings.

A traditional sound board gets its structure by having the board dried down to shrink it and then having the ribs glued on. The board tries to return to its original size but can not because the ribs won't allow it and the result is a arched panel. This is a self-supporting structure (it does not need the rim of the piano for support) relying on the compression strength of the wood. A sound board looses its crown when the compression rises above the woods elastic limit. This is when cellular destruction happens. Cracks in a board are the easy signs of this. I know of no way to determine how much damage is in the rest of the board and that is why I prefer to replace a board that has lost its crown.
_________________________
Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com

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#1680733 - 05/19/11 08:59 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Bill:

I should have said that I see a lack of downbearing, as caused by a loss of crown, as a tuning stability problem first. Then the slightest movement of the borad changes the tension on the srings a great deal more than if there had been adequate downbearing to begin with.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1680759 - 05/19/11 09:54 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: UnrightTooner]
Bill McKaig,RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 86
Loc: Tampa, FL
Jeff,
I don't quite understand your reasoning. A compression sound board gets all of its structure from humidity. This structure/compression is what the down bearing is pressing against. When a compression board has failed it no longer has the strength to resist the downward push of the strings resulting in little or no down bearing. Humidity swings would have less influence on tuning because the down bearing has a smaller range of movement (worse case no movement).

Does that make sense?
Bill
_________________________
Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com

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#1680766 - 05/19/11 10:06 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Bill:

I look at it this way. When you hang the first wet sock on a clothes line the percent of tension increases on the clothes line much more than when the 12th sock is hung.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1680781 - 05/19/11 10:35 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2069
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Ah, Jeff, in your earlier post, you were talking of increments of "movement" (i.e. displacement) of the soundboard. But now, you're talking of adding bearing in increments of mass (pressure). You see, the twelfth sock doesn't deflect the washing line by nearly as much as the first one...

At zero bearing, very little mass (pressure) will result in a displacement, but in little change of tension. At a high bearing, more mass is needed per unit displacement, but also results in a higher change of string tension.

At least, that's my understanding, and I agree with Bill that the situation is actually most stable (in terms of string tension) at zero bearing.
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1680789 - 05/19/11 10:46 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: Bill McKaig,RPT]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Mr. Deutschle. We never did this to an upright, but It would be the same procedure as any other that we have done. Again as in all piano SB's, Shrinkage is the problem. The crown is collapsing, and the string bearing is propably neutral, and in many cases the bridge is actually lower than the string plane, it could have negative bearing. Some positive crown can be gained by loosining the ribs from the board and forcing the board outward a little, and simultainously gluing the rib's back to the panel. But the string tension must be relieved first. Good luck.

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#1681270 - 05/19/11 11:27 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
woodfab Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/05
Posts: 383
Loc: Stoneham, MA
Sounds like a great idea to me.
I feel that when someone pulls out , (say a Steinway soundboard) and dose a great job making and installing new copy of the original soundboard it's still not a Steinway soundboard even if it's exactly like the original one.
If you can get the original board to sound great again then you can say it's the original Steinway soundboard.
Look at Stradivarius Violins, replace the front, what would happen to the value.
I wouldn't be surprised that soundboards made from old soundboard wood would sound great and be more stable than a new soundboard.

And to "you people" who make soundboards. I'm not saying in anyway that you don't make a great soundboards, I'm just saying that if Stewie makes a board it's a Stewie board not a Steinway board.

Dan


Edited by woodfab (05/19/11 11:45 PM)
_________________________
Dan (Piano Tinkerer)

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#1681295 - 05/20/11 12:38 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21928
Loc: Oakland
Actually, a lot of Stradivari instruments had their tops replaced. It was a fad at one time. Now it is thought of as barbarity. The same thing may happen with replacing piano soundboards, particularly if we start getting more people who really understand tension as well as compression in wood.

Almost all Strads are not original. Original Strads were baroque violins, which are the province of specialists these days. Most violinists have moved beyond that design now. The modifications give them a wider range and allow a greater variety of music to be played on them.

The same thing happened with Flemish harpsichords. They were widened and redesigned with more strings. Double manuals were rebuilt to be expressive, rather than transposing.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1681655 - 05/20/11 03:17 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
meadpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/10
Posts: 131
Loc: East TN
Before I got into pianos I was into guitars and their repair. I have a Gibson J-45 that was built in 1954. When I got a hold of it the soundboard ribs were seperated in many different places. Without taking the soundboard off the guitar or even *gasp* replacing it I reglued them all. Some of them had to be completely removed before reglued. But the interesting thing is that the braces were all arched. That way when I reglued them the arch returned in the soundboard. Richard, When you are removing a soundboard do you have to inject the steam with a hollow needle or can you just apply the steam to the area with a wand or something?

