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#647426 - 09/30/07 12:48 PM Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
jaguar8888 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/07
Posts: 27
Loc: Sydney Australia
I have a 7ft Chappell grand, 1914, with a Schwander action. About half of the repetition/jack springs cords have broken and someone who called themselves a piano technician replaced them with string tied in a knot!! Is there any easier was of fixing these rather than drilling out the little holes and fixing new cord in again? Also, what's the trick with hammer levelling with those awful rocker system double screw devices? A special kind of offset ratchet screwdriver or what? Thanks!

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#647427 - 09/30/07 01:40 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
I haven't had a rachet screwdriver but an off set one works. On those I loosen up the screw I don't need to move the hammer. Then bring the hammer up (or down) to just past where you want it. Tighten up the other until you see it come back into place. Then you know you have both screws nicely snug and you haven't left one loose or overtightened.

If the old cords don't come out with heat and/or water, I can't think of any other way.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#647428 - 09/30/07 04:07 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20741
Loc: Oakland
The cords are wedged in with the tips of round toothpicks and are not glued. Push the wedge out from the cord end and replace the cord and wedge. Have some toothpicks on hand if you need replacements.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#647429 - 10/01/07 07:43 AM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by jaguar8888:
Is there any easier was of fixing these rather than drilling out the little holes and fixing new cord in again?
No. That is the proper repair.

 Quote:
Also, what's the trick with hammer levelling with those awful rocker system double screw devices? A special kind of offset ratchet screwdriver or what? Thanks! [/QB]
There is only one tool which will save your sanity when you work on a grand with so-called rocker capstans.



For more information on this tool, look here:
http://www.pianofortesupply.com/offsetinfo.html

You're welcome!
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#647430 - 10/01/07 11:53 AM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1253
Loc: Tomball, Texas
The sensible solution to the rocker action is to retrofit modern parts. I retained the wippen, but milled a slot in the bottom to acomodate a Renner heel. I then added capstans and voila, an easy to regulate action at minimal expense.

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#647431 - 10/01/07 12:03 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Larry Buck Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2313
Loc: Lowell MA
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Pels:
The sensible solution to the rocker action is to retrofit modern parts. I retained the whippen, but milled a slot in the bottom to accommodate a Renner heel. I then added capstans and voila, an easy to regulate action at minimal expense. [/b]
Just replacing the current style with a capstan and heel without taking a good look at design can set up potential problems. Not just leverage but friction at the glide path of the capstan at the heel.

An interesting benefit to the rocker/sticker style of action you have now is the reduced friction over what would be the heel and capstan system.

Of course, if there are other problems with the action that can be resolved by changing the design, well, it may be worth taking a look.

Larry
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
www.finepianodevelopment.com

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#647432 - 10/01/07 04:26 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
I must agree with Larry. Once the hammer height/blow distance has been set with rocker capstans, they operate essenially without friction and are very direct. It makes for a good, some say even better touch than screw capstan set-ups.

Minimal expense?? How much time does it take to examine parts, calculate the new geometry, unscrew all wippens, make/set up a jig to cut the bottom of the wippen flush, and another jig to the mill a slot, glue in new heels, re-install wippens, aligne parts, remove keys, remove rocker capstans, drill for new capstans (jig set up etc), screw in capstans, regulate from scratch? Can anyone do this in a couple of hours? Including parts and labor that's a few hundred $$ isn't it?
I don't find that a minimal expense for the technician's regulating convenience; the player has no benefit from this modification.

I would say: think twice before replacing this working system.

I have seen "simple replacements" that were poorly done - geometry and allignment were out, so there are persistent problems with friction, wear, squeaks/noise, and the touch is definitely not improved, quite to the contrary.
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#647433 - 10/01/07 04:55 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1253
Loc: Tomball, Texas
Well naysayers, my 1909 Weber plays like a dream. I wouldn't WASTE time regulating a dopey rocker action. Bring the instrument into the present day. Heck, the rocker action was a dinosaur in its day. It is a permanent and wonderful solution. Did it take a bunch of time, and assume that I had a brain, and didn't make things worse? EVIDENTLY!! Furthermore, I would do it again. For every rocker action I would ever come across, I would replace it. The long term benefit, is that the next time it needs a regulation, it will be an easy task. No, it can't be done in a couple of hours, but it would take more than a couple of hours to regulate a rocker action. Jag already has wippen rebuilds to ponder to renew the silkthread. Might it not be a great time to get out the Renner catalog and put one's brain in gear and retrofit new parts anyway? Sheesh! This assumes of course that the Challen is otherwise a decent instrument, and one is not throwing good money after bad.

