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Let-off eye screws break off #611647
04/13/08 10:21 PM
04/13/08 10:21 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 339
Minnesota
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Robert Scott Offline OP
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Minnesota
I recently had the pleasure frown of regulating a Lester spinet. Several of the let-off eye screws just broke off in the adjusting tool without turning the let-off button. Is there a trick to avoiding this? Because of the drop action, there is no way to get any kind of pointy tool into the eye screws. So I used a tool that has a cup to go over the top of the screw. Since I can't apply the tool from directly overhead, there is going to be some off-center torque when I try to turn it. So I tried to lift the cup so that it engages just enough of the eye screw to do the job. But I still got some of the eye screws to break off.

Fortunately the let-off was close enough that I could just leave the broken ones where they were. But that got me thinking if someone has already designed a tool that can turn the let-off button from the bottom on a drop action there there is no room to "swing" a tool.


Robert Scott
Hopkins, Minnesota
http://www.tunelab-world.com
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Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611648
04/13/08 10:31 PM
04/13/08 10:31 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,704
Oakland
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If it is going to happen, you will usually feel the head twisting off. I try small motions, twisting back and forth, to see if I can loosen it. I use a regulating screw driver which is very shallow, to avoid bending the screw where the thread enters the wood. Most new regulating screw drivers cover too much of the head and need to be ground down.

If I break one, I go through the rest of them with small motions, as I said. If there is any stress on the head, I will replace the screw, even if it does not break. I remove the rail to replace screws where the head has broken. If a bunch of them break, or I cannot get the stub out of the rail (by removing the button and grabbing the end with pliers), I replace the entire rail.

The L-shaped brackets sold as replacements do not work well enough to consider. Fix them correctly!


Semipro Tech
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611649
04/13/08 10:37 PM
04/13/08 10:37 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 3,919
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
When setting let-off in an upright, it is important to use a tool which can turn the eye screws from an angle with a minimum of torque on the eye screw. If not, broken eye screws will almost certainly result, if not sooner, then later.
There are two types of tool that I know of that work well.
One is a kind of "universal joint" tool, the other has a flexible shaft, which allows the cup to be vertical on the eye screw while the handle is offset to the side.

Good tools are rarely cheap, but if they can help prevent problems in the field, it is a worthy investment.

Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611650
04/14/08 02:05 AM
04/14/08 02:05 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 338
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Artisan Piano Offline
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I will give them a tiny drop of ProTek if they seem dicey and work them back and forth as BDB says. Sometimes they're just rusted through and it's hopeless.

A couple of last gasp techniques. If the let off is more or less equally off in a section, sometimes it's possible to loosen the rails and fit in a bushing to lower the rail a bit.

I've been told the brackets can also be bent down, sounds like a dangerous undertaking; but if you break the bracket, loosen it in the action rail, or split the action rail, it will definitely take your mind off of the broken regulating screw. whome


Steven
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Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611651
04/14/08 06:31 AM
04/14/08 06:31 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 839
North-East US
UprightTooner Offline
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North-East US
On uprights, I have been able to adjust the let-off after breaking the eye off by using needle nose pliers on the button.


Part-time tuner
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611652
04/14/08 07:26 AM
04/14/08 07:26 AM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
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Grand Rapids Michigan
Yes, the brackets can be bent down. I've down that in cases similar to this. It beats the devil out of breaking off a lot of let-off screw heads. You do have to be very careful not to over do it. Bending one way to far, then, the other way etc., will weaken anything the more it's bent. Little bumps and nudges...

If I feel the first 1 turning hard I stop and lubricate the let-off screws prior to working on them and let it set for a while working itself in before attempting to turn them. It will help a lot usually.


Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611653
04/14/08 09:35 AM
04/14/08 09:35 AM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 2,015
Murphys, Ca
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Keith Roberts Offline
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Murphys, Ca
Since the letoff buttons are almost always worn or compacted, turning the screw only gives an accurate setting by turning the screw 180* or 360*. Bending the rail brackets is much better, faster and accurate if the letoff is consistant.

