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Bass Bridge Repair
#3019996 08/31/20 10:15 PM
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I received my 1890 Ivers & Pond upright that I'm going to refurbish this last Friday. Upon first inspection of it, I noticed that the bass bridge looks like it is still in pretty good shape except for some very fine hairline cracks on some of the pins.

[Linked Image]


This honestly looked much better than I was expecting it to look, but I still want to make sure I take appropriate measures to repair the hairline cracks before they get worse. I've read up on the epoxy repairs, either applying epoxy into the pin holes, and then re-inserting the pins while the epoxy is still wet to force it into the cracks. The other option to inject epoxy in the holes and let it cure and re-drilling the holes could be another option.

However, I had some other technicians recommend that I use CA glue due to how thin the cracks are. I can see the logic, having worked with thin CA glue in the past, I know it will likely do a better job of wicking into the cracks.

I wanted to reach out to you all to see if you could weigh in with recommendations.


I'm restoring an 1890 Ivers & Pond Upright piano
Follow along on my YouTube channel: My Antique Piano

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Re: Bass Bridge Repair
markag #3019998 08/31/20 10:34 PM
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Sorry I’m not experienced enough to have a useful answer, but it’s odd for me to see a bridge that’s only notched on one side. Was wondering if this is a typical occurrence for pianos of that time or price level.


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Re: Bass Bridge Repair
markag #3020008 08/31/20 11:14 PM
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First clean all the dust and dirt. Vac first and if you have a compressor, compressed air.

Are you restringing?


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Re: Bass Bridge Repair
markag #3020014 08/31/20 11:41 PM
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Those cracks are minor. Clean it up, fix other things, and then decide whether you want to do anything about them.


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Re: Bass Bridge Repair
markag #3020030 09/01/20 12:41 AM
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I'm planning on restringing the piano. I plan on waiting until I get ready to restring before I tackle anything with the bridge. We plan on keeping this as our family piano, so I figure I should try to stop the cracks from getting worse while I'm going through and refurbishing it. My kids are learning piano, and I see at least one of them sticking with it, maybe both. So this piano is going to get played over the next 10 years for sure, and likely longer if I manage to learn along with them. I want whatever repair I do to be able to last.

I agree with the comment about it being dirty. I need to clean it out more. I've already gone over it all with a shop vac since taking this picture. The picture here was from the piano as it came off the trailer before I touched it. I'll be taking a much more focused cleaning effort as I move my attention to that portion of the paino. I've been doing general cleaning and have put most of my focus to this point on the key and key rail area.

Since these cracks are so small at this point, I was concerned about epoxy being able to flow into the cracks to fill them properly. I'm also concerned that if I remove the strings or the pins before trying to glue the cracks, that the gaps will close because the tension keeping them open will be gone. When it comes time, I'm tempted to apply thin CA with the old strings still attached to help it wick into the cracks. Then I can remove the strings once it cures and restring it with new strings. The other option of applying epoxy to the holes, and then forcing the pins back into the wet epoxy holes seems like it would also work to use pressure to push the epoxy into the cracks.

I think the CA glue would be more successful in the short term, but I'm not sure how it would hold up long term. I know epoxy is probably going to be stronger than the wood itself long term, but won't do much good if it doesn't fill in the crack.


I'm restoring an 1890 Ivers & Pond Upright piano
Follow along on my YouTube channel: My Antique Piano

Re: Bass Bridge Repair
markag #3020115 09/01/20 07:25 AM
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I fear you are going to make a mountain out of a mole hill. I agree with BDB, the cracks are inconsequential compared to what else the piano needs.

When the time comes to string, just add a 2 or 3 drops of CA to the back side of each pin (where the crack is), let it cure 24 hours and go ahead an string.

If it took 100 years for just these little cracks to develop, that was a darn good piece of wood they used. Worry not.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Re: Bass Bridge Repair
markag #3020116 09/01/20 07:26 AM
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I fear you are going to make a mountain out of a mole hill. I agree with BDB, the cracks are inconsequential compared to what else the piano needs.

