Loose Tuning Pins
By Craig Brougher
|At the risk of sounding like a "hack," I must respectfully disagree with Charles Flaum and Tom Steuer on the merits of PinTite, but I have proof that what they claim about this particular product is mistaken.|
First of all, I really appreciate the willingness of rebuilders to stand up for what they feel is right and explain what they know is wrong. Unless we know what won't work, then we don't have any more than a personal preference to go on. This is what I feel both men were doing, and I like that.
However, what they may not have realized about PinTite is that it is an entirely different formulation from most of the pin tighteners sold today, which consist of basically glycerine and a non-lubricated antifreeze or other alcohol. PinTite is a solution of resins found in wood which are actually deposited permanently into the pin plank and gradually harden. It is definitely permanent.
A brochure is actually available from PinTite explaining the difference, and how it works over time. I use PinTite for pin driving fluid. Have been using it now for about 31 years. My own instruments have it, and every new pin plank I install has it, which amounts to every single grand I have ever restored in the last 25 years, not to mention other things which are hard to tune, like nickelodeons, orchestrions, Violanos, etc. In every case, the instrument was made practically impermeable to room fluctuations, but you have to do it right. There is a wrong way to go about it.
PinTite is very expensive (perhaps $16/bottle), so a few tuners around this area keep their PinTite bottle filled up with ethylene glycol, which is, as Tom and Charles said, the best way I know of to ruin a plank permanently. But it looks good when you think you're getting PinTite. It is too bad that some tuners think that all pin plank restorers are called PinTite. Herein lies most of the problem.
The worst thing that can be done to a grand is to pound the pins down into an old, dry plank when they start getting loose. Unless the piano action is removed and the old plank supported very well, this will destroy the plank every single time by cracking it through its laminations. It is _far worse_ to pound pins than even to use the so-called pin tightener fluids, because you cannot repin after pins have been pounded without support. By pounding pins, you have totally destroyed the integrity of the plank, and although it seems to have helped in the short run, momentarily, it has ruined the piano in almost every case in which the plank wasn't supported.
So as long as we are talking about the dangers of PinTite, I thought I'd just throw that in too, since not even PinTite or new oversize pins can resurrect a tuner's demolition job. I have rebuilt hundreds of grands, and in _every_ case, when the pins had been pounded, the removed plank had been delaminated to one degree or another, and always in the low tenor section.
Unless you can keep a piano in tune, it is worthless. There is a time and place for PinTite, which happens to be the only product of its kind, and cannot be knowledgeably lumped together with the field of witches' brews called "pin plank restorers." I strongly suggest educating yourself about PinTite before you throw the baby out with the bathwater.
[ Is there more than one brand name for this chemical? Is "Pin-Tite"
[ a generic term or a brand? How can one confirm that the product
[ contains resins, and is not simply glycol ? -- Robbie
(Message sent Sat 1 Mar 1997, 13:52:07 GMT, from time zone GMT.)