[ John A. Tuttle wrote in 070814 MMDigest:
> So, now comes the matter of how to resolve the situation. Even using
> the numbers from ten years ago, there's still over $4000 worth of work
> that needs to be done before the instrument is back in one piece. The
> deceased owner already paid me $5500 for the complete restoration of
> the Duo-Art system, the installation of new hammers and shanks, the
> regulation of the action, the purchase and initial cutting of a new pin
> block, the cleaning and refinishing of the soundboard and reconditioning
> of the plate, and the purchase of the new bass strings and nickel-plated
> tuning pins.
> It was at that point that I required more money to continue with the
> boring of the block and the restringing of the piano. And, with no
> money forthcoming, I stopped working, figuring that when they were
> ready, they'd call me. ... They never called, and, as I was led to
> believe that no one in the family had an interest in the piano,
> I didn't press the matter.
A few thoughts, thoroughly inexpert:
I think you'll need the attorney in any case. A lot of this has to
do with how the original contract, if any, was worded, or what the
original agreement would have been. I assume that the price was not
firm; that you were entitled to go back and ask for additional funds
as the project progressed.
If the owners are going to be stiff about it, your lawyer (and the
owner's lawyer, if they have one) will talk to another restorer to get
his opinion as to (1) whether the work you've already done was competent
and (2) how much work and money would be necessary to complete the job.
Then the judge would make a ruling based on those opinions.
If you can possibly settle this in a friendly way, that would be the
best. First of all, you'll have to find out whether they want the piano
or not, and whether they want the reproducing portion of it to work.
I'll bet that they don't care a lot about the Duo-Art part of the thing,
and of course that's what you've already restored. Tell them that you
feel that the piano is a work of art, and that it deserves to be
restored, but that costs have risen drastically. Offer the materials