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New composite action parts??

Posted By: John Pels

New composite action parts?? - 12/09/08 01:21 PM

Has anyone noticed the new advertisement on PW for Wessel Nickel and Gross composite action parts. Does anyone have any familiarity with them? What sort of adhesive is used when hanging hammers on the composite shanks? There is evidently no pricing as yet, only a phone number.
Posted By: David Jenson

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/09/08 01:48 PM

They have a web site, and a mailing was sent to RPTs, but the adhesive was a question that came to my mind also. I queered them on the subject, but so far, ... 'no answer.

'Looks like a good (my guess is pricey) product.
Posted By: Keith Roberts

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/09/08 02:35 PM

I don't think adhesion is a problem. There will be something that works.

They are very stiff from what I understand. Tonal factors result from this.

How would you straighten slightly tilted hammers?
Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/09/08 02:39 PM

"How would you straighten slightly tilted hammers?"

A heat gun maybe? Anyone know what the composite is made up of?

Posted By: Bill Bremmer RPT

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/09/08 02:43 PM

Notice that Kawai never used synthetic material for hammer shanks and they had a reason not to. KawaiDon can explain that better than I can.
Posted By: Gene Nelson

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/09/08 04:22 PM

The shanks I believe are carbon fiber tubing.
The whips are nylon glass fiber I believe.
The WNG action parts should not be compared with Kawai in my opinion as they are a unique design.
If you get a chance, attend Bruce Clark's class -you will be impressed.
Posted By: Larry Buck

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/09/08 05:04 PM

I spent time with the parts.

They are excellent.

Assembly 65, a titebond product will work well
Yellow glue
Hyde and CA will also work

Like a knurl in the wood, make sure the end of the shank is scuffed.

You can heat and twist the shank. Also like wood, if you are not paying attention you can ruin the part.

If you understand action design, these parts will also allow you to "design" modifications to improve geometry.
Posted By: John Pels

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/09/08 07:16 PM

The WNG representative that I spoke with stated that they are being evaluated in various university settings. Is this something that any of you have had familiarity with? Any idea which universities?

Larry when you opined that you spent time with the parts, what exactly does that mean? Are you using them in customer's pianos, your own instruments, sleeping with them under your pillow? Enquiring minds want to know. I had heard of these last year. I would like to make a decision about using them on my personal CC2, but they are not inexpensive. They are obviously competing head to head with Renner for aftermarket sales, so a little feedback prior to purchase would be nice. First generation anything can be dicey.
Posted By: Silverwood Pianos

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/09/08 08:17 PM

Well why we don’t have a close-up view of a 2008 UST-9. I posted these pictures the other day. Looks like solid wood shanks to me anyways. 9 pictures total here.


The back check and the whippen look composite to me…..

The damper flanges and the damper arms look like some type of plastic.......

Posted By: Larry Buck

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/09/08 08:18 PM

Hi John,

Mason and Hamlin has been very generous with the local community of technicians here in Boston by sharing knowledge.

With the support of Mason and Hamlin's owner Kirk Burgette, Bruce Clark has shared considerably his experience.

Yes, We have had an opportunity to work with the new parts for quite some time as have a few other rebuilders and some institutions.

I can say, with the proper intent and design, that the parts can and will solve many geometry issues.

Do you mind if I ask what challenges are you expecting to resolve when you rebuild your action?
Posted By: Rod Verhnjak

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/10/08 02:50 AM

Please don't get me wrong but before technicians take the plunge on using these, I think Mason & Hamlin should use them in ALL their new pianos first to show us the loyalty to their product.

I have seen them and they are quite impressive.
They also have some great plate mounting hardware for us to use when replacing soundboards.
Posted By: Del

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/10/08 03:30 AM

I am installing a set of these parts in a highly modified (Popular Make) 182 cm grand. Building up the action is taking a bit longer than usual since I do not like either the design or the construction of the original action brackets and rails. Consequently I am designing a new set of brackets to be made from (laser cut) stainless steel that will accommodate the laminated wood rails that I prefer.

The parts themselves are both interesting and impressive. The WN&G wippens look like something designed for a Star Trek movie. But, there is method to the madness. While the weight of the wippen assembly as a whole is nearly identical to that of a conventional Renner wippen when they are mounted on a rail the weight resting on the capstan is about 2.5 grams lower. Since with this piano I am trying to reduce the lead weighting to a practical minimum this seems important.

The WN&G hammershanks also weigh in about the same as standard Renner hammershanks. But they are significantly stiffer, both longitudinally and rotationally.

I’ll know more when the action is assembled and ready for testing but for now I expect more control and precision from the WN&G action.

