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#2043588 - 03/05/13 08:59 PM Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration
wclifton1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/13
Posts: 4
Hey folks,
Forum lurker, first time poster, first time tuner, first time restorer, lifelong piano player. Looking forward to joining the conversation!

Been looking for an antique upright for a while. Came upon a 1903 baldwin upright (#12979) on craigslist and was surprised by its condition and quality. Gog it for what I considered a steal at $500.

Piano was a full tone low, local restoration co wouldn't raise it and quoted $6500 for an internal restoration. I decided now was as good a time as ever to learn how to tune!

Broke about 13 strings trying to pitch raise. Decided I was in it for real and bought the Reblitz book.

After disassembly, i found a couple of minor soundboard cracks, nothing too serious. The only real problem I've found is the bass bridge apron is splitting between laminated/glued layers. Haven't found any good ideas on how to fix this besides a total replacement... I thought the bass register sounded awesome since I bought it so I might not touch it?

Downbearing was <1cm throughout strung and bridges didn't raise noticeably after unstringing... Anything I can do?

Current plan: smooth out capo/vbar, touch up the plate paints, restring treble, replace all felt, file hammers, replace jack springs, regulate, tune, tune, tune.

Here are the photos of my progress:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/105316728742713552411/albums/5851372581462961697

Some interesting/unusual notes:
* this piano doesn't have a pressure bar or aliquots or what have you but something way more similar to a capo bar in a grand, is this the standard for that era?
* the pin block wood is exposed, no plate covering it. Looks real nice.
* the stringing felt and understring cloth dimensions were called "steinway style" in the schaff catalog...
*this 110 year old piano is beautiful!

Looking forward to hearing your feedback and hope you enjoy following my progress!

P.S. what would this piano be worth approximately if it were fully restored???

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#2043631 - 03/05/13 10:35 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
Steve in Cincy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/09/11
Posts: 85
Loc: Cincinnati, OH
Sure does look like a beautiful piano, Will. Thanks for posting the pictures----and please keep us updated on your progress.
I really like the deep, "rich" color and, of course, I'm understandably partial to the Cincinnati Baldwins. I'd love to find one like that myself.
It doesn't look like it took you too long to jump into the whole project, eh? It looks like your living room is going to end up being one room of your workshop? ;-)
_________________________
Regards,
Steve Schutte
Cincinnati
1979 6'7 Kimball Grand
1902 6' Hazelton Bros. Grand (project piano)

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#2043729 - 03/06/13 02:34 AM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21923
Loc: Oakland
If I had one of those to rebuild, I would replace the brass rails and butts with wooden flange butts, because if anything goes wrong with them, there are no individual parts available.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2043826 - 03/06/13 08:40 AM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
The dog seems to have been displaced.

This looks like a fun project and it is, indeed, a handsome piano.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2043872 - 03/06/13 11:03 AM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: BDB]
wclifton1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/13
Posts: 4
Good eye, BDB. I'll have to look into that as I move from the restringing to working on the action. Thanks.

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#2043903 - 03/06/13 12:05 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
Steve in Cincy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/09/11
Posts: 85
Loc: Cincinnati, OH
Will, I sent you some PMs. Have a look.

Thanks,
_________________________
Regards,
Steve Schutte
Cincinnati
1979 6'7 Kimball Grand
1902 6' Hazelton Bros. Grand (project piano)

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#2044025 - 03/06/13 04:33 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Looks like a fun project! Thanks for sharing and keep us posted! May be doing the same to our old girl someday, so I look forward to seeing how it goes smile

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2044570 - 03/07/13 03:44 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
As far as value goes, I'm afraid it probably won't be much. Even if you had shelled out the $6500 for a professional rebuild it probably would have only been worth a few $k at best. Doing the work yourself and only a partial rebuild, if it comes out well I'd guess maybe $1-2k? Unfortunately old uprights seem for the most part to be pretty unappreciated on today's market. There seem to be a few well known restorers that seem to do excellent work on uprights and command a good price for their work, but this seems pretty rare. The main reason to put the money into repairing/restoring should be that you enjoy the piano. Maybe someday once the supply has dried up a bit these old beauties will be more appreciated.

Hopefully someone who knows what they are talking about will chime in, but here are a few thoughts:

- As far as increasing down bearing my impression is you'd have to pull the plate and see if you can make any adjustments to the shimming to affect the relation of the strings to the soundboard. That may or may not be possible on this piano. Other things I've heard mentioned involve modifying the plate which seems pretty extreme.

