MONINGTON AND WESTON grand piano ( restoration)
July 24th.... Work now has commenced by removing the action out of the piano and storing for later attention. all the casework parts including main lid music desk were removed and stored.Next stage was removing the dampers and then making patterns of the bass strings so that the stringmaker can make exact replacements.Next operation was to record all the string sizes using a micrometer and then the old strings were removed from the piano.Pictures show original condition of piano. This page will be updated periodically during rebuild.
Before the plain strings were removed a micrometer was used to note all the differant string diameters.About 10 sizes were used in this particular piano,moving in grades from thicker towards the bass to the thinnest in top treble.After that,the strings were slackened and hooked out of their respective tuning pins and removed from the piano.Next stage was to start unwinding the tuning pins from the plate.These will be replaced with a size larger to restore the friction and tightness of the pins thus creating tuning stability.
A mention of the fact that with most grand rebuilds and uprights for that matter,the cast frame is usually unbolted and lifted out of the piano.It makes it much easier to attend to and refinish the soundboard and also access to the whole frame for re guilding is much more accessable.In our piano,the design is such that the frame is built into the piano and to remove it would be impossible without cutting out a large part of the wood casework.So in this case,it will mean that the soundboard and bridges will be refinished with frame in situ.The end result will be the same but will entail masking various areas.
Another advantage of frame removal is being able to see the condition of the pinblock and possible cracking or splitting which would mean the pinblock would need to be replaced.Even with the frame in the piano, a good idea of pinblock condition can be gleaned from viewing it from underneath (see pics).As can be seen there is no splitting and from what can be seen it looks fine.
The old tuning pin bushings were drilled out and the frame was sanded and soundboard etc masked up to prepare for new finish.A coat of etch primer followed by 3 coats of satin gold completed the frame.
New tuning pin bushings were driven in to the tuning pin hols and then bearing felts and felt washers were installed on the frame ready for the re stringing to follow.
Week ending 12th August
Work started on the re stringing process.There are 16 gauges of plain steel strings in this piano.See pic of string canisters.Each canister holds around 50mts of wire and the correct gauge required is cut off the roll.The plain steel strings are used from around a third of the way along the keyboard up to the far right (the top note).From the extreme left, the bass end, up to the start of the steel strings, there are around 30 strings that are covered in copper and are thicker than the plain strings.The various thicknesses of these strings make up the required mass to musically produce the bass notes.The bass strings are quite costly at around £10 each depending on thickness . The plain strings average around £5 per note.When you bear in mind there are upwards of 230 strings to a piano,it is a major cost of a rebuild plus the labour and skill to fit them which can take many hours.
The plain strings are always fitted before the wound strings,the work is ongoing and should be completed this coming week.The bass strings are being manufactured to the original samples and will be fitted when they arrive from the string maker.
Also work started on the dampers.The old felts removed and the new ones glued in place..
22nd August update
This last week started with removing the old damper felts from the heads and a new set fitted.These are put aside to now concentrate on the action and keyboard assembly.The stack was removed from the keyboard and prepared for dissembly.The keyboard front rail felt washers,centre rail washers,buckskin on the hammer butts,buckskin on the back checks (see pics for description of the various parts) all were removed and replaced with new..Also the jack loops were replaced,although the old ones were in good condition it was felt necessary to replace them anyway as they can rot and break over time.
The keys were cleaned and the woods lightly sanded to remove the grime.
Next; was to remove the old hammers from their stems and a new replacement hammer set was installed.
The new bass strings arrived from the string maker and the re stringing was finally completed.
The setting up of the keyboard and action and adjusting everything will be done after the refinishing work on the case is completed.
So, the casework refinishing is next......to be continued
1st September update
All the case parts were stripped to bare wood with chemical stripper,washed and dried.Next stage was repair and fill any imperfections,dings etc..then mahogany wood stain was applied to all the parts.Next was to spray sealer to seal the pores followed by spraying clear finish, rubbing down in between coats.The finish was then flatted out and burnished to a lustre.
Once this was all done, the casework fittings were attached and the whole built up.
Next stage will be to fit and adjust the dampers,install the action and adjust hammers to strings and gradually put tension on the strings and start the long process of tuning and adjusting and the restoration will complete.
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Next was to drill out the old tuning pin bushings then attention to the soundboard and bridges.The old varnish was thoroughly removed from the soundboard and prepared for 2 coats of new finish.The bass bridge had some loose pins so they were removed and replaced with longer pins and driven in.
20th September update..Completion.
This week saw the piano fully assembled and the start of tuning it up to concert pitch.Also much time regulating the action.More tunings and adjustments to be carried befor the piano is returned to the client.