(Gluing hammers to the shanks is not a problem. Even standard Titebond II works although there is a Titebond assembly glue that is supposed to work better. The hammershanks can be bent and twisted with the application of a little heat. Unlike heating a wood hammershank to bend it, however, the carbon fiber tube has little or no springback. You just heat it and put the hammer where you want it; let it cool down and you’re done.)

Posted By: John Pels

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/10/08 04:27 AM

Larry, what I am intending to overcome with the CC2 is an action that over the years seems to have evolved into something that no longer plays particularly well. I am trying to get to the bottom of what happened when it was "rebuilt" around 15 years ago. This is an oft repeated story, but I played this piano in undergrad and subsequently purchased it from the college when they opted to go all Steinway. I was fairly familiar with it having played my junior recital on it and I spent some time with the college tech at that time getting it in shape. During the "rebuild", the wippens, hammers, shanks and flanges were replaced. Normal stuff. BUT, the touchweight evidently was not within anything resembling normal limits and consequently the rebuilder installed jiffy leads on every key. It now has massive inertia issues. I have not been able to get things into a normal configuration easily which leads me to believe that of course something had to have changed at the time of rebuild. The wips are Renner as are the S&F. I do not have the original Aeolian wips, but M&H has assured me that their new parts are dimensionally the same as the original Aeolian parts. When I compare their (new M&H) specs with the Renner parts installed they are identical. So the challenge is to find out what has changed since the aborted rebuild. The hammers have been lightened and tapered to no avail, so I assume that there are geometry issues, but as yet, I have not dug deeply into that. I was aiming to tear it apart in the spring, but in the meantime while it is (somewhat) cold outside I figured why not get a jump on it. It used to have a really sweet playing action. The college assumed (stupidly) that the rebuild rendered it as optimal as possible and it essentially sat mostly unused since, as it was virtually unplayable. They were happy to get rid of it....and I was just as happy to get it. There are no other deficiencies. It is an excellent rebuild candidate, other than the fact that the case is quite horrendous with name carvings etc.

What I liked about the new M&H wippens was the fore/aft adjustability of the heels, which would allow a little latitude that should impact touchweight positively. It is the first action that I have encountered that is in worse condition than original after total parts replacement. I much prefer tackling an untouched action. I tend to weigh and measure everything before replacing anything.

Del, thanks for your input as always.

Ron, I agree with your philosophy totally as regards installation in new instruments.
Posted By: Larry Buck

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/10/08 05:08 PM

Hi John,

I too would dig into the geometry issues as well as any increase in the mass of the new and existing parts.

I would measure the parts and determine approx what the overall action ratio is.

The neat thing about the new WNG repetitions is that they will let you make a custom setup of a ratio at the key(presuming you move the capstan) that also preserves the half stroke line. Making small adjustments without the need to move the balance rail is a real advantage.

Have you measured you current parts dimensions?
Toss 'em up here when you do.
Posted By: John Pels

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/10/08 07:36 PM

Larry, the current parts are as follows:
S&F distance from center pin to center of knuckle 17mm. Distance from mounting hole to center pin is 27mm.

Wippen dimensions: Flange center pin to center of heel 62.15mm. Distance from flange center to jack center 99mm.

I am really hoping to not have to make any major mods to accomplish this. This is not a dinosaur with wacky non-standard parts. This was made in 1960 by a well-known and quality maker. I really don't want to reinvent the wheel. There has to be a logical easy to find explanation for why this thing requires jiffy leads etc. using standard high quality replacement parts. The truth is I really don't want to replace the Renner stuff. It just hasn't been used that much to warrant it and it is in great shape. I note that the capstans do not contact the heels dead center (fore and aft), but there is nothing that I find that does not look factory. There is no evidence of modification to shift the action stack or wip flange mounting one direction or the other. A few flanges pulled at random indicate some tightness above normal, but not enough that it would require the addition of jiffy leads. During the rebuild, apparently the keyboard was NOT rebushed and certainly needs to be, but my point is that it is not contributing to friction. The hammers are Renner blues. They were larger than the 16lb. variety currently available. That being said, I have a new set of Renner blues in 14 and 16lb variety and I spent some time weighing samples against the existing hammers and there are only fractional differences between all 3 sets. I removed some of the molding and shaped the hammers as normal. This helped, but without the jiffy leads, we are likely still 20 grams heavy, plus those pesky inertia problems that I hate. I talked with Paul Monachino last year about this and he told me frankly that it originally had a good sized hammer and were rated at the time at 18lbs. Heaven help us, but that measuring system has so much latitude that I wonder if it is not meaningless. I enjoyed talking with him though. He's a great guy and there's something extraordinary about talking with the tech that actually did the original regulation and final prep on your instrument way back when. If you require more info for analysis please let me know. I would appreciate your expertise. I probably left out the only dimensions that you need.
Posted By: Larry Buck

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/10/08 08:04 PM

Hi John,

Sure, your intent to keep your current parts is a very good one.

