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#1302395 11/09/09 10:25 PM
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Well, part of the deal when I recently bought my 1903 Steinway O was that the deasler would get a Steinway key for the piano. Well, the key came in the mail today. It is an OEM key. It fits in the cover lock and the lock mechanism turns a little, but I cannot get it to deploy the strike.

Any techs out there have any experience with these locks?

Thanks for your help!

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It sounds like it is working as it ideally should. You really do not want to use that lock. Stick the key in the lock for decoration.

If you could actually lock it, chances are there is a time when you would forget it is locked, and really damage the piano when you try to open the lid or fallboard.

If you want to secure the piano, get a third-party lock for it, or a cover with locking straps.


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You could lock yourself out, but even more scary, you could lock yourself in. Just think about it....


Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)
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Why do I get the impression that there is a bit of whimsy in the above replies? Anybody out there with a serious answer?

I'm not going to play "bellyman", so it unlikely I'll get myself locked inside the piano!

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You are dealing with a 106 year old lock that may not have been used... well, ever. The locks were operated by simple skeleton keys, so it is likely that the key fits.

If the lock was not lubricated and serviced while the piano was being rebuilt (the entire lock must be removed for refinishing anywa) it may simply be stiff or frozen in place.

I go with BDB. These locks were designed more for show than anything else. A locking cover would be my choice if you truly need the piano to lock - or have the lock serviced when your dealer does your next tuning. It is not a big deal if the lock is not damaged somehow. If your dealer doesn't do this, a locksmith may be necessary.

Good luck,


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Thanks Rich. Do you know any tricks to remove the lock mechanism? If I remove the two screws holding it in place, will it slide out easy, or is there a trick to get it out without damaging the wood?

Last edited by nylawbiz; 11/10/09 07:26 AM.
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If you try to pry it from the top of the stretcher bar,you chance damaging the wood around the lock area. The trick is to push the stem of the lock up from the bottom of the stretcher bar,of course after you take out the two top screws very carefully. If the lock was taken out or replated upon refinishing,it should pop out fairly easy in that it was taken out more recent than 1903.Out of hundreds of Steinways I have acquired,I've only got one original key.


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Sometimes they pop out easily, but if you aren't careful, sometimes they can take some finish/veneer with them.

Are you saying the the lock won't turn even with the small lid folded back? If it doesn't turn, then you'd need to start by servicing that lock.

Have you verified that the two locks, (the one on the 'top bar' of the lid, and the one on the stretcher) line up perfectly to eachother? This alignment can sometimes change over time. Depending on how one takes the lid on and off, the alignment can also change.


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Pianobroker, thank you for giving me the gumption of unscrewing the lock mechanism and removing it, which I did wihtout incident. With lock removed from the stretcher bar, I examined the mechanism, and I found that it was packed full of sawdust. I cleaned out the sawdust, applied some DRY lithium lubricant (powder), and the lock mechanism worked smoothly!

However, after replacing the mechanism, it bound up again. So I did a little adjusting of the screws, making sure that the keyway is aligned properly with the keyhole. I got the lock to work properly reinstalled in the stretcher board. However, I still cannot get the lock strike to marry correctly spring-loaded strike plate. It appears that the bumpers on the stretcher are too high to allow the strike to engage the plate, which requires that the strike press down the spring loaded strike plate cover, and hook under the plate.

So for now, I'll well enough alone until the piano tech comes next week for the tuning that was included in the sale.

Has anyone gotten the lock mechanism on a Steinway of this vintage to work smoothly? Did they ever work smoothly?

The key is a beauty in itself: plated and embellished with the Steinway logo on the key's bow. Even with the bow vertical, the fallboard clears the key, albeit just barely. So I'm a little concerned that the fallboard might get scratched by the edge of the key bow if there is any movement in either the cover or the fallboard which would change the alignment of these parts. Does anyone think that this is a valid concern?

Any other input on the Steinway grand cover lock would be appreciated.

My learning experience regarding pianos, and Steinways in particular, is a very enjoyable experience, not the least atributable to the great people on this forum. Thanks again!

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If and when you do figure out the lock be cautious! When locked as you know it locks the top flylid and the fallboard from opening. If someone tries to open the fallboard in the locked position,it will surely gouge the the top center of the fallboard. You might wanna put a flat bumper or adhesive felt on that spot. Nobody can see it anyway in the action cavity.

When the tech comes to assess your situation,he might replace your bumpers on your lockbar. Another possible mishap. Sometimes it's better to leave things be.
wink


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