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Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f #2888979 09/10/19 12:30 PM
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Watatic Offline OP
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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.


Amateur tuner/technician just learning on my children's 3 pianos.
1986 Yamaha studio,
1943 Acrosonic,
1920s? Steinert studio
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Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2888988 09/10/19 01:02 PM
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Watatic Offline OP
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Amateur tuner/technician just learning on my children's 3 pianos.
1986 Yamaha studio,
1943 Acrosonic,
1920s? Steinert studio
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2889388 09/11/19 04:38 PM
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Chris Leslie Offline
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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 04:44 PM.

Chris Leslie
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http://www.chrisleslie.com.au
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2889445 09/12/19 09:56 AM
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Watatic Offline OP
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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.


Amateur tuner/technician just learning on my children's 3 pianos.
1986 Yamaha studio,
1943 Acrosonic,
1920s? Steinert studio
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2927244 12/27/19 11:11 AM
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Watatic Offline OP
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Well, I tuned this piano and eventually cleaned it inside and did a little maintenance and repairs. There was 75 years of dust, especially under the keyboard, and some mold which I sent to a lab first, before I did anything. They found two harmless common types of mold, so I decided to go ahead with cleaning, vacuuming and brushing, and afterward blasting with an ozone machine placed inside. I built a small ramp out wood and masonite to get the piano out on the deck more easily, and used a simple furniture dolly. My son helped me lift one end up onto the dolly and wheel it out. Coming back in, a wheel broke through the ramp, but we got it back up and in the house okay nonetheless. I numbered the keys to make sure they got back in right.

I brought the action home and further cleaned it with compressed air. In the process of removing the action I broke the A0 whippen flange, which I tried twice to glue with PVC-E glue, but the jack was not lining up right afterward. I tried adjusting the flange and using paper to shim it, but ended up buying a new flange and installing that. The bridle straps were pretty shot. A few were broken and more kept breaking as I inspected things, so I ordered a new set of cork straps, thinking them easiest to install, and replaced them all. I glued them to be safe, and discovered later the straps are too long. eek Eventually I reamed new holes in the tabs closer to the corks and reconnected them to the wires, trimming the ends. After putting the action back in the piano, I think they are still too long! frown I may have to remove them all, clean out the cork and glue and use clip-ons.

I also tightened all the screws while I had the action out--whippen, damper, hammer and rails. The letoff screws were extremely stiff, so I lubed them with Protek CLP and gently worked all 88 screws back and forth, all the way in and all the way back out. They now operate reasonable well. The work on the letoff screws and bridle straps alone took me many hours and tried my patience, but I reminded myself I was learning (a lot from my mistakes!) and the best way to learn is by doing, I suppose. I've watched a lot of videos online and am grateful to those who took the time to produce them. Also bought Pianos Inside Out, a fabulous resource.

After getting the action back in the piano (no mean feat with this spinet-I knocked off pieces of felt in the process, but which I repaired) I regulated the let-off to rough tolerances. I also filed 3 hammers to see how they would sound. I bought new bass damper felts which I will replace in the piano, removing every other damper head as I go. The old dampers hang up on some of these notes because the felt is so worn and ragged it rubs the adjacent dampers.

It was a freebie in decrepit shape, but I have high hopes and it is a great guinea pig for developing my amateur skills. Everything I've done on this is my first time around.

The Acrosonic is now cleaned and is sort of playable, but in bad need of regulation. I will tune again using TuneLab trial version this time (the first tuning was really a pitch raise and I used Entropy tuning software) and see how it sounds. Then I may attempt a rough regulation using the factory manual specs. Just getting at the bridle straps, and backchecks in such a cramped space is not easy, and the damper spoon might as well come with a blindfold, but I will keep at this till I get it. Hopefully I won't find the bridle straps are too long--I dread taking out that action again.

I had lots of pictures, but my phone was stolen and most of them are gone.


Last edited by Watatic; 12/27/19 11:18 AM.

Amateur tuner/technician just learning on my children's 3 pianos.
1986 Yamaha studio,
1943 Acrosonic,
1920s? Steinert studio
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2927252 12/27/19 11:40 AM
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David Boyce Offline
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Very sorry to hear about the theft of your phone. A charming manifestation of xmas spirit.

Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2927270 12/27/19 12:52 PM
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Rick_Parks Offline
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Originally Posted by Watatic
......Then I may attempt a rough regulation using the factory manual specs. Just getting at the bridle straps, and backchecks in such a cramped space is not easy, and the damper spoon might as well come with a blindfold, but I will keep at this till I get it. Hopefully I won't find the bridle straps are too long--I dread taking out that action again.

When you use the mfg specs--- remember that the old felts have all worn down quite a bit (and been compressed), so just use the specs as a starting point; you'll need to over compensate on many of those measurements to get the proper jack clearance and after touch in the end.
If you are reshaping all the hammers- you'll need to take that into account in your measurements as well... Generally on these old spinets- a hair more lost-motion introduced (than what is the common) helps- and a bit shorter striking distance (hammer travel/blow distance). These things will help the jacks to reset under the hammer butt easy enough.

