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#1962050 - 09/21/12 11:57 AM old piano - cleaning advice
MonkeyMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 98
Loc: UK
Hi all,
Just took delivery of an old upright which looks like it's been stored for years.

How is best to clean them, including the inside as it's thick with dust, and the keys are sticky too ( the surface, not the action).

Also, the fabric on the back is ripped. Is it easy to replace this on my own?

Cheers, Mark
_________________________
Ferry & Foster upright

Alfred's self teaching - Book 1
Started Mid September 2012
End Sept - Page 39
End Oct - Page ??

Top
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#1962053 - 09/21/12 12:08 PM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: MonkeyMark]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8418
Loc: Georgia, USA
Congratulations on your new-to-you piano!

I say start with some soapy water (dish soap & water mixed), some clean cotton cloths and lots of elbow grease. laugh

Try not to get any of the action parts or wood keys too wet. You may need to use a little 0000 steel wool to buff the years of built-up dirt and grime off the keys and then polish them.

Don't know what "cloth" you are refering to (felt?)...

Post some pictures if you can.

Good luck...

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1962060 - 09/21/12 12:34 PM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: MonkeyMark]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
Hi Mark - Welcome to Piano World!

Congrats on the piano.

+1 to Rick on cleaning the keys. Keep your rag well wrung and use some elbow grease.

Don't be afraid of a hose type vacuum cleaner to get all of the dust and "crud" that ends up inside a piano. The brush or nozzle attachments can be very helpful.

I'm also confused by the fabric on the back. Usually you see the wood piano frame and the soundboard behind the thick wood beams. Sometimes, if the piano isn't placed up against a wall and is visible to the room, an owner will cover the back with fabric. If you need to cover the back for some reason, go ahead and replace it. Keep the fabric thin to not soak up too much sound. Or, if you need to quiet the volume of the piano, use a thicker, "nappier" fabric.

Enjoy your piano.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#1962067 - 09/21/12 12:50 PM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: MonkeyMark]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
Use your most powerful vacuum with the crevice attachment and give the piano a good suction workout. And wear ear plugs smile

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#1962086 - 09/21/12 01:37 PM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: MonkeyMark]
Johnkie Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/11
Posts: 688
Loc: England
Monkey Mark:

Welcome to the site wink

Your hoover with the nozzle attachment and a long bristled paint brush is the best thing to clean your piano out with. The key surfaces can be nicely cleaned up by using Brasso on a clean piece of white linen or cotton. The back lining (often seen on older pianos here in the UK) can be replaced quite easily ... but make sure to use the proper back lining rather than normal cloth. You should see a long moulding both top and bottom, and two shorter pieces on either side with the handrails between. These are simply nailed on, and carefully easing them off with a chisel (making sure that you mark where each piece goes before removal) you will then see the old back lining is either tacked or stapled in position. Replace with new cloth, keeping it pulled tight so that there are no creases and then nail back the mouldings and screw back the hand rails.
_________________________
Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 49 years in the United Kingdom
and Member of the Pianoforte Tuners' Association (London)
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com

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#1962093 - 09/21/12 01:52 PM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: MonkeyMark]
MonkeyMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 98
Loc: UK
Thanks for all the help. I'll get started tonight.

It is an old one, possibly 1958 if I'm looking at the right part. This may sound strange but it smells of church.

I will be getting a tech out as it badly needs a tune. Some of the keys return slow. Is there anything I could do as I'm trying to keep costs down? And where would I get the cloth from for the rear? Don't need it just now as it will be up against a wall but I'd like to do it at some point.

Cheers, mark
_________________________
Ferry & Foster upright

Alfred's self teaching - Book 1
Started Mid September 2012
End Sept - Page 39
End Oct - Page ??

Top
#1962104 - 09/21/12 02:05 PM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: MonkeyMark]
MonkeyMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 98
Loc: UK
Oops, double post.


Edited by MonkeyMark (09/21/12 02:06 PM)
_________________________
Ferry & Foster upright

Alfred's self teaching - Book 1
Started Mid September 2012
End Sept - Page 39
End Oct - Page ??

Top
#1962146 - 09/21/12 03:18 PM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: MonkeyMark]
Johnkie Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/11
Posts: 688
Loc: England
Monkey Mark:

The slow returning of some keys may well be something as easy to right as easing key bushings or something that may be a little more complicated. Your best bet is to contact a good tuner/tech to tune it, and while there I'm sure (s)he will be able to advise you exactly as to what the situation is. The tuner will also be able to either supply or order backing cloth for you.

Perhaps a post on the UK piano site would turn up some suggestions to a good tuner/tech ... if you don't already know of one. Their site address is :

http://www.piano-tuners.org/piano-forums/index.php

Hope this helps - Best wishes - John
_________________________
Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 49 years in the United Kingdom
and Member of the Pianoforte Tuners' Association (London)
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com

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#1962583 - 09/22/12 12:50 PM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: MonkeyMark]
MonkeyMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 98
Loc: UK
Just a little update. This may be a little boring for some, but it's very interesting for me at least.
Started cleaning last night and this afternoon.
There was up to a quarter inch of dust in places.
Removed all the panels and the mechanism and hoovered it all out. Cleaned the mechanism as best I could, don't want to Interfere with it too much.
The pedals were black with tarnish. I can't exactly say they now shine, but they are well on their way. As are the lid hinges which I removed to clean up better as they also were almost black.