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#647434 - 10/01/07 10:52 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Larry Buck Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2313
Loc: Lowell MA
John,

On your Weber, how did you determine the proper location and profile of your new capstans and heels?
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
www.finepianodevelopment.com

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#647435 - 10/02/07 06:01 AM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Good for you, John. Perhaps that conversion would be a good class at a PTG seminar. I would love to see a presentation of the whole process.
Until then, I'll stick with the four-sided offset screwdriver. Hours of regulating the hammer line? Nah.. maybe 50% longer than with regular capstans. (Do samples first, to avoid having to re-do the whole set of 88)

cheers
_________________________
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply
www.pianofortesupply.com

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

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#647436 - 10/02/07 06:33 AM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20741
Loc: Oakland
Rocker capstans do not need to be adjusted as often as capstan screws, since there is no wippen felt to compress.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#647437 - 10/02/07 11:02 AM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1253
Loc: Tomball, Texas
The location of the capstan was determined by the location of the original rocker pivot. The dimension of the heel was determined by my desire to have the wippen at the same attitude (in relation to horizontal) that it was originally. The rascal literally "fell" into regulation and I couldn't be happier. I admit some time was spent initially and also making milling jigs etc., but I bought the instrument from a college in the northwest and judging by the rest of the instrument the whole problem REALLY was that they wouldn't invest the time to regulate it or the money to upgrade it. It sounded wonderful as it was, the pins were tight, good bearing and crown, but the regulation was totally out of wack.

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#647438 - 10/02/07 12:27 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Larry Buck Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2313
Loc: Lowell MA
Thanks John,

You might consider that you are lucky.
There are numerous grands out there with work done as you describe, decisions made as you did, that play terribly.

Again, this is not to minimize your success.

But more, based on the experience of having witnessed many failures, to point out realities and risks of certain plans described with a particular broad stroke of the "success" brush.

Also, the old design does have particular benefits. AND experienced techs do regulate that style of rocker fairly quickly.

Your point on having to rebuild the rep is valid but still, for some of us, that too is a short task.

Do you mind if I ask, are you a piano tech?

Larry
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
www.finepianodevelopment.com

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#647439 - 10/02/07 04:35 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1253
Loc: Tomball, Texas
Larry, I am a teacher mainly, but I rebuild pianos at times for friends and students. I have been doing this for around 20 years. I don't fear much. I have removed soundboards and disassembled them and reassembled them. I have taken total junk and made wonderful instruments out of them. My Dad was a mechanical engineer and I am my father's son though my degrees were in piano performance rather than engineering. The mechanical thing comes very easy to me. My wife is inclined to say I was "born knowing it". I don't consider myself "lucky". I analyze the design and act on my analyses. I have never had a poor playing piano action. I have inherited many problems brought about by other techs that thought they had a clue. It seems to me that if you have an action that is playing well, in other words it is responsive and the touchweight is within spec, swapping heels and capstans for that rocker action is not that big of a deal. I am not saying that it is not possible to make a mess out of anything, goodness knows I have seen a bunch of that, but if one takes one's time and reasons this stuff out the outcome should be positive.

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#647440 - 10/02/07 04:47 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1253
Loc: Tomball, Texas
Jurgen, there are plenty RPT's doing conversions of rocker actions. Here in Houston, it was the norm 18 years ago anyway. I saw this done at just such a meeting. I guess for me it seemed the "normal" thing to do. It certainly makes working on the action a lot easier in the long run, whether you are easing a key or changing center rail punchings after it has been rebuilt and played for 6 months and things invariably settle. Then you are once again required to separate all of those pivots from the keys, just to remove the action stack and gain access to those punchings. Sorry guys, I can't buy any of your rationale to not go forward with this. Every time you turn around and have to do ANY action work, too much time is wasted. There are many reasons that they got away from this design.

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#647441 - 10/02/07 11:58 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Larry Buck Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2313
Loc: Lowell MA
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Pels:
Sorry guys, I can't buy any of your rationale to not go forward with this. Every time you turn around and have to do ANY action work, too much time is wasted. [/b]
Tell me why you need to be continually going back into the action?

And ...

It sounds like you have the answers.
May I suggest you get into the business of doing these for hire.

Sell the customer, do the work, manage the expectations, be personally and financially responsible for the results. Put your reputation on the line.

After you have done this for a few years, get back to us and let us know that your perspective remains the same.

