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Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem #1737881
08/21/11 07:51 PM
08/21/11 07:51 PM
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Posts: 54
Michigan
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sesquipedalian Offline OP
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sesquipedalian  Offline OP
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Hi all,

I just purchased a Mason and Hamlin AA piano rebuilt with Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action. I like the feel of the action, but I am dissatisfied with a clunking noise upon release of the keys. This noise is particularly noticeable in the treble section but is present to a lesser degree in the tenor section and is almost not noticeable in the bass (i.e., I can live with it).

I compared the action noise with a new M&H with the composite action and heard it on the new piano as well, albeit it was a bit less noticeable (might have been the room). This sound did not occur on a M&H with wood action parts next to it.

Upon inspection, it kind of looks like the noise is coming when the shank hits the felt after the key is released, but I am not a tech, so it may be coming from some other part of the action -- I don't want to mess with anything to find out. My rebuilder will be looking into the issue, but I thought I would call upon the vast knowledge here to see if anyone else has encountered this issue with the WNG action. I also e-mailed WNG to see if they knew of a solution.

Does anyone have an idea what might be causing such a noise? If so, is there a way to fix it? I am a bit sensitive to such things and would very much like not to have to deal with it.

Thanks in advance.


Mason & Hamlin AA
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Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1737913
08/21/11 09:15 PM
08/21/11 09:15 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 944
shirley, MA
jim ialeggio Offline
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See if the jack is set just a touch too far back on the knuckle. It makes sense to me to eliminate this as a cause, since it's simple to test, and can annoy some players.

Gently, slowly, with a couple of fingers, depress an offending note's key through letoff...after you feel the resistance of letoff, release the key. If the jack is set too far back on the knuckle you will hear a light "pock". This "pock" would sound immediately on the key's release, ie before the shank hits the hammer rest felt.

The fix is to move the jack forward (towards the strings)ever so slightly, until the pock ceases to sound.

Jim Ialeggio


Jim Ialeggio
www.grandpianosolutions.com
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
Shirley Center, MA
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1737914
08/21/11 09:16 PM
08/21/11 09:16 PM
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charleslang Offline
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There are several points in the wippen where felt pieces act to stop moving parts during a normal key stroke.

Actually, the felt near the hammer is the least likely to be making the noise you're worried about.

I have some sample wippens from WNG and I have noticed before this thread that the felt they use in the parts in question is extraordinarily dense. (In comparison to the two grands I own.)

I'm a 'newbie' though. Maybe there is a way to make things quieter without replacing the felt areas (this would be time consuming, but still short of replacing the WNG parts).

This may be an interesting thread to 'sit back and watch the show'. WNG seems to be a company eager to make the best product posssible. So count me as curious about what the source of your problem is and about the best solution.

Last edited by charleslang; 08/21/11 09:18 PM.

charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1737950
08/21/11 10:40 PM
08/21/11 10:40 PM
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Loren D Offline
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If the hammers are not setting at the correct height off the wippen rest felt, the shanks can sometimes hit the top of the repetition lever height adjuster. I've seen this many times, and continue to see it. The hammers should not be resting directly on the felt when they're at rest. The felt serves to cushion the rebound. The result is a kind of clicking sound.


DiGiorgi Piano Service
http://www.digiorgipiano.com
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1738055
08/22/11 01:24 AM
08/22/11 01:24 AM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 12
Illinois
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PianoLucky? Offline
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I am not a technician, but I should tell you of my experience with composite action. In Dennis Saphir's shop in Wilmette, IL a few weeks ago I played two identical small Mason & Hamlins: one with composite action, the other with wood. I absolutely could not tell them apart. Both pianos were very well regulated and easy to play, and the only sounds were of a lovely musical nature: no clunking. So at least some WNG composite actions work very well. On the other hand, I've played quite a few newly rebuilt pianos, and most seem to have some sort of action problem. Good luck, I hope you can get it solved!

Melissa

Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1738185
08/22/11 08:43 AM
08/22/11 08:43 AM
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Michigan
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sesquipedalian Offline OP
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Thanks for the responses so far; I am making a list of considerations.

As for the noise, it is not really a clicking. If anything it is more of a thud that has a slight metallic reverb (which I assume is just the sound resonating).

If I press a key down through the let-off and then release it, I hear the sound as it meets the hammer felt rest--not before. Also if I let the key up slowly while still holding it, I can prevent the noise from occurring. I can increase the noise by slightly pushing up on the key after it has been depressed (i.e., increasing the force of the return).

Also, I am wondering why the same thing would be heard off a new M&H with WNG action. What regulation is normally needed on a M&H coming from the factory?


Mason & Hamlin AA
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1738195
08/22/11 08:59 AM
08/22/11 08:59 AM
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Tampa, FL
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Bill McKaig,RPT Offline
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I installed a WNG action in a Mason and Risch grand last year that had an unusual action geometry. It worked very well for that. I didn't find it to have any more noise than regular wooden parts.
The best approach is forget about what parts you have and do a standard diagnostic evaluation of the action and determine what he cause is. It may or may not be related to the action parts.


Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1738197
08/22/11 09:01 AM
08/22/11 09:01 AM
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Michigan
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sesquipedalian Offline OP
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I've included a couple pictures of the action before the hammers were added during the rebuild.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]


Mason & Hamlin AA
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: Bill McKaig,RPT] #1738204
08/22/11 09:10 AM
08/22/11 09:10 AM
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Michigan
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sesquipedalian Offline OP
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Michigan
Originally Posted by Bill McKaig,RPT
I installed a WNG action in a Mason and Risch grand last year that had an unusual action geometry. It worked very well for that. I didn't find it to have any more noise than regular wooden parts.
The best approach is forget about what parts you have and do a standard diagnostic evaluation of the action and determine what he cause is. It may or may not be related to the action parts.


I assume that is what my rebuilder/technician will be doing using the new M&H in his shop that seems to do the same thing. If not, he will be coming out to look at my piano when it is due for the first tuning in about a month. It is very playable now--it just has this issue that I find rather bothersome. If this was something unusual or something that was specific to WNG action, I was just trying to be proactive in providing as much info to my rebuilder as possible in the meantime.


Mason & Hamlin AA
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1738216
08/22/11 09:43 AM
08/22/11 09:43 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 944
shirley, MA
jim ialeggio Offline
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shirley, MA
[ I can increase the noise by slightly pushing up on the key after it has been depressed (i.e., increasing the force of the return).

But the shank is independent of the key/whip at this point. So you are increasing the force of the return of the key/whip maybe but not so much the shank...no?

Jim Ialeggio


Jim Ialeggio
www.grandpianosolutions.com
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
Shirley Center, MA
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: jim ialeggio] #1738218
08/22/11 09:48 AM
08/22/11 09:48 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 944
shirley, MA
jim ialeggio Offline
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jim ialeggio  Offline
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another thought.

when installing WNG whips on an existing whip rail...looks like your whip rail is original...the existing whip rail top often has to be relieved to clear the whip at rest or clear the whip if it bounces down hard. Your pics appear to show a relief on this surface, but the relief may not be sufficient.

Jim Ialeggio


Jim Ialeggio
www.grandpianosolutions.com
advanced soundboard and action redesigns
978 425-9026
Shirley Center, MA
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: jim ialeggio] #1738225
08/22/11 10:02 AM
08/22/11 10:02 AM
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England
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MU51C JP Offline
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England
I can't believe that the WNG actions should in any way be more prone to excessive noise ... however I've never come across, or indeed worked on one as yet. Your problem might simply be one where the key slap rail ( the rail just forward of the centre rail pins) had been adjusted a little too close to the keys causing a "clonk" everytime a key returns. Press on the rail and see whether the hammers move ... if they do .. it's too close. Remove the rail and adjust the support stops so that there is more clearance. If the "clonking" disappears when the fall is removed, then check that you have enough clearance between the fall and top of the keys.
If the "clonking" only happens to the sharps. this can often be the back of the sharp hitting the fall. Fingers crossed that the remedy is something as simple as adjusting the key slap rail though. thumb


Concert Tuner & Technician for the past 52 years in the United Kingdom
www.jphillipspianoservices.freeindex.co.uk : E-mail jophillips06@aol.com
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1738235
08/22/11 10:19 AM
08/22/11 10:19 AM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 504
Brooklyn, NY
Z
Zeno Wood Offline
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Are the nuts holding the hammer rest rail tightened? (it's not actually a "rest" rail, the shanks shouldn't actually rest on it...)


Zeno Wood, Piano Technician
Brooklyn College
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: Zeno Wood] #1738364
08/22/11 01:46 PM
08/22/11 01:46 PM
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Posts: 534
Oregon Coast
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TunerJeff Offline
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Oregon Coast
Dear Ses,

A 'clunk' in a freshly rebuilt action can be caused by problems with the new parts, sure....but more often the problem is caused by what is NOT rebuilt/refurbished.

Although keys are often rebushed and 'tightened' in a rebuild, the balance rail opening at the bottom of the key is very often neglected. If your piano was so worn-out that the action parts were replaced, then the balance rail opening is likely ovaled/elongated and your keys are the culprit (...back me up here, you rebuilder guys!) in the 'clunk'.

Grab a key and pull on it, then push on it. If there is ANY significant movement; you've found the 'clunk'. Quite often you will get a beautifully rebuilt action and piano, and this simple thing has not been addressed. The action is noisy, the feel is 'mushy'...and yet everything is replaced! How does that happen? A sloppy key wandering on the balance rail, of course.

The pictures of the action show no hammers installed, and I'm sure that the action was regulated after the hammers were glued on. No; the hammers do not rest on the rebound-rail, and should not even hit it on a mp-blow. Its there for a FF or FFF-blow, when the action is REALLY moving. Sometimes the rail is not properly tightened, and may 'clunk' when hammers drop down, but I'd doubt your technician/rebuilder was that sloppy.

I'd bet on the balance rail opening in the bottom of the wooden key being loose/sloppy/elongated. Try it and see!

