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I have a basket case of an upright grand. This model is larger than the K and is stamped upright grand string frame and dates from 1910 - so model I or model R. The issue is some previous tech had their way with it and rebuilt it. I do not have the story but it does not play. The keys rub against the action bracket, the topmost treble strings play above the capo...a real mess. I think the best course may be to start over, but not having worked on this model I'd love if someone could send me some pictures of the action to understand what the deal is. It's weird enough that I wonder if someone just stuck the action/keys from another piano in here. Anyone have pics of the insides of one of these?

Thanks & Best,
j

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If you could post a picture of what you have there it would help
Nick


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Was it dropped, and the keybed has shifted slightly?


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It may be that the keyboard and bed have been removed to get it through a doorway. They are a very deep piano.
I've done some of these and getting it back together properly requires proper knowledge of the model.
Nick

Last edited by N W; 02/27/22 11:14 AM.

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I will update with more info as I get it.

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Nick, to answer, the whole piano was disassembled and refinished. The refinishers are well known but run a very busy shop. I am inclined to think there was a mix up with the keys and action from another piano. Too many things don't add up. A short version of this story: I bought it from a family moving and the case was horrendous but overall it had the makings of a nice piano rebuilt, at least from my recollection of the visit which was all of ten minutes.

I was in touch with a long standing shop to refinish it and in exchange for a good rate, it took forever to be completed. It was a long time ago and having only been with the piano for ten minutes, I have no ability to know what the story is with the action. If they tell me this is the action that came out of it, I cannot say they are wrong. However in its current shape, that seems impossible to me. The entire action looks newer but done by someone who didn't know what they were doing....hammer shanks to the right of the bass break are curved down the length of the shank(!!!) and not drilled into hammer butt on an angle. Looking at the dampers, guessing they are 20 years old, both sides of the bichord damper felt have even and consistent grooves in them indicating they lived their life properly between the bichords. Almost all of the action is about 1/2" to the right so bichord dampers aren't even close to resting between the bichord strings - the damper left side is resting on the outside of the right string....and of course the hammers are all off. Its so bizarre and were it not for the reputation and energy of the proprietor, I would immediately assume they were taking advantage of me. He and I need to have a chat.

Last edited by jkess114; 02/27/22 12:39 PM.
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before you have that chat, you will want to find a technician (preferably a rebuilder) to assess the piano for you. That is, a knowledgeable person will tell what exactly is going on in the piano and ideally, write up a detailed report for you. Otherwise, you will be at a disadvantage in any conversation with the refinisher, even if your own observations are accurate..


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Thank you sir William. If you are suggesting I bring another tech in here to validate and support my findings, I don't think it is necessary.
I can rebuild the action, that is not the issue. I have learned a valuable lesson about documentation before I send anything into be refinished. The issue is I spent no time with the instrument prior to sending it in and it was a long time ago. He is a kindly sir and I think the simple proof of pictures showing there is no way this can be the action that came out of the piano is enough to remedy the situation, whatever that may be. Did it get swapped with another action....did one of the adjacent shops grab my parts by mistake and sort through the issues that incurred for them (there are several shops there in one big building run by different people)? I was inclined to put a WNG action in this which would require reengineering the action anyway, but I thought some pics might help me out in conversing with him, and certainly this is not right. I have an old K twenty feet away from it and have had a number of K's & V's through here for reference, not so with the I or R models and I'm short on experience with them.


Either they can discover what has happened to my parts or not. If not, then we need to have a serious chat about ongoing projects and how they plan to make up to me the considerable extra time they added to this piano resto. It's a bummer for sure.

Last edited by jkess114; 02/27/22 01:42 PM.
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I have done 1 WNG Steinway upright action on a K, the piano plays and feels great, and I would never do another one. Too many battles to fight to make it all work. And the layout of the plate with the full capo disaster bar makes it a royal pain in the ass to work on.

I have an I in my shop, but it is all apart (has been refinished). The mounting brackets are a cup in which the ball foot at the bottom of the stack goes into. Neither are adjustable. They screw into the keybed, the foot of which has two screws. So you may be able to ream out the holes in the feet and move them slightly to better fit. The four bolts at the top are adjustable in and out like most all are, but are often bent so that the action will fit properly, and more so with a Steinway like this because the feet are not adjustable except for shims that might be used under the feet. Long story short, if you have not numbered the bolts and taken measurements, it could become a real mess, which it sounds like you have.

