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Author Topic: Hammer rail dislocated  (Read 419 times)
indianajo
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« on: July 12, 2017, 03:32:04 AM »

So I hauled this distressed looking beautiful sounding console piano out to my summer camp. Its a York by Weaver PIano CO with Pratt, Read action. It worked fine at the donor church except for the hammer blocked by the penny I found in the action.  Not ivory keys, so probably sixties age.  There was an African Elephant head logo on the Pratt, Read sticker.  
The binding strap came unclipped from the U-haul truck rail, and the piano bucked on the cart some coming down my drive.
The rail the hammers are screwed to went too high, and moved left about 1 cm.  The damper rail went too high, too.
By taking the action out and applying pliers, I got the hammer rail to move right so the jacks and damper spoons lined up vertically with the hammers:  Without breaking any.
The damper rail is much too high, and squeezing it down on one end makes the other end go up. The hammers hit the mount rail if damper rail is too high, and the hammer spoons don't push the damper levers.  The pedal rod is disconnected.  
Is the Hammer rail supposed to be fashioned to the damper rail above?  There are ridges and grooves in the wood rails. The damper rail appears to be supposed to rotate pushed by the sustain pedal rod, but instead pushes up.  
There are 88 tiny springs to the hammers, I've got about 80 of them bent back in the proper groove.  
Although the cost of pianos like this is low, moving was $100 plus a requesting a big favor from a friend.  The move would be about $400 by professionals 27 miles out of town.  Plus this is the best sounding console I've found under $700. Sound is bright, close to my $3300 Sohmer.   I'd like to learn to fix it, instead of moving 2 more console pianos.  The cost of damaging it is zero, so good to learn on.  Felts & hammers etc look really tight, much less wear than my 1941 Steinway 40.  

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iansinclair
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2017, 01:11:11 PM »

You're a good mechanic, my friend -- or you must have a few friends sitting under a shade tree around there somewhere who are.

Don't do anything for a while.  Sit down and just look at the whole action.  Somewhere there must be something out of place which is holding that damper rail too high -- somewhere, as you note, around the middle.  But if you just sit there and poke (very very gently) you will eventually find it.

I'd be amused to come and help -- but a thousand miles is a bit far!
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Ian
indianajo
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2017, 01:28:22 PM »

Thanks for the sympathy anyway.
I'm trying to work up the nerve to take the Pratt Read action out of my 1982 Sohmer to see how the rails are attached or related.  I removed it once to get a socket out of the action; it shouldn't be dangerous.    They are right together - maybe there is glue?  No, the damper rail rotates when pushed by the sustain rod. 
Meanwhile plotting huge rubber bands around a second pair of large channl-lock pliers, to act as a third hand. 
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silverwoodpianos
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 05:17:27 PM »

The damper set in any upright operates by a horizontal rod hung to the back of the wooden hammer action rail by L shaped hangers.

At one end of the horizontal rod there is a right angle bend and the rod is flattened into a tab with a hole drilled into which the vertical pedal rod attaches and drives the horizontal rod in a half circle, thus opening the dampers by moving the damper levers forward at the bottom.

If the pedal is driving the damper rod up instead of rotating then the L shaped hanger tabs on the damper rod are broken. Some or all of them.....

With all of those rails moving around it seems the action needs all the fasteners tightened and the regulation will be off.
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Dan Silverwood
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If you think it's is expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
iansinclair
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2017, 10:30:59 PM »

Could it be a little less drastic?  Like the damper rail came unhooked from the brackets, and is hung up on the one in the middle?  I can see that happening...
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Ian
silverwoodpianos
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2017, 12:32:49 AM »


For this part;


The rail the hammers are screwed to went too high, and moved left about 1 cm.  The damper rail went too high, too.
By taking the action out and applying pliers, I got the hammer rail to move right so the jacks and damper spoons lined up vertically with the hammers:  Without breaking any.
The damper rail is much too high, and squeezing it down on one end makes the other end go up. The hammers hit the mount rail if damper rail is too high, and the hammer spoons don't push the damper levers.

