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Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? #1598839
01/16/11 08:01 PM
01/16/11 08:01 PM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 2
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Spindle Offline OP
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Spindle  Offline OP
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Hi everyone. I recently repurchased an old piano that had been in my family for generations, prior to my grandfather needing to sell it about 10 years ago. It's an English piano, a Brinsmead grand/baby grand piano around 6'. It's in excess of 100 years old. I really want to keep this piano for the sentimental value it holds, although I realize it's age probably means it has very little monetary value.

Currently, it does not keep tune. I've had 2 techs look at it, who gave me differing opinions on how to repair it. Both informed me that it had several loose pins, and the bass strings are badly deteriorated, but most of the other parts are in fairly good condition and many appeared to have been replaced previously. The pin block had been looked at and found to be in good shape, with no visible cracks or wood damage.

The first tech I had in told me that my best choice was to have it restrung, and to either use some new oversized pins, or he could "treat" the block with a type of glue which would tighten it around the current pins.
The other tech suggested I have it restrung, and an entirely new block installed beforehand. This was a few weeks ago.

My questions are this:
If I were to go with the treated block, or oversized pins(whichever was decided on), and have the bass strings replaced, would I need to buy a second new set of bass strings if the pins continued to be problematic, and the piano later needed the block replaced? Or would a tech be able to string the piano a second time with the bass strings purchased and strung on the treated block?

I would like to keep this piano in my family as long as possible, so does it make sense to go with new bass strings and a treated block(or oversized pins), or should I just bite the bullet and have the block replaced now?

Thanks for any insight.

Last edited by Spindle; 01/16/11 08:03 PM.
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Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Spindle] #1598856
01/16/11 08:58 PM
01/16/11 08:58 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,200
Marietta, GA
Les Koltvedt Offline
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Les Koltvedt  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,200
Marietta, GA
A treated block is only a bandaid and will not hold up over time. I would not recommend having it treated and re-strung. If the pinblock is in decent condition -and if the pins are not already oversized,- it could be re-strung with oversize pins, - the tech could perform some oversized pin replacements throughout the pinblock to evaluate whether the existing pinblock would be up to the task, that would be the least costly solution in my eyes. Of course, the best scenario is a new pinblock, new pins, rescale the piano and new strings, now if your going that far, have the soundboard and bridges evaluated, and you could address having it refinished...


Les Koltvedt
Servicing the Greater Atlanta Area.
www.well-lovedpiano.com/atlanta-piano-technicians/
PTG Associate
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Spindle] #1598950
01/16/11 11:16 PM
01/16/11 11:16 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 25
Argentina
E
eerraa Offline
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Argentina
Hello Spindle.
I am no authority on the subject, but I can tell you that I enjoy very stable tunings on my 1890's upright after putting oversize pins on it. There was no need to use glue or any other product on the pinblock, just the new tuning pins. I am very happy with the outcome and it was not an expensive solution.
Restringing will renew the beautiful of sound of your piano, and it can be done while changing the tuning pins.
In case there is need in the future to change the pinblock, it does not mean that you have to change the strings again.
Kind regards.
Enrique


Enrique
ZEITTER & WINKELMANN 1924
ERNST KAPS 1890
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: eerraa] #1599003
01/17/11 12:31 AM
01/17/11 12:31 AM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 849
Boone, Iowa, USA
C
Chuck Behm, CPT-E Offline
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Chuck Behm, CPT-E  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 849
Boone, Iowa, USA
Quote
"In case there is need in the future to change the pinblock, it does not mean that you have to change the strings again." - Enrique

This is incorrect, in my opinion at least. When the technician puts in a new pinblock, the strings, pins and cast iron plate all come out of the piano. Unless the technician is willing to unwind the coil from each bass string, and pull the end of the string through the agraffes (which would be a real pain), the bass strings that are in the piano are going to be scrapped and replaced.

Even less cost effective would be trying to save the treble strings. Miking the old strings and simply replacing would be much less time consuming.

The only time I save the old strings (when consideration of costs is an important factor), is when I'm installing oversized pins. Then, the coil may be pried off the old pins and placed on the new pins without much difficulty.

