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#2053711 - 03/24/13 09:44 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Marty, Norbert, Larry - thanks! I would definitely take anything I do with a grain of salt - I am a complete novice here. Just going on what I've read in Reblitz's book and what I can find searching the internet.

If you go to google and type: site:pianoworld.com what you're searching for you can use google to search just pianoworld, which has been very handy. I also use site:mail.ptg.org/pipermail/pianotech/ what you're searching for to search the pianotech mailing list archives from the PTG - there are a lot of good discussions there.

Anyway, here is a summary of today's work, likely my last update for a little while as the weekend is almost over.


I completed tuning the entire piano, stem to stern, 100 cent (one semitone) flat using Tunelab.

First off, Tunelab is awesome software. Just go to Help -> Tutorial to get started. In short, just take your inharmonicity readings (I did all the C's) using the "M" key, and then press "T" to go to the tuning curve, and press "U" to set your stretch curve automatically. Then close that window, and begin tuning, either typing in notes or using the left and right arrows to switch notes. If you are using the demo version, it will make you wait for 2 minutes every 12 notes, so it's best to minimize note switching. Or just pay the $300. I may just do that before I tune next.

If you are using Tunelab, or any other computerized tuner, you can start tuning anywhere (you don't need to tune a temperment octave). I would recommend starting with the bass stings and working your way up; I found them the easiest to tune (I actually started in the middle). The last two octaves of the treble were a real pain due to the tight working conditions and difficulty muting the strings. The rubber mutes with the metal handles are a lifesaver for an upright, because you can jam the mutes all different ways to get the right muting. The plastic "Papps Treble Mute" is OK, handy in a few situations, but the rubber mutes are far more effective at actually silencing the strings - at least on my piano.

End result: my piano is playable and sounds 100 times better than before. The tuning is not perfect, probably pretty bad honestly (I can hear some beats in some of the unisions that I need to fix), but it is such an improvement from "not being tuned for ten years" that I'm very happy with it.


I also had time to do a little bit of work on the various felts that are easy to replace while the action is out.

First off is that nasty old damper-lifter rod (for the sustain pedal). Pretty crusty.

To remove the leather, I slowly picked it back from the wood and let a lot of vinegar soak down into the gap. Then I let it sit, peeled back a little more, and added more vinegar. Repeat until done.

Ahh, nice and clean:

And installed in the piano! I cut down a spare front rail punching to fit, and then cut a piece of buckskin to match the original. It actually made a big difference - the sustain pedal mechanism is quieter now.


Luckily, a lot of the trapwork bushings are just the same size as felt balance rail punchings. Pretty easy to fix.

I soak them in pure vinegar for five or ten minutes, and then they just scrape right off. Here's an example:

I have found that a plastic scraper (available at most hardware stores cheap) gives good results - a metal scraper is too dangerous to the wood.

Here is the lever for the damper lift rod, complete with four new bushings:


Also, that nameboard felt (what the top, flat surface of the keys hit against, visible from the outside of the piano, usually red) looked pretty bad - the blue was so faded that from the outside it had lost its color and just looked like dirty wool.

So I replaced it with a nice black peel-and-stick strip.


Other items on the list of felt replacements are the muffler rail felts and bushings, and basically the entire trapwork that is behind the knee panel - the felts down there are in pretty poor shape. And of course, trying to learn how to read music and play the dang thing! smile

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#2053799 - 03/25/13 03:58 AM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
miscrms Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 187
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Thanks for sharing so much detail. Being trapped here on the computer at work rather than at home working on my piano its really fun to see the progress you are making!

1874 Steinway Upright "Franken" Stein

#2054435 - 03/26/13 08:17 AM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
Mark R. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 2265
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
The name on that key looks to be "Sprigade". While rare, it is still in use today.
Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

#2157431 - 09/25/13 12:31 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
musicNow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/22/13
Posts: 160
Loc: San Francisco, Bay Area

Any updates on this project? You were off to a great start!

- Rick
Learning to play the piano, tweaking my 1907 Ivers Pond upright, and mostly playing a Yamha C7 because of its predictability.

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#2157452 - 09/25/13 01:16 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
Kyle_G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/12
Posts: 138
Loc: IL
I am loving this!

Are there any updates?

-Best Wishes

Kyle G.
Currently enlisted in the USN

#2160918 - 10/02/13 05:03 PM Re: Project: 120-year-old 'free' Weber upright - lots of pics! [Re: fishbulb]
fishbulb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/13
Posts: 50
Hey hey!

Actually not much to say, mostly in a good way.

I have been tuning it up every few months, but it has held a tune pretty well. Mostly I am just learning how to play. I am basically starting as a total beginner and I have been working on reading music, scales, learning keys, and working my way through simple songs. I am try to sit down at the piano for at least a 15 minutes every day, and longer on weekends.

I have become barely skilled enough to at least notice things that bug me (out-of-tune unisions, keys that didn't play quite the same as the others; etc.), but so far I haven't had the time to go through a full regulation process. The thing is, the keys are not terribly bad as it is. I asked my mom if she had ever had it regulated, and sort of figured out that her tuner did this at every tuning - "I don't know, he charged me for fiddling with the insides and adjusting the keys and everything" - so that's why it's probably not been too out of whack.

(side note)

I really want to work more on the piano (every time I walk by it) but I discovered a major black mold infestation in my bedroom (luckily far away from the piano) due to a water leak, and I have had to really put my life on hold while I gutted half of the room down to the bare studs, including removal of the flooring. Incidentally, the leak was the fault of the Home Depot contractors who failed to properly caulk my siding when I had them put on new siding in 2009. This is hopefully the last in a long list of problems I have had from that job, ranging from not masking my windows (a fine mist of dried paint is still on most of the glass) to outrageous change orders (luckily I was able to fight them) to stolen property (grudgingly returned after I confronted them). So yeah, 0/10, would not hire Home Depot again.

(end side note)

Anyway, I assure you I will continue to update this thread when I do anything else to the piano. Next tuning I do, I want to take some photos and create a quick beginner tutorial of using TuneLab. I also need to replace the practice bar felt and level the keys, which should make for good tutorials.

Oh yeah and I also finished writing the Wikipedia article on Weber Piano Company, which was fun research, so I guess that counts for something smile https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weber_Piano_Company

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