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Joined: Jan 2022
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Jacn Offline OP
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Hello everyone, I've recently acquired a 1978 Yamaha W101 and would like to bring this back to its former glory.
I understand a W101 is meant to be a good piano back in those days but of course time has taken its toll on this fine instrument.
I'm a newbie in piano and my daughter is starting out with lessons on it. I've taken some photos and a video of my daughter playing on it, i'm hoping to get advice and opinion from piano experts on this forum to guide me on how I should proceed with next steps in reviving this piano.

Photos attachments are shared here.

[color:#CC0000]Links For Photos and Video[/color]

Video clip is shared here.

W101 playing



Some things I know so far:
(1) All the hammer butt flange silk loops have broken off due to time and I need to replace these. Would anyone recommend me replacing the strings if i clean them off one by one and reglue using PVA glue by following some youtube videos ? I just have to do this 88 times. Some springs are a bit bent too, do I have to replace them or just adjustment them would be ok?

(2) The bridle straps' leather ends are breaking if i remove the leather straps and the actual straps look like they may need to be replaced due to age. Would it be ok to buy clip on straps and remove the old ones? but how do I make sure 88 of the new straps would be installed at the correct position on the hammer shank to ensure then final length of the straps are correct and would work properly ?

(3) The hammer heads don't appear to have very deep grooves but look and feel a bit fluffy, the hammers head's spacing appear to be a bit big for some of them. A few hammer heads in the middle section when striking the 3 strings for a note appear to only strike the 2 left strings rather than all 3 strings.

(4) The strings look good overall and with virtually no sign of rust

(5) Tuning pins have a bit of rust on them

(6) The piano sound mellow rather than bright and not as loud as I thought, i'm unsure the reason

I haven't yet had this piano tuned, regulated or voiced yet, I used a free tuning app and it appears that the keys on average are 4-10 cents flat. My thoughts are to save some money, i'd replace all flange cords, bent springs and bridle straps myself and then get the piano regulated, voiced and tuned. Any comments about my plan?

I'm based in Sydney, Australia, i'm hoping to see what everyone think based on above info re the piano is it worthwhile for me to spend the time and money to do these repair? Or should I move on to purchase another piano ?

Should I attempt to sand and reshape the heads or should I leave this for hiring a good piano technician/tuner to do ?

If I were to do the full set of flange cord and bridle strap replacements myself, what type of cost or time would be if I hire a technician/tuner to do the regulation, voicing and tuning? I'd really appreciate everyone's thoughts and thank you in advance.

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Have the tech come now and tune it, then also to give their assessment of what it needs and what it costs. Just tuning a piano reveals a lot about it to a tech…I wouldn’t wait on that part (for the sake of your daughter, who probably wants to practice on it daily).


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Jacn Offline OP
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Thank you very much terminaldegree for your valuable comment. My daughter also has a Yamaha CVP-205 digital piano she’s able to practice on. The W101 only just arrived 3 days ago and my initial thought is that if I can get some of the more visible and possibly more costly repairs done by myself then to ask the tech to do the tuning voicing and regulation it might be more economical perhaps rather than several more appointments with the tech ? Just had a look in my area a good tech charges $230AUD for a regular tune, plus $115 for a pitch raise and repair/voicing/regulation is also charged at $115 per hr so it can be rather costly. Anyway I’m looking forward to more thoughts from you and everyone!

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Right, but you ostensibly don't have any experience diagnosing or repairing acoustic pianos. Bring the tech in to tune it in a week, and just get their assessment of what else it needs, and a sort of line item list of what it would cost. You're not "on the hook" for anything besides the cost of tuning the piano and diagnosing it, and then you would have a more definitive list (from an expert point of view) of what its needs are.

I am one of the less experienced techs who posts in this forum, having only been at this in a part-time capacity for ~6 years. The first few years I was working alongside a mentor semi-regularly, and read a lot of quality repair guides and talk to more experienced techs often. Reshaping hammers is absolutely, definitely not something I'd recommend you do without trying first on several sets of hammers on "trash" pianos where it doesn't matter how badly you do (and under the supervision by someone that does it regularly). It is also pretty easy to ruin things in a hurry with voicing if you're not really conservative in your approaches. Doing basic regulation work (after needed repairs, like those broken silk cords) on a vertical piano is something you can do yourself, up to a point, and with the correct tools. Of course, it's your property, you can do as you wish...these are just my opinions.

Here's a thread that talks about the W101. The more substantive stuff is from a now retired store owner who imported a lot of them over the years:
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/286885.html

To get this piano repaired properly and working at its best would be a significant step up for your daughter, after playing on a 20 year old digital piano. My first attempts at tuning, voicing, regulating, and repairs were not (in retrospect) all that good...


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Jacn Offline OP
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Thank you for your sage advice terminaldegree, this definitely sounds like someone who’s very experienced in these types of work. I’d definitely leave the proper voicing and regulation work plus tuning to the experts and engage an initial tune in a couple of weeks and give me some opinion and diagnoses re the piano repair.

About my original post for the flange loop and bridle strap replacement would there be any specific tips or techniques you or anyone can share to make it easier for me ?

Also, how does one determine if hammer heads reshaping is required ?

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You really need to postpone any decision on voicing until the action is working as it should....from your description I imagine that the regulation is probably all over the place and will be all over the place until the bridle tapes and flange loops have been sorted out. Replacing straps and loops really isn't a difficult job, just work carefully and methodically, a section at a time, and don't forget to number parts before you take them off. Clip-on bridle tapes are not a good option if you're replacing a whole set, use the ordinary type and use the existing tapes to determine the length that you need to cut them to; this will give you a nice even look to your back-checks and save you most of the bother of regulating the back-check wires. While you're at it, get a bottle of CLP and treat any sluggish centre pins that you find.

