Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H?

Posted by: Craigen

Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/26/08 01:29 PM

I overheard a conversation about a presentation at the recent PTG convention regarding carbon-fiber actions in new Mason & Hamlins. I didn't attend that seminar and wondered if anyone out there knows more. Last I heard M&H had gone away from Renner actions and parts in favor of their own proprietary label of Wessel, Nickle and Gross. They plan to supply other manufacturers with carbon-fiber action parts as well.
Posted by: Cecil Ramirez

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/26/08 03:40 PM

Craigen,

The new composite action parts are a product of Wessell, Nickel, and Gross, which is a subsidiary company of Mason & Hamlin/PianoDisc. These high-performance action parts are being offered to piano rebuilders and piano manufacturers in the industry.

New Mason & Hamlin pianos still feature the current non-composite Wessell, Nickel, and Gross actions that we've been using for the last few years. We exhibit the Wessell, Nickel, and Gross composite action on Mason & Hamlin pianos at the PTG National Convention simply because that is the piano that we manufacture and it's convenient.

Cecil
Posted by: Craigen

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/26/08 05:39 PM

Thank you Cecil for clearing up my misconception quickly. Sorry I missed your exhibit. I will check it out at NAMM if you are there.
Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/26/08 05:55 PM

I saw the parts at the convention.
Looks interesting. Perhaps they are onto something. I'm not sure if they are.
I checked out the M&H with the carbon parts, they seemed fine. I can't tell a difference in the performance and the tone is subjective.
They had a great booth this year and I wish them the best.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/26/08 06:50 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Cecil Ramirez:
Craigen,

The new composite action parts are a product of Wessell, Nickel, and Gross, which is a subsidiary company of Mason & Hamlin/PianoDisc. These high-performance action parts are being offered to piano rebuilders and piano manufacturers in the industry.

New Mason & Hamlin pianos still feature the current non-composite Wessell, Nickel, and Gross actions that we've been using for the last few years. We exhibit the Wessell, Nickel, and Gross composite action on Mason & Hamlin pianos at the PTG National Convention simply because that is the piano that we manufacture and it's convenient.

Cecil [/b]
So is Mason Hamlin planning to eventually use the composite action in their pianos?
Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/26/08 07:02 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
 Quote:

Cecil [/b]
So is Mason Hamlin planning to eventually use the composite action in their pianos? [/QB]
I would think so since they want rebuilders and other manufactures to purchace their parts.
They believe they are the best so I would expect them to use them, themselves.
Posted by: CTPianotech

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/26/08 07:27 PM

Mason is also not immune to what happens on piano sales floors... "Oh those Masons have plastic actions! etc, etc"

There was one at the factory with a composite action. Like Rod, I don't know that I could tell the difference in how it felt. (though when it comes time to start tightening screws in winter I bet there'd be a difference...)

Mason & Hamlin will supply a piano with a composite action upon request for a dealer.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/26/08 09:54 PM

Good now lets see a M&H with a carbon fiber sound board!
Posted by: sophial

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/26/08 11:29 PM

I ask this question with some trepidation but I really am curious: where are these carbon fiber action parts made?


Sophia
Posted by: cm2872

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/27/08 12:59 AM

This makes no sense to me. Why manufacture carbon fiber action parts for OTHER manufacturers to use?

If these parts are better than traditional wooden parts, wouldn't M&H want to make them proprietary - only for their pianos?

Is M&H changing their business model to also compete with Renner, etc., by being an action parts manufacturer?

Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/27/08 02:03 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by colorado936:
This makes no sense to me. Why manufacture carbon fiber action parts for OTHER manufacturers to use?

If these parts are better than traditional wooden parts, wouldn't M&H want to make them proprietary - only for their pianos?

Is M&H changing their business model to also compete with Renner, etc., by being an action parts manufacturer?

[/b]
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/27/08 07:40 AM

Wood is a pretty poor material for piano actions in comparison to the many extraordinary synthetic materials available today. The market for expensive grands is limited, and maybe M&H sees an opportunity for additional business by selling superior action parts.