There will have to be photos supplied if you want online help.
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Dan Silverwood
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http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/

If you think it's is expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
indianajo
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 01:12:35 AM »

Okay, thanks.
I took the action out of the 1982 Sohmer with Pratt, Read action. There are six metal clips that act as a bearing to the damper rotator rod, screwed to the back of the hammer rail.  So the damper rod rotates, making the damper rail move back and forth.  The good Sohmer has two sustain pedals with half bass sustain in the middle,  the broken York action only one sustain from the left.  
The rough ride my York piano took in the U-haul van probably pulled the screws out holding the clips down to the hammer rail.  Time for some Bondo! And/or bigger screws.   If I've lost a few clips, that are not in the bottom, they would be simple enough to make in my bearing press.  The brass rod is there, I remember seeing it and wondering why it didn't rotate.  Out to the country trailer tomorrow.  
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indianajo
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2017, 11:31:52 PM »

Back from the country.
There are no missing clips, or broken clips, or screws pulled out in my Pratt Read console action.
There are at least 2 models of Pratt Read console action.  The one sold on low bid to Polk County Florida Schools in about 1960 has the hammer flanges, and the damper levers, screwed to the same rail.
What is loose is the rail the whippens rest on.  It is connected to the bottom aluminum post connector rail, by aluminum forks, with screws in the forks going to the whippen rest rail.  Three of the forks on the left side have pulled out from under the screws, allowing the hammer rail to float around,
Just backing out the screws, putting the forks back under the screws, and tightening, did not maintain rail position when I tried to put the action back in the case.  The forks pulled out from the screws again.  To be continued.
To emphasize the differences, the Pratt Read action I bought in a store in a Sohmer in 1982, did have separate hammer flange rail and damper lever rail. These were connected by clips like conduit mount clips, holding down the sustain rod.  http://www.graybar.com/store/en/gb/minerallac-1-hole-strap-jiffy-clip-for-1-4-in-tubing-usa-88173316?cm_mmc=pla:bing-_-bingshopping-_-gb5459-_-88173316&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=bingpla&utm_content=88173316&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Bing%3EPLA%28BSC%29&utm_content=KntKIFPI|pcrid|9880832464|pkw||pmt||pdv|c|&utm_term=4581802392210303

The 1982 sustain rod rotated in these clips.  The sustain rod on the 1960 action is firmly fixed to the hammer/damper rail.
My apologies if the nomenclature is not right. I watched several videos about console action. None of the rails or support parts were named.  just the action parts.  
One odd difference, the springs on the back of the hammer are glued in the rail on the 1960 action.  Relocating loose ones, and even bending them back in shape, is doable.  The springs on the 1982 action are merely pushed in the holes in the rail, and when one comes out of position in the back of the hammer slot, it easily falls to the bottom.  Everything becomes cheaper over time.  I haven't noticed any particular notes being slower on the 1982 Sohmer, so I don't see these springs are very important.  More than a dozen are out of position.  
Opinions to the contrary are welcome.  
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iansinclair
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« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2017, 01:31:29 AM »

" Three of the forks on the left side have pulled out from under the screws, allowing the hammer rail to float around,
Just backing out the screws, putting the forks back under the screws, and tightening, did not maintain rail position when I tried to put the action back in the case.  The forks pulled out from the screws again. "

Tiresome of them.  I presume there are other screw and forks?  On the right side?  Can you see any difference in them?  You might unscrew one of those and take a really close look at the fork, to see if it is in any way different -- such as a flange that has gotten flattened by being pulled out, or something of the sort?  Are they cast metal, or stamped?  And are we talking machine screws here, or (heaven forbid) sheet metal type screws?  If the former, and they are long enough, you might try a lockwasher of the toothed variety under the screw head to see if it will hold any better?  You can put a fair amount of torque on a machine screw -- but not on a sheet metal screw.  As I'm sure you don't have to be told...
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Ian
indianajo
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« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2017, 06:37:27 AM »

There are 5 total forked clevises holding the whippen rest rail to the bottom post spacer rail.  Whatever kind of screws they are, the clamp force is going to be limited by the tensile strength of the wood rail.  The aluminum clevises are about 4 mm thick, smooth with no ledge at the end.  I think I will take my electric rotary file tool I keep out there, with tree head bit, to cut a groove in the clevises about .5 mm thick back from the end, to capture the screws pan heads.  That should keep them from sliding out again. 
I'll take out five  dome head thumbtacks, to push in the whippen rest rail behind the screw heads, if that doesn't work. 
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iansinclair
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« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2017, 02:18:50 PM »