Thanks, -Daniel
_________________________
Daniel Bussell MPT
Mead Piano Works
East Tennessee


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#1681659 - 05/20/11 03:21 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Thank you gentleman: DBD. Woodfab. And Larry Buck of Lowell Ma. for your encouragement, to ingnore some of the silliness. I guess I am about fifty years to late. I wish I could go back to 1957 when this all started. And save all the fine pianos that went the standard cut out and replacement rout.It is a shame. We will soon have some pictures for viewing. If this method we have invented here, had been adopted then, it might now be standard practice.Pianos done this way would be more valuable than new. Like some other vintage musical instruments. I wonder where this notion of the deteriation of internal cells came from,It's like some computer virus, only of the human mind. If someone could present some scientific evidence, then that would be proof of this condition. This soundboard thing we do is not fantasy we have the proof it is routine here.They are in homes,except for two, one is in the Iron Horse music hall in Northampton Ma.for 22 years now with no problems yet.There is an Steinway A-3 1920 in Florida, I am trying to find the technition who takes care of it and ask for his opinion, and see if he will join in this forum, This one was done in 1994. I found out the owner died 8 weeks ago. Bummer. My second question for you all is going to be. What exactly is the finish on these SB's And dont bother to say shellac. I myself feel it was Sandrac,Dammar, or Mastic, varnish, I will post this question soon. please wait until then.

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#1681667 - 05/20/11 03:49 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
Bart Kinlein Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 715
Loc: Maryland
Are there high quality recordings (not nesessarily professional - I know a hobbyist who does great work) of your re-crowned pianos? If we could hear them it might help us judge the vaildity of your efforts.

Yes, I know the problems with making an assessment this way, but it would be a something to consider. If a picture is worth a thousand words, surely a recording is worth that many (probably many more judging by how many have already been written here). grin
_________________________
Steinway 1905 model A, rebuild started 2008, completed 2012
Yahama CVP-401
Will somone get my wife off the Steinway so I can play it!

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#1681673 - 05/20/11 04:13 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
accordeur Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 1229
Loc: Québec, Canada
Mr. Blaisboard,

I think what you are doing is great. I would love to see pictures of your process and more detailed information. All the best.
_________________________
Jean Poulin

Musician, Tuner and Technician

www.actionpiano.ca

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#1681749 - 05/20/11 07:32 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
Thomas Dowell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/09
Posts: 122
Loc: Twin Lakes, WI
I find this process interesting, but one question keeps standing out in my mind:

How does the process take a collapsed board, with no crown, and has lost its support, and simply by reassembling, end up with a board that has crown and adequate support, without adding any new material? The only difference I can see between the original and recrowned board is that cracks have been shimmed and glued, and not even with new wood, but with wood from other collapsed boards. Where is the additional crown, and more importantly support, added into the system?

The only way I can think is to shape the original ribs into a crowned shape, and reglue, but I don't believe you have mentioned this as part of the repair.

I am not trying to discredit this method, but I haven't seen an answer to the above question.

Granted, I am not a rebuilder personally, but I have worked on many rebuilds myself, including soundboard replacement, and have read as much as I can on the subject.

Respectfully,
_________________________
Thomas Dowell, R.P.T.
Dowell Piano
www.dowellpiano.com

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#1681777 - 05/20/11 08:36 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Mead piano: In our first attempt, we took a length of copper tubing and flattened it on one end and tried directing it to the SB to rim joint. This did not work at all I ended up burning face and hands, and damaging the rim. Then tried a length of small diameter p.v.c. tubing, drilled it full of little holes, placed it topside and covered it with cloth to hold the steam, this failed also.Then we got some solid round rubber cord one inch diameter, placed it where the SB meets the rim, running the steam into the space where the round does not fit,using stainless steel tape to protect the veneer and this worked, but it did loosen veneer from the case, and had to spend time to glue back veneer in those areas.We did this to a couple of boards. We now use flat rubber about 2 inches wide wide 1/2 inch thick, with a shallow channel cut in center on one side,this works great. I still use the round stuff to unglue the SB mouldings on the long side, and on the treble side,these are reused also. And yes pictures are coming.

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#1681779 - 05/20/11 08:39 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Mr. Kinline: Not that I know of.

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#1681791 - 05/20/11 08:57 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Mr. Dowell: The entire soundboard is lifted out from the case. After which the ribs and bridges are steamed off. The panel now can be repaired where necessary, and the ribs repressed into a SB press, just like you would if you were using all new wood,resulting in a compression crown. Steaming off bridges took some thinking, They are steamed off from the back side of the board, yes the steam goes right through it, it takes about an hour, and it falls off, like bones out of well cooked chicken.

