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First regulating project hangups
#1704108 06/29/11 08:56 AM
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I'm stuck. Read Reblitz, the PACE book, many issues of the PTG journal and some pages from the Baldwin manual. Searched the archives. My newbie questions must be so advanced that noone has answered them yet. smile Hopefully, there are other poor souls in my position and this will help them too.

I'll boil it down to three issues. Even a hint on any one of these could really help me out.

1) aligning hammers to the strings - Several hammers completely miss a string, but when I screw in the hammer flange screw (with the action out of the piano), there's only one place it seems to want to go, and that's where it was before. I can see that the spacing between the hammers is uneven, but can't seem to do anything about it without forcing it. Can forcing it be the right thing to do? (I also have no idea how I'd do this with the action installed in the piano - a Baldwin acrosonic console from the early 70's - since the hammer flange screws appear completely inaccessible.)

2) key height - The Baldwin manual says that the tops of the natural keys should be 2 1/2" above the key bed when measured 1/4" from the front of the key. Sure, I can do that. But there are wood shims between the front rail and the key bed. In this case, what should I use for the measurement - the bottom of the front rail or the top of the key bed?

3) hammer stroke and lost motion - (OK, that's four issues). I filed the hammers before reinstalling the action and laid new hammer rail cloth across the rail. I expected there to be extra distance from the filing somewhat compensated for by the new rail cloth. As it turns out, most of the tenor and treble hammers are fine, but all of the bass hammers are about 1/8" closer to the strings than the 1 5/8" distance specified by the Baldwin manual. Some of the higher hammers are also a little close. The felts on the supports are original, so there's nothing extra to remove.

As for lost motion - the manual says there should be no lost motion in the keys. OK, but that contradicts everything I've read everywhere else.

Regulating is like, I don't know, something that needs to be demonstrated. Actually, an RPT will be coming to look the piano (and my work) over, but I was hoping to get the project off the ground a bit before that so we could focus on the things that are really funky.

You've all been here before, right?

Thanks for any help!

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Re: First regulating project hangups
Karen A. #1704255 06/29/11 12:31 PM
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Welcome to the wonderful world of regulating!

issue #1: Sometimes a hammer just won't space by loosening the screw and moving the hammer and re tightening. One way to get it to move over is to shim the bottom corner of the flange, so that the shim will force the hammer to tilt in the direction that you want. A trickier way is to heat the shank and try to bend it to the side. I use a barbecue lighter and keep it running up and down the shank on low flame to make the shank malleable. It is very easy to stress the flange pinning with this method, and it takes some practice and experience to pull this off, but it is fairly quick. You could also use shank bending pliers, but the one sold by Schaff is not that great.

#2: The manufacturer spec on key height may be useful as a reference, but frankly I never look at it. I go by how the keys fit the case parts, since that is the main issue at hand. Make sure the keys aren't so high to run into the key cover. Usually you can use the end sections as a reference and bring the middle of the keyboard up to level, since usually it is the middle of the keyboard that has sagged.

#3: This is another common situation. The rest rail may be a little warped, or perhaps one of the other rails. Part of what you may be dealing with is inconsistency in the hammer filing. In a new piano all the hammers in each section are the same length, but this will probably not be the case on an older piano that has had one or more filings. One way to fix it is to bring the rail back 1/8th of an inch by removing some material off the felt support blocks and then install a shim behind the rest rail cloth to get an even blow distance. Note: the rest rail cloth should only be glued along the very bottom edge, the top should be loose. This cuts down on noise and also makes shimming possible.

As far as lost motion goes, you need to find out what will work with your piano. Some pianos seem to get away with hardly any, others need a significant amount more for the jack to reliably return under the hammer butt. Do some samples and make sure the jack returns under a slow release of the key. My default is this: I adjust so I can just barely see the backcheck move before the catcher, but I don't want to feel a noticeable bump in the key. This takes a very sensitive touch.

One of the most important concepts with regulating is the "circle of refinement". Don't be too picky your first time through. Just get everything in the ballpark. Don't attempt being refined in your adjustments until things are close. Otherwise you can waist hours of time.


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
Re: First regulating project hangups
Karen A. #1704319 06/29/11 02:08 PM
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Hello there, had a quick read of this...
1) I'd say if you are doing a complete reg, number all the levers and take them off, space the hammers with the action in the piano this way. You need a hammer spacer! Like a screwdriver but with a wide flat tip, tighten screw with one hand using spacer between two flanges with the other (I cut the end half off a long bladed kitchen knife to make a spacer), as long as you move the flange and not the hammer body with the spacer you can give it a fair bit of force. Only cast the shank with heat if you need to turn the hammer head to be parallel with its neighbours. After that replace levers, lining up the tip of the jack to the hammer butt.

