1885 Victorian-style Knabe grand, 7’6″

In about 1998 I was contacted by an auction company in Bangor, Maine, regarding this amazing piece which, I seem to remember, was part of an estate sale for a large Victorian home on Maine’s central coast. I trucked the piano to my shop, where it sat for over ten years untouched, as I looked at it and wondered if I had made a mistake. Victorian pieces are generally difficult to rebuild because they predated a number of changes in design that occurred around the turn of the 20th century. When faced with either having to throw it away or rebuild it, I chose the latter, with the happy result pictured below.

Massive front leg, showing the ornate carvings that must be meticulously stripped, sanded, stained and refinished.

Details of the right cheek block, some of which is missing and will have to be fabricated.

This detail is supposed to be on both sides of the rim, on either side of the keyboard.

Here is the view of the other side, which is damaged or missing. This will have to have to be replaced somehow.

The massive iron plate has been removed.

Plate laid out on the shop floor.

Close-up of some of the plate detail.

Another close-up plate view.

A view of the “action” or mechanical workings of the piano. Many of these parts are in bad shape & must be replaced.

View of the hammers and shanks, ALL of which must go.

Another view. Get my point?

Keyboard view. The white key tops will be removed and replaced; the sharps will be cleaned.

Soundboard and pin block with the plate removed.

Cracks in the soundboard are opened up to a “V” shape and new v-shaped shims are glued in. Now, the shims are being cut off and will be planed and sanded level with the board.

Remember the damaged detail area on the rim? Here is a photo of the GOOD side, which must be reversed so I can trace it onto the other side.

Using the reversed photo, I traced it in pencil on translucent paper, then used a razor knife to transfer the design to a piece of wood. I then carved the design, using a Dremel tool, into the new wood.

Original wood action parts before replacement.

Installing new Wessel, Nickel & Gross carbon fiber action parts.

Installing new key capstans (back of keys, in background) to replace the obsolete “key rockers.”

Keys with new white key tops.

The new action parts are designed to make retro-fitting into an old action as easy as possible — but still not easy!

“New” action, including new key tops, whippets, hammer shanks and hammers, ready to go into the piano.

Stringing the piano.

Stringing – another view.

New strings with dampers installed.

Another view.

Wide view of new strings and restored plate.

Another view.

Back view of the new strings.

Detail view of refinished detail work.

Newly restored piano ready to go.

Beautiful fallboard with newly restored keys.