If other technicians reading this disagree, please speak up, but I can't imagine attempting to save existing strings on a pinblock replacement to be a recommended procedure, at least one that I would enthused about tackling. Chuck Behm


Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Spindle] #1599120
01/17/11 06:21 AM
01/17/11 06:21 AM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 25
Argentina
E
eerraa Offline
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eerraa  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 25
Argentina
Dear Chuck.
You are a real master on Piano Rebuilding. My statement showed to be an assertion. My apologies for Spindle, and my thanks for you Chuck for putting light on the subject.
Kind regards.


Enrique
ZEITTER & WINKELMANN 1924
ERNST KAPS 1890
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Spindle] #1599144
01/17/11 08:04 AM
01/17/11 08:04 AM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 19
New Jersey
David Kozak Offline
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David Kozak  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 19
New Jersey
Spindle,

The most cost-effective and permanent solution would be to go ahead and replace all of the pins to the next largest size.

I wouldn't recommend using a pin block treatment liquid in conjunction with the oversized pins as it may cause the pins to become extremely tight.

Only major damage to the pin block or when it becomes extremely vulnerable to cracking would warrant a complete pin block restoration.

If the piano has been well cared for, and is in a climate controlled environment - keeping the original pin block and installing slightly oversized pins would be the best remedy in my opinion.


David E Kozak, Piano Technician
Metropolitan Piano Service
www.MetPianoTuning.com
Serving All New Jersey and Manhattan
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Spindle] #1599152
01/17/11 08:40 AM
01/17/11 08:40 AM
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,646
Strong, Maine
David Jenson Offline
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David Jenson  Offline
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Strong, Maine
Work with someone who can SEE the piano. Any opinions we can give will be general, and could change fundamentally if we could see the instrument and check the block and pin torque.


David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Spindle] #1599154
01/17/11 08:44 AM
01/17/11 08:44 AM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 6,017
Bradford County, PA
UnrightTooner Offline
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Joined: Nov 2008
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Bradford County, PA
In Argentina, where eerraa is from, it may very well be more appropriate to reuse the old strings. A contributer from Mexico posted about doing this including welding a cracked plate. Getting good new strings may be a problem in some locations. Using the existing ones may be a better choice. Spindle has not said where he is from.


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: David Kozak] #1599176
01/17/11 09:23 AM
01/17/11 09:23 AM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 849
Boone, Iowa, USA
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Chuck Behm, CPT-E Offline
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Posts: 849
Boone, Iowa, USA
Quote

"The most cost-effective and permanent solution would be to go ahead and replace all of the pins to the next largest size" - David Kozak

Spindle - I would agree with David in most situations on this. I would estimate that I install 3 sets of over-size pins for every 1 pinblock installation. Here in Iowa, loose pins are a common situation what with the extremely dry conditions in many homes during the winter's heating system. I will recommend pinblock replacement when it seems necessary, but will always offer lower cost methods when they would be effective.

Situations which would warrant a new pinblock (or at least give one cause to consider it) would be:

1. The laminations of the old pinblock are coming apart. This can sometimes be spotted by removing the fallboard and action, and having a look at the underside of the pinblock. Any unevenness of the lower surface of the pinblock would indicate laminations that are no longer tightly glued. Sometimes it's very obvious, with actual breaks in the lowest lamination, and portions of pinblock material which are jutting down too low.

2. Rows of pins are found to be exceedingly loose. This indicates cracks which have developed between pins which will widen with the introduction of larger pins. Think of a piece of wood which has cracked when you've driven a nail. Pulling out the offending nail and driving in a larger one is not going to fix the crack. The problem will only become worse.

3. Oversize pins have already been installed in various locations in the pin fields and are loose as well. If a previous technician has driven in a few size 3's, 4's or larger pins, it's going to cause a problem if you want to have a consistent size. If 4's have been driven in, for example, and are found to be loose, that means you're going to need to go with 5's, or even 6's. Very large pin sizes are not ideal.

4. The fit between the original pinblock and the flange on the cast iron plate is not good. I've seen original pinblocks on pianos which were cut with a bandsaw and bolted to the plate with no attempt at fitting. One in particular comes to mind which touched the flange in only 3 spots, but not all at the same time, giving it a teeter-totter effect. A bad fit may sometimes be ascertained by having a look underneath with a dental type mirror and a flashlight,or by trying to physically insert a shim in between the block and the plate from underneath. If the fit is good, you won't be able to find a gap wide enough to push in any thickness of shim or card.

5. The soundboard needs replacing or serious repair requiring the removal of the plate. In such a case, with the plate out, I would recommend replacing the pinblock, just because so much of the work involved has already been done.

