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#2749094 07/03/18 04:39 PM
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Hello! I'm very new to piano ownership; a family friend just passed along her well-loved upright Harrington piano. Based on the serial number, it looks like it was made before 1922. I have young children, and the piano mover pointed out that the keytops of pianos from that era were usually attached with lead-based glue. I don't expect my kids to chew on the keys (and, as of now, the keytops appear secure), but it got me thinking-- are there any other special safety considerations when it comes to young kids around older pianos? Thanks in advance.

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Lead based glue. Hmmm. Thats a new one for me. Never heard of it.

Don't let the kids play on top of it, or underneath it (if it's a grand), don't let them pound on the keys with their fists or objects of any kind. Don't let them slam their fingers under the fallboard (key cover). Don't let them lick the piano or keys. (I joke not).

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Yea, lots of old things may have lead in it, particularly old paint; also may have asbestos.

Like Peter, I don't think I've ever heard of lead based glue. They probably used an animal based hide glue back then. But I'm no authority.

Out of curiosity, I did a quick Google search for lead-based glue, and didn't find anything at all. Lots of mention of lead-based paint, plumbing solders and electrical solders containing lead, but no mention of glue at all.

On the other hand, some of the wood keys likely have lead weights to help balance the keys with the action. Maybe that is what the movers were talking about?

Just wondering, was the mover also a piano tech who wanted to give you an estimate on having the lead-based glued on key-tops replaced?

Enjoy your new-to-you piano! smile

Rick



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Long shot, but since you ask, I have heard of Paris Green being found on the floor of some old uprights. Easy to check for.

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Oh my, if there is paris green then it certianly would have to go.


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Thank you! Maybe I misheard the mover; he might have been referring to lead weights.

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Thank you! Is this something that a piano tech would be able to check? (Now I'm nervous!)

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Your kid would have to be a surgeon to get to them. I would not be worried about it.

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You may be thinking of lead white being used for the colorant in the glue wafers that were used to glue ivory to the keys. As far as I know, that was not used for that purpose. Chalk was cheaper, and not chemically incompatible.

The lead weights in the keys should be handled appropriately, especially if there is oxidization.


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If I were you I would simply lock the fallboard closed and keep the key out of reach of the children.


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I think we are failing to distinguish between the oxide of metallic lead as in piano key weights and compounded lead as found in old paint and gasoline. The former is not readily absorbed by the digestive tract while the later is (and also lungs). My guess is we are making a mountain out of a molehill.

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I agree with that!

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As other have mentioned, if it is lead weights, removing them would require taking out the keys and then breaking them free of the key (they should not be loose while they are in the key (some are glued)). If your children get that good at taking an action apart then they are almost certainly smart enough to not eat lead.

If you really want no lead in the piano, I suppose you could have them removed and then massed (each key could have a different amount) and then have tungsten replacements machined up and inserted for a few grand, however that is of course pointlessly overkill.

Lead is pretty harmless stuff in its metallic state, like asbestos if you leave it alone it leaves you alone, tying to remove those weights would likely be more dangerous due to the potential to create lead dust.

Last edited by XenondiFluoride; 07/05/18 03:19 PM.

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I suggest removing the bottom board and vacuuming out the inside.

And quit worrying.


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