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#2170896 - 10/23/13 10:27 PM Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps)
Jude of Absolute Piano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/29/08
Posts: 6
Loc: New England
The Poole Piano Co. collaborated with Alcoa in the late 40's to produce a few prototype plates made of aluminum instead of cast iron. I recently had the opportunity to tune one of these: a spinet of no particularly noteworthy repute, structurally sound, but suffering from the use of Teflon whippen and damper lever flanges. I am curious if anyone out there has encountered aluminum plates or has any information about its historical usage.

I have pictures but don't know how to insert into a post. Thanks.

Jude Reveley
Absolute Piano Restoration
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Jude Reveley, RPT
Absolute Piano Restoration, Inc.
www.absolute-piano.com

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#2170899 - 10/23/13 10:34 PM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Jude of Absolute Piano]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1957
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
I have tuned and worked on a few Jude. The tuning will change significantly with temperature changes because the coefficient of thermal expansion for Aluminum is about twice that of iron.

How did it come to have teflon bushings?
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2170901 - 10/23/13 10:44 PM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Jude of Absolute Piano]
Jude of Absolute Piano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/29/08
Posts: 6
Loc: New England
Ed!!! Great to hear from you and I love your book. I also meant to compliment you on your article-extremely well written. One of these days I want to try out your patent for the front duplex-just gotta keep saving up!

I believe the Poole Co. just slapped in their standard action of the time which would have included the Teflon flanges. I would assume that a special plate pattern would have to be made to imprint the cope and drag due to the differing contraction rates of aluminum compared to cast iron? But that's a big expense.

The few you worked on, were they uprights, grands? Who were the manufacturers? I have to say that the piano wasn't tuned in years but it was still at pitch. Aluminum doesn't suggest itself to me as a suitable material, although I know a few movers that would disagree> wink
_________________________
Jude Reveley, RPT
Absolute Piano Restoration, Inc.
www.absolute-piano.com

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#2170903 - 10/23/13 10:53 PM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Jude of Absolute Piano]
Chuck Behm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 667
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA
Quote:
I have pictures but don't know how to insert into a post. - Jude Reveley


Hi Jude - An easy way to post pictures is to go to TinyPics.com . Follow the directions, then copy the URL, and click on the 2nd from the left icon up at the top of the reply page.

I've tuned several pianos with these Alcoa plates over the years, but always on lackluster pianos. Don't really know much about them. I remember seeing some advertisements for them in old (1960's) Journals I could look up, but the information would be pretty hyped up I'm sure.

That's about the same time certain manufacturers were trying to push the wrap-around keytops with the plastic skirts. The spin on those was that they were slightly rounded on the top, so you didn't really need to spend any time leveling them. Thank god those died out over the years. Chuck



Edited by Chuck Behm (10/23/13 10:54 PM)
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www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke

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#2170907 - 10/23/13 11:07 PM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Jude of Absolute Piano]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 1957
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Thanks for the compliments.

They were all uprights. Winter spinets if I recall correctly. Rippen did an aluminum grand that was mid 20th century modern style. Alcoa made the plates for Winter.

I used your bridge pin templates on the Aeolian M&H BB I am just finishing up. My bridge pin bi-chord punch is too narrow. Thanks for giving me those. This piano will be the 12th I have done with the Fully Tempered Duplex Scale. It also will have a hybrid wire scale. I converted notes 22, 23 and 24 to wound tri-chords with Paulello type O core and Mapes stainless wraps. Copper on the low singles. Note 25, 26, 27 and 28 are plain type O wire. The remaining treble is all Mapes "gold". I boosted and evenly graduated the the treble lengths a little and narrowed the upper treble bridge to lower the mass and open up the treble tone. (I have done this on several previous BB's and the result was very good). It should be the greatest BB in the world when I am done. All that lovely dark tenor/bass tone but with a dynamic, open treble.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2170910 - 10/23/13 11:14 PM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Chuck Behm]
Jude of Absolute Piano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/29/08
Posts: 6
Loc: New England
Thanks Chuck. Testing image here:

Aluminum Plate
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Jude Reveley, RPT
Absolute Piano Restoration, Inc.
www.absolute-piano.com

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#2170918 - 10/23/13 11:27 PM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Jude of Absolute Piano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/29/08
Posts: 6
Loc: New England
Ed,

I'd love to hear your BB-too bad your on the other side of town!