Locate the brackets on the letoff rail. Use a thin screwdriver and insert under the rail at the bracket. Push the point through and force the tip into the wippen rail. Get a good bite and lift up. To come back down you can set the tip on the bracket and push or tap down with the heel of the hand.
The brackets are made to be bent. Have no fear. You are done in a minute or two. Or you can feel lucky and try turning 88 little screws that are about ready to break. Compare the time frames please and potential difficulties. It's a no brainer which method to use whenever possible

The only problem I have ever had was the screwdriver put pressure on a button and it cracked in half.


Keith Roberts
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611654
04/14/08 12:01 PM
04/14/08 12:01 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,704
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Bending the brackets is very crude, and you need access to bend them. Afterwards you may need to move the rail in or out to be centered over the jacks. It is difficult on spinets.

The best way to keep the screws from breaking is to regulate the piano regularly. That is a selling point for the job.


Semipro Tech
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611655
04/14/08 01:47 PM
04/14/08 01:47 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 132
east yorks,england
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eddie twang Offline
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east yorks,england
hi guys.what you guys call "let off" we call "set off".any way if there breaking and are realy siezed up the best thing to do is remove the set off rail,place in a vice and use a blow torch on a low setting to heat the eye. then whilst turning the eye slightly with a set off regulator it should free itself

Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611656
04/14/08 02:17 PM
04/14/08 02:17 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 338
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Artisan Piano Offline
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I was wondering if heat might help, thinking a zapper could be of use.
I love the image of using a blow torch.
Eddie, you may not be familiar with Lester spinets. Some say the only tool needed to do anything on a Lester should be a blow torch.


Steven
RPT
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611657
04/14/08 04:30 PM
04/14/08 04:30 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 2,015
Murphys, Ca
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Keith Roberts Offline
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Murphys, Ca
BDB, with all respects, crude or not it's a lot less intrusive to bend the brackets. If you look at the bracket, most are made to bend. That is how they get to the correct position in the first place.
If letoff is extremely out, I look at the position of the button and how much screw is showing before I make a decision to bend or turn. Then I turn the screws 180* or 360* then fine adjust with the brackets. I think it's foolish to try to fine adjust with an unevenly worn piece of felt that rotates for the adjustment.


Keith Roberts
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611658
04/14/08 05:32 PM
04/14/08 05:32 PM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member
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Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
Hey Eddie, great idea. Now, we know how to get rid of those spinet pianos we love so much too, right? laugh


Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611659
04/15/08 02:50 PM
04/15/08 02:50 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 132
east yorks,england
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eddie twang Offline
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east yorks,england
dear jerry,the blow torch is a much under used tool where spinets are concerned!..but they can be the only saviour when trying to free siezed up set off eyes(dont forget ,us northern europeans wrote the book on how to deal with the effects of damp)..a word of warning.dont use a blow torch after you have used any kind of release oil or your rail will catch fire!.......p.s jerry,l had to tell a customer that l could no longer obtain the tuning pins needed to re string her eavstaff" mini royal"...maybe there is a god!

Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611660
04/15/08 03:01 PM
04/15/08 03:01 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,704
Oakland
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A soldering iron might work as well, and be safer.


Semipro Tech
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611661
04/19/08 11:21 AM
04/19/08 11:21 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 1,419
Richfield Springs, New York
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Eric Gloo Offline
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Richfield Springs, New York
...never thought of using a blow torch to work with the original plastic elbows. Maybe the plastic will turn to almost liquid...sure would keep the broken plastic dust to a minimum. smile


Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611662
04/19/08 12:14 PM
04/19/08 12:14 PM
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
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Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 6,828
Grand Rapids Michigan
For the plastic elbows that are still stuck on the wire. Usually, you can take a pair of pliers, open them up more, place them on the corners and crunch them off. Usually, they will just crumble right off. My dad used to smash them off with a hammer that way on a steel surface. smile To many crappy little pieces to pick up later for me...

I wouldn't use a torch on the whippens though. I'd be too worried about the wood in that area or bushings that might be close by. Not with MY lucky anyway! eek


Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611663
04/19/08 02:26 PM
04/19/08 02:26 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
France
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Olek Offline
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Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
France
Heat is the best way to free a rusted or too tight metal screw caught in a wood piece.

A soldering iron works fine.