From some of the posts I've read in the Tuner-Tech area Renner may be an emperor without many clothes on. I've been told by more than one tech that Tokiwa action parts are better made than Renner parts. So perhaps the world of pianos would be open for an improvement, especially from a company like M&H. Kawai has surely opened the door.
Posted by: Gene Nelson

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/27/08 11:25 AM

I do not believe that the new WNG action parts are carbon fiber - think they are nylon-glass fiber.
I did take Bruce Clark's class and think that his design of the whips is superior. They are much more than a synthetic copy of the standard wood whip and they do have some innovative aspects - same for the back checks. The hammer shanks had a bit of a stiff feel on the demo piano but it was not bad - just different - the shanks do not flex near as much as wood.
I think M&H is onto a great idea here and I have started using their parts - I think it will catch on in the future.
How many techs would have bought Kawai synthetic action parts for other than Kawai action jobs if they would have been available?
Posted by: Craigen

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/27/08 01:30 PM

There is no question that Yamaha invoked a lot of controversy in the 1960's with their plastic jacks in uprights, then Kawai followed suit in a bigger way. Mosts techs line up on the side of modern synthetics, yet the controversy rages. It was not my goal to cast doubt on M&H, I am a real fan. I just wanted clarification on what I had heard. We got it from the horses mouth from Cecil.
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/27/08 01:37 PM

There were several attendees at the 2008 Mason Hamlin Factory tour who were in for a surprise presentation of this new technology for the 'after the tour have a go at several instruments set up to play until we all just pooped out affair'.

Me, being a social scatterbrain that day, did not hear the introduction of which instrument it was installed on.

Well, it turned out to be on the AA that I had not tried by the end of the afternoon. I own one, so had gravitated towards others.

Just as I was about to leave and totally overwhelmed and exhausted, someone suggest that I try 'that' piano to see what I thought.

Others were still having their 'go at it' but I did get to try a challenging piece that really lets one know the action and regulation of an instrument - Schubert's Impromptu in Gb

It was indeed an enjoyable instrument to play!

After I played, I was told 'what' I had just played. ;-)

Sidenote -

There was one attendee that did not want to give up her position at that piano. I thought for sure she was going to find a way to take it home that night, even it if meant renting a trailor!

We were told that it still needed some perfecting. I appreciate that - good, very good, great, but let's still work on it to make it better.

My type of company.
Posted by: whippen boy

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/27/08 02:21 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by sophial:
I ask this question with some trepidation but I really am curious: where are these carbon fiber action parts made?
And does this increase, or decrease the piano's "carbon footprint"?

\:D
Posted by: kenny

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/27/08 02:25 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by whippen boy:
 Quote:
Originally posted by sophial:
I ask this question with some trepidation but I really am curious: where are these carbon fiber action parts made?
And does this increase, or decrease the piano's "carbon footprint"?

\:D [/b]
Nyuck Nyuck Nyuck
Posted by: Rod Verhnjak

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/27/08 03:25 PM

We have a new tax coming July 1 called the carbon tax. Beware!!!!! M&H ;\)

We will be paying another .16 a gallon over and above our already $6.00 a gallon we are paying. \:\(

The Canadian government is try to slow down the use of fossil fuel. Like the current prices have not done that yet.

I thing some of our leaders are
Posted by: Del

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/30/08 05:36 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Gene Nelson:
I do not believe that the new WNG action parts are carbon fiber - think they are nylon-glass fiber.
I did take Bruce Clark's class and think that his design of the whips is superior. They are much more than a synthetic copy of the standard wood whip and they do have some innovative aspects - same for the back checks. The hammer shanks had a bit of a stiff feel on the demo piano but it was not bad - just different - the shanks do not flex near as much as wood.
I think M&H is onto a great idea here and I have started using their parts - I think it will catch on in the future.
How many techs would have bought Kawai synthetic action parts for other than Kawai action jobs if they would have been available? [/b]
Gene is correct; WNG parts (except for the tubular hammershank) are not carbon fiber but a filled nylon composite.

I have just received my first set of wippens, shanks and backchecks from M&H. If my experience with them measures up to my expectations this will not be my last. These are very new parts from—as I understand it—their first production runs. As such they still look a bit rough. Not bad, mind you, but I expect their detailing will improve with time and experience.

One reason why I am interested in these parts is their reduced reciprocating mass. The hammershank is both lighter and stiffer than a comparable wood part. The shank itself is a standard, tubular carbon fiber component. The overall weight of the wippen is actually about the same as its wooden counterpart but, due to its design, it has a lower reciprocating mass—all of which is perfect for the piano they will be going into. The bushings on my set are just a bit on the firm side but I expect them to respond to normal easing techniques. I also expect this will improve as the company gains experience with the technology. We’ll see. They seem to be working pretty hard to make these things work. I’m quite impressed so far with what I see.

