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black key top popped off. Pls help.
#2982560 05/22/20 04:55 PM
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KC Wolf Offline OP
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Hello,

I have enjoyed reading this forum for a long time. Hopefully, someone here can help me to repair my black key top.

One of my black key top popped off yesterday (middle C#, right in the middle :-(). Being in NYC area, I really don't want anyone to enter my home. Hence, I am attempting to repair it myself.

After researching many videos and previous posts, I have concluded I need to

1. sand off the old glue on the key
2. apply a thin layer of PVC - e on the key
3. put the black key back and clamp it tight until dried

My questions are

1. What grit of sandpaper should I use to file off the glue?
2. When I put the black key back, what tool can I use to hold them together without damaging the key surface? Can I just hold them really tight with my hands? How long should the parts be clamped down before I can put the key back to the piano?
3. From my layman's eyes, this process seems doable by myself. Anything I need to be aware or careful with?

Photo below is my broken key. The top part appears to be wood. (sorry I still haven't figured out how to post photos directly in the post)

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/galleries/2982553/broken-sharp-key.html

Thank you so much in advance!!

KC

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Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982569 05/22/20 05:14 PM
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That is a plastic keytop. Since it is fairly clean, you should be able to just glue it in place with no cleanup. It failed because of a poor bond between the keytop and the wood key, but the glue is well bonded to the wood, so what you need is just a good bond between the keytop and the glue, which pvc-e glue will provide.


Semipro Tech
Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982583 05/22/20 05:54 PM
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The biggest thing is to make sure the new fit is flush (everything lined up properly). For clamping, try using several rubber bands looped multiple times around the key/top. After clamping check it every minute or two for 10 minutes to make sure stuff isn't shifting around on you. It it is, fix it and correct the rubber bands or clamp and keep checking back until it stops. I'd clamp it for at least an hour with pvc-e (although most of the work will be done in 10 minutes) and give it longer, maybe a day, before playing or stressing it. I dunno, I just made up that last bit. Maybe it will be ready sooner.


Anthony Willey, RPT
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Willey Piano Tuning
Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982584 05/22/20 05:58 PM
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It wouldn't hurt to chip off some of the old glue built up on the middle of the wood, but really you don't need to if you're careful. With a clean break like that the two part surfaces already mate well without extra fuss or sanding. If you want to sand make sure you use a flat hard sanding paddle or (maybe better) a flat fine file. The last thing you want to do is start rounding off edges and corners by just holding the sandpaper in your hand.


Anthony Willey, RPT
PianoMeter
Willey Piano Tuning
Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982596 05/22/20 06:35 PM
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I'm guessing you aren't going to be removing keys...

In that case, check the fit and proceed slowly. The retail glues you want are Aileen's tacky glue or Roo glue for pvc-e, but honestly a white glue will work too. You don't want anything that foams up (gorilla glue) or anything similar.


Dry-fit to make sure you can place it comfortably. Leaving the old glue in place will likely give you a perfect alignment where it clicks into place.

Dot some spots (not too much) around the perimeter of the sharp. If you want to speed the bond a bit, put a few dots of medium super glue around between the white glue dots.

Now place on gently and find that perfect fit. Press down gently, but with pressure for 30 seconds or so and then leave it alone.


Good luck!

Ron Koval

Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982609 05/22/20 07:06 PM
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You could, if careful, also use CA glue (superglue).

First of all, you need to 'dry fit' the keytop to the keystick, to make sure that the remaining dry glue on each surface mates perfectly, which it probably will. That will give you a feel for the positioning of the sharp.

Then, two or three little spots of superglue on the keystick, put the sharp in place, located correctly, and hold it firmly for a minute or so.

Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982610 05/22/20 07:11 PM
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BDB, Anthony, & Ron,

Thank you for these very helpful guidance!

Yes, the glue remnant does help to fit the top part. I will try to take the key out for a better bonding so I don't risk to have it popped again.

I just ordered a small bottle of PVC-e from a piano shop on Amazon, which will arrive in a week. I will report back once repair is done.

Thank you again and have a great weekend!

Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982613 05/22/20 07:19 PM
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Thank you, David!

No superglue for me. Too many bad/old memories of fingers sticking together... haha.. :-)

Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982621 05/22/20 07:48 PM
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Is it an upright or a grand piano? Don't attempt to remove a key from a grand! Be sparing with the pvc-e; you won't need much at all, and you don't want excess running down the sides. You won't even really need to clamp the sharp on.

Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982645 05/22/20 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by KC Wolf
Thank you, David!

No superglue for me. Too many bad/old memories of fingers sticking together... haha.. :-)
use PVA

Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982725 05/23/20 07:32 AM
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I'll suggest a little different approach.
The original glue will register the sharp so leave it on the key as others have mentioned. This does present a problem for the new glue as far as adhesion goes. For that reason I would use five minute epoxy for this. It will adhere better to the old glue and if you roughen up the bottom of the sharp with course sandpaper it yield a permanent repair. You won't have to clamp it either, just press it in place. A thick epoxy would be best.


Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com
Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982744 05/23/20 09:49 AM
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Why would the old glue present a problem for adhesion of PVC-E?

Re: black key top popped off. Pls help.
KC Wolf #2982761 05/23/20 10:52 AM
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David,
I've used PVC-E for key work for 30 years and over that time I have tested it for adhesion for many different combinations/situations. Works best with fresh clean wood and de-glossed keytops though it's fine if the keys are not de-glossed. Applying keytops to a surface that has glue on it (even PVC-E) does not adhere as well.

For plastic sharps, I've never found PVC-E to work that great and stopped using it long ago. With the hollow sharps there's not a lot of surface area for the glue. I use a construction adhesive that is very thick. This allows it to stick to not only the bottom of the sharp, but also the interior sides of the sharp. It is messy to work with though and takes getting used to.


Professional Piano Technician serving the Tampa bay area. website: mckaigpianoservice.com

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