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#2030395 - 02/10/13 10:52 AM action parts for full sized Kimball upright?
Fred Hamaker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/07/08
Posts: 31
Loc: Rochester New York
I have a client with a 52" Kimball they want to restore. The size of the standard (Pratt Win) replacement hammer butts from Schaff or Pianotek don't match the originals. The butt heights are comparable, but when matching up the action centers, the depth of the replacement puts the radius of the hammer butt buckskin (and catcher buckskin) ~3 mm closer to the player. If I were to replace whippens, I have a similar "mismatch" with the standard Pratt Winn part for dowel captstans - the profile is similar, but the replacement jack height is 2+mm higher (when matching up the action centers whippens and jacks).

These seem like big differences to accommodate - I can envision lowering the dowel to handle the higher jack, but this would really angle the whippen, affecting damper spoon and also backcheck. And I wonder about the new postion of that buckskin radius - seems like the jack wont have a proper seat under the butt at rest. Should I be looking for replacement parts with a closer match to the originals? Any suggestions on my options? Am I stuck with rebuilding the original parts?

Btw, I don't have the Schwander action parts on hand, but the pictures in the catalogues don't appear to match profiles (these are for shorter Kimballs, right?).
Fred Hamaker, RPT
Tuning, Performance Prep
Assessments, Rebuilding and Regulation

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#2030421 - 02/10/13 11:48 AM Re: action parts for full sized Kimball upright? [Re: Fred Hamaker]
James Carney Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/10
Posts: 440
Loc: new york city
How old are the parts and the piano? Can you rebush and repin without breaking birdseyes? Do you need to rebush at all? Replacing the buckskin should be easy enough unless someone used waterproof glue at some point. (Been there - aaargh!)

Not sure if WNG will be furnishing the sizes of parts you will need, but I believe that they will be offering composite parts for vertical actions sometime in 2013, if you can wait. I'd give them a call and see if they'll be making parts that would fit your application.

I am assuming this Kimball is worth the trouble? I actually love their grands from the 50s so I have lots of respect for the brand when they were made in Chicago.
Keyboardist & Composer, Piano Technician

#2030431 - 02/10/13 11:54 AM Re: action parts for full sized Kimball upright? [Re: James Carney]
RestorerPhil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/26/12
Posts: 212
Loc: Georgia, USA
A full sized Kimball upright totally restored in a killer piano!
Many of the 3/4 plate with the open faced pin block are powerful pianos. I would rate them relatively above the grands and better than a Steinway upright.

The brass rails and the collapse of the pin block are the two boogie bears in the mix, however. $$$$$$$$ ! They are only worth the trouble, if that is what the customer wants and can afford the proper rebuild. They surely have no magic value, such as the Steinway name. Ironically, however these uprights outshine the more recent Kimballs so much that it saddens one to see what was lost from their old days.

(As often is the case.)

Edited by RestorerPhil (02/10/13 01:42 PM)
Lavender Piano Services
Established 1977
Tuning, Concert Maintenance,
Rebuilding & Restoration

#2030668 - 02/10/13 05:14 PM Re: action parts for full sized Kimball upright? [Re: James Carney]
Fred Hamaker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/07/08
Posts: 31
Loc: Rochester New York
I believe the piano is 80 years old. Hammers are shot, and many of the action centers are not controlling hammer movement. I will need either to rebush or get new flanges (at least these can be purchased). Back to the butts, there is evidence that the hammer butt leather and underlying felts have been replaced before. The felts are a little different to most of the ones sold today (this has 2 pieces of action felt, instead of 1 piece of that in the lower position and a piece of compressed felt just above it - both covered with the felt). As it is today, the radius is kinda choppy - would the original felt under the leather have been layed out like this?

Unfortunately, I don't think this client is going to want to wait for WNG parts, but I also don't think they are going to like the expense of this work!
Fred Hamaker, RPT
Tuning, Performance Prep
Assessments, Rebuilding and Regulation

#2030704 - 02/10/13 05:55 PM Re: action parts for full sized Kimball upright? [Re: Fred Hamaker]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 22947
Loc: Oakland
Is this a Kimball action with the brass rail dampers? If it is, I would spec out rebuilding it with standard parts. That will require reshaping the action rail to accommodate the parts. I would not expect that the client would go for it.

If you feel you are not up to doing that, I suggest you turn down the job, explaining your reasons.
Semipro Tech


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