I’m now in the process of designing a new set of action brackets for the piano they will probably be going into. This action will also be using new laminated wood rails. In all, it is shaping up to be an interesting project. Even more so now that I have a suitable action for the piano.

ddf
Posted by: John Pels

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/30/08 07:41 PM

Del, how are they bonding the bushings to the carbon fiber wippen? Composites are sometimes tricky in what will bond to what. Or, are they using the carbon fiber itself as a bushing, in which case, what sort of tool will be up to the task of reaming?
Thanks much.
Posted by: Del

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 06/30/08 08:43 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by John Pels:
Del, how are they bonding the bushings to the carbon fiber wippen? Composites are sometimes tricky in what will bond to what. Or, are they using the carbon fiber itself as a bushing, in which case, what sort of tool will be up to the task of reaming?
Thanks much. [/b]
They are not bonding it at all. The insides of the holes are threaded and the bushing is held in place by mechanical pressure and a friction fit.

A bit of care is required to ream and repin but it does seem to work well.

Del
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/01/08 10:59 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Rod Verhnjak:
...The Canadian government is try to slow down the use of fossil fuel.... [/b]
Interesting (although reasonable given that we all share the same atmosphere), considering that Canada is a net oil exporter.
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/01/08 12:36 PM

If I may make an obvious point, filled nylon of one sort or another has been available for a few decades. It is only lack of vision that has prevented its use in pianos. One might be able to guess at the filler by the color of the nylon. If it is white or some light color, the filler is probably glass fibers. If the nylon is gray/black, the filler may well be molybdenum disulfide. Such moly-filled nylon has been sold under the brand name of Nylatron for years.

Carbon-fiber tubing has also been available for quite a while. Carbon-fiber arrow shafting is easily bought at a decent price--I don't recall what diameters it's available in, however. People have been claiming for years that the bendiness of wooden shanks is an important component of tone. The stiff carbon-fiber shanks from M&H may well prove them wrong. I wouldn't be surprised.
Posted by: Innominato

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/01/08 01:10 PM

"The Canadian government is try to slow down the use of fossil fuel. Like the current prices have not done that yet."

If you ask me,
iIt is in the nature of every democracy to rise taxes where there is least opposition from the population.

The accurately concerted hype about the environment, particularly about the co2 emissions, has allowed democratically elected governments to impose "environmentally concerned" new taxes almost everywhere, in form of higher excise duty, road tax etc. (so for example in Germany, in Italy, in the UK, in Ireland) with initially weak opposition. "Unbelievable, you can raise new taxes, feel good and increase your popularity at the same time!" they must have thought, thinking it Christmas and New Year together.

It works only to a certain point.

Here in Great Britain our new - and possibly soon old - Prime Minister started with a new take-off tax on flights which, besides angering a lot of international partners, raised more than a few eyebrows in those who discovered that it is much more comfortable to criticise other people's SUVs than to have to pay extra when you fly to Spain; then an increase in road tax came, and this too was able to pass under the great environmental umbrella; but then a second road tax increase was announced, this time retroactive and thus applicable also to already bought vehicles, and Mssrs. Brown and Darling are now wishing they had never done it; and then an additional 2p /liter tax on fuel had to be postponed until october, and October nears and that's another embarrassment coming, the cry being very loud to cancel it altogether; and then a new "show room tax" of up to GBP 950 per car was announced for next fiscal year, and I would not want to be the minister having to defend it when the time comes to really introduce it; moreover, a new aeroplane-based environmental tax was announced, which according to the americans et alios is in obvious breach of international treaties about flight taxation and will be very funny to watch at; and then again a well known London Mayor, who had announced a new and extremely punitive congestion charge of up to GBP 25 a day (yes!!) for 20% of the vehicles around, lost his job as a consequence, definitely letting all possible alarm bells go up in MP land...... miracle of miracles, even our oh so green Conservative leader, once so very proud about the horrible windmill he insisted in having installed on his roof to make his zeal visible to everyone within a mile, has become - how funny is that - remarkably silent on the subject.

If you ask me, it will go this way in all other western democracies: the "environmental taxes" will be saluted in a first time, grudgingly accepted in a second and then gradually opposed and blatantly refused in a third one.
Posted by: Del

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/01/08 03:20 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Roy123:
If I may make an obvious point, filled nylon of one sort or another has been available for a few decades. It is only lack of vision that has prevented its use in pianos. One might be able to guess at the filler by the color of the nylon. If it is white or some light color, the filler is probably glass fibers. If the nylon is gray/black, the filler may well be molybdenum disulfide. Such moly-filled nylon has been sold under the brand name of Nylatron for years.