The dampers you are planning to replace are going to be your biggest challenge- it takes a while to get the knack for this. A bleeding damper (sounding) has been the torment of many a beginners, including myself back in the day!
For adjusting the damper spoons, there are methods for doing it OUTSIDE the piano-- will save your mental state. Can explain that further if you like, but you appear to have the right book for the job.

You might want to remember that you have 75-year-old springs on those hammer butts and jacks- might seriously consider replacing the springs on each while you have the action out (not a terribly difficult job to do; jack springs are easy)-- this will go a LOOONG way in help to restore the feel, response, and repeat!
* Resurface hammers
* Replace Spring Rail Springs
* Replace Jack Springs
* Regulate

**** Might throw in one more thing---- go ahead and lube all the flanges with Protek CLP; do this BEFORE you regulate. Will free up years of grime and get the flanges moving properly.

And, you'll have a nice playing piano in the end smile


Parks and Sons Piano Service
www.parksandsonspiano.com
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Rick_Parks] #2927537 12/28/19 09:33 AM
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Watatic Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Rick_Parks
[quote=Watatic]
**** Might throw in one more thing---- go ahead and lube all the flanges with Protek CLP; do this BEFORE you regulate. Will free up years of grime and get the flanges moving properly.

And, you'll have a nice playing piano in the end smile


Thanks for the advice--very helpful! One question on the flanges-- would I have to unscrew and remove all the flanges to lube them, or is there a way to direct the CLP into the centers without taking everything apart?


Amateur tuner/technician just learning on my children's 3 pianos.
1986 Yamaha studio,
1943 Acrosonic,
1920s? Steinert studio
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2927563 12/28/19 11:00 AM
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David Boyce Offline
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Don't take everything apart! You can use a "hypo oiler" - a plastic bottle with a fine metal nozzle, to apply the Protek CLP to the flange centres. (Like these: Long Needle Dispenser Bottles )

But even if you are less precise than that, I don't think it will matter if you get the liquid on other parts. I've never heard of it doing any harm.

Last edited by David Boyce; 12/28/19 11:01 AM.
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2927694 12/28/19 06:32 PM
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LOL not a silly question for a newbe... But funny smile
You can leave the flanges on... Simply apply the CLP to each side of the flanges, with an applicator like what Boyce shows- or something similar that allows you to access the flange with a needle or tube. Treat them one by one- just enough to saturate the bushing felts (I guess you won't hurt anything if you apply it heavier). A light application will work fine though-- you can always double treat it needed.

Edit: the applicator needle(tube) should allow you to place the application on the innder side of each side of the flange---- between the hammer butt and the flanges inner side...You'll see the CLP come through the outerside of the flange pin-hole (the bushing will darken for a while since it is wetting it down).

Last edited by Rick_Parks; 12/28/19 06:35 PM.

Parks and Sons Piano Service
www.parksandsonspiano.com
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2927698 12/28/19 06:44 PM
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Boyce is right-- it won't hurt anything if it gets on other stuff. Just try to keep it neat.
Sometimes if I am not charging for it (i.e. I know the customer can't afford it)-- and the piano absolutely is in need of some- I will run the applicator along the flange as I squeeze and apply. It does the job good enough- and does not take up any time.

By the way, as far as I can tell Garfield Action Lube has stopped being offered? I used to like that better than CLP.
Appears from what I have gotten from the "safety data sheet" that it only consists of 2 ingredients? 96.5-100% Diethyl Ether, and 0-3.5% Ethanol

Pretty simple to make your own.
I think CLP uses Alcohol (perhaps ether? not alcohol) and Teflon?

Last edited by Rick_Parks; 12/28/19 06:45 PM.

Parks and Sons Piano Service
www.parksandsonspiano.com
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Rick_Parks] #2927736 12/28/19 09:31 PM
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Watatic Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Rick_Parks
the applicator needle(tube) should allow you to place the application on the innder side of each side of the flange---- between the hammer butt and the flanges inner side...You'll see the CLP come through the outerside of the flange pin-hole (the bushing will darken for a while since it is wetting it down).


Thanks for this clarification; I was thinking to apply to the outside of the flanges and letting it soak inward, but this makes more sense-- It can run along the centerpins.

I forgot to mention that I broke a bass string (G1, I think) at the becket when I tuned it. After doing some reading I was able to tie a knot using a new piece of piano wire 1/2-size larger than the core. Had to practice with string first, then with copper wire and then with scrap pieces of piano wire. Finally tied the the real string, and it held! Has even stayed in tune a few months. Coil on the tuning pin didn't come out real pretty, but am quite proud of myself. Will take a picture and post it.


Amateur tuner/technician just learning on my children's 3 pianos.
1986 Yamaha studio,
1943 Acrosonic,
1920s? Steinert studio
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2927802 12/29/19 07:16 AM
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Parks and Sons Piano Service
www.parksandsonspiano.com
Re: Refurbishing 1943 Acrosonic: how far to go? and what to do f [Re: Watatic] #2927820 12/29/19 09:24 AM
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Quote
I was able to tie a knot using a new piece of piano wire 1/2-size larger than the core. Had to practice with string first, then with copper wire and then with scrap pieces of piano wire. Finally tied the the real string, and it held! Has even stayed in tune a few months.


Well done! Spliced strings can stay better in tune than brand new ones, which often require a few 'tweaks' at short intervals to settle down.


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