When the time comes to string, just add a 2 or 3 drops of CA to the back side of each pin (where the crack is), let it cure 24 hours and go ahead an string. It will quick into the cracks fine.

If it took 100 years for just these little cracks to develop, that was a darn good piece of wood they used. Worry not.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Bass Bridge Repair
markag #3020244 09/01/20 02:35 PM
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From the wording of your original post, it seems possible to me that you have managed to get you your hands on the Roundtable article from the August 2011 Piano Technicians Journal, where all of these approaches are discussed. You may also have accessed the "Bridge Repairs for Better Tone" article in the August 2015 Piano Technicians Journal.

I see from your profile that you are an engineer. I would without hesitation encourage you to service the bridge thoroughly if you are restringing. Any of the protocols listed in the above articles are effective. I encourage you to pull the pins, re-cut the notches, and to seat the new pins well, whether in CA or epoxy.

Anytime I run into a restrung piano, especially an older one, where the restringer either didn't know better, or couldn't be bothered to service the bridge, I am saddened by the squandered opportunity. I personally find the task of restringing more arduous than the task of bridge reconditioning. The difference the latter makes in the tone, and the longevity it gives to the effort, are significant.

Another huge boost to the tone is consolidating the soundboard/rib glue joints. Jim Ialeggio has recently posted a protocol for doing this over in the PTG forums. His thread is in the Pianotech list, and begins on November 24, 2019, with a helpful followup in a thread titled "Soundboard/Rib Clamps" on May 3rd of this year. Whether you delve into it or not, it's an interesting read.


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Re: Bass Bridge Repair
Floyd G #3020558 09/02/20 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Floyd G
From the wording of your original post, it seems possible to me that you have managed to get you your hands on the Roundtable article from the August 2011 Piano Technicians Journal, where all of these approaches are discussed. You may also have accessed the "Bridge Repairs for Better Tone" article in the August 2015 Piano Technicians Journal.

I see from your profile that you are an engineer. I would without hesitation encourage you to service the bridge thoroughly if you are restringing. Any of the protocols listed in the above articles are effective. I encourage you to pull the pins, re-cut the notches, and to seat the new pins well, whether in CA or epoxy.

Anytime I run into a restrung piano, especially an older one, where the restringer either didn't know better, or couldn't be bothered to service the bridge, I am saddened by the squandered opportunity. I personally find the task of restringing more arduous than the task of bridge reconditioning. The difference the latter makes in the tone, and the longevity it gives to the effort, are significant.

Another huge boost to the tone is consolidating the soundboard/rib glue joints. Jim Ialeggio has recently posted a protocol for doing this over in the PTG forums. His thread is in the Pianotech list, and begins on November 24, 2019, with a helpful followup in a thread titled "Soundboard/Rib Clamps" on May 3rd of this year. Whether you delve into it or not, it's an interesting read.

Thanks for that info. I didn't reference any of those resources you mentioned, but I was reading up on it in my copy of "Pianos Inside Out". The section on repair for bridges lists both the epoxy methods, but it doesn't mention the CA option. I stumbled upon that in some of the youtube videos and advice I received from a piano tech group on facebook that I joined.

I'm encouraged by the comments that this 130 year old piano must have been built with good wood to begin with if this is all I'm dealing with. I've seen pictures and videos of bridges much worse than this. I just know that part of the reason I wanted one of these old pianos was for the sound, and whatever I do, I want to make sure I'm doing the right repairs so this can play well as my family's long term piano. I would be really annoyed if I put a band aid on a problem now and then in 5-10 years had to move the piano out of the living room back into my garage and tear it half apart to fix it right.


I'm restoring an 1890 Ivers & Pond Upright piano
Follow along on my YouTube channel: My Antique Piano


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