Reconditioning the Action and Keyboard of a 1920 Heintzman Upright
Before I begin, let's clear up some terminology. Reconditioning is a restoration that renews a piano (or parts of a piano) by cleaning and/or repairing the existing parts. It may also involve replacement of some of the parts. Rebuilding is a restoration that replaces whole mechanisms.
For example: In the following piano, if I put all new parts in the action, that would be rebuilding. Instead, I replaced the worn parts only. Most of the action is original. That's reconditioning.
Here's a photo essay describing the steps in restoring a beautiful old piano's playability.
(You can click on a picture to enlarge and zoom in.)
Here's the keyboard as it arrived in the shop. The green tape is holding the Ivories that have become completely un-glued. (Most of the ivory key tops are loose.)
There's a photo missing here: After cleaning, the black keys are greyish because the oils have been removed. To make tham black again, I rub them down with a solution made from Vinegar and steel wool. This process is called pickling. It is a time-honoured way of staining woods without using a stain.
If you use a black stain on the sharps, you then have to lacquer them. It looks good at first, but after the finish wears off through playing, it looks terrible. Pickling works on a chemical level - it last for decades, yet it doesn't actually stain anything. The solution is clear! (excuse the pun.)
The next step is to replace the red felt key bushings. The bushings allow the key to move, but keep them from wobbling side-to-side.
The process is then repeated for the Front Rail Bushing underneath the key.
Now, on to the Action:
NEXT: Stay tuned for the Finale!