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Anyone here put one of WNG's carbon top actions in their old Steinway K? Any experience to share?

Thanks!

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I have done it.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Peter,
I wish you wouldn't ramble on so much! smile


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I recently completed a K rebuild. While I very much prefer W,N&G grand shanks, the upright parts were not good for my approach.

If you want some K W,N&G action parts for cheap. I have them. No whippens or shanks. I have butts, butt flanges, damper levers and maybe damper blocks.


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Ditto. Giant pain in the ass.


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Hmmmm

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Ed, what about your approach made the WNG parts not work well for you?

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Josh,

Sorry for the delay here. Just been busy.

So I would say, all in all, the end result was quite good. HOWEVER, this is not for the faint of heart. You reach a point of no return and must complete come what may. It is a step in the direction of being a manufacturer vs being a restorer, and there IS a difference.

I was among the first few to do this, and Bruce Clark told me I was the first to do it without factory representation looking over my shoulder. The unit was designed with the K in mind. I thought I was dealing with a K, but it turned out mine was a model F (pretty sure on that). This ultimately meant that the action would not fit with the normal end brackets, and even with the alternate brackets I had to perform surgery on the sides to make it fit. This was scary, but I did it. One must basically strip everything off the keybed and start anew. What isn't supplied with the kit must be made for that piano, and made to fit that piano. This is where your manufacturing hat gets lots of wear.

I have the advantage of having the factory 30 minutes away from me, so the big box of jigs and fixtures needed to install was a short drive away, and Bruce is just a phone call away, nonetheless, I had several head scratching moments about what to do and where to put things. Hard to get into detail about it (I did take pictures but I have not organized them or labeled them and that would take quite a bit of time). This one is my own piano. I was going to do it again on a client's piano but so far he has balked.

If the factory instructions have become more explicit, it would probably be easier. I would do it again at this point having the first under my belt. Again, this is TOTAL action replacement, not replacing old parts with new SS WNG parts (which I think is what Will did, and sounds like Ed started). I have not yet tried the SS style parts.

I hope this helps a little.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor

Last edited by P W Grey; 11/17/21 12:49 PM.

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I bought some samples of the made for Steinway parts. They are NOT a copy of the the Steinway whips or butts, and I think would be a poor substitute for them because the geometry is different. I did the kit as Peter did, but bought the jigs, which are half-assed as far as their utility. I did not like their damper set-up, it looks like it was intended for a shorter vertical and I made some substitutions. My K was a pretty standard older model, but did require a fair amount of head scratching fitting. The action performed very well when I was done, but the process is a huge time bandit. If your customer does not have very deep pockets, then you will have very empty ones.

I will sell you my set-up jigs cheap, though.


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Sorry Will for the misrepresentation. I remember you commenting negatively about SS style parts and mistakenly concluded that was what you were doing. Oops!

I imagine that after about 2 or 3 of these things it would become somewhat routine. But...also cost prohibitive except at $10/hr. Maybe.

Josh,

Are you thinking of trying it?

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Ed,

Please describe what you did not like about the SS parts.

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Hi Peter-

Yes, I am on the fence to get into it. I have three K's to overhaul and I love the concept of the WNG offerings but of course I am concerned about the time trap involved and winding up with something sub-par functionally. If it is a case where the first piano will be a huge pita but subsequent pianos will be no more challenging than standard K rebuilds I think I'd do it. I certainly don't want to be a guinea pig.

So yes, I have three K's and if I can make it work, possibly a V to do as well though that is further off.

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Functionally these actions are great (IMO) as well as highly serviceable in comparison with the old SS style action. If you are intent on doing all three, the second two should be a piece of cake after the first one, esp being that they are all the same model, and the model that they were actually designed for.

What you will need to be prepared for is re-doing the back rails under the keys. They are separate from the keyframe and can be surprisingly non-parall to the keybed. You may need to make new ones or modify the originals depending on how things play out. You will be calculating cloth thicknesses and punchings all anew.

Could be fun.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Well, it is a very long story. But I have a custom upright action configuration I do from time to time.

The design centers on significant change to the center of gravity of the hammer butt so as to have a decent amount of gravity return. Enough gravity return I can usually dispense with hammer return springs. The feel is wonderful because the velocity of the hammer is much more apparent at the key.


The W,N&G butts cannot be modified with any ease to produce the desired configuration. I ordered them because I have a sample of their first butt design that would have allowed my reconfiguration. So I was very surprised when I got the new parts, and they were of significantly differing design.

I went with the Tokiwa parts.

Last edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT; 11/18/21 10:41 PM. Reason: typo

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I have always felt the old Steinway upright actions where a poor design and overly complicated. They were determined to use the tubular system for their uprights even though it was a system designed for grand pianos. It's no surprise they abandoned it for uprights long ago but still use the tubular system for grands today. For the record I am not a fan of its use in grands either.

I am interested in the W,N&G action as a kit, but have not tried it. I replaced a Steinway upright action last year and I have one in the shop right now. They are a lot of work to get playing well.


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Steinway was a pioneer of the modern upright action, so it is understandable that their actions had some quirks. Upright production was dropped in the 1930s, and did not resume until the introduction of the 40" upright, so they needed a new action for that, which they bought from Pratt Read. Apparently there were a couple of 45" models that had the old Steinway action, but Pratt Read supplied actions until they were replaced by Renner actions in the 1980s.

The earliest actions had wooden wedges instead of spoons, with screws on the levers to adjust the damper timing. What I thought was interesting was that the largest uprights had actions in two parts. The top action was the same as the 49" uprights (E,EE, V, and maybe others) with a separate sticker system underneath. There were some early spinets that had a similar arrangement, not made by Steinway, of course, but those spinets are easier to work on.

Last edited by BDB; 11/19/21 11:54 AM.

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Originally Posted by Bill McKaig,RPT
I have always felt the old Steinway upright actions where a poor design and overly complicated. They were determined to use the tubular system for their uprights even though it was a system designed for grand pianos. It's no surprise they abandoned it for uprights long ago but still use the tubular system for grands today. For the record I am not a fan of its use in grands either.

I am interested in the W,N&G action as a kit, but have not tried it. I replaced a Steinway upright action last year and I have one in the shop right now. They are a lot of work to get playing well.

I agree. In the 19th century, stuffing an oddly shaped wooden dowel into a oddly shaped brass tube, and then soldering all the parts together may have been state of the art, but by today's standards, it's pretty darned stupid and overly expensive. I'm sure Steinway is well aware of this, but they can't change the design because of their marketing hype. It's pretty easy for a company to become a victim of its own hype.

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William, I PM'd you about your setup jigs.

Thanks!!!

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Last edited by JasonInTN; 11/23/21 03:57 PM.

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