Thursday, March 05, 2009

There's a Bad Smell Around

Today, work gave me a headache. Yesterday, a box of keys showed up at the door. Unannounced. New client, no advance call or email. They just showed up. I hauled the box down stairs to the workshop and unpacked the keys. Eeeew. Smelled bad. Like rotted citrus. Reminded me of the odor from our garbage can when we had gathered the fallen fruit from our orange trees in Florida...after a week in the sun, closed in that garbage can.

These keys had been doused with something that someone thought would be a lubricant. An oily, smelly mess. This is a key bushing job. Whatever they had poured all over the bushings had hardened them (rather than lubricating) and had made them impervious to my usual soak out method of removal. Steam didn't work either. Eventually, I had to cut the bushing cloth out of the mortises and carefully 'file size' the holes to uniformity. Then I set about rebushing, all the while breathing through my mouth. Couldn't stand to be working over them and breathing normally. I'll be extremely glad to be rid of them on Friday. The odor has permeated half the workshop air space. Nasty.

This afternoon I went out to revisit a piano that I have condemned four times in the past six months. The owners are having a hard time accepting the fact that it is shot. Not worth a rebuild. It needs replacement. I understand their dilemma of cash flow, but I can only do so much. Today's appointment is due to a string whose pin will no longer hold string tension. I CA'd the terribly loose pin. Twice. It's still iffy. Really the entire piano could use the treatment, (although there would be no guarantees) but it's winter and the CA fumes are horrible. The window needs to be open and a fan exhausting the fumes. It'll have to wait until warmer weather. That is, if they haven't bought a replacement!

It was good to get out in the fresh air. Both getting out of the stinky workshop and then getting out of the CA smell near the customer's piano. (That should dissipate within an hour)

Good thing for all of you that I can't add odor to my blog! Of course, then you'd really be able to appreciate my smelly day.

It's predicted to be a warmer day on Friday. I think I'll get out for an afternoon walk in the fresh air!


Annette said...

I must admit I don't know a lot about piano keys, but they look awful.You can almost smell them.

deb said...

When a potential customer asks about shopping for a used piano, one piece of advice I give is that neatness speaks a lot for the condition, care and quality. know more about piano keys than you think!

Kippers Dickie said...

Hi Deb,
This sounds as if someone had used citrous aroma-therapy oil!!!!
I still use an old candle to lubricate wood on wood.
Can I ask what is CA is? Haven't heard of that here in UK.
On the subject of reed organs....I have just had to part friends with my make space. I think it was "Chicago Cottage Organs" or something like that. I posted a picture on my blog before I said Goodbye.
All the best Bernard

deb said...

CA = Cyanoacrylate Adhesive

Layman's terms, super glue.

The purpose is NOT to glue the tuning pins in the pinblock, but to reconstitute the wood fiber surrounding them thus creating more friction between pin and wood. The super thin variety (like water)of the above adhesive is wicked in to the pinblock at the point where the pin and block meet. Very little is required per pin. Not very effective for delaminated blocks or cracked blocks. (The piano mentioned is a Murdock & Sons, built in London.)

Kippers Dickie said...

Thanks deb,
I didn't realise that the pins on a piano were straight sided. On the harp I built the tuning pins are tapered and I had to buy a special reamer for them. Of course with a taper they are self adjusting.