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Joined: Jun 2015
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Hi all, so I have an 1887 Steinway upright that I would like to rebuild. It has already been restrung at some point in its life so I can put that off for now.
However the action needs a total rebuild as all 4 of the brass tubular rails are cracked and much ware is on the other parts. I have done my research and pricing and it seems that replacing with new wooden parts will run about $3000. This also includes the brass rail repairs. Same ballpark with a WNG action. (It is $3000 from WNG because I do not have any of their tools.)
If I were to replace with wooden parts I will need to repair the brass rails and would be doing that with an epoxy kit sold by Ken Eschete. I have seen a video where those brass rails are soldered back together but I don't know how that repair would hold up though.
I have never dealt with WNG actions but if I rebuild with wood parts I will have to use double flanges. So considering the condition of the existing Steinway action I need to decide what rout to go.
Repair the existing action and rebuild or replace with wng. I am assuming the rebuild of the old action would be more work than replacing?
So thoughts here? Should I keep the old action or replace?

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That’s a pile of money to invest in an old piano.
I have had reasonably good results using west system epoxy with an adhesive filler.
Tape up those split action rails and fill em up with epoxy and clamp them to as close to original shape as possible then redrill the existing screw holes.
As for the double flanges, not the best design but I would choose to rebush and repin them if they aren’t buggered up with verdigris. New hammers and shanks would be the biggest expense.


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Greetings,
Assuming the block, bridges, and board are all solid,(which is a big assumption after a prior restringing), I would be inclined to completely replace the action with the WNG system. Done right, you will have a performance level action that is not only the equal of the original, but probably more refined than you will get with repaired rails and modern wooden replacement parts. You will be able to control the variables rather than "working" around putting old parts in.

I have rebushed one of these, and it was fine, except for the occasional 120 year old wood breaking under some heavy play.... WNG has worked out most of the problems with a retrofit, and that piano will never need an "all Steinway" provenance to maintain its value. Think in terms of putting a race motor in a '32 Ford coupe. Keep the classic, add the performance...
Regards,

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Blake,

I have installed a WNG action in a 1897 SS upright. I was among the first to do this when they came out with it, and according to Bruce Clark, the first to actually do it without personal supervision from a factory rep. At the time, the instruction set was pretty slim and did not give some important details. Other than Bruce being a phone call away, I was pretty much on my own and had to figure things out. This included some serious modifications inside the case to make the action literally fit inside.

So, what I am saying is that if you decide to go this route, yes you will have a greatly improved action in the piano, but this is not for the faint of heart. You will literally be stripping everything out of the piano and starting from scratch as in the factory and you will be making decisions that cannot easily be reversed. You will have basically one shot at getting it right. This is quite a bit different from re-habbing an existing action.

Hopefully their instructions have been improved and expanded since I did it. OTOH, you might consider having the rails replaced if you decide to go with a 1:1 replacement. John Dewey in PA does it, as does Jim Ialeggio in MA.

Those are my thoughts right at the moment.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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Hi, John Dewey has sold his business as he his retired. Looked in to having those rails duplicated but was quoted about $4000 for the job. So didn't even put that option on the table. I will continue to look through WNG's instructions to see if the action would work with this Steinway.
Could you explain a bit more about the motifications that you had to do to the case itself?


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