Sunday, January 2, 2011

Piano Repair

This afternoon I spent a few hours at the local church working on the piano.  The piano is a 1950s or 60s Baldwin upright.  It looks like a basic piano that you might see in an elementary school class room.  AnnMarie plays it on during Sunday church services and it gets used once in while when we have regional conferences at the church. 

Over the years I have gotten to know this piano rather well.  When the church burned a few years back the piano survived, but barely.  The piano got hot enough to melt the plastic tops ("ivories") off the keys.  After the scorching heat it then sat outside for a few weeks in the rain and wind while the church reconstruction was being organized.   It was in pretty rough shape, but I decided to try and rescue it.

I moved it to our house and spent the next few years slowly learning about pianos and restoring it.  I had to take apart the entire action to clean the rust out and readjust all the linkages.  I then figured out how to tune it and finally finished the project by giving it a new paint job.

This afternoon I was gluing a few of the key tops back on.  The glue that I used in the restoration did not stick to the plastic very well.  Every year a few of the tops pop off and I have to stick them back on.  I think the glue that I am using now will hold better.


  1. I remember that you spoke about this when I visited Brevig last. This is a fascinating story - and the photographs help.

    What intrigues me is that a disastrous accident, the fire, created this opportunity for you to innovate - giving you this unusual area of expertise (or at least familiarity) that you wouldn't have had otherwise. Life is extremely interesting - to those alert enough to find the challenges that it presents us with.

    Glad you posted this!

    Paul Hamilton

  2. This is a great example of how most Americans don't understand the concepts of being 'green' Most Americans would have thrown this piano away and found a new one for the Church. But when shipping a piano to a remote village is so expensive it makes more sense to repair it.

    I applaud your use of "reuse" from the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle" Rather than letting this piano go to waste.