Larry
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
www.finepianodevelopment.com

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#647442 - 10/03/07 02:03 AM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1253
Loc: Tomball, Texas
Larry, I play hours a day. The instrument gets a workout. Key height changes. Felt compacts. You know the drill.I'm all about maintenance, that's why I learned how to do it. Like I said initially as regards this instrument, it was likely sold BECAUSE of this action. It's my piano, that's why I did it. The bottom line is that I did the work, and it works great. If others want to improve the serviceablity of their rocker equipped pianos it is possible to do so and it will save time and grief in the long run. I am responsible in all ways for the work that I have done. I still teach students whose pianos I rebuilt 15 years ago. Every time I play them I am reminded of how nice they play, and what decent work I have accomplished. I have never had a single complaint about any of my rebuilds. On the contrary, I get reminded by my students how much nicer they play than pianos that they play at local piano stores when they go in to buy music.These include the major Japanese lines and also Baldwins. I still teach a student for whom I rebuilt a Steinway B. She refers to it as her "magic piano".

I doubt my perspective will change. It (rocker action) was not a great design and it has not stood the test of time, otherwise it would have been universally adopted which apparently it was not. We will have to agree to disagree Larry.

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#647443 - 10/03/07 08:25 AM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
jaguar8888 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/07
Posts: 27
Loc: Sydney Australia
Well well - what have I started!? Great to see all these replies. On the question of replacing the early rocker and push-up, I DID put modern whippens in an 1890 Grotrian Steinweg grand once and it was a nightmare. It threw everything so far out of kilter I wish I had never done it. The action was never the same to play and this was mainly because all the geometry was thrown out and almost impossible to correct.
On the Chappell, I eventually got all the hammer heights right. They were so far wrong it wasn't funny, and my predecessor had taken the eay way out by simply lifting the hammer shank rail! This of course put so much lost motion in to the action it's wonder it played at all! Tonight will do the let-off and drop - it plays pretty good already though and I believe I'm on the right track. All good fun, and patience pays off, doesn't it?

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#647444 - 10/03/07 10:30 AM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Larry Buck Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2313
Loc: Lowell MA
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Pels:
The instrument gets a workout. Key height changes. Felt compacts. You know the drill. I'm all about maintenance[/b]
Please explain the drill to me.


If you go into the "Rocker Replacement Business" based solely on the information you gave us here, eventually you will deliver unsatisfactory results to a customer.

You are fortunate that your project worked well. Again, based only on the information you have given, your good results may be serendipitous.

It is possible to ADD information to the rocker replacement suggestion that will insure the possibility of a proper design. It is prudent to include that note in recommending the project to others.
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
www.finepianodevelopment.com

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#647445 - 10/03/07 10:34 AM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Larry Buck Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2313
Loc: Lowell MA
jaguar8888,

Yes, of course, all in good fun.

Patience will yield good results, Yes.

If you don't mind, share your results with us and perhaps some of your challenges.

Jurgens tool will help efficiency.

Larry
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
www.finepianodevelopment.com

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#647446 - 10/03/07 12:36 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
jaguar8888 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/07
Posts: 27
Loc: Sydney Australia
Hi Larry and thanks! Yes I will share the results and also post some pix on here for you all! I might mention that I bought this grand sight unseen!!!- from a town about 600kms away. What a risk! But having it now in my home and had a good look at it, I like it and will keep it and maybe re-string and re-gild etc etc. Very suprised with the gorgeous sound. Normally I would never buy an English grand, but a 7'4" for $2000AUD was hard to pass up. Tonight was working on trapwork. Will keep us posted.

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#647447 - 10/03/07 12:38 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Let's see. I can add. For small adjustments to hammer line, I say it takes me 10 minutes with capstans so it takes me 20 with rockers. That's 10 minutes each time. I can ease keys with out pulling the stack because I have the proper tools so I rarely have any reason to pull the stack. So I would have to make about 20 adjustments to hammer line and pull the stack several times before I came close to the price to make the change to capstans. Not something I would recommend to any client. There are usually too many other things that can or need to be done for the $500+. Most clients don't have or don't want to spend that money when it really doesn't make the piano play any better. It only makes it easier to service. Replace worn hammers first and old strings. If I eat up their budget doing stuff like that I never get a chance to make the piano really sing for the performer.

Now if the wippens needed to be rebuilt or replaced then it would be the obvious thing to do. Ron Overs had some great posts on placing the wippen heel to the proper height. His action is the race car of actions. So in trying to figure out what new wippen to buy and how to set it up, I would research his posts.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#647448 - 10/03/07 12:46 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1253
Loc: Tomball, Texas
Larry, quit baiting, I'm not biting. If I did the job 100 times it would work well 100 times. The fact that I play at a high level insures that. I'm not a guy that trusts to chance. Every dimension in the action I regard as critical. If you respect that reality, the outcome will be positive. The fact is I HAVE NOT altered that geometry. That's why it works. It serves little purpose to throw stones at the guy that makes things work. And let's face it there's no money in the "rocker replacement business".