If none of these situations are present, then repinning is certainly a very good option. I also agree with David about the use of CA glue with this exception - if you're seriously considering a new pinblock down the road, but just needing to buy some time, treatment with CA glue can often times vastly improve pin torque, without the higher price tag of repinning. It takes me almost exactly 12 hours to repin a piano (keeping the original strings), but less than an hour to apply CA glue. The cost of treatment is correspondingly less.

Anyway, there are obviously a lot of things to consider. Look for a technician who seems conversant with a variety of approaches and will be willing to take the time to ascertain what would be best for both your piano and your pocketbook. Chuck


Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Chuck Behm, CPT-E] #1599220
01/17/11 11:01 AM
01/17/11 11:01 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,205
Nor California Sacramento area
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Dale Fox Offline
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Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,205
Nor California Sacramento area
Originally Posted by Chuck Behm
Quote
"In case there is need in the future to change the pinblock, it does not mean that you have to change the strings again." - Enrique

This is incorrect, in my opinion at least. When the technician puts in a new pinblock, the strings, pins and cast iron plate all come out of the piano. Unless the technician is willing to unwind the coil from each bass string, and pull the end of the string through the agraffes (which would be a real pain), the bass strings that are in the piano are going to be scrapped and replaced.

Even less cost effective would be trying to save the treble strings. Miking the old strings and simply replacing would be much less time consuming.

The only time I save the old strings (when consideration of costs is an important factor), is when I'm installing oversized pins. Then, the coil may be pried off the old pins and placed on the new pins without much difficulty.

If other technicians reading this disagree, please speak up, but I can't imagine attempting to save existing strings on a pinblock replacement to be a recommended procedure, at least one that I would enthused about tackling. Chuck Behm



Chuck, doesn't this assume that there are agraffes? Not all pianos have them, so maybe it's not a really big issue.


Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Dale Fox] #1599233
01/17/11 11:27 AM
01/17/11 11:27 AM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 849
Boone, Iowa, USA
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Chuck Behm, CPT-E Offline
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Joined: Jan 2010
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Boone, Iowa, USA
Quote
Chuck, doesn't this assume that there are agraffes? Not all pianos have them, so maybe it's not a really big issue. - Dale Fox

Dale - I'm not sure I've done a repinning job on a piano that didn't have agraffes in the bass, but sure, if it didn't have them, that would make it a lot simpler to save the original bass strings. I would just try to make sure that the coils didn't get all tangled together when they were being stored during the pinblock replacement stage.

What Jeff D. had to say about the issue of availability of good replacement strings is a good point as well. Even if there are agraffes, it might be worth the time involved if cost of obtaining replacements was exorbitant.

Not that I would choose to do it unless absolutely necessary, however. After unwinding the coil,the beckett must be snipped off (I would think, anyway. I've never tried to pull the becket of a string through an agraffe), then a new becket bent onto the curving end of the unwound coil when reinstalling the strings in the new pinblock. When you get down to the thick strings at the lower end of the bass, pushing a reformed becket through the eye of the pin can be a real challenge.

I've never attempted to save a set of bass strings on a pinblock installation, so I'm just visualizing the problems but not talking from experience. If anyone has actually done this, I would be interested on your take on the subject. Chuck


Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: David Jenson] #1599257
01/17/11 12:19 PM
01/17/11 12:19 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 5,534
Olympia, Washington
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Del Offline
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Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted by David Jenson
Work with someone who can SEE the piano. Any opinions we can give will be general, and could change fundamentally if we could see the instrument and check the block and pin torque.

Wise advice, this.

There are a couple of questions that come to my mind that I don’t see answered in this discussion. First—keeping in mind that this is a 100 year old Brinsmead grand—just how is the pinblock installed? Is it a straight-forward separate block attached to the frame sort of block? Or was it constructed as part of the skeleton? Is it an open-face block or does the frame cover the face of the block? What is the construction of the block? Many old blocks were rather crude three-ply affairs; others were more thoughtfully engineered. I’d not venture a guess on the best repair without being able to personally examine this piano.