The keys are taking some cleaning. I couldn't get any meths so I've just used a damp cloth so far. They are still quite yellow so I may try some brasso seems as it's just a fine compound.

The piano has more than it's fair share of battle scars, some of which are looking better after a French polish style liquid but some parts have the finish almost blistering. I'll leave that for now though as I'm not sure what to do with that.

There was enough crumbs under the keys to feed a third world country!

Anyway, mire to do so I'll get back to it.
_________________________
Ferry & Foster upright

Alfred's self teaching - Book 1
Started Mid September 2012
End Sept - Page 39
End Oct - Page ??

Top
#1963503 - 09/24/12 03:44 AM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: MonkeyMark]
MonkeyMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 98
Loc: UK
Another little update.

All internals are as clean as i can get them without interfering too much.

The keys came up very nice after the use of some cutting compound. They dont look like the same keys at all.

The fall hinge was removed and after about 2 hours of polishing is now very nice, looks very good when the keys are reflected in it. Just need to do the lid hinge too.

Are the hinge screws a standard size as these let things down and wont polish up? If so where can these be bought from?

The finish in areas is flaking a little but i dont suppose there is much that can be done about that other than a full strip and recoat.


All in all, it now looks like a very different piano to the one that came throught the door only 4 days ago. It may be a little rough around the edges but its going to be loved.
_________________________
Ferry & Foster upright

Alfred's self teaching - Book 1
Started Mid September 2012
End Sept - Page 39
End Oct - Page ??

Top
#1963560 - 09/24/12 07:47 AM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: MonkeyMark]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8418
Loc: Georgia, USA
This may be more than you want to tackle yourself, but on any new-to-me old upright, I always remove the action, remove all the keys... (number them 1 to 88 if they are not already numbered) and vacuum under the keys on the keybed. This is where a lot of dust and crud settle over the years (along with any mice droppings, etc...).

Maybe Johnkie can assist you with that.

Good luck.

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

Top
#1963575 - 09/24/12 08:25 AM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: Rickster]
MonkeyMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 98
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Rickster
This may be more than you want to tackle yourself, but on any new-to-me old upright, I always remove the action, remove all the keys... (number them 1 to 88 if they are not already numbered) and vacuum under the keys on the keybed. This is where a lot of dust and crud settle over the years (along with any mice droppings, etc...).

Maybe Johnkie can assist you with that.

Good luck.

Rick


Hi Rick.

I removed the action and cleaned it as best I could. Im new to this and although i have a rough understanding of how it works i do not know enough to move parts etc so i used a crevice tool & paint brush to hoover what i could but a lot of the hammers and dampers are still very dusty (almost black) as i just cant get to them. Any tips for that?

The keys were already numbered (stamped into the wood) so these were also removed and cleaned under there. It must have been years of dust and muck. A few of the keys/actions were sticking on return which i thought was the action/mechanism. It turned out there was that much debris under the keys that it was actually that causing the problems. Once it was all cleaned out it seems much smoother and consistant.

As i have said, I am new to this but have very much enjoyed the process. I may have a look around for more information/tutorials for future reference.

My only concerns now are the paint finish and a lot of the hammers still being very dirty.


Edited by MonkeyMark (09/24/12 08:27 AM)
_________________________
Ferry & Foster upright

Alfred's self teaching - Book 1
Started Mid September 2012
End Sept - Page 39
End Oct - Page ??

Top
#1963799 - 09/24/12 04:43 PM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: MonkeyMark]
Goof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/12
Posts: 347
Loc: UK
If you are not too timid and have a little mechanical insight you could virtually strip the action down completely: it is not difficult just time consuming.
If you want to clean the tops of the hammers'felt it is more or less essential to take out the entire unit, of each note's action: that done and after strong suction on the surface you cold try brushing the surface with a bleaching solution: either domestic bleach or hydrogen peroxide solution - your pharmacist would advise.
Last, but certainly not least, I would advise paying a professional to tune the instrument: if it will not tune maybe you are wasting you time?
I will be interested to follow your progress - I have found messing about with old johannas quite interesting, but there are some which are not worth the effort!

Top
#1964056 - 09/25/12 03:48 AM Re: old piano - cleaning advice [Re: Goof]
MonkeyMark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 98
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Goof
If you are not too timid and have a little mechanical insight you could virtually strip the action down completely: it is not difficult just time consuming.
If you want to clean the tops of the hammers'felt it is more or less essential to take out the entire unit, of each note's action: that done and after strong suction on the surface you cold try brushing the surface with a bleaching solution: either domestic bleach or hydrogen peroxide solution - your pharmacist would advise.
Last, but certainly not least, I would advise paying a professional to tune the instrument: if it will not tune maybe you are wasting you time?
I will be interested to follow your progress - I have found messing about with old johannas quite interesting, but there are some which are not worth the effort!


Hi Goof.

I'll have a look at the action and see if i want to strip it or not.

Financially it probably is not worth it. The little i have found out from googling the manufacturer is that its probably not worth very much. It was made (or at least sold) locally and it looks pretty basic, nothing fancy but my wife has wanted a piano since childhood so thought id make the best i could of this then upgrade in the future is she (and myself) take to it.

I've got a little more i want to do to it and have taken photo's along they way as a comparisson, though they wont be great photo's as i had not really planned to do this. I just started and got carried away grin
_________________________
Ferry & Foster upright

Alfred's self teaching - Book 1
Started Mid September 2012
End Sept - Page 39
End Oct - Page ??

Top

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