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#1681809 - 05/20/11 09:20 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
meadpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/10
Posts: 131
Loc: East TN
That is very interesting! Thank you for your explanation it helps a lot! I have more questions but I think pictures will answer them so I will wait and see.

Thanks!

-Daniel
_________________________
Daniel Bussell MPT
Mead Piano Works
East Tennessee


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#1682088 - 05/21/11 12:18 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: meadpiano]
Bill McKaig,RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 86
Loc: Tampa, FL
Richard,
Do you dry the board down before gluing on the ribs?
_________________________
Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com

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#1682229 - 05/21/11 05:50 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Bill: Yes, Of cours. We maintain the temp of 110 degrees Farenhight. We have a 1940's Weston moisture meter it has two batteries, a 67and1/2 volt battery, to power a vacum tube for moisture resistance between the needles, and a D size battery for the indicator. It is extremely accurate. moisture content drops down to about 4%. The panel shrinks about 1/4 inch.

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#1682235 - 05/21/11 05:54 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Bill: I mispelled (course) I am very tired we moved four large grands today.

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#1682274 - 05/21/11 07:32 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
Bill McKaig,RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 86
Loc: Tampa, FL
I would think that if the panel shrinks 1/4" and then creates a crown after rib installation, then it is functioning similar to a new board.
Do you recap the bridges? I think it would be difficult to set bearing without some form of adjustment for each section of the piano.
_________________________
Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com

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#1682605 - 05/22/11 02:20 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Bill: Of all the ones we have done, only one, has been troublesome. I over did it, and ended up with way too much crown. I should have unglued the ribs again, and corrected this, but that meant repressing, I did not think it would be a problem, but it was serious. I had to set the acoustic dowels as high as possible. And put thick shimming material under the plate nuts,and even under the duplex bars, even with that,it was pretty scary. And I ended up recapping the bass bridge. Yes it was a lesson learned. If the manufacturer did their job correct,the bridges return to their original height,I kid-you-not, honest.This was on an A-3 1902.You know if some is good,then more is better, well not on crown height, that is for sure.How this happened? We are on third floor of an old mill building, when the heat comes on, the humidity drops to below 25%,and with heating the SB, and ribs to 100 degrees+,dropping the moisture content down to about 4%,and it would have been normal,except on this one, I made my press cauld's too deep, pushing them into the "dish" more than the others before this one.Thus ending up with over-crown. The temperature was correct, the moisture content was right, but too much curve.I don't know if any body else does it this way,well anyway, I threw this set of caulding away,about a three dollar loss in material.We use three quarter inch M.D.F. to make these.You see, I don't think this is conventional either?There is no concave "dish", I put more crown from fourth octave up than in the bass. I am familiar with the standard giant, thick, go bar decks.Our pressing equipment is made of steel.And between pressings it just stands in the corner.No go bars. One cauld for each rib,cut on a band saw.After I am done with them, I bundle them up, tape them together, and write on them the piano model, and serial number,and use them again and again. The caulding I made for the cir,1900 M&H we did 2 years ago, was pulled off the shelf,and reused for this 1913 M&H I pressed this past winter.The bridge and the curvature was exactly the same, only not as wide in the bass,It saved me some time in making new ones.Once the caulding is made,say for a B Steinway it can be used over and over.M.D.F.is fantastic in that is cheap and has no grain to deflect the band-saw.It takes about 5 or 6 hours to make these and that is it.

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#1682607 - 05/22/11 02:21 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Bill: Of all the ones we have done, only one, has been troublesome. I over did it, and ended up with way too much crown. I should have unglued the ribs again, and corrected this, but that meant repressing, I did not think it would be a problem, but it was serious. I had to set the acoustic dowels as high as possible. And put thick shimming material under the plate nuts,and even under the duplex bars, even with that,it was pretty scary. And I ended up recapping the bass bridge. Yes it was a lesson learned. If the manufacturer did their job correct,the bridges return to their original height,I kid-you-not, honest.This was on an A-3 1902.You know if some is good,then more is better, well not on crown height, that is for sure.How this happened? We are on third floor of an old mill building, when the heat comes on, the humidity drops to below 25%,and with heating the SB, and ribs to 100 degrees+,dropping the moisture content down to about 4%,and it would have been normal,except on this one, I made my press cauld's too deep, pushing them into the "dish" more than the others before this one.Thus ending up with over-crown. The temperature was correct, the moisture content was right, but too much curve.I don't know if any body else does it this way,well anyway, I threw this set of caulding away,about a three dollar loss in material.We use three quarter inch M.D.F. to make these.You see, I don't think this is conventional either?There is no concave "dish", I put more crown from fourth octave up than in the bass. I am familiar with the standard giant, thick, go bar decks.Our pressing equipment is made of steel.And between pressings it just stands in the corner.No go bars. One cauld for each rib,cut on a band saw.After I am done with them, I bundle them up, tape them together, and write on them the piano model, and serial number,and use them again and again. The caulding I made for the cir,1900 M&H we did 2 years ago, was pulled off the shelf,and reused for this 1913 M&H I pressed this past winter.The bridge and the curvature was exactly the same, only not as wide in the bass,It saved me some time in making new ones.Once the caulding is made,say for a B Steinway it can be used over and over.M.D.F.is fantastic in that is cheap and has no grain to deflect the band-saw.It takes about 5 or 6 hours to make these and that is it.

