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Topic Options
#2198565 - 12/16/13 02:33 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Paul678]
Chuck Behm Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 663
Loc: Boone, Iowa, USA

Hi Paul - I use J.B.Weld, although probably any paste type epoxy with a fast curing time would work well.

Joey - I haven't had a Starck console in the shop, but have had a spinet that was nice. From what I've seen, they made quality pianos:

[img:center][/img]

One thing to say about the epoxy repair is that your costs are negligible, especially if you're going to retain the old bass strings. You might see if your technician would part with a small quantity of DAG, to dress the top surface of the bridge once the repair was completed. Chuck
_________________________
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515-212-9220

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

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#2199152 - 12/17/13 01:37 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Chuck Behm]
fjb-tink Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/07/12
Posts: 6
Loc: central texas
Joey and all -- o.k. I was guessing it was a small piano based on the laminate s.b. That is not a board I would want to pull the bridge off. If any of the bridge remains glued it is

likely to take a huge part of the top layer of the s.b. with it when you pull it off. I failed to note that you hadn't had your tuner look at the piano. That would be step one and it is only a few dollars to find out the overall condition of the piano. Some tuners apply a portion of .the estimate fee to work at a later (but not too later) point.

I think the buzzing you hear is the bridge glue joint failure. Bridge pins holding that amount of stagger in the wire are not likely making much noise -- poor weak tone and false beats, yes. Buzzes will be strongest in the bass, obvious on the tenor bridge over the s.b. ribs that connect to the bass bridge and detectable throughout due to harmonics. You could still only be dealing with a bass bridge problem.

I suggested a glue repair in place to save money (even sentiment has its limits).
Chuck -- yes I might use an epoxy putty to fill cracks after the ca glue, but the only thing that matters is to stabilize the pins and leave a relatively clean termination at the speaking side of the bridge. The strings should pull to pitch if done carefully on a piano from the 60's. If you are not so lucky you break bass strings and pull them all off and pack them up and send them to mapes for replacement. Your tuner can sell you a few pins leftover from his restringing to use. If he doesn't have any you need to be using a different tuner for this project. by the way -- nice piano chuck. I wish people understood just how good some of the old uprights could be.

You will pay your tuner for an estimate, pitch raise and tuning at best. That shouldn't be too much given the family connection. Even if you have to buy bass strings it would still be not totally unreasonable -- for sentimental reasons. It will never sell for even the price of pitch raise and tuning though if that is part of your sentiment.

It is an easy bridge to re-cap as it is straight without complicated notching if you want the woodworking project. I would still do it in place for all of the reasons mentioned.

Have the tuner out for an assessment and estimate then decide if sentiment stretches to the bottom line. It was never a good piano, but it could be a functional piece of your family history saved from the dump. best luck.
_________________________
Frank J. Baxter
Frank's Refinishing & Sales
piano repair, refinishing, restoration, bone keytops

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#2199253 - 12/17/13 04:28 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: fjb-tink]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
It does appear that its just the cracked cantilever vibrating, and there is also some loose time on top that didn't help. O also found that the dampers didn't work too well, still lots of sound after the key is released. They touch the strings, so is it more an adjustment issue, or new felt? I'll upload more pics later.

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#2199323 - 12/17/13 06:08 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
Pictures, as promised:

(also, it's certainly a spinet, after looking at it again today I really don't think it's console size)

(do these hammers look OK?)





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#2199923 - 12/18/13 11:41 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Joeywhat Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/11/13
Posts: 18
Any thoughts on how those hammers look? It's hard to tell exactly how good/bad they sound when the the strings are so horribly out of tune. The piano does seem a little bright, but not bad (but again, hard to tell for sure).

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#2271823 - 05/06/14 11:03 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Dan Cravens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/14
Posts: 22
Loc: Central Texas
Please let me know if I should start a new thread. This is my first post on this forum and I don't know if it's better start a new or tag onto an existing thread when I have the same problem.

A little background first, I have a 1923 Gulbransen player piano that I've been reconditioning/restoring.



I know the finished resale value doesn't warrant the time and money I'll put into it, and I'm okay with that. I'm getting pleasure out of doing this. The craftmanship and materials that went into this piano are amazing! I do blacksmithing & welding and get immense satisfaction using tools and things I've personally made. I've also restored older cars and trucks, my daily driver is an early '55 Chevy 1/2 ton truck which I did a frame off. That said my background is metal working & mechanics, not wood working so this will be an educational, fun challenge. I do have a very skilled experienced wood working friend with a shop to lean on.

