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#1158781 - 03/06/09 10:45 PM Grands and Steam Locomotives  
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 263
Jerry Viviano Offline
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Jerry Viviano  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 263
Cary, NC
I know that I'd much rather watch a steam locomotive than a diesel go by. Not so much because of the relative scarcity of the steamers. But there is some sort of romantic stigma associated with a steam locomotive. And a diesel just doesn't have it, even though it's a much better machine in many ways. I'd venture to say that most anyone reading this would feel the same way too. And I can't tell you why it is. What is it about steam locomotives that make them so appealing as compared to diesels?

The same sort of thing applies to grands and uprights. Why is it that we as technicians are drawn to grands more so than uprights. Sure, the grand is normally a better piano in a mechanical sense, and in an audible sense as well. But not always. And I don't think that's really it. I was in a piano store the other day. Heard someone playing from the other side of the showfloor. I thought it was a grand. But it was a Bechstein upright. It sounded wonderful. There are some good sounding uprights. But even they don't really interest us as most grands do.

Look at all the piano technicians' business cards. They all have pictures of grands. A much higher percentage of articles in the journal pertain to grands than uprights. And when I hear of an upcoming presentation on regulating, I assume it's going to be about grands, and not uprights. And am right more often than not.

Aren't there more uprights than grands out there to be serviced and tuned? Yet, when someone says piano, I envision a grand, not an upright. And if someone says they have a piano, I immediately ask if it's an upright or a grand. And am disappointed to hear upright. It's like uprights are the Rodney Dangerfields of the piano world. Why is that?

Last edited by Jerry Viviano; 03/06/09 10:58 PM.

Jerry Viviano
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#1158789 - 03/06/09 10:59 PM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: Jerry Viviano]  
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JDelmore Offline
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You're so right, Jerry. I just finished the first read of Piano Tone Building (kudos to Del!!), and those guys in 1919 were almost solely interested in uprights...it was almost like they only made grands for concert venues 'cause they "had to". The "mavericks" were advocating small grands 'for the home'.

I'm with you on the loco's, too: steam is alive, a snorting, heaving dragon...diesels are just machines...


PTG Associate Member

"There is always room above; there is only the ground below."....F.E. Morton (with props to Del F.)
#1158832 - 03/07/09 12:36 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: JDelmore]  
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Horowitzian Offline
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I got to see UP's steamer 844 up close several years ago. I subsequently was able to watch it leave. They make all kinds of great (and loud!!) noises. I did not take any of these pics. smile


[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

The Queen Mary is the only piece of machinery I've seen bigger than this monster. It's huge when you are right up next to it!

I must say, though, that some of UP's Heritage series diesels are mighty handsome:

[Linked Image]

Bet none of you guessed I was a railfan. grin


#1158911 - 03/07/09 06:57 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: Horowitzian]  
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rysowers Offline
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Olympia, WA
It's probably a bit of "familiarity breeds contempt". Uprights are so common. They must represent 95 or more percent of the pianos out there.

I'm still a big fan of upright pianos. I especially like well-built vintage instruments. Here in the Pacific NW we still find them with tight soundboards and actions. When you look at what a high-end upright costs it makes restoring one of these not seem so ridiculous. I think demand for quality upright rebuilding is going to be increasing over the next decade or two.


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
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#1158919 - 03/07/09 08:09 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: rysowers]  
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David Jenson Offline
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David Jenson  Offline
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Maine
Some of the most interesting pianos in my care are the upper-tier uprights that are used in summer camps. They sit in unheated buildings all winter (that's Sept. to May for those of you who don't know what a Maine Winter is), and because the relative humidity is constant, they are in marvelous condition.

A McPhail 54" at a well-healed girls camp is a standout example. The condition is perfect, and the tone and power of that instrument is on par with a 7' grand! It's just unbelievable, but a few Mason & Hamlins, Henry F. Millers, Everets, and Esteys (of all things) are right in the park.


David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----
#1158931 - 03/07/09 09:18 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: David Jenson]  
Joined: Mar 2008
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James Senior Offline
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James Senior  Offline
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England
I'm not sure if you guys in the states have heard about this, but in the UK, we've just completed our first completely new steam loco in 50 years:
[Linked Image]

The really cool thing is that as it's brand new, it's allowed on the mainline, regularly, and at top speed:
pretty fast clip

Also, related to the thread, a friend asked me to look at his new (free) Neumeyer (?) grand. "Wonderful, a grand" I thought. It has a good sound and a fine Schwander action. It's just a pitty that he's replaced all the felts on the keyboard with a cut up scarf.....
AUDIBLE SIGH!

