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Don't Move That Piano! #2719404 03/06/18 01:08 PM
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I've been around the piano business a long time, starting as a piano delivery guy after school in high school in 1969 (yikes!).

I know a thing or two because I've seen a thing or two (that sounds familiar).

Over the years I've warned many people about the dangers of moving a piano if you don't know what you're doing.

Apparently even those who are supposed to know still make mistakes even though they should know better.

The following picture is courtesy of piano tuner-tech Phil Bondi. It's from a Steinway D concert grand he takes care of at a venue, one of three Steinway concert grands. It seems the stage crew was shoving a Steinway D from one location to another, forgetting there was a 1" height difference between the area the piano started in, and the one it was being moved to. (story continues below picture)

[Linked Image]

Because they were pushing too fast they didn't have time to make a course correction when the casters on this leg hit the tiny ledge.
Consider that the piano weighs approximately 1000LBS (453 kg) and is being pushed by burly guys in a hurry to be done with it, not to mention (but I will) the leverage involved when the bottom of the leg stops short but the piano doesn't.

If you must move a piano from one location to another in a building, be careful, go slow, watch what you're doing.
This is one of the reasons we recommend the Grand Piano Spider Dolly that eliminates the chance of breaking a leg.

Here Is Another Example of the Dangers of Moving a Piano
(used with permission from piano tech Lawrence Heppell of the UK)

[Linked Image]

The piano in the above picture was being moved across the stage when one leg caught in an unseen hole. Momentum and the weight of the piano broke the leg and flipped the piano off the stage. To make it more interesting, this happened 1-1/2 hours before a concert! Luckily the piano tech was still there, they managed to get the piano back onto the stage, they propped it up, he quickly fixed the tuning and the concert went on. Imagine if anyone had been walking by when the piano flipped.

From Piano Tech Ron Ray Jr.
"Don't forget to remind people to close the lid on grand pianos when moving also! I had a beautifully refinished/rebuilt grand piano on display at a friend's store back in the 1980's. He tried moving it around his showroom (just a few feet) with the lid up. Same as the above picture. The leg hit a rut in the floor, collapsed and the lid went flying causing major damage to the point that I had to bring it back to my shop and re-refinish it!"

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If the piano needs to be moved from one location to another outside the building (whether it's across town or across the country), Hire a Professional PIANO Mover (note that not just any mover is qualified and experienced to properly handle a mover).

For further reading, see my article on moving a piano



Last edited by Piano World; 03/11/18 01:03 PM. Reason: added another piano accident, and a note about lids

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Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719436 03/06/18 02:47 PM
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It keeps piano rebuilders in business!


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719443 03/06/18 03:38 PM
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Just guessing, were they pushing on the fallboard, so this is the back leg. It could have been worse, the lyre wasn't affected.


-- J.S.

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Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719449 03/06/18 03:58 PM
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It was a front leg, but somehow the lyre is ok.
They are replacing both front legs.


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Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719463 03/06/18 04:47 PM
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It's a lot of money for that repair.


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Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2719475 03/06/18 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
It's a lot of money for that repair.

For sure Sam.
And they ended up buying two new legs.
Yet they claim to not have the money for a spider dolly. Which means it could happen again.


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Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719547 03/06/18 10:13 PM
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People and institutions spend money where they WANT to. And some just learn the hard way.

Pwg


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Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719551 03/06/18 10:27 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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These "Killer Casters" so popular in the last few years are a negligent design. They roll so freely that people will push the piano at a fast walking speed which does not allow proper and safe control. A concert grand could easily end up off the edge of the stage and if someone was in the way, serious injury or death is a real possibility. When this happens you can be sure the people who sold these wheels will be sued for negligence. This negligence could extend to anyone who repairs them after an incident that clearly makes awareness of the risk real.

The locks they come with to disable wheel rotation are very fragile and often fail after a very short time. They require constant attention to be sure they will properly lock.

I strongly urge all piano technicians who service these pianos to make the powers to be aware of the danger and recommend an interim plan to maintain them, with strict rules on how to move the piano, and remove the Killer Casters eventually is put in place.

The safe moving speed for a piano is a slow walking pace. The wheels/casters should be adequately resistant to rolling that a strong adult can not move the piano any faster than that. I find the double rubber Darnel casters fit the bill on concert grands.

This "Killer Caster" problem could also inspire venues to not allow real pianos on stage since digitals are "safer".


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719601 03/07/18 08:18 AM
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Nothing makes these people move faster than a letter from an attorney. Good point Ed.

Pwg


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Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719611 03/07/18 09:22 AM
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I had a conversation with someone who had their old piano retrofitted with these steam roller casters. They bragged how much better the piano looked compared to when it had the spider dolly. It kind of reminded me of all that money people spend to buy those huge wheels for their vehicles.

Last edited by Ed A. Hall; 03/07/18 09:24 AM.
Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719623 03/07/18 10:51 AM
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I definitely agree with you, Frank, that a spider dolly would have been a better choice for this application.

I like these new-style casters, though. Yes, one has to educate the stage crew a bit on how to properly use them.
The factories (and their customers) seem to agree, because more and more concert grands are being delivered with them.