It is sometime possible to regulate the letoff screws with a more vertical position, , inserting the tool between the rest rail front part and back part (left pedal engaged). The place there is large enough for the tool with a flexible shaft.

Indeed the marks on the cloth make stability of the regulation difficult. Bending the supports is a japanese Y...) trick used on new pianos ! it can help of course, as long as the angle of the letoff button is not too much changed.

Checking the letoff rail screw and position is often worth the investigation.

My best tools those days stay the small bubble jauge as a confirmation for key level, dip, key rest cloth wear, magic line, etc...

Magic line on verticals is to me the most important parameter together with the backcheck, angle ; it can change the behaviour of an action in a very noticeable way, and it is used on some brands as a way to have more progressivity of the resistance during the stroke. (the "pianists position" vs the "technician position"

Happy Christmas to everyone !


Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611664
04/19/08 02:41 PM
04/19/08 02:41 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
France
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Olek Offline
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France
If you can find a angled "ratchet" for a hexagonal screwdriver that is thin enough, there is a tool that can turn the letoff eyelet and that can be used in a screwdriver. Then you only have to turn the screw driver holding it horizontally, the motion is tranlated vertically.

Same tool can turn the Steinway letoff screw, in cas you forget the regular one (sorry I dont recall the exact dimension)

A very thin 90° ratchet (is it the correct word ?) is rare , but I recall I have seen one.


Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611665
04/19/08 03:10 PM
04/19/08 03:10 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,135
SW Missouri
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Sam Casey Offline
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SW Missouri
"Regulating" a Lester spinet conjures up all sorts of images. Hard to imagine one that A: has a decent pinblock, B: has no plastic elbows, jacks, flanges, etc., C: at 50 years old has hammers not worn out and D:has an owner who would care if regulated or not. If it is crummy enough to have drop off screws breaking there's lots of other things wrong too. The customer who spends x hunderd dollars in regulation will NEVER see it again in resale.

Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611666
04/19/08 06:17 PM
04/19/08 06:17 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,704
Oakland
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I have seen a number of Lester spinets that have no plastic and were worth having at least a little work done on the action. It may not add to the resale, but it may make the customer appreciate the piano more, and perhaps want to move up to a better piano. You can do a lot to an upright in an hour or so.


Semipro Tech
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611667
04/19/08 06:31 PM
04/19/08 06:31 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,135
SW Missouri
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Sam Casey Offline
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SW Missouri
True, true enough. Personally I've yet to see one without plastic damper flanges at least. But if it makes them happy, why not? My only problem is one of association. If in a year or two the bass bridge splits or the board starts buzzing or the pinblock cracks, all of which is quite possible, will the customer feel good about dropping the money on regulation? And how does it affect the greater business health and reputation of the tuner? I tune a lot of these on a regular basis and still carry sets of plastic elbows in the trunk. You'd think we'd run out of them after awhile?? They must have sold zillions of Lesters.

Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611668
04/20/08 01:37 AM
04/20/08 01:37 AM
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Posts: 26,704
Oakland
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All of those things could happen to other pianos. I have gotten a lot of business from not sneering at people's pianos when other people had, including a rebuild from a multiple Grammy nominee.


Semipro Tech
Re: Let-off eye screws break off #611669
04/20/08 02:57 AM
04/20/08 02:57 AM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 9,230
France
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Olek Offline
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France
Tell them their piano will be someday famous, and a collector item !

The worse piano if it had any musical use, is worth a little regulation/tuning, "voicing", as long as the customer knows it is not a long term investissment.

I agree with DBD on the fact we should not live them totally, but we all know also that we can get caught in a suite of unwanted events due to our good desire to help a little with some kind of pianas. COmmunication helps to put the things in their context, customers seem to appreciate that generally
(once they are out of their "fantastic instrument with a wonderful tone" because they discover it can also sound like a normal piano after you have done your thing with it)

Not rare that customers tell me that after the job is done, "now I recognize a piano" , they never tell that they dislike their instrument before you tune it, unless they want to change, or have repairs done.


Professional of the profession.
Foo Foo specialist
I wish to add some kind and sensitive phrase but nothing comes to mind.!

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