I'm glad the bridge templates were useful. I've since redesigned them: 1/4" acrylic supports the pins better. I also switched the etching to the underside to eliminate any parallax, extended the reference lines and added more spacing options. If you find them useful, email me privately and I'll see about sending you the upgraded version.

Well, the Red Sox just put game one to bed so good night to all
_________________________
Jude Reveley, RPT
Absolute Piano Restoration, Inc.
www.absolute-piano.com

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#2170920 - 10/23/13 11:34 PM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Jude of Absolute Piano]
Chuck Behm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 667
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA


Jude - You're almost there - but I gave you the wrong directions. Take the code from Tiny Pics, and insert your photo into your post, using the 4th icon from the left (Enter an image). It will come out like this:

[img:center]http://[/img]

Sorry about that. It's late. Chuck
_________________________
Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke

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#2171000 - 10/24/13 02:48 AM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Jude of Absolute Piano]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2380
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
I've tuned a few aluminum-plate spinets. They also tend to flex with the change in tension if they're very far down pitch. I've had the tuning change as I progressed.

PSO's, the lot of them...
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2171077 - 10/24/13 07:57 AM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Jude of Absolute Piano]
bkw58 Online   content

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014


Registered: 03/14/09
Posts: 1673
Loc: Conway, AR USA
Tuned a few of these also. Never saw a grand with one. Seems like K&B used for a short time, but I could be mistaken. There was a noticeable resonating effect that I did not care for. Anemic is a good word for it.


Edited by bkw58 (10/24/13 08:01 AM)
Edit Reason: typo
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Bob W.
Retired piano technician
Piano Technicę

"Never argue with a fool, people may not be able to tell you apart." - author unknown

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#2171335 - 10/24/13 03:16 PM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Jude of Absolute Piano]
Samthetech Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 78
I just picked up a 64 key spinet yesterday with an aluminum plate by ALCOA. (It cost me a whole $15.) The original owners used it as a "traveling piano" for their band. The whole piano was only about 150 pounds and fit in the back of my SUV. Unfortunately, it has obviously been worked on by many different technicians of differing skill levels as well as beaten to death and I'll have to replace all of the elbows before I can deliver any verdict on it as it is currently unplayable.

I imagine that it will do its theorized job as a "portable piano" very well. I don't think anybody expects greatness out of such a tiny little spinet. I do expect to have some fun with the repair, and may just keep it instead of selling it. I have seen a few other pianos like it, all of them owned by people with truly limited space. They hold their tune reasonably well if maintained. I'm not sure if a larger piano with an aluminum plate would hold a tune.
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Piano Technician, 3 years experience

And why yes, I know I'm a girl!

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#2171467 - 10/24/13 07:52 PM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Jude of Absolute Piano]
Eric Gloo Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1228
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
The two that I've seen were both Winter spinets...with early plastic in the actions. All the flanges, jacks, elbows, back checks, damper levers, and damper heads were plastic...crumbling to dust.
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#2171574 - 10/25/13 12:20 AM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Eric Gloo]
Samthetech Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: Eric Gloo
The two that I've seen were both Winter spinets...with early plastic in the actions. All the flanges, jacks, elbows, back checks, damper levers, and damper heads were plastic...crumbling to dust.



I assume that's what I've got (The decal is gone due to at least two refinishes), but only the elbows are early plastic. Everything else is wood.
_________________________
Piano Technician, 3 years experience

And why yes, I know I'm a girl!

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#2171584 - 10/25/13 12:39 AM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Jude of Absolute Piano]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2380
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Someone refinished a Winter spinet...................twice????
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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#2171823 - 10/25/13 12:51 PM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: OperaTenor]
Samthetech Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/11/13
Posts: 78
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
Someone refinished a Winter spinet...................twice????




Yep... Some things can not be explained. There's still a layer of paint on the inside of the case that the second person missed when they refinished it. (At least its not still covered in paint!)
_________________________
Piano Technician, 3 years experience

And why yes, I know I'm a girl!

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#2171849 - 10/25/13 01:47 PM Re: Aluminum Piano Plates (Harps) [Re: Samthetech]
OperaTenor Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/06
Posts: 2380
Loc: Sandy Eggo, California
Originally Posted By: Samthetech
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
Someone refinished a Winter spinet...................twice????




Yep... Some things can not be explained. There's still a layer of paint on the inside of the case that the second person missed when they refinished it. (At least its not still covered in paint!)


LOL!
_________________________
Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
[url=www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind]www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind[/url]

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