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#647449 - 10/03/07 12:47 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
jaguar8888 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/07
Posts: 27
Loc: Sydney Australia
Good ole Ron hey! Spent many happy hours at his workshop!! He wanted to rebuild my Baldwin SD10 some years ago and I was reluctant. Pity. I seem to remember in those days he was working on searchlights or lighthouse lamps or something. I would flatter him by suggesting he is/was eccentric - but then, aren't we all? PS I was a member of NSW PTTG for many years in case you are wondering. These days spend most of my time browsing eBay for a Model D Steinway for a song. Pity the song is the whole Ring Cycle!

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#647450 - 10/03/07 12:52 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Oh, and if you are constantly having to make small adjustments to hammer line, then that is an indication the wippens need to be replaced. Essentially on a rocker style, only knuckles, the back rail felt compressing and to some degree the balance rail felt will affect hammer line. After they settle in it is only hammer wear that changes blow distance. I would assume on a rocker capstan piano that all the felts have settled in. There should be NO change in hammer line to mess with except once a year. 10 minutes once a year and you want me to recommend the customer spend $500 and it won't necessarily play any better? He would think I was trying to rob him.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#647451 - 10/03/07 04:11 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1253
Loc: Tomball, Texas
Keith, you are putting words in my mouth. What you do with your customers, or business model is obviously your business, and I would be the last person to advise another businessman on that.

My opinion is purely anecdotal. I bought a 1909 Weber D. It had not been re-strung since 1963, and at that it was not a great job. It was an institutional instrument, showing the usual wear and tear. It would be restrung, refinished, and the action rebuilt. Sure I could have salvaged the rocker action, but as long as it was being rebuilt, it seemed kind of dopey to not address improving the action and making it easier to maintain over the long term, as I intend to keep it. Jag never specified whether the Challen was a customer's piano or a personal piano. If it was a restoration, my thoughts would be the same. If it is a patch job and the customer is satisfied with that then have at it. I am happy with my decision, and when I will the Weber to the next generation, they will likely remain so. If I were to sell the instrument, the improved action would likely add value. Most techs tend to regard the rocker action as a bit of a red herring, and I am sure that if someone was interested in buying this instrument, and brought a tech with them to evaluate it and it hadn't been upgraded, ANY tech in my area would regard it as a liability and recommend against its purchase, or at the very least, would hammer me on the price. Maybe things are different in California?

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#647452 - 10/03/07 05:21 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Larry Buck Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 2313
Loc: Lowell MA
John, I think you misunderstand me.

Jaguar8888, looking forward to hearing about your journey.

Good Points Kieth ..

I am off to NYC for a couple of days work.

Larry
_________________________
Has Anyone Seen My Glasses ?

E. J. Buck & Sons
Lowell MA 01852
978 458 8688
www.ejbuckpiano.com
www.finepianodevelopment.com

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#647453 - 10/03/07 07:35 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
I'm not putting words in your mouth I'm stating my opinion. Basically changing the capstans is a job that does nothing. By suggesting a person change to capstans instead of buying a wrench is so ludicrous. I believe that is what you suggested and even promoted. Correct me if I misunderstood the gist of your posts.

For 10 minutes a year, if any money is charged to change the parts with no other benefit to the owner, it's a rip-off. That's my opinion.
Get proficient with the wrench and I bet a guy who has done a lot can set hammer line just as fast as a capstan action. Then buy a new set of bass strings and a new set of hammers with the money. The benefits are far more obvious.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#647454 - 10/04/07 11:20 PM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
Keith Roberts Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 1984
Loc: Murphys, Ca
I will correct myself. I reread all your posts, John, and yes , essentially you said if the wippens were going to be rebuilt or replaced, then do the change. For me I would rather replace them even if I had to modify the new ones. I prefer the butterfly style rep spring. To do just the wippen heels and capstans would be a major waste of time. IMHO.
_________________________
Keith Roberts
Associate, PTG
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

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#647455 - 10/05/07 09:49 AM Re: Repairs to early Schwander grand action.
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1253
Loc: Tomball, Texas
Keith, my wips were the Schwander style, very similar to the Baldwin Concert grand wippen. They were straight across the bottom other than the recess for the rocker pivot, so they lent themselves to the modification.They looked like new despite their age. Shanks and flanges were upgraded to a Renner off the shelf part and the mating flange rail was milled to accomodate those shanks and flanges. It renders it easier to replace parts in the future.

We all work in different ways. It made sense to me, and as yet I can perceive no downside to this.

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