An action (whether upright or grand) consists of over 4000 working parts not including the keys, strings or any other parts. Most of these are wool felts and bushings that are highly susceptible to moisture, moth and roach infestation, (see Piano Doctor article: Roaches, Rodents and Rugrats). In addition, these parts wear with age necessitating repairs.
New hammers are necessary when the grooves from playing a piano cut too deep to resurface.
Sometimes it is better to replace hammers along with their shanks and flanges.
Likewise, when many repairs are needed within the heart of the action, usually from years of neglect, entire whippen assemblies may need to be replaced.
Many points of contact should be lubricated with graphite, dag-graphite of center pin lubricant. Once all the repairs are completed the keys may be leveled and the action regulated.
I. Action Repair
In our first gallery, you will see (1) Frederic “Ric” Sterry Smith working of the action and beginning the repair of the ivory keys. (2) Dressing upright shanks for new hammers.
Working on the let-off rail. (3) Freeing let-off screws. (4) Lubricating let-off rail with Teflon.
(5) A close-up of the new and old hammer rail showing cracks. (6) Replacing the felt.
Working on the restoration of a Steinway “O” action. (7) Replacing hammers, shanks and flanges. (8) Replacing key bushings.
II. Damper Repair
(1) Installing new Dampers. (2) Rebushing damper guide rail. (3) Removing dampers. (4) Replacing Damper felts.
III. Hammer Repair
Chickering & Sons Restoration: The hammers before (1) and the new hammers installed (2). New hammers ready for adjustment (3).
Shilling Upright Restoration: Preparing the upright hammer shanks (4-8). And finally, strings ready to tune after the action has been rebuilt (9).
Steinway “O” Restoration: Replacing hammers, shanks and flanges (10).
Traveling and trueing grand hammers by section (11). Traveling bass hammer shanks (12).
IV. Regulating the Action
Restoring a Schilling & Son’s Upright: (1) Adjusting drop and after-touch. (2) Adjusting let-off and wink. (3) Regulating Mason A3 action.
Vertical Regulation – Leveling the keys of a spinet.
V. Zapping the Rail