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#2134149 - 08/17/13 12:44 AM Regulating Victor Paling Pianola
Newby123 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Hello all,

I am currently studying a piano technology course by correspondence and was wondering if I could bother you all with a question.

My practice piano at the moment is an absolute clunker of a piano. It is a Victor Paling pianola (with player mechanism removed) and I am not sure where to begin with regulating as I am unable to find any specifications to work with. In particular id like to ask about regulating blow distance. My course indicates that the most probable regulation specification for blow distance for old uprights is 47.5mm but my piano currently has a blow distance of 50mm. When I set the hammer rail to the "correct" blow distance, the regulation rail is letting the jacks off way too early and there is not enough adjustment in the button to compensate. What would you do (besides not wasting the time regulating such a piano) if you were in my situation? Any help at all would be greatly appreciated and put to good use.



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#2134264 - 08/17/13 09:20 AM Re: Regulating Victor Paling Pianola [Re: Newby123]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4263
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Often with old instruments one takes the instruction books and spec sheets and sets them aside, as many of the geometry measurements will not work which is being discovered now.

The top most hammer is the lightest and will probably, in most cases, be used the least, so the original measurements will still be mostly in place, with some accounting for wear.

In a lot of cases with older instruments it is best to set them up “the way they want to run” instead of “by the book.”

Use your course measurements as a guideline only. With some of the geometry you will have to split the difference between what the course instruction is and how the instrument actually wants to run.

This will be setting up the action in an artisanal way rather than by the numbers. A bit advanced for a beginning student to comprehend, but good experience.

Jumping in the deep end can be a steep learning curve. Just go slow and understand that new adjustments may cause some of the earlier work completed to change.

With a worn hammer set you might never get the correct blow distance so split the difference for example. Try halfway and see what you get.
Dan Silverwood
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

#2134422 - 08/17/13 04:11 PM Re: Regulating Victor Paling Pianola [Re: Newby123]
Olek Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 9230
Loc: France
changing the hammer blow distance have no effect on letoff so you may be stating something else.

A common method to find a regulation , is to make sample with a standard key dip, as 10 mm or may be a little less on old pianos.

Then find the hammer travel distance that works well with that key dip, that mean, the one that put the jack 1-2 mm apart from the butt leather when the key is at full dip (with moderate pressure, about 250g).

(obviously the letoff have to be regulated to obtain that hammer blow distance, as your hammers are worn just allow for a larger letoff distance, account 1 mm or more for hammer wear and compacting for instance and make a letoff distance a littlelarge)

Then see where the jack is when the key is at full dip.

It may be necessary to bend the backcheck wire so the backcheck does not stop the action and the key can really go full dip.

before doing so, verify the location of the letoff rail, the buttons must be well centered above the jack tender, it is not so rare that the screw untighten and that rail is not in its original place, and that could be the cause of the letoff problem you state.

You need to understand the relation between the regulations, it is not so difficult but some are inter related and some not.

your course must provide some sketches showing the inter relations and groups of regulation.

you state "(besides not wasting the time regulating such a piano) if you were in my situation? Any help at all would be greatly appreciated and put to good use."

This is the wrong attitude as you will be gaining knowledge, even if the action is worn, and you need that action to be at last minimally responsive, to tune correctly (if the action is a 60% loss of energy, you will never be in position to tune the piano)

old player pianos have yet too long and too supple keys that create a loss of energy and make them less responsive, so you may at last obtain an adequate aftertouch (which is what the procedure above is about) so the energy put in the key is allowing the hammer impact and the key bottoming at the same time.

this is the best you can do with such an action whatever its condition is.

Edited by Olek (08/17/13 04:20 PM)
Professional of the profession.
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#2134517 - 08/17/13 08:05 PM Re: Regulating Victor Paling Pianola [Re: Newby123]
Newby123 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Thankyou very much for replying to my questions. And my apologies for not explaining myself as clearly as I should have. I completely understand what you are saying about great experience regulating and tuning an old piano. When I have technicians come and tune my K3 upright (which I am not allowed to practice on yet for obvious reasons) they all laugh and say good luck when I show them the victor. So its great to see that there are technicians out there who are interested in improving any instrument to the best of their ability.

My course does go into the relationships between certain sequences and their "knock on effect" however as I am finding with older pianos, these "knock on effects" really seem to throw the piano way out of regulation, ie adjusting one thing really effects another dramatically. That was what I was talking about with the regulation rail. When I adjust the hammer rail for blow distance (which I did not take into account the wear on the hammers) and adjust the capstans for lost motion, there wasnt enough movement left in the buttons to adjust them to let the jack off any later than what they were. Ive checked the screws on the regulation rail and they are nice and tight and it doesnt seem that its moved. Ive also loosened the screws to see if there was any slight movement that I could use to help and there was none.

Its also very interesting that you talk about the length of the keys effecting everything as well. I definitely would not have thought of that yet. I have noticed that it has a very light touch and it's almost impossible to get any dynamics out of the piano. I thought it may have been work key bushings (as there was a lot of sideplay) so I've replaced them and there is now no sideplay but it made no difference that I can feel to the touch of the piano at all.

Thankyou once again for taking the time to help. I very much appreciate the advice and explanations that you have both given.


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