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#1682651 - 05/22/11 04:25 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Mr. Mckaig.I never touched a computer until last Tuesday,I haven't typed anything since high school, 1971, but I'm learning, and I find it most interesting. I checked out your shop pictures. The question That intrigues me the most is, Why do you make ribs round on top "pre-crowned". And do you do this to Steinways? Is the perimeter glued down at 90 degrees where it meets the rim.? The 1913 M&H I'm doing has a convex board, right to the very edge, all around the perimeter. The node at the bridge is adjusted to compensate for this type of construction.If the manufacturer had used a compression type crown, with the edges glued flat. Thus one of the reasons for rib pairing,do you make the SB to rim jointing angled to the same curve as the roundness of the board.The sweet spot is in a slightly different place,as Chris Robinson demonstrated one time long ago.This is why there is a pulsator bar. And I dont know how to spell pulsator.

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#1683096 - 05/23/11 01:27 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
Bill McKaig,RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 86
Loc: Tampa, FL
I've settled on a hybrid system to build my sound boards. This system uses a combination of arched ribs and compression to form a crown allowing me to dry the board down to 5.9 % instead of 4%. This gives an extra margin safety so that the spruce is less likely to be forced past its elastic limit (crushing force). I feel this gives the board a longer functional life. This hybrid system is not new. It has been used since at least 1900, probably earlier.

I've never found a need to modify the rim ledge. I don't think it helps or hinders the crown of a board. As I said earlier, a crowned board is a self-supported system, it needs a solid rim for a foundation for it to function properly, but the rim does not maintain the crown of the board (as in a buttressed arch).
_________________________
Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com

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#1683226 - 05/23/11 04:47 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Bill, Yes, I have a SB from an old Chickering upright from early 1900,that we junked, this had milled crown ribs. Also a Knabe 7'4" grand 1892, the ribs were two piece,joined horizontally, with the top half milled for the crown,That was very interisting.I kept one of them for show and conversation. And I saw a Chickering 6'8" from early 1900 that had only seven ribs, that was constructed this way also. But Steinway's always seems to be what is considered the standard example worldwide, why didn't they do this?

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#1683240 - 05/23/11 05:10 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Forum followers,
We have tried to post some pictures from our last job. Computers seem to take delight in torturing me, and I can't seem to figure out how to post a link. I think...if the URL below is copied and pasted into a browser it might work. Please let me know if it won't.

https://profiles.google.com/105412259108667869462#105412259108667869462/photos


Edited by blaisboards (05/23/11 05:18 PM)

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#1684226 - 05/25/11 09:46 AM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Thank you gentleman, for the response to my original question. Yes I've known for a long time that there are some who remove SB's from antique pianos,and reinstall them.The technique is different in that they don't use steam,just water.This would not be practical on most pianos after 1860 or so with wide glue joinery and 3/8 inch SB's.It would take a long time to loosen these glue joints. The ones I do know about are museum property,some are privately owned.And I will be happy to answer any additional questions anyone might have.

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#1684435 - 05/25/11 03:29 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
Bill McKaig,RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 86
Loc: Tampa, FL
Richard,
The work your doing to these pianos looks very nice and clean and I do believe your restoring them back to a functioning piano. But the only advantage that I see of this procedure would be for historical or antique pianos. It really is less work to build a new board. That being said, everyone has their own philosophy about piano rebuilding and if your criteria is to retain as much of the original piano as possible, I think there's a market for that.
_________________________
Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com

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#1685129 - 05/26/11 05:33 PM Re: original soundboard recrowning [Re: blaisboards]
blaisboards Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/16/11
Posts: 16
Loc: Mass
Hi Bill. I guess you will have to hear one,Idon't know how. But, as for time factor. If I had better equipment, it might be as fast.There are no pieces left glued to the rim to chisel out,and no ribs to make,and the moldings are already to glue back in. But faster,faster, is not so important, new wood will probably always be easier.It is the end result,that makes it worth it. They have amazing sonority, like they say, the proof is in the pudding.

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