Emerson 1895 piano with no capstans

Cedar Mill Piano Tuner lgoss@europa.com
Mon, 03 Jun 1996 19:04:44 -0800

This morning I began work (this was just going to be a tuning and repair of a broken
hammer shaft) on an old Emerson small upright, ser # 50188, and I noticed considerable
lost motion on almost every key.  By "considerable" I mean you could move some keys
as much as perhaps .07" before the jack would begin pushing the hammer butt.   I told
"the lady" that among other things, her piano needs regulating.

I removed the action at one point (to more easily repair the broken hammer) and noticed
something I've never seen before:  at the rear of the keys, where you would normally
expect to see capstans, there were black rectangles of felt, upon which the whippens
rested directly.  Lacking a jack stretcher,  I see no way of adjusting lost motion!

Of course, having said that it occurs to me that perhaps I could simply raise the center
rail.  And this would help the severly bobbling hammers, too, would it not?

This piano lived in the Phillipines for a long time, and was actually taken to a shop there
for "a tuning", according to the owner.   It has numerous newly-replaced strings (and now
that I've started working on it it has a couple more broken ones!), new keys, and was
"antiqued" black.  (Ironic, given the age of the piano.)

Any advice on how to make this piano playable again?  It's 130 cents flat.  The strings
that weren't replaced are PDR  (pretty rusty), there's a  shallow, 4 inch crack in the bridge
cap at the treble end of the bass bridge ("always inspect the piano"  - Randy Potter).
For some reason (probably Phillipine humidity) the pins are tight enough to hold a
tuning.   I've already warned the owner that it's time to start looking  into a cemetery plot
for it, but she really wants to use THIS piano (but she isn't interested in spending a lot of
money on it).

Also, is there any advice on how to avoid getting calls from owners of pianos like this??
<g>   I hate charging people good money for working on junk (although the work is fun!).

Larry Goss in Cedar Mill, Oregon
Dues-paying PTG novitiate (officially,  "Associate", but not "member", since the PTG
absconded with that word.  Lexicographers of common English usage are still
wondering where it went), rare attender of local guild meetings, unmotivated PTG exam
procrastinator, authentic Klutz,  and semi-retired house husband.

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