#1158944 - 03/07/09 09:58 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: James Senior]  
Joined: May 2004
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Keith Roberts Offline
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Keith Roberts  Offline
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Murphys, Ca
In the early days, no one thought uprights were even worth making. I wasn't till Theadore Steinway took over the company in 1868 that anybody seriously started building them.


Keith Roberts
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca
#1158968 - 03/07/09 11:03 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: Keith Roberts]  
Joined: Dec 2004
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Thomson Lawrie Offline
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Thomson Lawrie  Offline
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Grimsby ON Canada
I'm not feeling it. I'd rather play on grand any day of the week. Sure there are some great uprights out there and they sound pretty good when you are tuning them. But then the front panel goes back on and they sound like they are being played in the next room. The front of the piano is covered by a box and the back of the soundboard is pushed up against the wall. That's not even getting into the superiority of the grand action.

A really good upright will trump a bad baby grand but that's not a fair comparison. A baby grand is a spinet turned on its side.

A grand piano is a sports car and an upright is the family sedan. That's fine if you're just driving the kids around town but don't take it out on the track.


Piano Technician
www.pianotech.ca
Piano tuners make the world a better place, one string at a time.
#1159085 - 03/07/09 04:23 PM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: James Senior]  
Joined: Sep 2008
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Horowitzian Offline
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Horowitzian  Offline
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Originally Posted by James Senior
I'm not sure if you guys in the states have heard about this, but in the UK, we've just completed our first completely new steam loco in 50 years:
[Linked Image]

The really cool thing is that as it's brand new, it's allowed on the mainline, regularly, and at top speed:
pretty fast clip

Also, related to the thread, a friend asked me to look at his new (free) Neumeyer (?) grand. "Wonderful, a grand" I thought. It has a good sound and a fine Schwander action. It's just a pitty that he's replaced all the felts on the keyboard with a cut up scarf.....
AUDIBLE SIGH!


That's really cool! Is the engine used in a regular service or is it in excursion service or something? cool


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1159245 - 03/07/09 10:17 PM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: Horowitzian]  
Joined: Apr 2008
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Emmery Offline
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Emmery  Offline
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Niagara Region, On. Canada
Nice lookin loco and the tender looks heavily axeled too James. They probably have some serious modern traction control on that 4x6x2 if this is a modern design with retro looks. I'd love to see a modern built Q2 or one of the earlier shark nosed T1's come back...they were mammoths.
As for pianos...lots of nice uprights that leave the baby grands in the dust sound wise but only a few will rival them in touch and repetition. No contest with the feel and sound of bigger nicer grands except if your banging out rag time tunes...I feel kind of out of place for some strange reason. Nostalgia perhaps.


Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
#1159407 - 03/08/09 08:03 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: Emmery]  
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 342
James Senior Offline
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James Senior  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2008
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England
It's a mixture of old and new.
Welded boiler, larger tender capacity for longer running distance, modern insulation.... But no modern traction control. In regular use.
I've always thought that the british locos excelled when it came to paint jobs.
No polyester or laquer here!
Then again, I doubt I'd want pin stripes on my piano smile

#1159513 - 03/08/09 01:27 PM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: James Senior]  
Joined: Sep 2008
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Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member
Horowitzian  Offline
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They do tend to have nicer paint, especially on steamers. US steamers tend to be rather bland.


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1159533 - 03/08/09 01:55 PM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: Horowitzian]  
Joined: Jun 2003
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BDB Offline
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BDB  Offline
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Oakland
[Linked Image]
Not all of them.

Last edited by BDB; 03/08/09 01:56 PM.

Semipro Tech
#1159565 - 03/08/09 03:17 PM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: BDB]  
Joined: Sep 2008
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Horowitzian Offline
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Horowitzian  Offline
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Yes, that one is a notable exception. cool One of the very best ever, IMHO.


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1159990 - 03/09/09 10:52 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: Emmery]  
Joined: Nov 2008
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UnrightTooner Offline
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UnrightTooner  Offline
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Bradford County, PA
Originally Posted by Emmery

...lots of nice uprights that leave the baby grands in the dust sound wise but only a few will rival them in touch and repetition. No contest with the feel and sound of bigger nicer grands except if your banging out rag time tunes....


