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#3130855 06/23/21 07:38 PM
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Tuned an old upright piano today and was unable to adjust some key capstan's due to them being seized up.
I've heard that a soldering iron can help to break the rust bond ? Is there a better method ?

The Regulation is a bit out of whack on this instrument with many hammers resting on the jacks (forward motion), consequently jacks with not reset reliably and quickly. I could also reduce the blow distance to correct this.

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I have never seen one so stiff that I could not turn it by removing the key and turning that while holding the capstan.


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Believe me, I had the key out and tried that but it would not budge. Piano is about 100 years old and probably never had any previous regulation in that time.

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Maybe try a heat gun, carefully of course, but if there aren't many of them, put the key in a vise not too tight and turn the capstan with some longer tool, it has to move.

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Greetings,
You should have a micro-torch. Heating a capstan will allow turning, but start on some way off to the end so that if you char the threads you can recover them with a treatment of CA glue while the capstan is out. With a small flame over the exposed part of the capstan I think you should try about a 3-4 second heating, maybe another 5 seconds to let the heat shrink the wood, and then turn the threads back and forth a couple of times.

The lack of lost motion will probably be due to the hammer rest rail settling too low. Shim it up until most of the hammers have slight clearance, then adjust the rest to match. I would check to make sure the blow distance is not already at spec, but that is a slim chance if the capstans have never been turned.
Regards,

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Yiu definitely need heat, if you just force the wooden capstans they will split in half.
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Are these wooden or metal capstans? I don't think this was made clear.

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They are wooden capstans.

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Sometimes they break. It is no big deal to make a new one.


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Presumably a piece of dowel and felt could be used to make a new one. What size drill bit do you use (in relation to the wire size) ?

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It depends on the wire size.


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If you heat the wire, then use something thin enough to go all the way through the holes, the force you exert will be more evenly distributed making it less likely to break. That is how I would approach it.

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Might be worth trying some Protek CLP where the wire enters the base of the wooden capstan....

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WOODEN ONES??

Don't heat the capstans, then. Heat the wire. This should be a lot easier than heating up the metal capstan.

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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
WOODEN ONES??
Don't heat the capstans, then. Heat the wire. This should be a lot easier than heating up the metal capstan.

Greetings,
I looked up some old records of my first rebuild after school on my family's 1878 Hallet & Davis upright. It had stickers attached to keys with a dainty turn-buckle arrangement and lost motion was adjusted by turning a small (1.5 mm) screw between parts with opposing threads.
100 year old wood, (this was 1977) and frozen threads. As a newbie encountering this antique, I broke the first one, of course. I broke the second when I tried lightly twisting back and forth. I was a tooled up Toro in an unsuspecting china shop.

I had no torch. I had a box of Ohio Blue Tip kitchen matches, (100 of them), so I tried heating the threads and managed to set the third one on fire. Man, that old maple sure likes to light up. But, I had aluminum foil and crafted a heat shield that looked like a 4 year-old's version of a dinosaur on a volcano. It worked out to about 2 screws could be heated on one match if nothing else caught fire. I don't know why SPM never caught on as a standard unit, but you think about such things when there are endless screws to cook stretched out on the bench and a dwindling pile of kindling.

The beauty of the wire is that you can find out by trying to twist the capstan as you heat the wire, just how much is needed to loosen the bond. If it is so hot that it smokes, or you see flames between your knuckles, maybe a little less.
Regards,


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