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What!? No glides?
#3029998 09/28/20 04:38 PM
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Serves me right for buying a 151-year-old piano. While I had the action out of my big old Steinway (to glue a jack toe back into place), I thought I'd see why the una corda had never worked. The pedal moves the actuator, that metal tongue sticking through the keybed floor, but there are no glides on the key frame. There are also no marks of anything ever being slid from side to side on the keybed. The spring is present on the right side of the case and it looks old enough to be original.
So I don't think it was a dummy. Apparently they wanted you to wax the bottom of the key frame so the whole surface could slide to the right and back again. Nowdays we would use graphite -- but there's no sign of anything ever having been applied to the keybed.
Has anybody else ever encountered this? Am I just not looking in the right places? Is there some part or parts that are missing?
The action and key levers are nice and new, so the whole thing (except the key frame and action brackets) was probably replaced in 1981, when Mr. Groff rebuilt it (and didn't get the wrestpin spacing right).

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Re: What!? No glides?
edferris #3030039 09/28/20 06:24 PM
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I have seen very old Steinways with keyframe glides. It will slide without them.

If it doesn't move, then the pedal lever may not be contacting the keyframe correctly. The wood on the bottom of the keyframe where it pushes can be damaged / broken away, or the lever just isn't high enough into the action area to get sufficient purchase on the keyframe to push. It needs to be investigated.

I would recommend coating both the keybed and bottom of the keyframe with McLube 444. This is a clear Teflon coating that will permanently seal the wood and make a great sliding surface for the action. It stinks to high heaven when you put it on, so be careful that there is plenty of fresh air and fans blowing across the room when using it! Once it is dry there is no smell.

It seems to me that you should have your technician look at the pedal lever / keyframe interaction. It could be a simple fix, or the wood under the keyframe needs to be repaired, or something else - stop screw is misadjusted, action location is not correct, etc.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: What!? No glides?
edferris #3030387 09/29/20 07:27 PM
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Thanks for confirming my suspicion that there never were glides.
I waxed the keybed with Johnson Wax and the una corda works fine now, in fact a lot smoother than most I've seen. Unfortunately, on returning, the frame gets turned slightly, so A0 binds and the extreme treble hammers stick on the edge of the harp cutout. I think this is because the wood is worn away where the spring contacts it. Something to fix later.
By the way, another jack toe turns out to be loose and I'm gluing it in without pulling the action out. I wanted to see it the first time, anyway.

Re: What!? No glides?
edferris #3030472 09/30/20 03:10 AM
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There are so many old English and European grands here, that I seldom see a keybed with glides! Good idea about Johnson Wax. Furniture polish is what Roberts Pianos (piano dealer in Oxford who do a lot of rebuild work and who have many YouTube videos) say they use to lubricate the shift, too.


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