Once you've done this, get somebody in to regulate the action and tune the piano, and only then start to think about voicing.


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Hi Jean thank you for your reply. I did post some photos and video to show piano’s play In the original post if interested.

When you say Clip-on bridle tapes are not a good option if you're replacing a whole set is it possible to be a bit more specific please ? I’m rather visual and would there be like a video or a photo to help me to understand pls ? Also would ordinary PVA glue be ok to glue the bridle straps ?

Also is CLP like PTFE or Teflon powder ? Where’s centre pin you are suggesting I lubricate pls ?

With the flange loop replacement I’m thinking of using braided fishing line and glue it with PVA glue after cleaning the old broken silk from the old flange. Would this work ? Or am I better off using like cotton needling strings ?

Also with some of the bent flange return springs, would I need to replace those and if so what tools do I need or can I try to re-bend the springs back to shape ?


Sorry for my many questions, I’m here to learn.

Thanks

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I should also clarify my question re the clip on strap replacement. Could I understand more re the disadvantage of them vs glue on straps ? Wouldn’t I be able to adjust the clip on where it’ll be secured onto the shank length of the strap to match ? Thanks

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The clip-on bridle straps tend to come loose and rattle, unless you glue them on.

What you do with this piano depends on the results that you want. I find that if you have to take a substantial amount of felt off the hammers, the geometry of the action changes so much that it is difficult regulate properly. Grand actions compensate for the loss of felt better than uprights. If the hammers have been filed once, chances are the next time they wear significant grooves, it is better to replace the hammers, and at the same time, the hammer butts, so you get new springs, loops, and bridle straps. But the parts alone are pricy. Whether it is worthwhile compared to replacing the piano depends on economic factors which vary from person to person, and piano to piano.


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Thanks BDB, from my photos do the hammers appear that they have been reshaped before or is there a specific way to tell ?

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Just a quick update that I’ve done the first two flange cord replacement using braided fishing lines following some guides and YouTube videos. Thanks for the advice so far.


https://www.dropbox.com/sh/3dnq75wggkubs8i/AADWqNM8W8QL3nbtuCCu8_9Ja?dl=0

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A few inputs from my perspective as a non-professional who has done much DIY himself, but under guidance and with reference works.

1) I don't think those hammers are in urgent need of filing, especially if you are satisfied with the current tone. They do seem to have a lot of meat left, though. I wouldn't be surprised if they've never been filed. So as far as I can see a filing should not pose a problem of removing too much material. Either way, filing needn't be at the top of your to-do list.
2) If you don't plan on filing them, then try to keep their grooves mated to the strings. Rather than removing the whole hammer assembly, I'd look for a method to replace the butt spring cords without removing the butt flanges from the action rail. (See 3) This way, when you re-fasten the hammer butts to the flanges, the hammer grooves will more or less automatically be aligned to the strings. Don't over-tighten the butt plates. Just snug. Otherwise you just run the risk of crushing or splitting the wood of the butt.
3) Once you have removed the hammers from the flanges, you should be able to replace the cords on the flanges while they are inside the action. Removing the hammer rest rail will give you more space to work.
4) Take care not to wick any glue into the part of the cord that needs to bend, i.e. apply glue only to the lower half or three quarters of the groove.
5) While the hammers are out of the action anyway, you could use the opportunity to replace the bridle straps. Use the originals as a reference, and to check for adjustment, when you move the hammer rest rail forward towards the strings (using the left pedal) by about one third to half the blow distance, make sure that there is at least a minimum of slack, so that none of the bridle straps lifts a wippen.
5) The butt springs can normally be bent back into shape, working gently and avoiding any sharp kinks. I've found it best working them by hand, using a gentle massaging motion.


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Thank you Mark R. for your reply and valuable input. I'm wondering is there some kind of video to show how the flange cord replacement could be done without taking the action out ? I've taken note of your suggestion to use the just right amount of glue, i've just used the Elmer's white student glue which is a type of PVA glue per my research and i hope this will last, the braided fishing line appear to be adequate for this job.

A further update, I checked the bridle straps and they are actually ok, i just have to replace the tabs with some press on nylon.

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Oh, you certainly do take the action out.
You just don't take the flanges out of the action.

One or two of the techs here had videos showing this, but I didn't make a note of where to retrieve them...

Essentially, after removing the action, you loosen the butt plate screws (using a thin action screwdriver in-between the damper levers), remove the butts from the flanges (you can keep the bridles connected, so that the hammers dangle from their bridles, or you can remove the bridles and store the hammers in the correct sequence), then turn the action so that the dampers face you, tip it down towards you, so that its lying down on the damper side (*), and you have access to the flanges from the "top" of the action. Now you scrape the cord residues out and glue new ones in.

* Use a cradle or other supports to keep the dampers off your workbench.


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Originally Posted by Jacn
A further update, I checked the bridle straps and they are actually ok, i just have to replace the tabs with some press on nylon.

My understanding is that there is a generic problem with Yamaha bridal straps of that age rotting and they would normally all be replaced with new when any reconditioning work was undertaken - even if they had not yet failed. One of our technicians here might know better but I would suggest that if you are going to the trouble of doing this work it might be much better to use new materials than just re-glue them.


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