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Help! I have a new customer across the border in Rockford, IL who is a neighbor of an already established client with a Yamaha Grand. The established customer is hosting a concert pianist from Israel May 1st.

The new customer also expects to have the Israeli pianist as a guest. Since I could not get down there so quickly due to recent illness, she had the newly acquired 1989 Young Chang Grand "tuned" by someone local who noted some problems but could not offer any remedies.

I am afraid that 1989 falls within the era of the notorious "growing pot metal brackets" and that any regulation that may be done would be undone fairly shortly except if those brackets had already been replaced and the necessary regulation is more of a follow-up than anything else. I had one such case several years ago.

I have never actually replaced those brackets. Does anyone know if Young Chang will still offer replacements? Any advice on how to tell if the brackets are original or replacements?

If they are original, by this time, wouldn't the piano be completely unplayable? Was there sometimes only a little deformation rather than a lot? If only a little and by this time, could things be stable by now? I may have to do what I can do on the spot to make the piano playable but then have to completely re-do it later. The customer has expressed complete confidence in me but I am not at all sure about what I am in for.

It is definitely not my favorite brand of piano under any circumstances. Anyone with any experience in these is invited to reply.


Bill Bremmer RPT
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It's been a while since I've replaced some of these - at first they were supplied free, but the last few had to be purchased. There is a measurement for the action spread - I think it was whippen center to hammer flange center? I don't remember what the number was, but if the measurement was more, then the brackets got replaced.

I've read of techs coming to the piano and the action could not be removed without breaking the brackets - because the action was too tall to slide under the pinblock. I never ran into that, but the drop screws on some did drag on the bottom of the block.

The ones I did were very straight forward - no surprises.

I have seen some that only grew a little and were able to be regulated to still work without replacing the brackets. You won't know until you get there...

Ron Koval







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Here's a thread from the past with some action spread numbers:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1683867/Action_spread_question.html

Ron


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You should be able to tell right away if these are the growing brackets. The capstans will be almost all the way out, hammer tails may be rubbing on the wippen rail, let off buttons may have bottomed out and are off center with the jack toes.

At any rate, the process is so slow that your regulation should last for quite a while, if there is any room left.

Good luck.

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Originally Posted by RonTuner
It's been a while since I've replaced some of these - at first they were supplied free, but the last few had to be purchased. There is a measurement for the action spread - I think it was whippen center to hammer flange center? I don't remember what the number was, but if the measurement was more, then the brackets got replaced.

I've read of techs coming to the piano and the action could not be removed without breaking the brackets - because the action was too tall to slide under the pinblock. I never ran into that, but the drop screws on some did drag on the bottom of the block.

The ones I did were very straight forward - no surprises.

I have seen some that only grew a little and were able to be regulated to still work without replacing the brackets. You won't know until you get there...

Ron Koval


Thanks, Ron. This one may be a good one to get Lucas or Andy involved with if I have to go deep into it. Wow! not being able to remove the action because of growing brackets!? If I see that, I am done! Sorry. Too far away and too much trouble. Get another piano.


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I thought this was only a problem on pianos from the '90s. At any rate, the affected pianos have silver brackets. To be sure, measure the spread at each bracket; if there is a problem, the spread will be high. Young Chang still sends brackets for free... I just did this two months ago. There is a great article on how to do this in the Journal, by Bruce Dornfeld, from a few years back.

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I've found the brackets grow at different rates, and some of them not at all. Blocking hammers is one of the early signs. If that's all you find, adjusting the let-off is fairly quick, especially if no one else has adjusted them yet.

I will warn you, under no circumstances should you remove the action stack. If the brackets are growing, they WILL break when you try to put the stack back on.


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Originally Posted by Mark Cerisano, RPT
You should be able to tell right away if these are the growing brackets. The capstans will be almost all the way out, hammer tails may be rubbing on the wippen rail, let off buttons may have bottomed out and are off center with the jack toes.

At any rate, the process is so slow that your regulation should last for quite a while, if there is any room left.

Good luck.


Thanks Mark. That is what I am counting on. I would rather do what I can do in the time that I have than tell the customer just about anything else. If I can get it to work but it feels "heavy", I know what to say. With 26 years from date of manufacturing, whatever has happened should be stable by now, I hope.


Bill Bremmer RPT
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Thanks Beethoven and Eric.


Bill Bremmer RPT
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Just to summarize the procedure:

1. Call Young Chang and verify serial number. They will send brackets for free, including shipping. It is a good idea to measure the base of the originals, front to back; in my piano, YC sent brackets that were too long, so they had to be resent.

2. Take top stack off. Test fit new brackets on key frame. You may have to chisel out part of the key frame for end brackets to fit.

3. Remove old brackets from action rails one at a time and replace with the new brackets one at a time. Do not tighten screws on action rails.

4. Place top stack on key frame. Hopefully your holes will line up. On the one I did, end brackets were ok, and the back holes on the middle brackets were ok. Pay attention here, as top stack location change will alter the action ratio.

5. Screw brackets to key frame. If holes do not line up, you will need to plug and redrill. I prefer using wood epoxy, but dowels will do. Note: you will need to buy new (longer) screws. #8 1-1/4" (I think). With longer screws in existing holes, deepen the holes, first.

