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Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
#2718819 03/04/18 11:15 AM
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These are new hammers on one of my uprights. I decided I wanted one piano with a really full, mellow tone and even good bass on the lower notes. I didn't have much luck attempting to needle the hammers so applied softener. I had some that I bought from a piano supply, but ran out and made a home brew of half alcohol and half fabric softener. I was VERY pleased with the results, except now six months later the hammers sound quite hard again. Is this normal and I will need to treat the hammers as a regular maintenance item? Is this the result of an improper formula?

Thanks, Don


Don, playing the blues in Austin, Texas on a 48" family heirloom Steinway upright, 100 year old 54" Weber upright, unknown make turn of the century 54" upright -- says "Whittier NY" on the plate, Starr, ca. 100 years old full size upright.
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Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2718842 03/04/18 12:39 PM
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Hi Don,

You did iron the felts after you treated them?

Ian


I'm all keyed up
2016 Bl├╝thner Model A
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2718843 03/04/18 12:39 PM
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Curious: who made the piano? What size is it? Who made the hammers? How thick in the felt layer at the strike point? Thanks for your attention --


Dorrie Bell
retired piano technician
Boston, MA
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2718856 03/04/18 01:11 PM
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Old fashioned full size upright from maybe late 1920s -- Weber. Not super premium model as it has 3/4 plate, but I like it anyway.
Did not iron felts.
Abel, (I think) hammers, installed by yours truly within the last two years.
Original thickness of felt at strike point, little grooving yet.
Oh...and has damp-chaser I installed. Shhhhh....I wasn't supposed to be able to buy it as not a registered tech. smile

Thanks in advance for your comments!

Unless somebody tells me not to, I guess I will soak the hammers again. I really like what it did, though I would not necessarily want ALL my pianos that mellow.

Don

Last edited by Blues beater; 03/04/18 01:11 PM.

Don, playing the blues in Austin, Texas on a 48" family heirloom Steinway upright, 100 year old 54" Weber upright, unknown make turn of the century 54" upright -- says "Whittier NY" on the plate, Starr, ca. 100 years old full size upright.
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2718932 03/04/18 07:09 PM
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Well I went ahead and soaked the hammers again and they are mellow again. This isn't a bad maintenance item and, as stated previously, I did not have much luck with needling at all. I guess I will find out if this has some long-term bad effect on the hammers.


Don, playing the blues in Austin, Texas on a 48" family heirloom Steinway upright, 100 year old 54" Weber upright, unknown make turn of the century 54" upright -- says "Whittier NY" on the plate, Starr, ca. 100 years old full size upright.
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2718969 03/04/18 10:43 PM
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There is some history that excessive liquid softener can eventually turn the hammers into complete mush. I guess if needling doesn't work then you can keep doing this until it also doesn't work and then get new hammers.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
kpembrook #2718973 03/04/18 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
There is some history that excessive liquid softener can eventually turn the hammers into complete mush. I guess if needling doesn't work then you can keep doing this until it also doesn't work and then get new hammers.


With time they are going the opposite way from mush! Why do you think this is happening?


Don, playing the blues in Austin, Texas on a 48" family heirloom Steinway upright, 100 year old 54" Weber upright, unknown make turn of the century 54" upright -- says "Whittier NY" on the plate, Starr, ca. 100 years old full size upright.
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2718979 03/05/18 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Blues beater
Originally Posted by kpembrook
There is some history that excessive liquid softener can eventually turn the hammers into complete mush. I guess if needling doesn't work then you can keep doing this until it also doesn't work and then get new hammers.


With time they are going the opposite way from mush! Why do you think this is happening?



The softener deconstructs the felt -- ultimately turning it back into just wool...sort of. Since hard/soft is not the parameter spectrum that has to do with quality tone, you can get some pretty nasty sounds from fairly soft hammers as you can with hard ones. I think you can expect the hammers not to have durable voicing stability as time goes on.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2719039 03/05/18 09:19 AM
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1:11 PM:
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Unless somebody tells me not to, I guess I will soak the hammers again.