2) Measure your 2.5" from the top of the keybed by sliding a thin metal rule between two keys and making sure it is square on to the bed. Just set up the 1st and last of each section like this then use a straight edge to get all the keys the same.

3) Totally agree with above about the rest rail.
Once that's done I would adjust capstans until there is no lost motion, if the jack can't get onto the cushion lower the capstan more, but play the note hard a few times in each case.

Good luck, there are many other things to address in a full regulation but those are the basics!


delacey-simms
piano tuner, technician and enthusiast.
All my comments are posted with the utmost respect to the other technicians
Re: First regulating project hangups
rysowers #1704824 06/30/11 10:01 AM
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Ryan, thanks for the great advice. The "circle of refinement" wasn't a term I've heard before, but it sounds like the same principle used in tuning and now that I think about it, in arts like sculpture and painting. So a generally useful approach to follow.

I've decided to also follow a principle that I call "no irreversible damage without supervision". I do have other hammers that aren't square, but thought I'd wait for a demo before bringing the fire.

Balance-rail punchings I can handle and I put them under the middle section as you suggest. But I'm still uncertain that #1 and #88 are set at the right height. If shims under the front rail aren't common, I think I'll experiment with removing them. Do you happen to know how to use the embedded screws in a Baldwin balance rail to set key height? There are 5 small, embedded philips screws and 5 large philips screws on the surface along the rail, but I haven't figured out how they relate to each other.

Thanks again.

Re: First regulating project hangups
delacey-simms #1704829 06/30/11 10:12 AM
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Thanks, Delacey-Simms. A hammer spacer. Ingenious! Just to clarify a couple of things - If I'm using a hammer spacer, is there any chance that I'll be enlarging or otherwise damaging the screw hole by repositioning the flange? Also, the wippen flange screws seem even more inaccessible than the hammer flange screws. Would I remove the action from the piano, take out the wippen/sticker assembly, return the action to the piano, align the hammers, then take out the action again to put the wippen/stickers back? I'm up for it, but just wanted to be sure I'm not missing an easier approach.

Re: First regulating project hangups
Karen A. #1705023 06/30/11 03:21 PM
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One of the nice things about Baldwin balance rails is the adjustable screw supports. Pull out the few keys that are above the adjustment screws, and leave the rest in place. If you want to raise the rail, loosen the top screws and turn up the support screws. if you want to lower the rail, screw down the support screws and then tighten the top screws.


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
Re: First regulating project hangups
Karen A. #1705127 06/30/11 06:07 PM
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Karen, Hi,
You won't have a problem with the flange screw holes because the spacer just rotates the flange slightly on its screw, the hole remains in the same place.
Taking off the whippens/levers is the way I was taught, they have to come off first in any action regulation (Left Hand Drive / Levers Hammers Dampers is the way to remember the order!) Sometimes on those console actions you have to move the damper around on its flange to work the lever screw past the damper tail but you'll get the hang of it, then exactly as you say, action in, regulate hammers, action out, put levers back on. Trust me it's the fastest way to get the hammers exactly right! Good luck


delacey-simms
piano tuner, technician and enthusiast.
All my comments are posted with the utmost respect to the other technicians
Re: First regulating project hangups
rysowers #1705243 06/30/11 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by rysowers
If you want to raise the rail, loosen the top screws and turn up the support screws. if you want to lower the rail, screw down the support screws and then tighten the top screws.


Excellent. Since I had to add punchings for every key in the mid-range, it sounds like I can just raise the rail a little in that area alone and then use fewer punchings for the fine leveling. Thanks!

Re: First regulating project hangups
delacey-simms #1705249 06/30/11 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by delacey-simms
Karen, Hi,
... then exactly as you say, action in, regulate hammers, action out, put levers back on.


This is great! Not only do I now have a plan for aligning the hammers to the strings, but then I'll be able to attempt all the other alignments that follow that. Thanks.

Re: First regulating project hangups
Karen A. #1705273 06/30/11 09:50 PM
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Nice job everyone...


Les Koltvedt
Servicing the Greater Atlanta Area.
www.well-lovedpiano.com/atlanta-piano-technicians/
PTG Associate

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