6. Tighten screws on hammershank flange rail.

7. Set spread by moving wippen flange rail. Spec is 112.5mm or 113.5mm depending on model.

8. Tighten screws on wippen flange rail. Double check spread as you go.

9. Regulate.

10. Celebrate by destroying old brackets, with your bare hands:

[Linked Image]

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Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT
Originally Posted by Mark Cerisano, RPT
You should be able to tell right away if these are the growing brackets. The capstans will be almost all the way out, hammer tails may be rubbing on the wippen rail, let off buttons may have bottomed out and are off center with the jack toes. At any rate, the process is so slow that your regulation should last for quite a while, if there is any room left.

Thanks Mark. That is what I am counting on. I would rather do what I can do in the time that I have than tell the customer just about anything else. If I can get it to work but it feels "heavy", I know what to say. With 26 years from date of manufacturing, whatever has happened should be stable by now, I hope.


Greetings,
Hmm, I have dealt with two of these cases, and watched the progression from going out of regulation to let-off buttons coming loose. I regulated the first one, and two years later had to tell them that parts needed to be replace. I think the brackets that are changing will continue until the action cannot be made to play, so I have either gotten permission and prices to replace the brackets or, refer them. The problems seem to be unending as they progress.

I don't know how many of these pianos are out there, as the brackets were used for several other brands, as well. It appears to be the same bracket for several different names, and are sent gratis by Young Chang on a brand and serial # basis.
Regards,

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The brackets will continue growing. Eventually you won't be able to pull out the action and you'll have to cut out the brackets.

I experienced this with a YC 165 grand made in 1995.

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Originally Posted by beethoven986
I thought this was only a problem on pianos from the '90s. At any rate, the affected pianos have silver brackets. To be sure, measure the spread at each bracket; if there is a problem, the spread will be high. Young Chang still sends brackets for free... I just did this two months ago. There is a great article on how to do this in the Journal, by Bruce Dornfeld, from a few years back. (Emphasis added)


The last set of replacement brackets that YC sent me were gold in color.

I forget the action spread numbers. But, each time I called for replacements, i always asked YC for the action spread for the specific piano, using the serial number, in case they updated the action spread distance for some reason.

I've set the action spread two ways...

1) I hired a machinist to make me a tool with the exact distance. He used 2 center pins drilled and pressed through another piece of metal at a right angle. (It's around here somewhere.) I think it cost me around $100.

2)Another approach is simply to use a good compass and set the width of the needles with a good ruler. Then, use the compass's needles... center of bird's eye to center of bird's eye.

The compass method was actually easier.

Good luck! smile

Last edited by daniokeeper; 04/22/15 01:34 AM.

Joe Gumbosky
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Yes, the replacement brackets are gold. I use my digital calipers to set spread. Piece of cake.

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Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT
[...] Thanks, Ron. This one may be a good one to get Lucas or Andy involved with if I have to go deep into it. [...]


I vote for beethoven986 to be involved, with blessings, who I believe is making his way to the Rockford area. And, with his blessing, I would want to be present to learn what I can learn... smile

--Andy


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I asked the customer to text me the model and serial number of the piano so that I could check with Young Chang to find out if the piano was made during the problem era and also if there was a record of already sending new brackets but she has not dome that yet.

If it looks to me like it needs new brackets, I prefer to refer the job. I am really not interested in it.


Bill Bremmer RPT
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Young Chang e-mailed me today and is sending brackets. Since I have essentially an artist tuning to do first on a Yamaha that I recently pimped out a few blocks away, I have the rest of the day to deal with the Young Chang. I suppose I could even return the next day of I don't finish it. I guess the color of the money is still the same and I may as well do it. The customer seems to have such faith in my capabilities.

The gold color must indicate that the new brackets are made of brass (not painted gold, I hope but if they are pure iron or some other stable alloy that is not attractive in color, then a gold finish is just fine with me). In any case, I think I learned something today when I Googled "pot metal". I have heard of it before, yes but didn't really understand it and perhaps the last time I looked into it (many years ago), there was not any such Wikipedia article on the subject.

We all have to be grateful to Wikipedia because as much as some information may be inaccurate, misleading or incomplete, there does seem to be a deliberate effort to providing useful and correct information. The powers of the Internet are really amazing.

What I learned was that "pot metal" is basically "garbage metal" of no particular composition, just whatever scraps of metal may be available then melted down and put into a mold. It must have been seen as a cost effective (cheap) way to make action brackets at the time but as we all know by now, it was perhaps the most expensive mistake the manufacturer ever made.

The bottom line is that the smallest of dimensional changes or deviations in action alignment and geometry make a whopping difference!

Here for all is the Wikipedia article on Pot Metal. When you read it, you will understand the problem perfectly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pot_metal



Bill Bremmer RPT
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Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT

The gold color must indicate that the new brackets are made of brass (not painted gold, I hope but if they are pure iron or some other stable alloy that is not attractive in color, then a gold finish is just fine with me).


It's gold paint.

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Originally Posted by beethoven986
Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT

The gold color must indicate that the new brackets are made of brass (not painted gold, I hope but if they are pure iron or some other stable alloy that is not attractive in color, then a gold finish is just fine with me).


It's gold paint.


I am so encouraged!


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I don't suppose that anyone knows what alloy the replacement brackets are made of. We are just expected to believe that whatever it is, it won't offer the same problem in the future. (A lot like the replacement plastic elbows that are made for spinets. I've never seen one of those break the way the originals did but it is the first question the customer always asks about them).


Bill Bremmer RPT
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