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Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
#2890550 09/15/19 06:58 AM
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Hi all,

I feel a bit anxious about screwing capstans directly into keysticks. I'm afraid that the wood could split. Should I glue pieces of hardwood onto the keys first?

The piano had a tied action, and the rocker screws went directly into the keys of course, and there's no cracking around where the backchecks were inserted, so am I being overly cautious?

I ask as I've seen some actions with hardwood reinforcements where the capstans are screwed in.

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Re: Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
johnstaf #2890554 09/15/19 07:34 AM
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I've done it many times on Bechsteins and it's always been fine. A block can help if the capstans need to be quite high though.

Re: Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
musicbased #2890556 09/15/19 07:36 AM
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And, if you're going to do it, use the WN&G capstans. So superior to brass.


Keith Akins, RPT
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Re: Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
johnstaf #2890572 09/15/19 08:37 AM
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Drill the pilot hole the size of the screw shank and try the fit.


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Re: Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
johnstaf #2890577 09/15/19 08:46 AM
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Thank you all very much. I really appreciate it.

Re: Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
johnstaf #2890626 09/15/19 11:43 AM
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Most tied Erard/Herz/Cristofori grand actions if have examined when converted to capstan end up with a very high leverage on the keystick.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
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Re: Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
johnstaf #2890670 09/15/19 03:01 PM
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You can soak some wicking grade cyanoacrylate into the holes after they have been tapped, so to speak. This will harden the wood in that area. Do it on a scrap piece of wood first--if you don't do it right it can make the capstans too tight.

Re: Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
johnstaf #2890716 09/15/19 05:21 PM
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Cyanoacrylate seems to be finding ever more piano uses. And other uses. You can see videos on youtube of it being used as a wood finish. And we know of its use with baking powder and other materials to make a hard substance. With acrylic nail powder for white key covering repair, of course. It seems that the way in which it reacts with cellulose to form cellulose cyanoacrylate is being increasingly appreciated. Here is a US patent application that talks of using CA with cellulose fibers in the form of paper towels, to make repairs, including even bone fracture repairs: www.freepatentsonline.com/y2018/0051146.html

Re: Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
kpembrook #2890775 09/15/19 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
And, if you're going to do it, use the WN&G capstans. So superior to brass.

Hi Keith. So the WNGs should be lighter than most stock brass capstans, I think. Will that slow the rate of key return, since there will be less counterbalance weight with the new capstans?


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Re: Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
Emery Wang #2890780 09/15/19 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Originally Posted by kpembrook
And, if you're going to do it, use the WN&G capstans. So superior to brass.

Hi Keith. So the WNGs should be lighter than most stock brass capstans, I think. Will that slow the rate of key return, since there will be less counterbalance weight with the new capstans?


Theoretically perhaps yes. In reality, not perceptibly. The hammer weighs enough to drive the key back up. Plus, the lower friction is effective both ways. You get such an improvement for such a minimal cost that it's never not worth doing.


Keith Akins, RPT
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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: Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
johnstaf #2890785 09/15/19 11:49 PM
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To add to Keith's advice: The lighter W,N&G capstans will reduce the inertia of the keystick and this will speed up the return of the action and reduce the time spent inputting speed to the hammer by the pianist.

For a grand action that is slightly slow from inertia, switching out the capstans to the anodized aluminum is a easy way to gain response.

The most powerful way to reduce inertia in an action is to lighten the hammers. But to do this properly costs way more than switching capstans. It often requires replacing the hammers because the existing felt density is so high on many pianos that when you lighten the hammers the tone will become too brilliant. Piano hammers in general have gotten heavier and denser, (with stiffer) felt since WW2.


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: Screwing capstans directly into keystick.
johnstaf #2890794 09/16/19 12:20 AM
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If you use the WNG’s
They also sell a very simple tool that you can chuck in your portable drill that will speed up the installation and help get them in straight.
If memory serves, the WNG’s weigh about 1-1/2 grams.
Also they are anodized aluminum (as mentioned) and do not require any lube.
Real smooth and slick.

Last edited by Gene Nelson; 09/16/19 12:20 AM.

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