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Topic Options
#2075425 - 05/02/13 12:38 AM Steinway Victory Piano
DHardy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/01/13
Posts: 3
Loc: Alaska
Greetings! New to the forum. Sorry if this piano has been a topic of discussion before and I've missed it.

Just acquired a 1945 G.I. piano that I plan to at least partially restore. This thing has been sitting in an old cabin at Elmendorf AFB for decades and is really rough around the edges. I plan to re-string it as well as new key tops, etc. The pins are surprisingly tight for its age and exposure to climate changes over the years but of course I will replace those as well. I think the biggest challenge is going to the action, which has really been trashed and some of the hammers are missing. Unfortunately, it is also missing the music desk that pulls out.

My question today; are there any discussion boards where people post about parts from old pianos that they are maybe parting out? I contacted Steinway and was told that hammers are still available for this piano, but that the action was discontinued quite some time ago. Can anyone suggest the best place to start looking? If someone had one of these pianos that is heavily damaged and not otherwise salvageable, I would be more than willing to purchase the keys, and an intact, serviceable action, even if the hammers were in poor shape.

I know it may not seem reasonable or prudent to put so much effort into this piano, but I was stationed at Elmendorf years ago, and getting this piano from there has a special significance that makes me want to resurrect this little piece of history.

Any tips and suggestions are welcome and appreciated.
_________________________
Dale Hardy
Fairbanks, Alaska

1922 Mason & Hamlin A
1945 Steinway Victory G.I. Field Piano

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#2075606 - 05/02/13 03:04 AM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1570
Loc: Reseda, California
It's extremely unlikely that you'll find anybody parting out a piano with exactly the action you need. Unlike classic cars, parting out old pianos doesn't happen all that much. But you can get a new action stack made for it by Renner in Germany.

Can you post some pictures? I've never seen a Steinway Victory piano.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2075610 - 05/02/13 03:10 AM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21823
Loc: Oakland
These pianos were basic 40" vertical Steinways, so they probably have standard Pratt Read actions, like thousands of other pianos. Pictures I have seen are only slightly different from those sold later, except that the legs were integrated into the body for strength, as would be fitting for something that would be expected to be moved a lot.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2075671 - 05/02/13 07:26 AM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2180
Loc: Maine
Your lack of access to the parts sources available to trades people, and lack of familiarity with repair and parts substitution will hurt you on this one. I'd suggest finding a local tech who will work with you.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#2075701 - 05/02/13 08:38 AM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2075707 - 05/02/13 08:42 AM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
Craig Hair Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/03/11
Posts: 205
Loc: Holyoke, MA
What a score!

As a WW2 artifact it is tops. How many G.I. pianos could there be? I would Imagine that a little research into the USO shows at the base would give the piano a fine pedigree of artists, perhapse even Bob Hope. Any VFW, or military museum, would be proud to have it. Personaly, I would sacrifice a later civilian unit to fill this one out.

As a piano it is just about worthless. With a little time, though, I'm sure a similar piano can be found, the action shipped, and the rest tossed. This may or may not be cheaper than replacement. If you don't do the work yourself, it could get pricey.

Is the case still olive drab?
_________________________
Craig Hair
Hampshire Piano
Holyoke, MA

hampshirepiano.co
soundboardrecrown.com

If I seem slow, I simply must be stopped

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#2076210 - 05/02/13 09:53 PM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
DHardy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/01/13
Posts: 3
Loc: Alaska
Yes, the case is olive drab (what paint is left, that is). Mahogany veneer is underneath the paint and it appears pretty decent. At first I was tempted to refinish it in the mahogany, but it would no longer be a G.I. Piano, so I'll stay with the original when I get to that point. I did run across all those pics of the Victory Piano from the Steinway archives on Flicker. Very cool. My assumption is that these pianos were made for general sales (why else would they all have mahogany veneer put on to begin with) and then painted the olive drab before putting them in the field when the war heated up.

On top of the pin block there's part of a sticker that I'm sure has to say "accelerated," I'm assuming for accelerated action. Would this mean that it has a proprietary Steinway action rather than the ubiquitous Pratt Read? I'm awaiting the delivery of a copy of "The Official Guide to Steinway Pianos," which I'm hoping will shed more light about the technical specifications and other aspects of it's production. And no doubt I'll be working with the local piano tech here in Fairbanks, but I'll be doing most of the work myself. I'm pretty good at tuning, regulating, and minor repair, but do not have experience in a total rebuild. I think this will be a great project to cut my teeth on so I can feel better about tearing into the Mason some day.