Carbon-fiber tubing has also been available for quite a while. Carbon-fiber arrow shafting is easily bought at a decent price--I don't recall what diameters it's available in, however. People have been claiming for years that the bendiness of wooden shanks is an important component of tone. The stiff carbon-fiber shanks from M&H may well prove them wrong. I wouldn't be surprised. [/b]
You are, of course, quite right; filled nylon has been around for decades. We used it in the early 1990s to mold our vertical action jacks. To be more specific, however, these parts are closer to a true black, not the gray/black typical of moly-filled nylon. I’d have to go to Bruce Clark to pin down precisely what material is being used but my memory (fallible though it may be) tells me it is an off-the-shelf material. So, yes, it has been only the lack of vision that has prevented this material—or something similar to it—from being used to make piano action parts. Well, that, and the strong opposition from the piano sales community.

The carbon-fiber tubing used in the hammershanks has an outside diameter of just less than 4 mm (3.94 mm to be precise) and a wall thickness of 0.75 mm. Its small diameter looks a little unusual to those of us more accustomed to viewing wood shanks, but they are quite stiff.

ddf
Posted by: John Pels

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/01/08 10:13 PM

Del, not to belabor the glue thing, but what sort of glue are you using to attach the hammers to the composite shanks? Or..is there another method of attachment?
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/02/08 07:29 AM

Just to further Del's post, the new action from M&H also features a "universal" wippen.

For laypeople, each piano needs a wippen that transfers our energy from the key stroke to the hammer throw. Because the "connectors" (capstan on the key and the knuckle on the hammer shank) could be placed in very different places from maker to maker, we must always choose a wippen that allows an effective transfer of energy.

Sometimes a rebuilder must alter the capstan placement or the knuckle size and placement to achieve the best geometry for a given piano.

This new wippen will offer many more choices to the rebuilder as he can change the important placement points on the wippen - whereas wooden wippens must be ordered to be "as close as possible" on rarer instruments. This is an exciting possibility to rebuilders.

I hope that helps,
Posted by: Del

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/02/08 01:56 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by John Pels:
Del, not to belabor the glue thing, but what sort of glue are you using to attach the hammers to the composite shanks? Or..is there another method of attachment? [/b]
I’ve not reached that stage as yet. Soon. I’m told regular pvc adhesives work well so I’m going to first try my normal shop glue which is called MP II. It’s an industrial “aliphatic resin” adhesive similar to Titebond II but without the colorants and a few other additives which make Titebond more suitable for hardware store sales.

ddf
Posted by: Del

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/02/08 02:01 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Rich Galassini:


This new wippen will offer many more choices to the rebuilder as he can change the important placement points on the wippen - whereas wooden wippens must be ordered to be "as close as possible" on rarer instruments. This is an exciting possibility to rebuilders.

I hope that helps, [/b]
Right. There are several different capstan block heights available and these can be installed at 1.5 mm increments over a fairly wide range—cool.

I don’t yet know if hammershanks with alternate knuckle placement will be available.

ddf
Posted by: FogVilleLad

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/02/08 02:44 PM

It'll be interesting to see if these parts become part an M&H strategy re foreign sourcing.

Maybe the company could also try a steel plate a la Del.
Posted by: Roy123

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/02/08 04:20 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Del:
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Pels:
Del, not to belabor the glue thing, but what sort of glue are you using to attach the hammers to the composite shanks? Or..is there another method of attachment? [/b]
I’ve not reached that stage as yet. Soon. I’m told regular pvc adhesives work well so I’m going to first try my normal shop glue which is called MP II. It’s an industrial “aliphatic resin” adhesive similar to Titebond II but without the colorants and a few other additives which make Titebond more suitable for hardware store sales.

ddf [/b]
Del, if I may ask, who manufactures MP II?
Posted by: Del

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/02/08 05:28 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Roy123:
Del, if I may ask, who manufactures MP II? [/b]
I don’t know who manufactures it. We purchase it from CP Adhesives[/b]:
http://www.cpadhesives.com/

And “MP II” was a typo; it should have been “MPA II.”

CP Adhesives is not actually a manufacturer. They repackage a variety of adhesives normally available only to very large users into quantities normal mortals can afford to purchase. Hence we are able to purchase MPA II in 5–gallon quantities. (I just checked their website and have discovered that “MPA II” is now packaged as CP-0201 and can be ordered online. You can still purchase it as MPA II if you call the company directly but it’s the same stuff.)

