I’ve taken on an action rebuilding project recently. The piano is a Steinway model L from the 40’s. The piano is being rebuilt by my friends and fellow PTG members Jim and Amy Tiernan of Dog House Pianos. I specialize in action work, tuning and voicing and am happy to have somebody else do the heavy work of replacing a pinblock and repairing bridges.
Read on if you’re interested in technical subjects.
I find this work very rewarding and enjoyable. Modern piano parts are made with great precision (mostly) and getting a piano action to function correctly after replacing all the parts is quite a satisfying feeling. The opposite is also true: not being able to get new parts to function correctly is quite frustrating and time consuming.
It seems so simple, right? While the components such as whippens and hammershanks are in many ways better then the parts produced 70 years ago, felt is a notoriously variable material. , Replacing critical pieces like the backrail felt on a keybed can be a process of deciding which direction you want to error because no combination of materials is going to give you the exact same dimension as is on there right now.
I’m fairly well through the process on this one and while the ultimate test has not yet been made (actually fitting the action inside the piano) I have a good feeling.