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Topic Options
#612538 - 01/18/09 09:30 PM Action lubrication
JagNut Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/17/08
Posts: 24
Loc: Arlington Texas
I have a small (4'8") grand that I restored many years ago. I have always felt that it had an especially heavy touch and others have agreed. The hammers, shanks (and rollers) were replaced at that time.

I notice that when a key is softly depressed, I can feel the point where the jack wants to come off the rollers. It requires just a little bit of extra pressure before the jack jumps off with a tiny inaudible thump. It doesn't surprise me that this is not nearly as pronounced near the middle of the keyboard that is played more regularly.

I am inclined to place a little graphite on the tip of each jack. However, the book I've been referring to (The Piano Handbood by Ian McCombie) says that no lubrication should be used anywhere in the action.

If not graphite, is there something else I might try such as smoothing out the rollers?

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#612539 - 01/18/09 09:59 PM Re: Action lubrication
Rickster Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 10906
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi Glen,

I use powdered Teflon on my shank knuckles (rollers). I use Proteck on all the flange joints and key pins. I learned that from the techs on this forum. My piano action is a little firm but not too heavy and is smooth and silky… it’s just right.

I think being able to slightly feel the jack slip from under the knuckle (let-off) when the key is depressed slowly is normal.

Take care,

Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

#612540 - 01/18/09 10:00 PM Re: Action lubrication
Bob Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 4490
Loc: Florida
We use powdered teflon on the knuckles. (I think thats what you are calling rollers)

#612541 - 01/18/09 10:40 PM Re: Action lubrication
Keith Roberts Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/04
Posts: 2002
Loc: Murphys, Ca
Chances are the hammer you hung on the action is heavier than the originals by a gram or two. That's why it feels heavy.

You can take weight off the hammers or add lead to the keys to give a better balance weight.
Keith Roberts
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca

Piano & Music Accessories
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#612542 - 01/19/09 12:02 AM Re: Action lubrication
CTPianotech Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/06/06
Posts: 1479
Loc: CT
The action is playing differently in the middle than out towards the ends?

Lubrication will not solve this. Regulate first.

I also like the the teflon for the knuckles, and keybushings.
Rich Lindahl
Piano Restorations in Central CT

#612543 - 01/19/09 12:12 AM Re: Action lubrication
rysowers Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3166
Loc: Olympia, WA
Powdered teflon is the stuff alright! Get it from Bill Spurlock:

Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA

#612544 - 01/19/09 12:28 AM Re: Action lubrication
JagNut Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/17/08
Posts: 24
Loc: Arlington Texas
If advisable, I wanted to try the teflon before I ask my next question.

Actually, I always felt the action was a little firm, even before the new hammers. I knew a technician in Fort Worth who gave me a lot of advice and sold me some parts.

I seem to to recall that he told me that on some small grands like mine, the actions are somewhat shorter than on larger pianos - and that this can contribute to a heavier touch.

Somewhere I seem to recall reading that about 2.75 oz. is a target to shoot for. Using weight on top of the keys, I find that I require as much as 3.5 oz. to drop the key down to the let-off. This is pretty consistent across the keyboard. I have assumed that the heavier touch is inherant in my action, rather than due to regulation.

I have often wondered if, perhaps my keys need some lead (they already have some). But, if this were the case, I would wonder why the additional lead was not designed into the action back when it was built (1929).

I know that there are other adjustments (such as those in the repetition levers), but the only ones I have ever messed with are the regulating buttons that adjust the let-off. When pressed softly, all of my keys raise to about 1/16" from the strings just prior to dropping to the backchecks at let-off. They also lift slightly off the back-checks as the key is released. As I mentioned, I get a very smooth let-off near the center of the keyboard but I can feel it more perceptibly away from the middle.

I will also be discussing this with a technician when I have the piano tuned next week.

Thanks for any advice.

#612545 - 01/19/09 12:37 AM Re: Action lubrication
apple* Offline

Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
One could use KY on both K[/b]awais and Y[/b]amahas
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

#612546 - 01/19/09 02:34 AM Re: Action lubrication
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1203
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
Glen, please be advised that downweight is measured with the damper pedal engaged. You haven't mentioned drop. If drop is excessive it will have some measurable effect on downweight as well as limiting your ability to control softer dynamics.

If you don't understand the relationships between the various regulating parameters, you can make life much worse for yourself. The forum would be a difficult place to learn as it is a complex procedure with lots of interrelated adjustments. An 80 year old action and keyset may be suffering from a large list of wear issues which will also effect playability.

Slightly mismatched shanks can also be an issue. Someone has already mentioned the issue with too heavy a replacement hammer.

Lots for your tech to consider when looking at an action that's had some work done already.

Best regards
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician

#612547 - 01/19/09 05:07 PM Re: Action lubrication
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
3.5 oz?????

Thats 100g.

Congratulations, your piano wins the prize. Call in a technician.
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply

Piattino Caster Cups distributor

#612548 - 02/13/09 03:37 PM Re: Action lubrication
Fred Hamaker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/07/08
Posts: 31
Loc: Rochester New York
I've had luck with powdered teflon on grand knuckles, but I wonder about this application - an old Steinway model S. The (presumably) graphite impregnated in the leather is a tiny bit on the greasy/grabby/sticky side. Seems my choice is 1)dont alter the lube here or 2)apply teflon power. Assuming direction 2), shouldn't I be first cleaning that knuckle surface, and if so with what solvent? What are my downside risks - noise? Other issues?
Fred Hamaker, RPT
Tuning, Performance Prep
Assessments, Rebuilding and Regulation

#612549 - 02/14/09 12:02 PM Re: Action lubrication
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4263
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
solvents will remove the natural oils in the leather and dry the material out. I use a wire brush to brush up the knuckles only and then Teflon powder.

Dan Silverwood
Dan Silverwood
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

#612550 - 02/14/09 02:02 PM Re: Action lubrication
Anne Francis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 571
Loc: Toronto, ON
KY????? Oh, it's a joke, right, Apple?
Anne Francis
Piano Tuner-Technician

Check out my blog! www.annefrancis.ca/blog

1906 Heintzman upright (rebuilt)

#612551 - 02/14/09 03:48 PM Re: Action lubrication
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2539
Loc: Maine
Yea, Anne, it's a joke. It's way over on the lame end of the scale it is. 'Pretty easy to tell Apple isn't a tech, huh?
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service


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