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#613373 - 10/23/08 07:00 PM check temporary fix for una corda not returning action to left?
james c Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/23/08
Posts: 31
Loc: Berkeley, CA
Background:

A couple of years ago I had new action parts and hammers installed in my 1968 Steinway B.

Problems:

One problem is the una corda pedal would not return the action fully to the left when released- except during summer months.

Pressing on the keyframe I could note the action moved to the left and also slightly away from me as it returned fully to the left.

Another problem (I dont know if it is related): During the winter months when the house is colder, the key frame is sometimes not well bedded to the keybed (knocking in the bass and treble)

Neither of these problems existed prior to the action work.

My technician did not want to make any adjustments to the piano; he has been consistent in recommending a humidity regulation system during the last two years that I have repeatedly mentioned this.

I did not choose to install the humidity system and instead fixed it myself this morning.

My fix:

I removed the action and made two changes. First, I shimmed the return spring between the sring and frame with about 1.5mm of plastic stock. Second I noted a small dirty rub mark on the front of the keybed and and lightly sanded off the mark.

The action returns properly and I think the piano sounds better.

I have not determined if the key frame bedding is better. I may try to fix this by sanding the bottom of the front of the key frame.

My question:

Is this a safe fix until I resolve the conflict with my technician?

I am also interested in possible alternatives, and comments on, the humidity regulation system.

Thank you!

James

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#613374 - 10/23/08 07:19 PM Re: check temporary fix for una corda not returning action to left?
Gene Nelson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1464
Loc: Old Hangtown California
Is this a safe fix until I resolve the conflict with my technician?

Possibly - it depends on where the excessive friction is. Bedding a Steinway key frame takes a bit of work by someone that knows what they are doing. I would not advise you to start sanding on it. The big leaf return spring usually retains its power for a very long time -it is probably not the problem, strengthing it may add to your problems.

Living in the bay area I would say that at least the dehumidifier portion of the humidity control system is a very good investment.
_________________________
RPT
PTG Member

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#613375 - 10/23/08 07:28 PM Re: check temporary fix for una corda not returning action to left?
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
I agree with Gene.

Sounds like the technician isn't capable of bedding the key frame and solving the problem's at hand. If he isn't willing or can't, time to move to another tech that is.

Could be something is warping too. Invest in a Dampp Chaser system to help prevent this from reoccurring but, get another person in there to solve the problem the correct way. Don't do guess work, you could, screw it up good if you sand the wrong stuff in the wrong places and create an even greater problem or expense.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#613376 - 10/23/08 07:50 PM Re: check temporary fix for una corda not returning action to left?
james c Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/23/08
Posts: 31
Loc: Berkeley, CA
Thank you for the reply.

That reminds me that when I examined the return spring, it was not symmetrical. That is, the leaf closest to me projected out more from the frame than the rear leaf. Is that what it should look like?

One reason why I resisted the dehumidifier is that of the many pianos I have performed on, including many fine concert instruments in different parts of the country, I can never remember seeing a dehumidifier. Not all of the concert halls were humidity controlled, and I don't recall ever encountering a piano with this una corda or key bedding problem. Are dehumidifiers a relatively new requirement?

edit- Jerry, thank you- I just want to be sure I am not being too fussy because the piano does operate properly during the season that it was originally set up and that it is reasonable for my piano to be bedded correctly throughout the year even without a dehumidifier.

I have considered adding it- it is simply I have never seen one before and I have played lots of pianos!

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#613377 - 10/23/08 08:00 PM Re: check temporary fix for una corda not returning action to left?
Gene Nelson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/04
Posts: 1464
Loc: Old Hangtown California
Dehumidifiers are not required. In fact, in a grand action - the effect on the action may be minimal depending on the installation and weather or not you keep the lid closed.
For the time that I worked at the University in Sacramento, I can say that it would have been impossible to keep 135 pianos in tune without the help of dehumidifiers, especially in the summer when the building HVAC people use the cool damp outside air to assist cooling when the delta breeze comes up in the afternoon.
Dehumidifiers help stabilize the mositure content of the wood, this improves tuning stability and there is less stress on glue joints adding to longevity of the piano. Also, the Steinway compression type soundboard may develop compression ridges - these may eventually open to cracks - stable wood moisture content can help prevent this.
I will add that as you have observed the action moving in and out as well as right to left when engaging the una chorda pedal - there is probably an issue with the cheek blocks and possibly contact with the dags in the rear of the action cavity.
There is usually symmetry with the leaf return spring.
_________________________
RPT
PTG Member

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#613378 - 10/23/08 08:09 PM Re: check temporary fix for una corda not returning action to left?
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
I've installed tons of them in pianos. The best pianos deserve the best care. You won't regret the purchase if it is installed correctly.

Dampp Chaser has a list of technicians they recommend who are installers. The ones with stars behind their names have installed the most units with the most experience but, that doesn't mean they are good just because of that... Some install for the money while others install for the right reasons instead. I'd ask for recommendations in this case. Maybe even talk to the people he referred you too asking if it helped their piano...

Check it out. http://www.pianolifesaver.com/english/installer.php

All of our Steinway's including our D's have a Dampp Chaser system installed in them. The concert pianos even have their own humidified room as well a Dampp Chaser system on them.

Dampp Chaser's consists of both the de-humidifier as well as the humidifier and a humidistat. Many times, we can get them up high enough where they are not visible.

Something is amiss if it works properly in one season and not in another. My guess would be key bedding or dirt or something like what you sanded off. But, it could be more.

The spring may be broken or cracked too for that matters.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#613379 - 10/23/08 09:44 PM Re: check temporary fix for una corda not returning action to left?
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
It shouldn't knock in the treble or the bass. The ends of the front rail float and are held down by the cheek blocks. That is why you can't set dip on a steinway without the cheek blocks in place. At least that's what I thought.

Especially since you say the action is moving front to back also. Then the cheek block guides are not doing their job.

The spring should be plenty strong. Jerry has got it right. The spring is broken.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#613380 - 10/23/08 09:58 PM Re: check temporary fix for una corda not returning action to left?
james c Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/23/08
Posts: 31
Loc: Berkeley, CA
I will try to find a qualified local technician to take a look at it. Sadly, my three best local contacts all have died in the last 5 or so years so I will be starting from scratch.

Thanks again,

James

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#613381 - 10/23/08 11:01 PM Re: check temporary fix for una corda not returning action to left?
Dave Stahl Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/07
Posts: 1645
Talk to Peter Sumner. He posts often here, and lives in Redwood City.
_________________________
Promote Harmony in the Universe...Tune your piano!

Dave Stahl, RPT
Piano Technician's Guild
San Jose, CA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAniw3m7L2I
http://dstahlpiano.net

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#613382 - 10/24/08 02:08 AM Re: check temporary fix for una corda not returning action to left?
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21288
Loc: Oakland
Most problems with una corda pedals are at the guide pins in the cheek blocks. They are usually not difficult to fix.

Unless you live over a creek, there is very little need for humidity control around here.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#613383 - 10/24/08 05:40 AM Re: check temporary fix for una corda not returning action to left?
tds Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/30/06
Posts: 446
Loc: Bastrop, Texas
Typically, you either add or remove shims under the front of the cheek blocks to adjust the side to side movement of the keyframe.

When the keyframe knocks, you remove shims until it stops. When the return is sluggish, you add shims until it frees up.

I would check the bedding first and the shims second. You might also have to replace the keyframe guide pins and/or the cheek block plates because of excessive wear.
_________________________
Stay tuned.

Tom Seay, Recovering Piano Technician
Bastrop, Texas

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