Apple, you could check out the cost of an after-market "muting" rail which places a fabric between the hammers and the strings when engaged.
I know I've seen at least one where the operating lever was on the left side
of the piano rather than down on the lyre.
I called MidAmerica pianos about this once, and the rough ballpark figure for purchase and installation was between $400 and $500, with the caution that it was a "bit more" tricky to put one on a grand than an upright. I have no idea how that compares with other dealers.
BUT .... you have contacts![/b]
If you asked him real nice, I'm sure Philythy-Rich would drive one out to you the next time he comes out to do one of his 15 free tunings. I'm sure he'd like to see how his 250hp Magnum Roadster/bottle handles on the open road, anyway.
Jim Miller could offer his craftsman-like genius and might get kenny to drive him in from the West coast in his Mileage-Mobile to knock the transportation costs down from say $437 to $6.85 or so. CJQ could hone his cinematographic skills by taping close ups of your floorboards, if the Magnum-Mobile can accommodate two. (or if he and Rich get along really
Or maybe its
$ ergo the lego
I can get you a gross of soft earplugs for like 5 cents apiece, though.
[close-order edit drill required here, it seems:]
I'm happy to hear a tech knows of a lower price. I thought half a grand was pretty high, and perhaps my memory was a bit fuzzy on my price, as I heard it some time ago.
Re installation damage to piano: I believe the side mounted lever system required one hole (less than 1 inch diameter, maybe as small as 1/2 inch) be drilled the left side of the rim. I'm not sure how the other end was supported, but I'm guessing a bushing is screwed to the inside of the rim on the right side of the piano.)
Maybe the techs could belay your fears a bit with more details.