I do think it would be helpful for you to take as many pictures of what you have as you can. That would make any advice you get more likely to be helpful.


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Ditto what Will said. We need to see pictures rather than just a description.

I put a WNG action into what I think is an F (could be an E though...weird thing going on with the serial number...maybe even some other letter). It was a challenge as Will expressed, as the action was not specifically designed for this model but rather the K. However I accomplished it.

Please post as many explanatory pics as you can. Some of us are very familiar with these old models and may be able to help you out.

As an aside, I once acquired an upright that CLEARLY had been worked on by someone who had no piano experience whatsoever. Fortunately I was able to correct it and ultimately made a decent profit on it...but Wow, it's interesting to see what crazy decisions can get made when one does not have knowledge of how these monsters are designed and built.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1pxdQ48T2CCXScY_NIHPC0xAIc5ZatY-X?usp=sharing


Here are some pics to illustrate. If this is the action from this piano it is indeed a mess. I looks to be too far to the right and too high. Ensuring the bracket is seated as low as it will go, the top notes hit the capo and most of the hammers/dampers are landing too far to the right. Also, note the sweet curvature of the tenor hammer shanks :))

I cannot see any reason why this doesn't require starting from scratch so, WNG or not?

Thanks to all.

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Not a steinway action.


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I didn't think it was possible, but you understated how bad things are. The only thing original are the brackets that mount to the keybed. Everything, I repeat everything, above that from the original Steinway action is gone.

What you have is such as mess that there is no realistic hope that it can be made to work and upfront the decision to junk it and start over must be made.

From your descriptions, it seems that you do not know when this great offense took place. You may have no avenue of recourse with the present finisher, he may not be the villain. Or, if he is, a tough road to prove anything

The avenue of recourse for you will be to do a WNG action, it likely is the only viable option. That will be 7 to 10 thousand dollars of work and believe me you won't get within 10 miles of achieving your shop hourly rate on this first WNG action.

It is time to be really cold-blooded about your decision. It may well be that the best decision for this piano is to take your lumps and cancel the project altogether. The cost in time will be great when you could otherwise be doing more profitable projects that don't have the misery and aggravation that will accompany trying to redeem the action. Best to make that decision early.


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So, my take on this is that the previous action got lost or destroyed (or otherwise made unusable) and whoever did this was desperate to just make the thing work somehow...but either threw in the towel, or perhaps was rendered incapable of completing it.

It is on one hand a disaster, but OTOH pretty creative. I see no recourse other than a replacement WNG action. True, you'll never get "paid" for it, but then the experience of installing it and making it work will make the "next" one a lot easier. It can become a demo piano for future clients who need action replacement.

I will say that it looks an awful lot like the inside of my (possibly) model F. Does it measure 54" tall from the floor? It will be quite an interesting project that you will learn from. I certainly did.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Unfortunately, this is a hack job. Someone tried to retro fit another action into this piano. The only way to possibly make this work is to completely disassemble the action and make a new action rail with the correct action scale to match the piano. All the hammer shanks would have to be removed and ........................... so on and so on. You'd have to be well versed in upright action design to even begin to take that on.

The bottom line is the piano needs a new action (WNG) or nothing. There is no in-between. I say WNG because they at least have procedures in place to help you get there. Still, it won't be easy.


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I’m late reading this thread but there is another option that may not be so far out.

Keep your eyes out for the same model piano that needs restoration or may have case or keyboard damage. You probably could get it for a very low cost or even free. Then take the action from that as a base for restoration. These aren’t so rare that you can’t find another.

I know if it were me I’d be looking for a parts donor.


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Bill,

That's not a bad idea, but I have seen 3 or 4 different style actions for these. You would have to make sure you got the right one.


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True, the WNG action is a project to install but I would do it again if there was enough value in the instrument otherwise. Got to make a scale stick and go from there. There should two small holes drilled in the plate to establish the approx strike line. Obviously bass and treble. Drive in some dowels, taut string, and you're ready to measure.

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