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Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
#3003186 07/16/20 12:09 AM
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Hi everyone, I have a 1915 Steinway K that’s been in a back corner for 25 years and it’s time for a full Monty restoration.

Well I say full Monty but actually the soundboard, bridges and pin block are all excellent except for a few hairline cracks in the soundboard that don’t concern me much.

This piano suffered moisture damage to the case and most all of its mahogany veneer was removed, exposing its rock maple under carriage. It’s all apart, stringS were removed and remaining finish was stripped off.

So, where do I begin? Should I pull the plate when it doesn’t seem necessary?

The action is good except for some wobbly hammer butts and weak springs. Hammers obviously unusable. The whippens are all very nice but the backcheck wires and bridle wires are almost rusty. I did find a full set of new Steinway bass strings, damper levers and butt flanges bought way back when.

Keytops are ivory but missing 15 heads. Don’t know if I should try and source some good heads or just go with simulated tops. I have no idea which are the finest simulated tops available.

So, any advice where to start? Case? Keyset? Action?

Thanks, Bill


former piano tuner/tech
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Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3004419 07/19/20 05:00 PM
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Hey Bill

I’m not in a position to give Technical advice

But, it sounds like a Helluva project

And I look forward to following Your progress


Great Luck!

~Lucubrate


Bösendorfer 280VC
Steingraeber 130

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.“ ~Epictetus
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
Lucubrate #3004424 07/19/20 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Lucubrate
Hey Bill

I’m not in a position to give Technical advice

But, it sounds like a Helluva project

And I look forward to following Your progress


Great Luck!

~Lucubrate

Thanks for responding Lucubrate. I might use this thread to document to journey. I guess I’ll have to figure out how to post photos and videos?

-Bill


former piano tuner/tech
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3004455 07/19/20 06:46 PM
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Hi WB. Sounds like my 1927 Kurtzmann upright project. I don't know that there is any specific order, but I started with what seemed the most complicated, and that was the action. With the action out, I could take out the keysticks too, and clean up the keybed. I will be polishing the keypins and replacing all bushings. I also started stripping the finish on the piano. My ivory keys were all in good shape save one keytop, so I'll replace it with a simulated ivory one. There is at least one guy on YouTube that shows such a replacement, and he says the new synthetic is indistinguishable from the original ivories. I hope he's right. The sharps are pretty worn, so I'm replacing them with plastic ones in a matte black finish.

I am now about finished with the action. Felts, leathers, and hammers were replaced, but all the wood parts were salvageable. My strings sound good so I was not going to replace strings or pull the harp at first. But, I would like to clean the soundboard, paint the harp, and replace the felts underneath the strings so I think I will go Full Monty too. Next step is to unscrew the keybed and pull it out, then lay the piano on its back and remove strings and harp. After that I will repaint the wood parts and the harp, then restring and reassemble.

I think that order should work, but it's a result of my playing it all by ear. The pros here will know better.

Good luck. I can tell you it's a very rewarding (and time consuming) undertaking!


Kawai MP11SE
souped up Kawai GL10
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3004941 07/20/20 08:05 PM
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Hi Emery, I posted a response to you last night but now it has disappeared.

Anyway, to cut a long story short I think I will take your advice and do the action first. It is here and it has to come completely apart to clean and polish the brass rails. I will save hammer replacement for last, when everything is restrung and back together.

-Bill


former piano tuner/tech
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3005167 07/21/20 12:45 PM
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Cool. Take lots of photos along the way. I hope to start a post once I'm done so others can see the process. Would be fun to see yours too.


Kawai MP11SE
souped up Kawai GL10
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3005173 07/21/20 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by WBLynch
So, where do I begin? Should I pull the plate when it doesn’t seem necessary?

So, any advice where to start? Case? Keyset? Action?

Thanks, Bill

People will be mad at me for saying this, but you should begin the way you did the 2 or 3 more standard design uprights that you should do before tackling an old Steinway.


Semipro Tech
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3005185 07/21/20 01:30 PM
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What would be the fun in that?