I’ll offer a couple of observations, however. In general I’m not a fan of oversized pins; I don’t like how they feel when tuning and, in certain conditions, they can make tuning difficult. The reason the original pins have become loose is because the wood surrounding the original pins has succumbed, over the years, to long-term compression set. The wood fibers surrounding the original pins have been irrevocably damaged and now we are going to damage them further by adding even more compression. It’s a poor solution to a common problem. Having said that I have also restrung many pianos—mostly uprights—using oversized pins. In the past it was the only alternative to replacing the pinblock. Nowadays in uprights I tend to install new pinblock inserts but that’s another story.

These days chemistry has presented us with several alternatives. The CA treatment one of your technicians has suggested is not altogether a bad one. We are told it is temporary and perhaps it is. But then by some standards a new pinblock is also temporary—after all, the original block is only 100 years old and it is already worn out and in need of replacing. In geological terms that is pretty temporary. We don’t yet know how long these treatments will last; suitable CA adhesives have only been around a decade or two. So far this treatment—properly applied—seems to be holding up pretty well.

There is a third alternative—and this is my current choice if the block is not going to be replaced—and that is to saturate the original block with epoxy, redrill and string with the original size pins. This is the process favored by the folks restoring instruments of historical significance when it is desired to save as much of the original construction as possible yet end up with a useable and serviceable instrument. (If the piano were of historical value we’d be recommending restringing with the original pins, of course.) The process is fairly simple; remove the original strings and pins, saturate the holes with a suitably viscous epoxy making sure the entire surface of the hole is thoroughly coated and, when the epoxy has cured, restring. A variation of this process that is used when the block has completely broken down is to completely fill the holes with epoxy, topping them off as the epoxy saturates the cracks and loose original glue joints—badly deteriorated blocks can absorb an amazing amount of epoxy—until it is obvious that the block is fully saturated. Once the epoxy has cured the holes are redrilled—a smelly job demanding masks and good ventilation and the piano restrung. It is not known how “temporary” this repair might be—it’s only been used for thirty years or so.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Del] #1600172
01/18/11 04:45 PM
01/18/11 04:45 PM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 2
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Spindle Offline OP
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Spindle  Offline OP
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Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 2
An explanation for why I am asking on here instead of just trusting the opinion of someone who can "see the piano":

I've had two people look at the piano and both have said bass strings are deteriorated, block appears good, several pins are loose. Then they disagree on how to proceed.

It's similar to having two conflicting opinions from the only two mechanics around about your car, and trying to figure out my best option. Since well meaning intelligent people often disagree on the solution to a problem, I think the final choice would best be made using unbiased advice from multiple sources.

All the actual advice in the thread has been very helpful. Since the piano is not historical, nor valuable, I guess the best option is to have the oversized pins installed. I am curious about that epoxy solution though, but since neither of the local techs mentioned it I'm not sure they are familiar with it, I'll ask about it but I may be unable to find anyone to do it for me if neither of the techs are familiar with it.

Thanks!

*Edit*: My idea of temporary is <10 years in most cases. If the repair lasted 30 years I'd be more than happy, though by that point I probably wouldn't be happy about it at all as I likely would've forgotten having it repaired in the first place :p That would likely be longer than some new pinblocks last I imagine.

Last edited by Spindle; 01/18/11 04:50 PM.
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Spindle] #1600603
01/19/11 08:40 AM
01/19/11 08:40 AM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 6,017
Bradford County, PA
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Spindle:

Ask the tech that does not recommend replacing the pinblock whether he does pinblock replacement at all. It might be a difference in abilities rather than opinion.


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Del] #1600627
01/19/11 09:52 AM
01/19/11 09:52 AM
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
Emmery Offline
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Emmery  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
Originally Posted by Del
Originally Posted by David Jenson
Work with someone who can SEE the piano. Any opinions we can give will be general, and could change fundamentally if we could see the instrument and check the block and pin torque.

Wise advice, this.

There are a couple of questions that come to my mind that I don’t see answered in this discussion. First—keeping in mind that this is a 100 year old Brinsmead grand—just how is the pinblock installed? Is it a straight-forward separate block attached to the frame sort of block? Or was it constructed as part of the skeleton? Is it an open-face block or does the frame cover the face of the block? What is the construction of the block? Many old blocks were rather crude three-ply affairs; others were more thoughtfully engineered. I’d not venture a guess on the best repair without being able to personally examine this piano.