Yes, uprights don’t have the same feel. I think more could be done, especially for the feeling of let-off. I’d like to try putting an adjustable jack stop on the whippen, maybe even with an adjustable jack spring. Then the let-off point, let-off depth and let-off resistance could all be independently regulated. When the aftertouch is minimized by increasing the blow distance, and the checking distance is decreased as much as possible, the repetition can be pretty good on an upright.


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
#1160003 - 03/09/09 11:12 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: UnrightTooner]  
Joined: Apr 2007
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JDelmore Offline
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JDelmore  Offline
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Jeff, the current PTG Journal has a pic of an interesting action pretty much like you describe. I don't remember the 'double-German' name off the top of my head, but it's quite interesting, if you can get your hands on a copy.


PTG Associate Member

"There is always room above; there is only the ground below."....F.E. Morton (with props to Del F.)
#1160017 - 03/09/09 11:44 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: JDelmore]  
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UnrightTooner Offline
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UnrightTooner  Offline
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Bradford County, PA
Thanks John:

I doubt if I'll get a chance to see the article. I have seen diagrams of upright actions that have an adjustable jack position, where the jack spring exerts force against an action rail. This will make the compression of the jack spring felt at the key all the time. But if the stop is on the whippen, like on a grand, then it is only felt at let-off, and would give more of an increase of resistance for the feeling of let-off. I think it would be an easier retro-fit, also. I wonder how long the longest spoon is. It may be necessary to mount a post on the whippen. Just another pipe dream I suppose.


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
#1160026 - 03/09/09 12:08 PM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: UnrightTooner]  
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JDelmore Offline
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When I get home, I'll get you that actual name...there should be patent diagrams!!


PTG Associate Member

"There is always room above; there is only the ground below."....F.E. Morton (with props to Del F.)
#1160030 - 03/09/09 12:17 PM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: JDelmore]  
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UnrightTooner Offline
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UnrightTooner  Offline
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Bradford County, PA
Thanks,

You know, my name is sort of German sounding... nah!


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
#1160288 - 03/09/09 07:57 PM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: UnrightTooner]  
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JDelmore Offline
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JDelmore  Offline
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And...it would be the Staib-Abendschein "Mastertouch" Vertical Piano Action...

Now, why couldn't I remember that??? LOL


PTG Associate Member

"There is always room above; there is only the ground below."....F.E. Morton (with props to Del F.)
#1160362 - 03/09/09 10:30 PM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: rysowers]  
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Rod Verhnjak Offline
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Rod Verhnjak  Offline
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Vancouver B.C. Canada
Originally Posted by rysowers
I think demand for quality upright rebuilding is going to be increasing over the next decade or two.


Why would anyone spend money on an old upright. Hype Hype Hype!!!!


Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

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#1160403 - 03/09/09 11:58 PM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: Rod Verhnjak]  
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Rod Verhnjak Offline
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Rod Verhnjak  Offline
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Vancouver B.C. Canada
This is a clip of the Royal Hudson pulling into my town.
I have lived here in White Rock for most of my life and for 10 years I lived across the road from these tracks. I now live 5 minutes away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO-H9QhczMc


Verhnjak Pianos
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of Fine Heirloom Pianos

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Verhnjak Pianos Facebook

#1160422 - 03/10/09 12:16 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: Rod Verhnjak]  
Joined: Sep 2008
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Horowitzian Offline
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Horowitzian  Offline
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That's a gorgeous train! Thanks for the link. smile Kinda odd to see those diesel pushers, the F-unit and the BNSF SD-40 in behind the Royal Hudson. Still a gorgeous train in some gorgeous country. wink


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1162554 - 03/14/09 12:06 AM Re: Grands and Steam Locamotives [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Avantgardenabi Offline
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Avantgardenabi  Offline
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I just read this thread, and would like to add my thoughts here.

I really love old steam locomotives... When I was a child, I was always fascinated by their wheel's gears. There's something very attractive and romantic about them.

Of course, I really did not see a steam locomotive in person back then, but there was an anime that featured it: The Galaxy Express 999. This anime is a beautiful classic. smile

I do not like desel trains, but I do like high-speed bullet trains:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqnqyl4n9yo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqFzXKNCAk4

This is Korea's bullet train KTX. Its speed can reach 300 km/h (186 mph) during commercial use.


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