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Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f #2888979
09/10/19 01:30 PM
09/10/19 01:30 PM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
Massachusetts
W
Watatic Online content OP
Junior Member
Watatic  Online Content OP
Junior Member
W

Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
Massachusetts
I am new to piano tuning and regulation. I am retired and this is only a new hobby, so far, but I enjoy it a lot. Three family members have uprights and I hope to help them by tuning and maybe some regulating. I’ve tuned one piano so far and replaced a treble string that I broke, bought some tools, and am reading Pianos Inside Out. I fix clocks for a hobby, so tinkering with gadgets is my thing.

My particular question involves a family member who has a 1943 Acrosonic spinet that was rescued from a bar that was tossing it out a few years ago. Nothing has been done to the piano since it arrived at their house, and I recently took a look at it, and am thinking of refurbishing it for them. So far I’ve inspected it, used Restore-a-Finish on the wood, cleaned the filthy, stained keys, and retrieved a 1934 penny from under the keyboard. The legs were both broken (one had a broken lag screw and the other was missing the screw altogether) and I fixed them, replacing the bolts, gluing broken wood back together, and replacing veneer on the leg-tops. They seem solid now.

The piano now looks nice on the outside, but inside still quite a mess. Working on it would be an interesting challenge and provide me with some experience, even if the outcome was not very musical. I think however, there is potential in this spinet.

The pluses so far:
• The Acrosonic is a well made piano model,
• This one is still almost in tune after years of sitting (A4 is spot on with my tuning fork) so the pinblock is probably still good. The piano is probably tunable.
• The bridges don’t have any visible cracks
• The soundboard looks good.
• All the strings are there.
• All the notes play.
• Key-dip is correct for most keys
• The original bench is solid

Minuses I’ve noticed so far (without taking the action out):
1. There was originally one hammer stuck forward. I found a basketball needle in the works which I fished out with a magnet. The key now works.
2. There were a number of hammer butt springs out of joint, but I guided them back into their grooves with a bent paperclip hot-glued to a bamboo skewer. Those are working.
3. The keys are badly chipped. I patched one with acrylic fingernail goop and filed it into shape. Looks decent. Keys also all have fine surface cracks, but not visible unless you look close.
4. The hammers are significantly grooved, but I think there’s enough felt to reshape.
5. There is a ton of dust inside and maybe some mold. I have an ozone generator, which I’ve read can be used inside to shock-kill the mold. There’s ¼” of dust on the keybed.
6. Some low bass (single string) dampers don’t return when the key is let up. They do move back but seem to hang up on the adjoining dampers. The V-shape seems to have opened up making those felts too wide.
7. The hammer rail felt is deeply indented where the shanks sit.
8. Let off distance varies from less than 1/4” to almost 1”. This seems bizarre.
9. Backchecking distance seems to vary a whole lot from key to key. Also bizarre.
10. The bridle straps look probably original, so they would need to be replaced if I took the action out, I assume.

So, it’s a real construction project, but would provide me with some real hands-on experience and maybe when done, there would be an okay spinet for family to play. (There’s 20 grandchildren who visit the house.)

What I’m wondering is, what to do first? And how far to go? My main goal is to provide a somewhat playable piano, and along the way learn and gain experience. And when is a practical stage to stop? I could keep going, replacing all the felts, springs, leather, etc. but not sure I want all that experience quite yet. I want to stick to what is really essential for now, to tune and regulate it and get the tone decent. Finally, what tools? I will need a regulating screwdriver for the let-off buttons, but what other special regulating or repair tools will I need?

I was thinking next step should be to tune it, to make sure it is at least tunable and will hold pitch, before I venture too far. If it is tunable, then more work can proceed. Probably cleaning inside is next, but not sure what to do as far as refurbishing after that. I have the Baldwin Acrosonic factory service manual, so once I get things fixed up, regulating is explained fairly well in that.

Any thoughts are more than appreciated.

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Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2888988
09/10/19 02:02 PM
09/10/19 02:02 PM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
Massachusetts
W
Watatic Online content OP
Junior Member
Watatic  Online Content OP
Junior Member
W

Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
Massachusetts

Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2889388
09/11/19 05:38 PM
09/11/19 05:38 PM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,644
Canberra, ACT, Australia
C
Chris Leslie Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Chris Leslie  Offline
1000 Post Club Member
C

Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,644
Canberra, ACT, Australia
That sounds like it should be a great project for you. I would first try tuning it the best you can. That would let you know more about what is working or not, and be a good practice for you. Then I would remove the action and keys and give the whole piano a thorough cleaning using a brush and vacuum. Be careful about rodent droppings and not to inhale dust. Then put it back together to make sure it still works and give it another tuning. Do any repairs to things that are not functional but repair things properly.

At that stage you can decide on what to do about regulation adjustments and replacement parts. I would expect that the piano may be in a functional state, but it sounded like you could play with let-off. New bridle straps are usually mandatory to replace, but yours could be ok. There may be no point in replacing things unless they are really worn or broken, so things like new dampers, hammers, keytops, key bushes, keybed felt etc etc can be replaced gradually. Sometimes replacing things is more a matter of satisfying ourselves and making the piano look nice.

Although you may like to develop your tuning skills, it may be a good idea to get a professional in to do one tuning to a good standard, after your cleaning job, and to get his or her opinion on the state of the piano.

Last edited by Chris Leslie; 09/11/19 05:44 PM.

Chris Leslie
Piano technician
http://www.chrisleslie.com.au
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2889445
09/12/19 10:56 AM
09/12/19 10:56 AM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
Massachusetts
W
Watatic Online content OP
Junior Member
Watatic  Online Content OP
Junior Member
W

Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
Massachusetts
Thanks, Chris. This is encouraging. And very helpful, as it gives me a better overall view of where to head with this, and gives perspective on prioritizing things. Being new, it seems exciting to delve into this project, but also overwhelming, there are so many things that could be done, and hard to think about all at once!. Your kind advice is very much appreciated.

( BTW, for tuning I am experimenting with Entropy Piano Tuner, a free software, and using a Keyes adjustable impact hammer. I have arthritis and the Keyes hammer is gentler to use. I've looked into aural tuning, which is a fascinating art, but it seems complicated to learn, and I have tinnitus as well that might hinder aural methods.)

I haven't removed the action yet, but have read a lot about the perils of spinet action stickers/abstracts, and the dire precautions regarding fastening down the Acrosonic action rail before removing it. Several videos online by techs who spent hours getting the abstract pins back in the holes led me to the Baldwin manual which has good instructions on avoiding that.

I will update this thread after delving into this piano.


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