When I got the piano, only 3-4 keys played because the bridle straps were broken and most of the jacks were jammed under the hammer butts. Once the action was removed I was able to strum the strings individually and tell that it has a nice sound and progression. While the sound board has cracks I haven't heard any buzzing when testing any of the strings. All the treble bridges appear to be in good shape. A few small hairline cracks around those bridge pins, but none of them extended to neighboring pins.

The bass bridge is a different story, there's a long crack that goes along at least 3/4's of the upper pins.







While I never heard any buzzing from the bass strings, I don't know if it's tunable either. The bridge pins do appear to be stable for the time being but who knows when you try to tune it and start actually playing it. I assume without attention they'll get worse over time.

I have a copy of Arthur Reblitz's book and have found it an exceptional resource, but still have questions. First, can I unstring all of the bass strings without completely unstringing the piano? Last thing I want to do is crack the plate. I'd leave each string still attached to the tuning pin, but pulled out of the way. If so is there an order to loosening the tension on the bass strings and how much should you loosen at each step. I know from doing engine work you loosen and tighten head bolts in an order in a 3 step process. Arthur's book describes the process for the entire piano, but doesn't say if you could do just the bass section.

My wood working friend has offered to help build a new bass bridge. When considering replacement vs. recapping an advantage he said it might be good to have the old one as a future template in case something goes wrong. Creating a new one would seem easier as you can do any routing & drilling holes externally, setting the angle on a drill press vs. a hand drill.

Can the replacement of the bass bridge and repair of a cracked apron be done with the piano vertical? I eventually plan on laying the piano on it's back to do a CA treatment on the pinblock, (treble pins takes about 50" lbs to loosen, bass pins more like 20) I am hoping to avoid laying it over, because of limited space unless it's just for a couple of days. With young kids, a few days would be fine, more than that odds are something would get damaged either by them or me.

Lastly, does anyone have a link or documentation on re-dagging a bridge? Thank you for taking the time to read this, please let me know anything I've forgotten.

Dan



Edited by Dan Cravens (05/06/14 11:13 AM)
_________________________
1st time reconditioning 1923 Gulbransen, http://imgur.com/a/Zmvka

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#2271845 - 05/06/14 12:05 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21301
Loc: Oakland
Yes, you could remove the bass bridge with the piano vertical. After you have removed the rest of the strings, it should unscrew from the back of the soundboard, so leaving it vertical would be the easiest way to do it. It is a simple bridge to make, so it should be no problem for your friend.

Since you have to replace the bass strings and bridge anyway, you might consider removing the cantilever and giving more backscale to the bass, as Del Fandrich has spoken about. It would change the strings somewhat, but if you are replacing them anyway, the maker should be able to account for that.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2271863 - 05/06/14 12:30 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Dan Cravens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/14
Posts: 22
Loc: Central Texas
Thank you for your response. I'm finding the following interview with Del Fandrich here very interesting and worth consideration. http://pianopricepoint.com/piano-blog/

I'm sorry if this is a dumb question but do I need to unstring the entire piano using the method described in Reblitz's book, at least reduce the tension on all strings or is it safe for the piano (plate & soundboard) to evenly reduce the tension on the bass strings in steps and then remove them (still attached to the tuning pins)?
_________________________
1st time reconditioning 1923 Gulbransen, http://imgur.com/a/Zmvka

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#2271870 - 05/06/14 12:57 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7260
Loc: France
A lazy person would cut the actual bridge top thinner, and reinstall the pins farther. There is room for that. Old holes/cracks being closed and secured with epoxy or just glue.

The apron is extreme on that piano. It add a lot of suppleness to the bridge,(unfortunately the pressure is almost in grain direction) that mean lowers the power but with so long strings it can be an advantage.

Smaller aprons are cut to lower rigidity, usually.
Curved shaped bridges add stability.





Edited by Olek (05/06/14 12:59 PM)
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

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#2271871 - 05/06/14 01:00 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21301
Loc: Oakland
I think you should restring the entire piano. New strings are one of the biggest improvements you can make to an old piano. Besides, it is good practice.