And ... right, I need some slightly different measurements.

I'll write down a reasonable explanation later today when I have a min.

Mostly, it is the increased mass of the parts and friction that is the cause. Having the Up AND Down weight numbers is important. I prefer those notes have the Jiffy's removed for the measurements.

I would recommend picking a few representative sample to begin working with.

It would help to have an all maple rep from another manufacturer to substitute as well as another all maple shank/flange along with a hammer not glued in.

Looking at picky regulation, getting friction under control, the leverage numbers and checking out substitute parts should reveal where the issue is and a plausible solution.

For me, it is the C's No particular reason other than habit.
Posted By: John Pels

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/10/08 08:31 PM

Thanks Larry, I am off to work, so when you get a chance to tell me what you need fire away. I should be able to get measurements later tonight and thanks for your help. I do not have any other M&H shanks/flanges available. I do have some old M&H wips that I can weigh and compare with the Renners.
Posted By: Marty Flinn

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/10/08 10:45 PM

Big multiple-page article with photos in the newest PTG Journal re. this development.
Posted By: Tom Lagomarsino

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/12/08 03:32 AM

Hi Ron - Thanks for the compliment on the WNG parts. Also, thanks for your comment about Mason & Hamlin's loyalty to the new WNG technology. Wessell, Nickel & Gross products are designed to serve the needs of the piano world, e.g., rebuilders, piano technicians and manufacturers---for professional, institutional and amateur use alike.

At Mason & Hamlin, we believe there will be demand from our customers and representatives for the composite action for a number of reasons, including performance, control, longevity, service and environmental reasons both climatic and ecological. Therefore, as an option, we currently offer the WNG high performance composite action/carbon fiber hammer shanks on all Mason & Hamlin models. We have showcased this action on our instruments beginning at the January '08 NAMM show, as well as the '08 PTG Nat'l. We have such faith in the performance and dependability of this action that we will feature it on our CC-94 concert instrument at the '09 NAMM show. Tom
Posted By: Gene Nelson

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/12/08 05:34 PM

I would have used WNG parts for my Knabe but had purchased Tokiwa before they came out. Renner or Tokiwa are not the best match in dimensions for the Kanbe but WNG would have been capable to fit better than original.
I am, however, installing the key capstans and back checks, glides and the ss bridge pins.
The capstans are about 3 to 4 grams lighter than the typical brass capstan and the surface is harder and smoother than brass.
Checking, when checks are properly installed - can be set at 3/8" if desired - this means slightly stronger rep spring tension and faster repetition. I have seen the checks installed and they hold more positive than anything else out there - no chance of double bounce.
Just waiting on the back check installation kit.
Posted By: John Pels

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/12/08 07:37 PM

Larry, I'm sure you've been off to fry bigger fish, but when you get a chance please tell me what dimensions you need.
Posted By: James Senior

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/12/08 07:56 PM

Hi Larry,
please detail the dimensions here as it's of great interest to me.
I check your website from time to time - I'm looking forward to seeing the final pictures of that Steinway case restoration - wow!
You guys are true craftsmen.
Posted By: Larry Buck

Re: New composite action parts?? - 12/12/08 11:53 PM

As I think about it it is lengthy to write.

I will come up with diagrams.

John and James, check your email

Posted By: ActionGirl

Re: New composite action parts?? - 02/16/09 05:17 PM

Hi everybody

I'm a piano tech student assigned to special duty. Our wonderful teacher brought back from NAMM for us an appetizing WNG sampler to play with. and we're sticking them in a Yamaha C3 when the real order comes in. Wippens, shanks and capstans.

I'm glad this thread has been started so that I may check in on the experienced among us.

So far we've had the trouble of figuring things out for ourselves....such as having to saw about 5 mm off of the aluminium rail to accomodate WNG's wippen design. But it looks like it's going to work great. In fact, it's starting to appear as though the reccomended "yamaha" parts from WNG will be better suited than the original.

We've actually been told we're to buy a special glue that will be shipped over with our order. We tried different glues but weren't satisfied. I see titebond works well? If that's true maybe we can save some money from this fancy glue.

Heating tongs! were applied around, but not touching, the shank. Nothing seemed to happen until it suddenly flopped right over, nearly bent in half and then popped right back up. It left some unattractive marks where it bent but otherwise good as new (except it hadn't done what we wanted it to).