I am not a famous enough pianist to have helpers and stage crew at my beck and call in many of the places where I play. Often, I have to move concert grands from backstage without any help. These new artist casters make it so I don't have to over-stress my body to move a 1,000 pound piano, which is more than appreciated when I'm working alone, and my tendons and joints are already a little "tweaky" after spending 6 hours practicing, teaching, or tuning pianos (or sometimes, a combination of all of these in the same day). The last thing I want to do is injure myself before playing a concert, and (properly) using these new style casters is a help. Also, dollies tend to flex and they can move in vigorous playing, if the wheels aren't set just right.

We haven't had any issues over here with the new designs, and I'll continue to specify these types of casters for the concert halls where there aren't thresholds or irregularities to work around. The only problems I tend to see are wheels that get locked down too tight (it doesn't take that much force to do effectively, but some think it does), and I know a technician that was injured, opening a piano where the wheels weren't locked down at all by the stage crew (and forgot to check).


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Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: terminaldegree] #2719633 03/07/18 11:37 AM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Terminaldegree, Use your butt and your hands to push the piano. Make sure nothing in your pockets or on your clothing will scratch the piano. In other words, push the piano walking backwards with your hands under the edge. This will keep from putting too much upper body strain on you and if the piano looses a leg, you will automatically fall on top of it thus likely avoiding serious injury.

Also, limber up before you try to push a piano. A few slow deep knee bends with your feet flat on the floor and while standing straight, slow twists at the waist with your arms held above your head. DISCLAIMER, this advice is given assuming you have no underlying issue with your muscular/skeletal frame. Always consult your Medical Professionals to determine what is best for you.

ATTENTION PIANIST AND STAGE MANAGERS! Many new grand pianos come equipped with what some in the piano profession call "KILLER CASTERS". These much larger than the past standard wheels allow a piano to be moved at too high a rate of speed for the safety of the people moving it and around the moving piano. Consult with your Piano Technician on what you should do about dealing with this risk. STAY SAFE MY PIANO FRIENDS!!! Piano playing should not be a dangerous profession.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719652 03/07/18 12:42 PM
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Funnily enough I was moving my 9' Blüthner on Sunday. My maid was watching me and was amazed quite how easy it all can be. The Blüthner is on an A frame, with 12 nylon casters and is a dream to move. The floor in the ballroom is concrete with just a bit of texture to it.


Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"
Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719679 03/07/18 02:56 PM
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Is it possible to install a spider frame-style brace about halfway up the legs or so of a grand piano to mitigate the shearing effect? Having the spider brace at the bottom of the legs is less than ideal if someone decides to shove hard on the case. I've never seen this done. I imagine it doesn't happen because people would blow a fuse about the aesthetics.

The good thing about my piano is the wheels won't roll at all, so I'm not tempted to try moving it.

Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719709 03/07/18 05:05 PM
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I know of a Steinway D that at the grand old age of 12 years old had to be FULLY REBUILT because it came off a stage....

Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719719 03/07/18 05:43 PM
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Gives a new meaning to "break a leg"...

Most concert grands I've seen are on dollies by default. Which makes sense, since a grand piano is rarely always on the same spot on a stage. Depending on whether it's a piano recital, a piano concerto, or an orchestra piece with piano...


My grand piano is a Yamaha C2 SG.
Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719725 03/07/18 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow RPT
ATTENTION PIANIST AND STAGE MANAGERS! Many new grand pianos come equipped with what some in the piano profession call "KILLER CASTERS".

I wonder if there is any correlation between "Killer Casters" and the "Killer Octave"?

Just kidding. smile

I know it is not funny, but it would seem to me that common sense would/should play a role in rolling a 1000 pound concert grand piano across a stage floor on over-sized casters.

I remember when the small community technical college where I work received a donation of a brand new baby grand piano and was delivered to the college by the local piano store. The store owner specifically said to never move the piano by rolling it on it's casters alone without having enough help to at least lift up some on the weight of the piano as it is moved across the tile/marble floor on its castors.

They do move the piano a lot, and have since purchased the small, 3-wheel dollies that fit under each leg. They left the original casters on the legs, and just sit the legs, with casters, inside the dolly castors.

This is what the small dolly-castors look like:

[Linked Image]


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Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: David Farley] #2719744 03/07/18 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by David Farley
Is it possible to install a spider frame-style brace about halfway up the legs or so of a grand piano to mitigate the shearing effect?


I've seen diagonal braces on a grand, it looks sort of like the front landing gear on a C-47. But from the engineering point of view, that's the safest solution. The spider dolly merely distributes the forces to all three legs, diagonal braces provide vastly more resistance.

I've also seen those big brass casters referred to as "Clown Wheels" -- sort of like clown shoes for your piano. ;-)


-- J.S.

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Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719922 03/08/18 10:11 PM
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Many years ago, I spent a week at the Baldwin Grand Factory. There was an elevation difference between work spaces that was bridged by a concrete ramp. We watched as workers rolled a piano over the ramp and ripped the lyre off in the process. The bottom of the lyre caught the ramp just right.




Re: Don't Move That Piano! [Re: Piano World] #2719929 03/08/18 10:51 PM
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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I have found that the traditional caster most grands come with responds very well to putting a light coating of grease on the stem that goes in the socket and just a drop or two of machine oil on the axle. In my shop I do this when a piano first arrives so that I will be able to roll them around as needed. I routinely move the most of the pianos out of my showroom and into the work area when recitals are held there. I do this moving all by myself and they roll at a perfectly controllable speed that is safe.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
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