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CA treatment on pins already pounded in right down to plate?
#2462476 09/23/15 05:34 AM
Joined: Jul 2009
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Mark R. Offline OP
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Dear tuner-techs,

I've been asked to try and get an old, overdamped Thürmer (probably around 1900) upright tunable again. It was tuned recently at more than a full semitone below A-440 (perhaps 410 Hz), and although there are no seriously slipping strings, most pins are marginal in torque, and unisons don't hold up well. Normally I'd treat it with CA and try to pull it back to about 430 Hz; however, previous techs have pounded the pins into the pinblock to such an extent that the coils on many, if not most, pins are practically touching the plate or pinblock cover.

I see two options, both with pros and cons:

1) Leave the pins as they are and treat with CA.
Pros:
... what tension there is, is not disturbed
... the old strings are not stressed by releasing and re-tensioning.
Con:
... part of the CA would probably wick up into the coils, instead of down into the block.

2) Work string by string, release tension, remove coils, turn the pins out by about 1/8" or 3/16", treat with CA while the coil is off the pin, replace coil and re-tension, doing a slight pitch-raise in the process.
Pros:
... the CA would only go where it's intended to
... space would be recovered for future pin-pounding or CA treatment.
Cons:
... much longer job time
... tension would be disturbed
... upper portions of pin holes may be too worn to hold the pin, even with the help of CA
... risk of string breakage when handling coils and re-tensioning.

Which option would you advise? Or perhaps something different altogether?

Looking forward to your responses.


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
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Re: CA treatment on pins already pounded in right down to plate?
Mark R. #2462496 09/23/15 07:23 AM
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I would go with option 1. I've had this scenario and getting a little CA glue on the coils isn't going to hurt. Also, on an old piano like this, I usually only apply CA glue on the pins that are loose. The pins that are loose will have lost tension much more than the others so that's how you know. I also bring them back to the pitch it was designed for unless there is some reason not to like very rusty strings.

Re: CA treatment on pins already pounded in right down to plate?
Mark R. #2462503 09/23/15 07:50 AM
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Mark R. Offline OP
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Ed,

Thanks for chiming in. While I'd work as neatly as possible, it's good to know that some CA on the coils is not a crisis.

When I assessed the piano, I basically re-tuned about 10 of the worst unisons, to get a feel for the pins. Some of those strings had slipped several beats in only a few weeks, but not more than perhaps 20 cents. I also re-tuned some arbitrary pins in various areas of the pinblock. While all the pins could still be set marginally, almost all of them slipped when putting the slightest bit of counter-clockwise pressure on the lever. This is why I am considering to treat the whole lot.

Regarding the pitch, my understanding from this and other forums, and other sources, is that 440 Hz was really only established as a standard pitch in the 1930s, and that it's debatable what pitch early 20th century pianos were designed for. But I've also read, and seen myself, that instruments with a full plate, a sturdy back and no obvious structural failure can be brought close to or even right up to 440 Hz, if the strings allow it. Currently, this family doesn't require concert pitch, so I was thinking of going from 410 Hz to 430 Hz first, then perhaps 435.


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1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: CA treatment on pins already pounded in right down to plate?
Mark R. #2462529 09/23/15 09:31 AM
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Mark,

Another way I tell if the pins are too loose is to use very firm test blows.

Re: CA treatment on pins already pounded in right down to plate?
Mark R. #2462563 09/23/15 11:33 AM
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O would do all the pins when the piano is on it's back. I would remove the action before tilting the piano. I would treat the block until no more thin CA would wick in around the pins. This could take some time because of fume issues.

Then after a couple of days for everything to cure i would chip tune the piano while on its back and do spot shimming of tuning pin holes with emery cloth as needed to get adequate torque. Of course, if there are indications of splitting block from several loose pins in a line I would decline the whole job.


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Re: CA treatment on pins already pounded in right down to plate?
Mark R. #2462673 09/23/15 05:04 PM
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The decision might depend on how close most of the coils really are to the plate or pin block.

Certainly, some glue wicking into the coil is not so bad but it may mean than not enough can go to the pin where it is needed.

If you chose option 2 then I would test it on a few pins first to see if it works after a few days. If it does work then I would be inclined to go with option 2 if you have the time and patience. The job should take a whole day or more and the client must be aware of this and your costs.

The cost may be minimal if you feel that you are doing it for experience and interest, but don't sell yourself short because you do have obvious skills which deserve some reward.

Thurmer is a common brand of piano in Australia and are of moderate quality. Probably the dampers need more attention, but that is another issue!

Edit: It would be easier if you use a t-bar. Just prise out the becket wire and hold clear of the pin with pliers. Two or three turns back should be enough. re-insert the wire and tighten.

Last edited by Chris Leslie; 09/23/15 05:37 PM.

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Re: CA treatment on pins already pounded in right down to plate?
Mark R. #2463013 09/24/15 12:09 PM
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Don't know, if I googled the right english term. I use a very fine syringe (Insulinspritze) to apply the water like CA on the pins. So there is less danger to create a mess as when I apply the CA with the bottle.


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Re: CA treatment on pins already pounded in right down to plate?
Mark R. #2464288 09/28/15 07:33 AM
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Mark R. Offline OP
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Thanks for all further answers.

Ed (McMorrow), I was under the impression that one shouldn't leave the CA to cure for too long, in order to avoid having to break loose fully cured glue. I was actually considering doing the treatment and the first tuning (chipping) on the same day. Would you rather wait a few days?

Chris, while I am indeed doing this mostly for experience and interest, I am concerned about selling myself short on option 2. If at all possible, I'd go with option 1, and have now quoted on it. Perhaps, if there are really recalcitrant pins that are directly on the plate, I can back some of these out. And yes, you're quite right on the second count, too: the dampers do require much attention, both in terms of regulation and the felt itself. There is also quite uneven friction, and the hammer heads could use refacing. But first of all, I'm pitching this as a quick and (more or less) dirty restoration of tunability, after which they can decide on what work, if any, to do on the action.

Upright, thanks for the useful idea of a fine hypodermic syringe. That should work rather well, I expect. That needle is certainly finer than the long, flexible spouts on the glue bottles we get here.


Autodidact interested in piano technology.
LinkedIn profile
1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.
Re: CA treatment on pins already pounded in right down to plate?
Mark R. #2464301 09/28/15 08:57 AM
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Mark,
The bond breaks quite easily so no issue there. Yes you can tune the same day. CA glue cures pretty quickly. I wait as little as 30 minutes. Often, I'm able to CA the pinblock, do pitch raise and fine tuning in a 2 hour service call.


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