Another adhesive I’ve considered using for gluing hammers to these graphite tubes is their EVA; CP–0401. This is an ethylene vinyl acetate emulsion that is supposed to be good for bonding porous materials (wood) to non-porous materials (the graphite tube). We’ll see.

We have also used their urea and resorcinol adhesives. If you’re into pressing grand piano rims their CP-0503 is a good choice. It’s a powdered urea resin adhesive with a very long open time. It dries/cures hard and there is no springback.

If you are interested in their various adhesives you might want to download their Better Gluing Guide. It’s available as a PDF file download from their website. All of the adhesives I’ve purchased from this company have been of excellent quality.

ddf
Posted by: Gene Nelson

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/02/08 10:41 PM

One other issue on the shanks is the later process that would typically involve slightly bending or rotating the shank for final spacing and alignment to strings. Still required for WNG shanks.
I have heard of a failure of a shank when attempting the rotating but bending seemed to work ok without weakening it. - using heat -
So the hammer hanging process appears to require more precision at glue up.
Posted by: Dale Fox

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/03/08 12:44 AM

THe factory was nice enough to supply what they use for my first application. Goes by the name of "Assembly 65". Probably similar to what Del is planning on using. CA also works but I'm not convince of the long term reliability.

In regard to what Gene mentioned about using heat to warp the shanks. To clarify, the shanks will twist (warp) nicely from side to side with a bit of direct heating. You can remove the heat from the shank with your fingers after twisting to freeze the position. Otherwise it will go back a little toward the original position. If the shanks is bent fore and aft while heated it will fail fairly readily.

I was able to remove glued on hammers after heating the "Assembling 65" with the cafreful application of heat. A hot plate with fine sand to immerse the joint in distributes the heat evenly.
Posted by: Janneman

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/09/08 04:42 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Craigen:
There is no question that Yamaha invoked a lot of controversy in the 1960's with their plastic jacks in uprights, then Kawai followed suit in a bigger way. Mosts techs line up on the side of modern synthetics, yet the controversy rages. It was not my goal to cast doubt on M&H, I am a real fan. I just wanted clarification on what I had heard. We got it from the horses mouth from Cecil. [/b]
I was working at the Dutch pianobuilding company Rippen in the 60-ties. They developped the Lindner model, and founded a new factory in Ireland for it. They used a lot of plastic in those lightweight piano, (mechanism and keyboard) but did forget to apply for patents. So Nippon_Gakki (the mother of Yamaha) did do so, after buying a Lindner from a Japanese reseller.
At the moment I'm working at a book on the Rippen/Lindner history. And just today I did happen to be involved with those patents- discussions.
The Rippen/Lindner-guys were a little bit too early, but no doubt, they did have clever ideas.
Posted by: theJourney

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/09/08 04:44 PM

Couldn't you play these pianos underwater?
Posted by: Anne Francis

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/09/08 05:45 PM

I'm not a rebuilder, but I took Bruce Clark's class on the composite action parts at the University of Western Ontario's seminar in London, Ontario last month. It was really interesting. Yes, the action parts are nylon/glass composite and the hammer shanks are off-the-shelf carbon tubing. He cautioned against heating with an open flame! But said heat gun is ok.

He also said that in the future MH pianos may be offered with composite actions as an option but they're not planning wholesale replacement of the traditional action in their pianos anytime soon.

Bruce also mentioned that some performers (I think he said maybe a third) who've tried the composite action found a difference in playing and said they'd need to adjust to it; my sense was that it might be hard to control for some players. But overall most liked it.
Posted by: Mal7

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/21/09 04:37 PM

I am considering buying a Mason & Hamlin piano with the Wessell, Nickel & Gross composite action installed. I would be interested in finding out about how all the pianos rebuilt using these parts turned out, if there were any issues, and long term expectations.

Thanks
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/21/09 05:33 PM

The action parts are supposed to be first rate. Ask Del Fandrich about them since I know that he's used them before.
Posted by: Steve Jackson

Re: Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H? - 07/21/09 05:39 PM


Hi there:

I'm just finishing a Mason A with the composite parts. The action plays great and the regulation was smooth and straight forward. I know some have been used on some Yamahas at the Royal conservatory in Toronto where they will take a huge beating. There's a lot of advantages to it and they are good. There is no long term experience with them, but practically speaking, I expect them to last exceptionally well, or else I wouldn't have used them. They have been out there for a while under some demanding conditions and so far, all is well.

I would say, go for it.

Steve