Why “re-imagining”? Because this piano has two faults which I am going to correct.
1) It was built to be a true butterfly, but, because of the onset of the depression, they cheapened out a bit, and didn’t add the hinge in the wings. It was intended to be that way though, so that’s what I’m going to do.
2) It was “Rebuilt” (and I use that term VERY loosely) by a previous (ahem) handy man, who not only did things wrong, he did them so wrong that the piano probably couldn’t be tuned when he was done. He made a new pinblock, but not only shaped it completely incorrectly, but drilled all the tuning pin holes at a reverse angle (more on this later).
Heintzman #83002 arrived at the shop showing all the signs of eighty years of use and abuse in a Toronto High School. The case, of course, was quite damaged from years of being shoved unceremoniously into walls and through double-doors.
There are no castors (wheels). they had been removed sometime previously so that the piano could be fitted with a spider dolly or tripod. The lid is off, because the hinges had been ripped off, damaging the case as well as the lid.
Some of this damage can be seen here. This might be partly moving damage. Some movers remove the lid before moving, so that when the piano is on its’ side on a skid, the lid doesn’t interfere with the skid. Others let the lid hang over the side of the skid. More than likely, it’s a combination of many moves, and 80 years of wear and tear.
The original Ivory Keytops are long gone. These are probably the third set of keytops this piano has had, judging by the large gaps between each key. These tops are made of plastic, and are discolored, chipped, and many are
The action has been very damaged. Hammers are missing, shanks are broken off, and many other action parts are broken or missing. a few keys are broken, and many have been previously broken are repaired improperly.
This key for instance, has been obviously fixed on-site using school glue, with a piece of lined paper for reinforcement.
Many hammer shanks were found to be broken. some had been “repaired” at some point using glue and wrapped with masking tape. Some of the shanks and hammers have been moved into other positions, scavenging some of the higher notes to make the mid-range playable. The hammers are also very worn. Some of them are nearly worn flat. You may have noticed that one key is longer than the others in this picture (You can see the back of the keys on the right of the hammers covered in purple felt). This key has snapped in the middle and is wedged under the action.
At the fulcrum point in the center of each key, a Balance Rail Button embraces a pin with felt, keeping the key from wobbling side to side. As you see here, one key is broken at this point, and others have a extra piece of felt added on top of the old felt to stabilize the key (In a proper repair, the old felt would have been removed first).
At some point in its’ long life, the cracks in the soundboard were repaired. These repairs have failed partly because of age and abuse, and partly because they were probably installed in semi-humid conditions. The soundboard eventually lost humidity, and the shims became loose. The Soundboard is also loose around it’s edge.
These are just a few of this Piano’s many problems.
The new pinblock installed. (The black line on the edge is graphite grease used to fit the leading edge of the pinblock to a flange on the plate.)
After repairs to the case were made, the bare wood was sealed and sanded, and many coats of lacquer applied until the case is smooth and shiny. This top coat will be hand rubbed down to produce the classic Satin finish seen on concert instruments.
The soundboard has been completely rebuilt. I had planned originally to replace the board, but after I took a close look, I decided to keep it and repair it. It still has a long life ahead of it.
It’s shiny now, but soon, it will be handed rub down to a satin sheen.
The finished (Refinished) Case parts stored on a rack.
The refinished Fallboard with the Classic Heintzman Decal.
"Always keep your piano in tune! All Piano Manufacturers will tell you the same thing: Every Piano should be tuned at least twice a year. This is especially important in Canada where we experience drastic changes in temperature and humidity between summer and winter."
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