If you would like to try your hand at rescaling the treble, you can use my spreadsheet template.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2271878 - 05/06/14 01:28 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Dan Cravens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/14
Posts: 22
Loc: Central Texas
Eventually I'd like to restring the entire piano, but I'm on a tight budget and short leash from my wife. I also want to make a series of small progressions before spending more $. I already have the parts I think I need to restore the action and keyboard. For the most part, time is my friend on this. If suddenly she sees me pouring a lot of money into this project, ie. lots of new parts showing up my wife is going to make life difficult. I'm forced to fund my hobbies doing things like weekend blacksmithing & welding, how I financed my truck's restoration. She feels like any extra should go towards bills (part of which already does).

At least for now, taking something that was headed for the junkyard that not only I got for free but the previous owner paid the entire moving costs then turning it into one that plays and the family can enjoy is my goal. Rebuilding the action is going to take some doing. I also want to see the results of doing a CA treatment. The treble tuning pins seem to hold well, but the bass ones turn very easily. Compared to an engine or transmission, this is easy to disassemble & reassemble. That would all change if I needed to remove the plate to get to the sound board or pinblock.


Edited by Dan Cravens (05/06/14 01:36 PM)
_________________________
1st time reconditioning 1923 Gulbransen, http://imgur.com/a/Zmvka

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#2271884 - 05/06/14 01:42 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Olek Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 7260
Loc: France
as it is an old player system you will have a playable piano, but the keys are too long to provide a good control on the action.

that may be can be helped with a "Touchrail" or similar idea (helping the keys to raise back.
still there is a little flexing in the keys that is not ideal.

Mechanically that is not sooo difiicult but chances are that you find the job boring.

Then there are also a huge pile of details that make the job eficient.


Edited by Olek (05/06/14 01:43 PM)
_________________________
Isaac OLEG - http://picasaweb.google.fr/PianoOleg pro

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#2271897 - 05/06/14 02:13 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Olek]
Dan Cravens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/14
Posts: 22
Loc: Central Texas
Perhaps it will be boring at times, right now not so much as I have lots to learn. So far it's been perfect in the evening when the kids are asleep. Time constraints, not able to make a lot of noise, get dirty etc. limits blacksmithing, welding, auto work. I can tinker with this for an hour or less and then stop.

Looks like the touchrail essentially replaces the keystop, nice idea I would've never thought of that. My ability to play piano is an intermediate level at best. I do like the fact that this piano has a mute strip and the option to decrease the distance of the hammers to the strings. Many times when I have the opportunity to play it's either early morning or late at night which has been an advantage with the digital we have.


Edited by Dan Cravens (05/06/14 02:22 PM)
_________________________
1st time reconditioning 1923 Gulbransen, http://imgur.com/a/Zmvka

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#2272039 - 05/06/14 07:40 PM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21301
Loc: Oakland
The big expense in restringing a piano is the bass strings. If you buy tuning pins by the dozen, they are more expensive than by the set. The bass strings cost more than the piano wire for the rest of the piano. It really does not make sense just to replace the bass strings.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2272290 - 05/07/14 09:47 AM Re: DIY upright bridge repair + restring [Re: Joeywhat]
Dan Cravens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/14
Posts: 22
Loc: Central Texas
For now though I not planning on restringing the piano, including the bass section. I know you're right that it would make a big difference in sound quality, but for now it will have to wait. Plan is to leave them attached to the tuning pins and move them out of the way so I can replace the bridge and repair the apron. Last night I reduced the tension on all of the strings, bass & treble as detailed in Reblitz's book. I was surprised that the majority of tuning pins required at least 50" lbs, some were closer to 75. Then a few bass pins are ~25. From what I've read on doing the CA treatment you treat all the pins?

Olek said "The apron is extreme on that piano. It add a lot of suppleness to the bridge,(unfortunately the pressure is almost in grain direction) that mean lowers the power but with so long strings it can be an advantage.

Smaller aprons are cut to lower rigidity, usually.
Curved shaped bridges add stability."

So the large or thick apron causes the bridge to flex more. When cutting a new bass bridge you want the woodgrain to go in the direction of the press, correct otherwise I think it would be more rigid but more likely to crack?

Is the reason the treble bridges are curved for stability, sound quality or both? I'm glad those are in good condition.
_________________________
1st time reconditioning 1923 Gulbransen, http://imgur.com/a/Zmvka

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