What puzzles me a little is why they slide out now, and didn't slide out before.  I didn't realize that your screws were going into wood -- that makes it a bit more difficult to get much torque on them.  I like the idea of a slot for the pan heads -- and it wouldn't have to me much of a slot.
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Ian
indianajo
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2017, 07:00:20 PM »

Back from the country trailer.  Managed to get the forks under the screws holding the hammer rail.  One thing that holds the rails apart, any jack will slip out of place and fall down, pushing on the hammer rail.  Suspending the action upside down from a crane and working off a creeper to install the forks with my sight line straight up would have solved the problem, but I don't have that kind of tools out there.  So I kept pulling the jacks up with a angled pick until I got them all back at the same time.
Action sort of fits in the piano, but the hammers hit the upper rail, not the strings. Also the dampener spoons are not hitting the dampener levers.
So, investigating why the bottom of the hammer/dampener rail was very clean, I made an astounding discovery.  The top of the whippen mount rail was also very clean, and had a 4" long glue patch at the right end!  So the hammer/dampener rail was glued at the high keys end, and had the sustain pedal twisting it at the low keys end!  Pratt Read used the wood of the hammer/dampener rail as a sort of living hinge, the way plastic is used as a hinge these days. 
A non-intuitive bit of production engineering magic that saved half a dozen parts and probably got a lot of these actions in schools winning with the low bid all across the nation.
I gave up reassembly there; will take some large tie wraps out to the country the next trip, and maybe a piece of micarta/garolite/textolite/Nema CE material to make a sleeve to hold the hammer/dampener rail together to the whippen mount rail at the right end.  I don't have the production tooling Pratt Read had to hold these parts in alignment as the glue sets, and may not like the results of my first position guess anyway.  I certainly didn't like the hammers all hitting the upper wood rail instead of the strings, on my second try. 
So far zero dollars out, except the $90 U-haul rental.  I practiced the dull spongy Wurlitzer spinet out there Saturday night; I'm really looking forward to having a brilliant sounding piano, and perhaps one that feels tight in the action, although who really knows about one built like this.  At least it is not a drop action spinet. 
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iansinclair
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« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2017, 01:44:32 AM »

Who knew?  Delightful!  Amazing sometimes what people come up with.  The sleeve idea for alignment may work well... then again.  Do keep in mind the old carpenter's adage: there's no such thing as too many clamps -- you might be able to use little ones to hold things in place in such a way that you can try the action before the glue has a chance to set?

You don't like drop action spinets? aww... neither do I.
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Ian
indianajo
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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2017, 02:37:22 AM »

There is about 3/16" of wood rails to the right of the vertical strut on the high keys end where I could clamp them together.  Else I would have used the big channl-locks with the huge rubber bands around the handle to clamp them already.  The wood clamps the organ installer uses down at St. Paul's to build wind flues have ends about 5/8" wide so I won't be buying any of those.  Sheet metal has the tensile strength but could cut into a soft hardwood rail.  I have 1/8" thick Nema CE material (canvas phenolic) which machines really fast with a file or rasp and should be wide enough to not cut into the wood rails.  I could screw the two wood rails together, at the right end, from top to bottom, but that seems a bit drastic for a start.   Funny, the left end rod that pushes the dampner/hammer mount rail lever is not constrained by any hole in the deck, like other pianos around.  The negative of this twisting rail design might be that precision of application of the dampeners may not be as precise as actions with separate hammer and dampener rails connected by real hinges.  TBD.  I checked the speed of this York action before I accepted the donation but did not actually play any pieces on it. 
I like the feel of the Baldwin Acrosonic spinets in various fellowship halls around, but this Wurlitzer spinet I bought 2 years ago for $50 has a spongy feel at the bottom of key travel,  and is noticeably slow.  Baldwin Acrosonic spinets go for about $200 up even in today's market.  Salvation Army loaded this Wurlitzer in the U-haul with a forklift two years ago, which saved me from begging for a helper until I got out to the country where I am the volunteer church pianist (and can call on some favors).  Unfortunately all the helpers are age 70+. 
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