I can't be sure, but from what I'm able to gather, it is very possible that Mr. Hope "tickled the ivories" on this piano once. As an aside, I found, securely stuck to the bottom of the key bed, several wads of chewing gum the consistency of concrete. At first I was rather disgusted and wanted to knock them off with hammer and chisel, but then changed my mind. Who knows? Maybe there's a little of Bob's DNA in one of them. Can't put a price on that!:-)

Thanks everyone for your comments. When I get a little time I'll snap a few pics and post them.
_________________________
Dale Hardy
Fairbanks, Alaska

1922 Mason & Hamlin A
1945 Steinway Victory G.I. Field Piano

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#2076230 - 05/02/13 10:08 PM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1253
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Here's a link to an old Piano World thread on another Steinway Victory piano.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1446996.html
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#2076239 - 05/02/13 10:18 PM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21823
Loc: Oakland
The "Accelerated Action" refers to using half-round pivots on the balance rail instead of flat felt cloth punchings. Those parts are still available from Steinway.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2076390 - 05/03/13 02:19 AM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: Craig Hair]
phacke Online   content

Gold Supporter until November 11 2014


Registered: 10/18/12
Posts: 578
Loc: CO, USA
Originally Posted By: Craig Hair

What a score!

As a WW2 artifact it is tops. How many G.I. pianos could there be?


According to Lieberman in the book "Steinway & Sons," p. 227, almost 3000 were ordered by Oct 1944.
_________________________
phacke

Steinway YM (1933)
...Working on:
J. S. Bach, Sonata No. 1 in B minor (BWV 1014) duet with violin
F. Chopin, Prelude 28 (15)

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#2076395 - 05/03/13 02:34 AM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: Craig Hair]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1570
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: Craig Hair
What a score! As a WW2 artifact it is tops.


Indeed.... I'm working on a simple played by ear arrangement of "Der Fuehrer's Face" which would be quite appropriate for this one when it's restored.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2076396 - 05/03/13 02:37 AM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
phacke Online   content

Gold Supporter until November 11 2014


Registered: 10/18/12
Posts: 578
Loc: CO, USA
Originally Posted By: Dale Hardy
My assumption is that these pianos were made for general sales (why else would they all have mahogany veneer put on to begin with) and then painted the olive drab before putting them in the field when the war heated up.


While it is likely some fraction of these pianos ended up in general sales because S&S also sold various pianos during WW2 to 'approved essential users, religious organizations, education, hotels, public facilities' (Lieberman book, S&S, p. 228), the mahogany under the olive drab is not necessarily an indication that these were for general sales. Steinway puts mahogany veneer even on the pianos they lacquer black. At the NY factory tour, they told me this was because it had the material properties they sought for the surface of the piano.
_________________________
phacke

Steinway YM (1933)
...Working on:
J. S. Bach, Sonata No. 1 in B minor (BWV 1014) duet with violin
F. Chopin, Prelude 28 (15)

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#2076568 - 05/03/13 10:38 AM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
Dale Fox Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1075
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
The one example I bought from the NCO club at McClellan AFB years ago, was painted in successive coats of latex, white, blue and finally red with some peeling between layers in evidence. I was quite surprised to fine an original olive drab lacquer beneath the latex and a surprisingly nice walnut veneer beneath the original lacquer.

It was way too beat up to consider going to a clear finish though and is now happily residing in a nice home with an ebony finish.
_________________________
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#2076728 - 05/03/13 03:40 PM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1570
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: Dale Hardy
Yes, the case is olive drab (what paint is left, that is).


You might want to check with a dealer in military collectibles before you re-finish it. Sometimes the "patina" is what they value.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2076963 - 05/04/13 01:58 AM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
DHardy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/01/13
Posts: 3
Loc: Alaska
I was familiar with the half round pivots on the balance rail, but wasn't sure if there were any other differences that make it an "accelerated action."

Interesting tid-bit from the Official Guide to Steinway Pianos, pg. 223; "A special production line was the G.I. Field Piano, wartime military contracts: Victory, Sketch 1051a (1942-46, 1948-53) and Regency Victory, Sketch 1071a (1942-43). The G.I. Field Pianos were made out of established art case designs with the same sketch numbers, but were reinforced for heavy-duty military use with toe blocks and attachments underneath the keybeds for transporting. Many G.I. Field Pianos were finished in Olive Drab. Some surplus 1051a cases, finished in non-military colors, were completed as late as 1954." Mine is the 1051a, model 40 (1945).

Thanks again for the comments and links. (a tour of the Steinway Factory has been on my bucket list for quite some time)


Edited by DHardy (05/04/13 02:11 AM)
_________________________
Dale Hardy
Fairbanks, Alaska

1922 Mason & Hamlin A
1945 Steinway Victory G.I. Field Piano

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#2077110 - 05/04/13 10:59 AM Re: Steinway Victory Piano [Re: DHardy]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7904
Loc: France
A friend repaired the one which is now in the liberation museum in Caen .

New strings , new action (Renner) not cheap.

The piano plays from time to time for jazz concerts
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It is critical that you call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor S. 2587 and H.R. 5052. Getting your legislators to cosponsor these bills


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