- Replacing the bass bridge seems pretty non-trivial, if it sounds good its probably hard to justify. If you can take a pic of the separation folks might have some ideas. I think the main concern would be finding a way to stabilize it so it doesn't continue to get worse. Perhaps working some epoxy into the gaps and clamping it down to close them up as much as possible?

- Since you have the strings off I'd consider trying to repair the soundboard cracks. They probably don't matter much now, but my concern again would be stabilization. If that one in the treble for example eventually makes its way under the bridge you could have issues there.

- Seems I've heard this arrangement with the exposed pinblock but plate extending up around referred to as a full perimeter plate. I'm not sure how standard the capo bar arrangement is, but I believe Steinway moved from agraffe's to a capo bar in their uprights around 1880 and it seems like often whatever Steinway did lots of others did too (although Steinway may have had some patents in this area).

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2044655 - 03/07/13 05:15 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Value at Start - Nil

Investment - Couple of thou

Value at end - Low

Satisfaction - Priceless
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2044659 - 03/07/13 05:25 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21923
Loc: Oakland
If you do a good job on it, you can come out with a piano that may not have much monetary value, but a comparable new piano might be in the $15-20,000 range. That is a very big "if," however!
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2049678 - 03/17/13 01:27 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
wclifton1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/13
Posts: 4
thanks for all the input. getting ready to restring in a week or so and have the wire and tools all ready to go. here is the measured stringing scale:

is there a resource to see if this is the correct scale? is there some baldwin standard for old full size uprights? thanks!

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#2049695 - 03/17/13 01:46 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1266
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Is there a number cast in the plate somewhere (not the serial number)? I have a book listing several Baldwin upright and grand stringing scales, but I'd need a number. The book states: "All Baldwin pianos have the scale designation cast in the plate." Although, I'm not sure if that includes a piano as old as yours.
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#2049698 - 03/17/13 01:52 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21923
Loc: Oakland
I would suggest downloading the spreadsheet that I have provided and using that to determine a good scale.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2049702 - 03/17/13 01:53 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
kpembrook Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1344
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: wclifton1
thanks for all the input. getting ready to restring in a week or so and have the wire and tools all ready to go. here is the measured stringing scale:

is there a resource to see if this is the correct scale? is there some baldwin standard for old full size uprights? thanks!


This will likely be a serviceable scale. However, why not calculate a scale? Modern scale calculation on the computer may provide better options than when people were doing it with pencil, paper and log tables. You can get the software or have someone calculate it based on your streng-length measurements.

I charge less than a tuning to do it. PM me if you are interested.
_________________________
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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#2050465 - 03/18/13 08:28 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
BTW I thought this thread was a good read on restringing/rescaling, and includes the link to BDB's very handy spreadsheet!

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2029075/1.html

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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#2058013 - 04/01/13 08:04 PM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: miscrms]
wclifton1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/04/13
Posts: 4
Thanks for the input, here is the stringing scale I came up with:


Thoughts? The lower half matched exactly with the measured string sizes, so that was reassuring, however I made some changes in the upper half to make it more even tension. the measured sizes averaged about 10 pounds higher tension.

The per note string sizes are:
2x 19, 2x 18, 14x 17, 4x 16.5, 8x 16, 4x 15.5, 6x 15, 6x 14.5, 10x 14, 4x 13.5

Using a lot of force I was able to loosen the capo bar and remove it. The piece spanned the whole width of the piano and also included the bridge that the bass strings terminate over. So glad I was able to get this off. Restringing would have been a total nightmare or maybe impossible if I hadn't removed it.

I used the spray paint technique from the Reblitz book on a test section, but it looked tacky so I did not repaint the plate. But I did repaint the glossy black lettering, it looks great!

i was really sad, made a serious rookie error. put painter's tape over the old decals with patent numbers and it peeled the decals right off. i felt pretty stupid, especially since i didn't end up even painting the piano...

From about 3pm to midnight with a few breaks I was able to string te first two treble sections, 96 pins in all... so I'm a little more than halfway done! Everything moved a lot faster once I got the first 10-15 done. Getting the hang of it! No problems so far and no cracked pin block!

new pictures are at the end of the album, same link as above:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/105316728742713552411/albums/5851372581462961697

Thanks for all the pointers!


Edited by wclifton1 (04/01/13 08:17 PM)

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#2058154 - 04/02/13 05:15 AM Re: Baldwin Upright ca. 1903 Restoration [Re: wclifton1]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Thanks for the update, very cool! smile

Rob
_________________________
1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

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