7:09 PM
Quote
Well I went ahead and soaked the hammers again and they are mellow again.


I was busy during those 6 hours...Otherwise, I would have told you that you are going to ruin your new hammers with repeated soakings. Destroying the felt's quality (as Keith points out).

Repeatedly "soaking the hammers"-- just what affect do you think this will play on the glue that holds that felt tension on the hammers? Just a question from my side.

But, to each their own.

Have to hand it to you- you waited almost an entire 6 hours before proceeding...LOL-- I do wonder at some who come in here asking professionals to weigh in on a question they have, when they have every intention of not waiting, or listening *shrugs*

As you say, "I guess I will find out if this has some long-term bad effect on the hammers."
smile


Parks and Sons Piano Service
www.parksandsonspiano.com
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2719042 03/05/18 09:24 AM
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As Keith pointed out, you can always replace them. Try Ronsen next time.

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 03/05/18 09:25 AM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
P W Grey #2719239 03/05/18 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
As Keith pointed out, you can always replace them. Try Ronsen next time.

Pwg


Yes... this old man needs projects to keep him out of trouble, or aimlessly cruising Facebook all day long! smile

After the softener sat in the hammers a while, the tone is quite good tonight.

I got the idea and recipe for home-brew hammer softener from.......................................TECH AND TUNING.PIANOWORLD FORUM! smile

Don


Don, playing the blues in Austin, Texas on a 48" family heirloom Steinway upright, 100 year old 54" Weber upright, unknown make turn of the century 54" upright -- says "Whittier NY" on the plate, Starr, ca. 100 years old full size upright.
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2719313 03/06/18 07:49 AM
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What exactly is in fabric softener? Isn't it rather oily? What affect does oil /chemicals in the hammers have on piano strings, especially copper-wound ones? Fabric softener when used as a laundry aid, is largely rinsed away. What happens when it's allowed to sit in the fabric/felt for extended periods?

I don't know the answer to these questions, and that's one reason I've never used fabric softener on piano hammers.


DiGiorgi Piano Service
http://www.digiorgipiano.com
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Loren D #2719316 03/06/18 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Loren D
What exactly is in fabric softener? Isn't it rather oily? What affect does oil /chemicals in the hammers have on piano strings, especially copper-wound ones? ......
I don't know the answer to these questions, and that's one reason I've never used fabric softener on piano hammers.


This was my brother's exact question to me when I mentioned this post... LOL
There are so many possible negatives here!

Last edited by Rick_Parks; 03/06/18 07:59 AM.

Parks and Sons Piano Service
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Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2719319 03/06/18 08:12 AM
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It is true that just because something "works" initially, this does not mean it is harmless. Time will eventually tell.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
P W Grey #2719321 03/06/18 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
It is true that just because something "works" initially, this does not mean it is harmless. Time will eventually tell.
Pwg


*** needle, needle *** hence, my stance on DC systems laugh LOL --- but, that's just egging on a fight wink sorry


Parks and Sons Piano Service
www.parksandsonspiano.com
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2719328 03/06/18 08:52 AM
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Rick,

I'm confused. ?

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
P W Grey #2719358 03/06/18 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Rick,

I'm confused. ?

Pwg

No I meant I'd be egging a fight - if I started in on DC smile wasn't referring to you. sorry.


Parks and Sons Piano Service
www.parksandsonspiano.com
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2719368 03/06/18 10:49 AM
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As far as I am concerned, if hammers are not sounding good, they are toast already, and anything that makes them sound better is not harming them.


Semipro Tech
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2719458 03/06/18 04:21 PM
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That's rather odd... I've had only good experiences voicing Abel hammers


David C.
Re: Softened hammers w liquid, already hard and "clangy" again!
Blues beater #2720850 03/12/18 08:23 PM
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I have had tremendous results spraying about 1 to 2 seconds worth of Ballistol on hammers


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