Kawai MP11SE
souped up Kawai GL10
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
BDB #3005204 07/21/20 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
People will be mad at me for saying this, but you should begin the way you did the 2 or 3 more standard design uprights that you should do before tackling an old Steinway.

Well, I don’t have 2 or 3 more standard uprights but I have this. Limited funds nowadays and losing my remaining eye so I want to do it while I can. 😀


former piano tuner/tech
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3005291 07/21/20 05:12 PM
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You can find conventional old uprights for free just about anywhere, and the parts are a lot cheaper than Steinway parts. The oddball uprights that you want to avoid are Steinway, Chickering, and Baldwin. Mason & Hamlin are okay if you do not replace the double repetition springs, but again, starting with a famous name piano is like starting watch repair with a Rolex, car repair with a Ferrari, or piano playing with Gaspard de la nuit.


Semipro Tech
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3005314 07/21/20 06:17 PM
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Thanks BDB. You do you and I’ll do me. I’ve worked on and repaired my fill of common pianos. I don’t need to add projects at this time.

I’ve only got one or two restorations left in me. After this piano is finished I’ll restore the 1963 Fuel Injected Sting Ray that’s been here almost as long as this piano.

Take care, Bill


former piano tuner/tech
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3005325 07/21/20 07:02 PM
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"Moisture damage to the case..."
You may consider restringing it and pulling it to pitch to see if it folds in half before you get more invested.


Ed Sutton, RPT
Just a piano tuner!
Durham NC USA
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3005344 07/21/20 08:45 PM
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The reason I brought it up was to discourage others from starting with a more difficult piano. Anyone who claims to have the skills to restore an old Steinway upright but still needs to ask basic questions is not going to be swayed by anything I say.


Semipro Tech
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
Ed Sutton #3005358 07/21/20 09:14 PM
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Thanks Ed.

The piano is structurally sound. The case is solid rock maple. The damage was limited to Swelling and separation of the mahogany veneer.

Sound board, bridges and pin block are all perfect - with the exception of a few hairline cracks in the soundboard that should be treatable with cyanoacrylate. Or I could leave them. It held pitch just fine before I stripped it down. New bass strings were provided by Steinway and I have plenty of Roslau for the plain strings.


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Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
BDB #3005361 07/21/20 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
The reason I brought it up was to discourage others from starting with a more difficult piano. Anyone who claims to have the skills to restore an old Steinway upright but still needs to ask basic questions is not going to be swayed by anything I say.

Look, it’s just a thread for conversation. The only “basic” question I asked is what order of operations would others suggest. I expected comments such as, “start with the belly”, or “don’t pull the plate unless you absolutely need to”, or “don’t spend time and money re-veneering and finishing the case until you know that thing will even hold string tension”.

Thanks for your input but it is becoming quite annoying.


former piano tuner/tech
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3005363 07/21/20 09:37 PM
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I apologize for the last line. Just my grumpy old man coming out. Sorry everyone


former piano tuner/tech
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3005366 07/21/20 10:02 PM
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Apology Accepted

Carry On!


~Lucubrate


Bösendorfer 280VC
Steingraeber 130

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.“ ~Epictetus
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3005465 07/22/20 08:07 AM
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Too much coffee! 😉

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
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pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
P W Grey #3005507 07/22/20 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Too much coffee! 😉

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Covid cabin fever 🤣


former piano tuner/tech
Re: Steinway Upright 1915 - Full Monty
WBLynch #3005660 07/22/20 05:50 PM
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I strongly recommend you read “Bridge repairs for better tone“ by Bill Spurlock and “Last resort soundboard repair” by Del Fandrich before you decide to do nothing to the sound board and bridges. Both of these articles can be found in the Piano Technicians Journal archive. The protocols described are game changers. I wouldn’t think of restringing a piano of that age without servicing the bridge, and it would be a rare occasion indeed that I did not service the soundboard. The hard part is unstringing and stringing. Not to take care of the other when you have the opportunity would be unfortunate. If you don’t know how to access the articles, email me.


Floyd G RPT
www.floydgadd.com
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