Caster problem on upright

Posted by: pianoloverus

Caster problem on upright - 10/10/12 03:04 PM

The around 10 years old vertical I play at the senior center is having some problem with one of the casters. The piano, until recently, was easy to push into location. Now one side is very stuck on the floor and extremely difficult to push at all. I didn't look at the caster because since I'm not mechanically inclined I doubt I could figure out the problem.

What would be the most typical problem that causes one side of the piano to be very difficult to push and is there an easy solution?
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/10/12 03:30 PM

Oil
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/10/12 03:34 PM

I'd start with a little WD-40 spray-on lubricant on the caster and see what happens. Be careful not to get it on the floor or anywhere near the tuning pins.

If that doesn't fix it or improve the situation, and there is no debris or obstacle stuck in the caster, it is probably warn out and needs to be replaced.

Good luck.

Rick
Posted by: Pianolance

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/10/12 06:17 PM

Castors can be tricky. I had one once that got some yarn from the carpet all wrapped up between the double wheels. Be very careful when working on castors as they are at the bottom of a very top heavy object. The piano could tip and seriously injure someone or something. It would be best to get a piano technician to look at it and order a proper replacement. You can't go down to Harbor Freight and get a proper replacement as these castors are extra heavy duty and sometimes even made of brass. Best of luck with it. As an alternative, you could look into putting one of those "furniture sliders" under that wheel and it would glide across the room with relative ease. They are cheap and readily accessable. They work pretty good too. I use them when I have to move my increadibally heavy entertainment center. (Seriously, about 600 pounds)
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/10/12 09:09 PM


If it is a stem and cup castor style then the cup has spread and allows the wheel to jam against the bottom board,
Or
The cup is loose allowing the same thing….
Or
The stem is bent allowing the same thing….
Or
The cup is loose and the entire castor and cup would fall out of the instrument was lifted off the floor…
Or
if it is the plate style castor then the pressure fitting is too loose allowing the castor to jam against the bottom board....
Posted by: Dave B

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/10/12 09:31 PM

You don't say what make of piano or what kind of castors. I've pulled mop strings out of castors more than once.

Many Castors designs are metal against metal. Rolled too fast or too long they heat up and seize. At which point the floor can get some impressive damage. (Not that I'VE ever done that).

You can look into getting a piano dolly (truck) or replacing the castors with a design that has ball bearings. Piano dolly's are very safe and highly recommended in public buildings.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/10/12 09:40 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. Hopefully, the piano technician can find a simple solution. I doubt they spend more than $200 per year on piano maintenance so I'll have to hope it's an easy fix.
Posted by: ando

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/10/12 10:10 PM

It may well turn out to be a cheap fix. I've seen casters that were seized by a grain of rice.
Posted by: backto_study_piano

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/10/12 11:12 PM

Castors aren't really designed to move a piano, rather to keep it off the floor and for short distance movements. I'd look at getting a cradle - similar to http://www.ameypianoworks.com.au/#!upright-cradles . This is a local manufacture here, but I'm sure you'll have something similar over your way. They shouldn't damage the floor, and be a lot easier and safer to manoeuvre the piano around.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 08:16 AM

I agree with Alan. Castors were not designed to move pianos all over creation but, instead, if you required carpeting, the piano was not only up and off from the floor, but, now it could be moved IF NECESSARY! But, it shouldn't be.... Because of the castor's people roll them around like an office chair.

If you want to roll thing thing around, you should have installed an system designed specifically for that like pair of Twin Dollies. They work well and last for a long, long time.

Could be the castor busted off inside of the (or bend) then thingy dingy that goes up into the piano or that it's just full of lint and dirt.

Now, castor OIL.... Try some and see how far those people can shove the piano..... hehe
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 11:23 AM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
I agree with Alan. Castors were not designed to move pianos all over creation but, instead, if you required carpeting, the piano was not only up and off from the floor, but, now it could be moved IF NECESSARY! But, it shouldn't be.... Because of the castor's people roll them around like an office chair.

If you want to roll thing thing around, you should have installed an system designed specifically for that like pair of Twin Dollies. They work well and last for a long, long time.

Could be the castor busted off inside of the (or bend) then thingy dingy that goes up into the piano or that it's just full of lint and dirt.

Now, castor OIL.... Try some and see how far those people can shove the piano..... hehe
Unfortunately, the center would never consider allocating any money for a piano dolly. The vertical is on a hard tile floor and is usually moved less than 8 feet. This has been working fine for 10+ years and several hundred moves.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 11:32 AM

I would have the maintenance man at the center take a peek at it.

A caster is not always a piano-specific thing, especially on a small upright. Besides, it is a mechanical thing, and a maintenance/handyman fixes/oils such things all the time.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 12:27 PM

Maintenance people do not know how to tilt a piano to get at the casters.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 12:29 PM

Tilting it should not be necessary just for one caster.

