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108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652251 09/19/08 07:30 PM
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I tuned a 108 year old Kimball upright today that a woman got for free from a church. Outside the woodwork was quite nice. Inside, the piano was a mess. Broken strings, broken hammers, broken keys (actually broken around the center pins of the keys themselves), etc.

The weirdest thing is that the plate seemed to be bowed towards the action at the very top, more so in the middle section. There was at least a 1/4" gap between the plate and the pinblock in the middle section of the piano. This caused the upper pins of the middle section to be pulled out and very loose. I kept wondering if they designed the piano this way, but it just didn't look natural to me.

There was also some weird metal rod on the back that went through the soundboard and had some patent information on it. I have no idea what that is for... tensioning the plate, maybe?

Any ideas?

I actually was able to tune it and it seemed stable, to my surprise.


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Jim Alfredson
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www.organissimo.org
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Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652252 09/19/08 07:46 PM
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If it had patent information on it, you might want to look up the patent to see what it was claimed to do. If there is a number, it is very easy to do at the Patent Office website.


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Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652253 09/19/08 07:54 PM
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That's a great idea. I am going back in two weeks to fix some broken strings (I didn't have the right gauge of wire), so I will write that down and look it up.

Thanks!


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Jim Alfredson
Musician / Tuner
www.organissimo.org
Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652254 09/19/08 08:07 PM
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Sounds like something I would run away from, fast.


Anne Francis
Piano Tuner-Technician

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

1906 Heintzman upright (rebuilt)
Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652255 09/19/08 08:09 PM
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Most people probably would. Perhaps I'm a glutton for punishment. smile


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Jim Alfredson
Musician / Tuner
www.organissimo.org
Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652256 09/19/08 09:16 PM
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Groover, I used to be a glutton too. I learned the hard way, but I have to say I learned quite a bit trying to bring some of these land fill pianos back from the grave. Luckily for the customer, I worked cheap back then!!

I suppose with experience comes a degree of enlightened knowledge. Just this week, I gave a terminal diagnosis on a "free" spinet. But will do what I can to help the lady find a decent piano.


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Ron Alexander
Piano Tuner-Technician
Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652257 09/19/08 10:25 PM
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Her 10 year old son is just starting lessons. I told her I'd get the piano in playable condition but it would always have the issue of the plate (and even she could see the bend, that's how bad it is) and if he continues to want to play, she should consider an upgrade in a few years.


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Jim Alfredson
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Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652258 09/19/08 10:56 PM
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Or he'll give up after fighting the 'freebie'...

I understand that these are trying times economically, but this one sounds like a 'downer'...

(I just visited your site, Jim, still enjoying the linked youtubes, lovin' the sound...but...my condolences to your drummer, re: South Park...LOL)


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"There is always room above; there is only the ground below."....F.E. Morton (with props to Del F.)
Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652259 09/20/08 12:09 AM
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I had one piano where the pin block and plate had separated from the back structure. The tension of the wire had pulled the whole block and plate forward at least to a 15 degree tilt and the plate hadn't broken. That is what has happened to this piano. They have never built an upright like that. The pinbock is not holding the plate screws and that is why there is separation. That piano needs to be destroyed so no one else can get ripped off by it. It is unusable. Please.

The funny thing was, when I cut all the strings on that other junker, the plate straightened back out and only had one crack in it.

Maybe if I hadn't treated it so rough, I could have saved it!!! (gag me)
eek


Keith Roberts
Keith's Piano Service
Hathaway Pines,Ca
Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652260 09/20/08 08:21 AM
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Run! Don't walk. Run from that thing!

(my .2 cents worth gained from painful experience)


David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652261 09/20/08 08:29 AM
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Yeah, it's a dog. I'm going back in two weeks to fix those broken strings and I'm curious where the tuning will be. If it's way out (which I'm guessing it will be), I'll have to give her the bad news.


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Jim Alfredson
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Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652262 09/20/08 08:50 AM
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If the plate breaks while you're working on it, do you have health insurance that covers hearing loss?


Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York
Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652263 09/20/08 12:32 PM
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A pulled plate on a 108 year old Kimball is the least of your worries. How bout those brass flanges, brass DAMPER flanges? How bout your bridges. Bet it has a 3/4 plate and a thin brass foil covering it.

IF your pins are solid you can loosen the tension a bit, get some large C clamps and pull the block back straight then put bolts thru to hold it. Remember, if it is pulling then the lag screws are stripping and will continue to strip and hammer blow, damper travel, let off, everything is screwed. It's in your customer's best interest to move on to another piano.

Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652264 09/20/08 12:35 PM
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My guess also, (Sammies crystal ball here) that it's a lovely oak case with lots of carving, which is why the customer got suckered in. Another note: Much of Kimball's "carving" was actually plaster molds glued on. Strip it and it melts away....

Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652265 09/20/08 01:56 PM
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Ah thanks Sam, so that is what I thought. I am doing a 1925 Kimball refinish and the stripper with the dichloromethane(whatever the stuff is called) started to melt the tulip like decorations on the legs so I switched to the old way of stripping with methyl hydrate. One of the decorations partially melted a bit.

b3groover

Actually I agree with the rest of the posters. This one is a loser for sure. Also if this plate decides to let go while you are standing over top tuning, you could lose your good looks there…. The money on this one is not more important than the safety factor for you or for the customer.

Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652266 09/20/08 03:56 PM
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I feel the need to chime in here. . . I also tried to 'help' a customer once, tuning an 1890's piano so she could play. It was so flat, that at first I didn't notice how the pitch was changing after I'd made the first pass. There was a broken string there, too, so I pulled the action to get at the wire. It was then that the plate violently bent forward, only catching itself on the little lid prop on the bass side. Let me tell you, I can jump across a room very fast! I managed to get the action back in, and informed the customer that she would need the lag bolt fix, and that it would cost more. Sadly, at that point, she doubted my credentials for tuning or any repair, since I "broke" her piano. Another local RPT ended up doing the repair and tuning, which didn't disappoint me. In the end, the piano was safely in tune, but I would've junked it, had it been my choice.

btw, in this case the pinblock was firmly covered by a separate board over the top - I had no way of checking for cracks as I usually do, or I would never have started


Elizabeth Heppler, R.P.T.
www.hepplerpiano.com
Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652267 09/20/08 05:11 PM
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I have a tank stripper with a recirculating pump for parts and use semi-paste for rims. Long ago I did a Kimball and while doing the front piece kept noticing this white stuff building in the tank...

Re: 108 year old Kimball upright / bent plate
#652268 09/22/08 04:27 AM
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I have seem many USA pianos where the pin block separates from the back post supports. If you remove the top lid ( you might have to break the glue joint) you will see quite a gap there starting from the bass being the widest and tapering towards the treble. The only way it can be repaired is to lower all the strings to nil tension and reglue with some big clamps and a good glue. Trying to reglue this sepatated pin block under any sort of tension is nearly impossible...also consider putting in long bolts rather than the cosmetic bolts that are there now.
have fun
Robin Stevens ARPT South Australia


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