We still don't have the parts. But i'm excited to get them and run into some juicy problems (being new to pianos both us and the WNG parts)
Posted By: ActionGirl

Re: New composite action parts?? - 02/16/09 05:26 PM

Originally posted by John Pels:
The WNG representative that I spoke with stated that they are being evaluated in various university settings. Is this something that any of you have had familiarity with? Any idea which universities?
John Pels, I suppose one of the university settings would be the University of Western Ontario with my shop partner and I under the watchful eye of our teachers (boss and coach). great place.
Posted By: lilylady

Re: New composite action parts?? - 02/17/09 04:10 AM

A non-technician player weighing in.

I happened to see this topic highlighted and was also curious about the ad over to the right so thought I'd pop in here to read the thread.

I had heard about the new action at the MH tour last spring and was apprehensive. I feel comfortable with the old tried in true, in general.

After the tour PW members got a chance to play several prepped pianos in the hall upstairs. As I was busy socializing with others, I missed hearing which piano had the new action. So when a friend who is interested in purchasing beckoned me over to try out 'this' piano, and give her my opinion, I played it.

It sounded nice (to be expected). And, it felt good too, but ever so slightly different! I couldn't pinpoint as to why, as it was easy and comfortably controllable at the same time.

Yup, it was the new action!

I was impressed.

As were others who played it that day.
Posted By: RoyP

Re: New composite action parts?? - 02/18/09 03:12 AM

As a part-time university tech, I received an invitation a couple of months ago to try the parts. So far it hasn't worked out to do so. I assumed that the invitation was sent to all university technicians. I'll be trying them soon, one way or another.
Posted By: Mal7

Re: New composite action parts?? - 07/22/09 05:21 PM

I have read all that I could find on the Wessell, Nickel & Gross composite action, even 4 patent applications. From all that study, it looks like the action is very nice and and theoretically superior.

I would like to know what the recent experience is with these action parts. I see above in this thread that there were many pianos being rebuilt using these parts. I was wondering if anyone could report on how any of those rebuilds turned out and if there were any issues.

Note: I also posted a similar request in the following thread: "Piano Forum » Carbon Fiber Actions in M&H?" I apologize if this is a duplicate post for anyone.

Posted By: oldiebutnewbie

Re: New composite action parts?? - 02/23/11 11:45 PM

Any additional observations or experience anyone would like to report on the WNG composite action? I'm really interested in these parts for an action overhaul on an 80+ year old small grand, and would like to match the WNG whippens, flanges, and shanks to some new Abel natural (medium pressing, unless there's a softer one) or Ronsen/Wurzen felt hammers.

Posted By: kpembrook

Re: New composite action parts?? - 02/24/11 03:47 AM

Originally Posted by John Pels
Has anyone noticed the new advertisement on PW for Wessel Nickel and Gross composite action parts. Does anyone have any familiarity with them? What sort of adhesive is used when hanging hammers on the composite shanks? There is evidently no pricing as yet, only a phone number.

I have used several sets and won't go back. A couple of university techs in our PTG chapter feel the same way.

As they explain on their website, wood was never regarded as the ideal material for actions -- just the best available for the price. Steinway engineers recognized the desirability of solid bushings but just weren't able to pull it off -- partly due to their own arrogance but also due to the fact that materials technology hadn't quite caught up to the design principles.

I like the WN&G carbon shanks-- they seem to provide less loss due to flex and correspondingly greater energy at the hammer strike. The solid bushing work reliably through humidity changes.

I also give high marks to WN&Gs cooperative and open attitude. As with any new product, there have been minor glitches or opportunities to improve discovered along the way. They have been quick to address issues and ideas.

Reports also seem to indicate that because of the elimination of the subtle movements of wooden parts that happen due to humidity fluctuation that actions in university settings are staying in regulation longer. I personally don't have enough intense usage like that to make any conclusion.

On a side note, an additional benefit of the hardened aluminum capstans now available from WN&G is almost no capstan contact felt wear after 20 years of usage by David Stanwood,RPT who first introduced them.

Posted By: Del

Re: New composite action parts?? - 02/24/11 07:15 AM

Originally Posted by kpembrook
I like the WN&G carbon shanks-- they seem to provide less loss due to flex and correspondingly greater energy at the hammer strike. The solid bushing work reliably through humidity changes.

To add my observations about their reliability: WN&G made a two-note action model for my string testing device. This action model has been packed and shipped, bumped and abused and generally treated in ways no proper piano action should have to endure. It keeps right on working flawlessly; its regulation is stable and the composite shanks and plastic bushings have put up with side knocks that would have destroyed conventional wood/felt parts.

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