I have fixed/replaced a caster or two by picking up one end, in the same fashion as to put a moving dolly underneath, but not necessarily as high, and supporting the piano on blocks, between the casters.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 02:43 PM

All it takes is for that castor to catch the corner of a tile 'one time' for it to bust... As I said, pianos technically were not meant to be moved....

When we fix a castor on a piano, we tilt it onto its back with a piano tilter. A good piano technician is not going to bust his butt lifting the thing up as you described. We'll turn the job down instead.
Quote:

Besides, it is a mechanical thing, and a maintenance/handyman fixes/oils such things all the time.


And they screw it up all the time too. Ask me how I know this??? wink

Keep ALL OILs away from piano.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 02:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
Keep ALL OILs away from piano.
Can oil or some other lubricant harm a castor?
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 03:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT

When we fix a castor on a piano, we tilt it onto its back with a piano tilter. A good piano technician is not going to bust his butt lifting the thing up as you described. We'll turn the job down instead.


I have done it on a monster upright, all alone, using a lever and blocks of wood to lift it bit by bit on the end. Done carefully, no damage to the piano, and easy.

But then again I grew up in a family that moved machinery and heavy equipment (and a few small buildings, such as 2 car garages) as part of their business, so that is not a big deal for me.

The caster had some rug thread tangling it, and once cleared, then worked fine. BTW, I don't see how a bit of oil on a caster could hurt the piano's action.

But I see your point about the average handyman.
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 03:10 PM

I don't think it can harm a castor but in my experience a light oil is never enough to make a difference other than relieving a slight squeak. The culprit is most likely something wound up in the axle, something bent or some broken wood.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 03:13 PM


BTW Eric, that upright is a Feurich, circa 1918. Real heavy, but a super great piano.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 09:12 PM

Hi Rocket,

Yes, so have I... But with a piano tilter, it is sooooo much easier... wink Flip the piano onto its back in no time flat, it's oh, 3 feet off from the floor, easy access, tighten the bottom of the piano while it's flipped along with tightening all of the castor screws too.

I mainly worry that when people start using oil for castors that "others" may see that as a green light, you know people, and then they might begin using it elsewhere as well inside of their pianos. That was my main reason for not wanting it used.

I suspect too that it is likely something else that lubrication won't fix. Hard to tell from here... smile
Posted by: backto_study_piano

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 09:44 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Jerry Groot RPT
I agree with Alan. Castors were not designed to move pianos all over creation but, instead, if you required carpeting, the piano was not only up and off from the floor, but, now it could be moved IF NECESSARY! But, it shouldn't be.... Because of the castor's people roll them around like an office chair.

If you want to roll thing thing around, you should have installed an system designed specifically for that like pair of Twin Dollies. They work well and last for a long, long time.

Could be the castor busted off inside of the (or bend) then thingy dingy that goes up into the piano or that it's just full of lint and dirt.

Now, castor OIL.... Try some and see how far those people can shove the piano..... hehe
Unfortunately, the center would never consider allocating any money for a piano dolly. The vertical is on a hard tile floor and is usually moved less than 8 feet. This has been working fine for 10+ years and several hundred moves.


I would consider it good value - safer for a start, I'd hate to consider the litigation costs if it fell on someone, and better for the piano, tuning stability and on the floor.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 10:00 PM

Well, the good news is that the caster might have self repaired(if that's possible). When I tried rolling out the piano today the caster on the right side didn't seem to be working well, and the right side was extremely difficult to push. But when the director came by and I started to try and show her the problem all of a sudden I could push the right side of the piano quite easily. I'm hoping that whatever was causing the problem somehow fixed itself. Unfortunately, the piano was tuned yesterday, but the director didn't tell the tuner to look at the caster problem.

I'll keep everyone posted about how the caster is behaving next time I try and roll out the piano.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 10:05 PM

The caster(s) did not "self-repair". Doesn't happen.

Instead, when you first pushed, the caster wheels were not "pointed" to rotate in the direction of the pushing...so they could not turn when you pushed the piano. Instead because they were in too much of a degree of sideways, so they could not turn, and instead skidded sideways/dug in.

The caster should have swiveled around to the proper position as you pushed, but they are probably too small for the weight, (typical) or they might need a drop of oil on the little ball bearing assembly on the vertical axle.

Then somehow as you pushed the piano with the director there, the vertical pivot of the caster assembly did rotate around, causing the caster assembly to swivel, and thus the wheels became positioned to turn in the direction of the pushing, so the piano rolled "quite easily".

Next time see if the wheels are set to rotate in the direction you will be pushing, and want the piano to move. (or the bed, or anything else w/casters).
Posted by: Dave B

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 10:41 PM

Didn't want to appear weak in front of the girls. Works every time.
Posted by: ando

Re: Caster problem on upright - 10/11/12 11:19 PM

Probably just a bit of debris in the groove. If you can get it to dislodge, casters return to normal. Well made casters will tolerate a fair bit of use if they are not overloaded, and they require a perfectly clean surface. I would advise the OP to sweep/vacuum the path before pushing the piano form now on.