Good Luck!
Enjoy the 'new'!
Smiling,
I am,


Jeffrey T. Hickey, RPT
Oregon Coast Piano Services
TunerJeff440@aol.com
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: TunerJeff] #1738410
08/22/11 03:12 PM
08/22/11 03:12 PM
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charleslang Offline
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Originally Posted by TunerJeff


I'd bet on the balance rail opening in the bottom of the wooden key being loose/sloppy/elongated.


This wouldn't explain why the OP is observing the same sound in a brand new M&H on the showroom floor.


charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1738424
08/22/11 03:28 PM
08/22/11 03:28 PM
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charleslang Offline
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When the hammer falls back to its resting position, the kinetic energy goes through felt and leather at the knuckle, is transferred down through the jack and across the wippen and then through the wippen cushion into the key and then into the back rail cloth.

This leaves the kinetic energy to dissipate into heat and sound. The sound is reduced by using soft materials at three spots: the knuckle, the wippen cushion, and the back rail cloth.

If the sound is being caused by any of these then the sound will appear not only when the key is actuated, but also if you physically lift up the hammer(s) and drop it back to its resting spot (that is, if you do this without pressing down on the key). When you do this, fewer parts in the action move -- specifically, the repetition lever and the jack are not lifted from their resting positions.

When you press the key in a normal stroke, the jack and the repetition levers do leave their resting positions, and then return to them as you release the key. They, too, are softened by felt (the repetition lever button and the jack regulation button) and they can be the source of noise.

My earlier post referred to the felt on these latter surfaces -- I found it to be unusually dense (hard), so I had wondered already a while ago whether they might cause noise. This does not mean this is your problem. If I were you, I would try the simple trouble-shoot of lifting the hammers by hand and letting them fall back, without pressing the key(s). If you hear the noise you have been hearing, this would rule out the felts on the repetition lever and the jack regulation button.



charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: charleslang] #1738476
08/22/11 04:49 PM
08/22/11 04:49 PM
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Michigan
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sesquipedalian Offline OP
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Originally Posted by charleslang
When the hammer falls back to its resting position, the kinetic energy goes through felt and leather at the knuckle, is transferred down through the jack and across the wippen and then through the wippen cushion into the key and then into the back rail cloth.

This leaves the kinetic energy to dissipate into heat and sound. The sound is reduced by using soft materials at three spots: the knuckle, the wippen cushion, and the back rail cloth.

If the sound is being caused by any of these then the sound will appear not only when the key is actuated, but also if you physically lift up the hammer(s) and drop it back to its resting spot (that is, if you do this without pressing down on the key). When you do this, fewer parts in the action move -- specifically, the repetition lever and the jack are not lifted from their resting positions.

When you press the key in a normal stroke, the jack and the repetition levers do leave their resting positions, and then return to them as you release the key. They, too, are softened by felt (the repetition lever button and the jack regulation button) and they can be the source of noise.

My earlier post referred to the felt on these latter surfaces -- I found it to be unusually dense (hard), so I had wondered already a while ago whether they might cause noise. This does not mean this is your problem. If I were you, I would try the simple trouble-shoot of lifting the hammers by hand and letting them fall back, without pressing the key(s). If you hear the noise you have been hearing, this would rule out the felts on the repetition lever and the jack regulation button.


So I was able to lift up a hammer and drop it back to its resting spot. This is when I hear the noise. Does this then suggest that the culprit is going to be material that is too dense at either the knuckle, wippen cushion, or back rail cloth?


Mason & Hamlin AA
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1738509
08/22/11 05:33 PM
08/22/11 05:33 PM
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charleslang Offline
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Originally Posted by sesquipedalian


So I was able to lift up a hammer and drop it back to its resting spot. This is when I hear the noise. Does this then suggest that the culprit is going to be material that is too dense at either the knuckle, wippen cushion, or back rail cloth?


Your test pretty much rules out the repetition lever button felt and the jack button felt as culprits, since these do not move when the hammers are raised and dropped by hand.

But, I think it's too much to conclude that the problem is definitely in the other places (the knuckle, the wippen cushion, or the back rail felt). First, only two of these have to do with WNG parts (the first two). Second, there are still other places that could make a clunking sound (which other posters here have mentioned).

If you have access to the action (you have it out of the piano) you could test whether softening the wippen cushion would fix your problem, by inserting a thin but soft piece of cloth (ideally I'm thinking of something like a tiny piece of an auto shammy) between the capstan and the wippen cushion, just for a test. Then drop the hammer again. If the sound goes away, then a softer cushion (or back rail cloth) would solve the problem.



Last edited by charleslang; 08/22/11 05:37 PM.

charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1738511
08/22/11 05:33 PM
08/22/11 05:33 PM
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Loren D Offline
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As I and others mentioned earlier, are the hammer shanks resting directly on the rest rail or cushions? They shouldn't be.


DiGiorgi Piano Service
http://www.digiorgipiano.com
Re: Wessell Nickel and Gross composite action problem [Re: sesquipedalian] #1738523
08/22/11 05:54 PM
08/22/11 05:54 PM
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Brooklyn, NY
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Zeno Wood Offline
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Don't go crazy worrying. Give the rebuilder a call and let him address the problem when he comes.


Zeno Wood, Piano Technician
Brooklyn College
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