OK, it's kinda rare I get kinda, uh, semi-stumped, but...
Mid 1880's Mathushek square, original strings. Family heirloom with quite a bit of sentimental value, so owner not upgrading, but owner not rich either, so no full restoration happening either. Budget is what it is, so lots of cheating and shortcuts and stuff ignored to fit results into the cash available. Owner knows ALL that, no issues with less than 5-star work as it were. Given no other tech within 200 miles will even look at it, not worried about my (deliberately, cuz budget) lackluster workmanship being judged.
This is a TINY PETITE thing, like half the size of my Steinway square. I can lift up one end easily, and I'm no bodybuilder. 85 notes, low C to high C. Excruciatingly small soundboard, like, damn, where's the soundboard? OH, THERE IT IS. Longest bass string barely 60 inches, then they get shorter FAST. ALL the strings are noticeably short, like sub-spinet short. Tuning pins measured at somewhere around a #0, less than a #1. Surprisingly tight pins, so a set of standard #2's will probably be too tight on some.
Got to micrometering the old wires, and huh, what?
First off lots of rust and corrosion, so measurements I assume a bit on the high side. Even so, when I got to the high treble, even after cleaning the rust off to be sure, I found not one (original) wire to be less than a 14 1/2 gauge, even on high C. These strings are ALL super duper short.
Plain wires go far into the bass section, lowest wire is a 24! Just that one, then a 23, then a 22, then a 21, one note each of each gauge. Then it settles down into like a JILLION each of the whole gauges, no half sizes, until up in the high end where it peters out with a slew of 14 1/2s.
The strings are so short and grow longer going down so imperceptibly, I'm wondering if there IS any point in throwing some half gauges in there (outa habit mostly). And I assume that the super shortness of the stringing scale generally lends itself to having unusually thick wires across the piano.
The owner just wants improvement so she can get back to her Beethoven and Chopin, and there's 0% risk of her ever noticing any harmonic weirdness if'n I screw this up.
All the same, I'm allergic to screwing up on principle, so I'm all ears as to how to proceed.
Dupe the old scale, shift things to thinner wires, throw in some half gauges so there's not 15 notes at one gauge in a row, what?
This ain't going in a concert hall y'all, so ya all don't have to be all Adrian Monk about this.