I’ll offer a couple of observations, however. In general I’m not a fan of oversized pins; I don’t like how they feel when tuning and, in certain conditions, they can make tuning difficult. The reason the original pins have become loose is because the wood surrounding the original pins has succumbed, over the years, to long-term compression set. The wood fibers surrounding the original pins have been irrevocably damaged and now we are going to damage them further by adding even more compression. It’s a poor solution to a common problem. Having said that I have also restrung many pianos—mostly uprights—using oversized pins. In the past it was the only alternative to replacing the pinblock. Nowadays in uprights I tend to install new pinblock inserts but that’s another story.

These days chemistry has presented us with several alternatives. The CA treatment one of your technicians has suggested is not altogether a bad one. We are told it is temporary and perhaps it is. But then by some standards a new pinblock is also temporary—after all, the original block is only 100 years old and it is already worn out and in need of replacing. In geological terms that is pretty temporary. We don’t yet know how long these treatments will last; suitable CA adhesives have only been around a decade or two. So far this treatment—properly applied—seems to be holding up pretty well.

There is a third alternative—and this is my current choice if the block is not going to be replaced—and that is to saturate the original block with epoxy, redrill and string with the original size pins. This is the process favored by the folks restoring instruments of historical significance when it is desired to save as much of the original construction as possible yet end up with a useable and serviceable instrument. (If the piano were of historical value we’d be recommending restringing with the original pins, of course.) The process is fairly simple; remove the original strings and pins, saturate the holes with a suitably viscous epoxy making sure the entire surface of the hole is thoroughly coated and, when the epoxy has cured, restring. A variation of this process that is used when the block has completely broken down is to completely fill the holes with epoxy, topping them off as the epoxy saturates the cracks and loose original glue joints—badly deteriorated blocks can absorb an amazing amount of epoxy—until it is obvious that the block is fully saturated. Once the epoxy has cured the holes are redrilled—a smelly job demanding masks and good ventilation and the piano restrung. It is not known how “temporary” this repair might be—it’s only been used for thirty years or so.

ddf


I am not sure how deep the compression damage is to the wood but I often will resize the hole slightly with a hand reamer to remove a thin layer before going with an oversized pin. This has worked well for me with the O.S. pin holding up as well or better than the originals.

I am somewhat unclear as to what the new pin holes are going to be like with an epoxy saturated block. I would get the impression that mostly an epoxy surface will be holding the pin. Is this desirable. Also, would it not be extremely difficult to position the new holes in epoxy filled old ones. I would think that the drill will want to wander into the softer wood perimeter; or is the epoxy very similar in density to the surrounding wood and this is not an issue?

I have used CA glue effectively on pins that are just marginally loose, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10-20 in/pnds less than ideal. I seen this last well longer than 5 years with some worst cases needing a second treatment a few years down the road.

Last edited by Emmery; 01/19/11 09:53 AM. Reason: spelling correction

Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Emmery] #1601032
01/19/11 07:12 PM
01/19/11 07:12 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 5,534
Olympia, Washington
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Del Offline
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D

Joined: Sep 2003
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Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted by Emmery
I am not sure how deep the compression damage is to the wood but I often will resize the hole slightly with a hand reamer to remove a thin layer before going with an oversized pin. This has worked well for me with the O.S. pin holding up as well or better than the originals.

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. For many years there was a “rebuilder” in this area who nearly always restrung with oversize pins. We’ve found a fair proportion of these pianos showing up with very loose pins.


Quote
I am somewhat unclear as to what the new pin holes are going to be like with an epoxy saturated block. I would get the impression that mostly an epoxy surface will be holding the pin. Is this desirable. Also, would it not be extremely difficult to position the new holes in epoxy filled old ones. I would think that the drill will want to wander into the softer wood perimeter; or is the epoxy very similar in density to the surrounding wood and this is not an issue?

Yes, it is likely that the surface holding the pin is all, or nearly all, epoxy. I don’t know if it is desirable or not but it seems to work just fine. It’s easy to try this for yourself; just practice on an old scrap pinblock. Someplace around here I still have an old 3-ply Steinway block that had been restrung with 4/0 pins that had loosened up and would barely hold the string tension. We replaced the block and kept the old one to experiment with. I swabbed a few of the holes as described and drove in 2/0 pins. This was probably 10 years ago and every so often I’ll come across it and turn the pins some; when last checked torque was still excellent.

When the new holes are completely filled with epoxy the holes are drilled just like they would be if it was a new block. Whatever guide system you use for drilling new blocks works just fine. Yes, sometimes I’m sure the drill does drift off the original—although with practice I expect you’ll come closer than you think—but in this case the epoxy has saturated the wood for some distance around the hole. It’s doubtful you’ll drift that far off.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Spindle] #1601122
01/19/11 10:20 PM
01/19/11 10:20 PM
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
Emmery Offline
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Emmery  Offline
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Niagara Region, On. Canada
So when you swab the holes Del, do you drive the pins in right away or do you wait for the epoxy to set up? Also, I presume you use a thin mixture like Wests or something like a model builders thin finishing epoxy?
I have an old piano with a dozen or so pins out here I want to try this and compare it to a couple pins done with CA.

I've stayed away from epoxy and tuning pins in the past because I know that some techs don't like the feel of pins sitting in some high epoxy content delignit. i realize that glazing is most of the problem there if drilled wrong but others feel its because there is almost as much glue/epoxy in the delignit as there is wood.


Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Emmery] #1601137
01/19/11 10:54 PM
01/19/11 10:54 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 5,534
Olympia, Washington
D
Del Offline
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Del  Offline
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D

Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 5,534
Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted by Emmery
So when you swab the holes Del, do you drive the pins in right away or do you wait for the epoxy to set up? Also, I presume you use a thin mixture like Wests or something like a model builder’s thin finishing epoxy?

I’ve done both experimentally. Driving the pins in right away while the epoxy is still liquid makes me very nervous. I’ve done it a couple of times just to see what would happen and it worked but it still makes me nervous. So my technique of choice is to swab down the inside of the hole thoroughly with un-thinned epoxy, allow it to cure and then drive the pins in. I use whatever epoxy I’m using at the time; usually WEST with a slow-cure hardener or System Three. I’ve also used MAS with success. I just use whatever is in the pumps at the time; they all seem to give about the same results.

If I’ve removed oversize pins I’ll follow up with a second pass after the first pass has about half cured. In this case I’ll also mix in a bit of wood flour or cotton fiber flour to add a little bulk to the mix. The liquid epoxy will still wick back into the wood fibers leaving the hardened filler roughly coating the surface.

Please note that I still prefer to replace bad blocks but there are times when this is not practical or expedient; or when the authenticity of the piano is important. Mostly I’ve used this technique with very old pianos using structural pinblocks that would require dismantling significant parts of the casework to remove. I’ve also used it on a couple of uprights that had oversize pins just in the bass section. Out here we can sometimes restring with 3/0 pins (the largest pins I want to use) so I’ve swabbed the bass pin holes so I could string the whole piano with 3/0 pins.


Quote
I have an old piano with a dozen or so pins out here I want to try this and compare it to a couple pins done with CA.

Let me know your procedure and your results. It’s still a learning process.


Quote
I've stayed away from epoxy and tuning pins in the past because I know that some techs don't like the feel of pins sitting in some high epoxy content delignit. i realize that glazing is most of the problem there if drilled wrong but others feel its because there is almost as much glue/epoxy in the delignit as there is wood.

This is quite different. Delignit blocks do not use epoxy as an adhesive; they use a phenol/formaldehyde adhesive along with lots of heat and pressure. The problem with this construction is that it takes away quite a bit of the wood’s natural resiliency. The Baldwin 41-ply blocks used even more heat and pressure and were even less resilient. Epoxy is not quite that rigid so is a little more forgiving.


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Spindle] #1601160
01/19/11 11:18 PM
01/19/11 11:18 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 356
Ranger, Texas
Roy Rodgers Offline
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Roy Rodgers  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 356
Ranger, Texas
Glad I read this thread. Glad I get to read on this forum period. I'm always ready to learn new things.

Last edited by Roy Rodgers; 01/19/11 11:19 PM.

Tuning and repairing pianos since 1981 in Ranger, Tx. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Roys-Piano-Service/173273022711505
Re: Loose pins, good block. Glue, oversized pins, or new block? [Re: Del] #1601277
01/20/11 05:48 AM
01/20/11 05:48 AM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,265
Pretoria, South Africa
Mark R. Offline
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Mark R.  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,265
Pretoria, South Africa
Originally Posted by Del
Driving the pins in right away while the epoxy is still liquid makes me very nervous. I’ve done it a couple of times just to see what would happen and it worked but it still makes me nervous.


Why is this? Is it for fear of gluing the pin to the hole and having to break it loose afterwards, or some other reason?


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
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