Using Lunsford-Alden "Pin-Tite"
By Craig Brougher
|Pin-Tite Is a trademark name, and is the only restorer I know of which claims to permanently restore the pin plank, which remains dry and never mushy, which protects and preserves wood, and which will never rot wood or rust metal. You can also use it with nickel-plated pins. There are several other brands, and a house brand made for American Piano Supply Co. is similar to genuine Pin-Tite, in that it is a resin-impregnation system, or so-claimed. I have not used it.|
Pin-Tite (trademark) is made by the Lunsford-Alden Company, 145 Woodbridge Circle, Daytona, FL 32119. Information is available.
It is not difficult to use. Most pianos are ready to tune in 30 minutes or less. Once the job is completed, the piano is a delight to tune, because it smooths out the subsequent tunings, and you are able to just feel the micro-pops as the pin is turned. Makes a great way to raise pitch evenly, say 5c/pop, and then beat in the tune at the key. However, if you are doping an upright, you have to lay it on its back.
The greasy dirt around a pin from cooking oils in a home prevent immediate soaking, so to get the material started, it's a good idea to warm it all up with a hairdryer first -- pins and all. That takes a while. Then with a large hypodermic, inject a large standing drop between the pin and the bushing and just let it take its time.
Once wetted, the pins and bushings will thirstily soak up the resins. However, the only thing you're going to get really wet will be the bushing at first. Being end grain, however, once the bushing is soaked, it transfers all the Pin-Tite down to the pin plank, which encircles the pin and begins to soak its way into the plank. At this point, it's a good idea to lay a beach towel on the floor if you haven't done so already, just in case you get a drip or two on your carpet.
Pounding pins in an upright is safer than a grand for two reasons: First, its plank is not as dried out and crispy from long wave heat rising un-diffused for fifty years through the laminations, following the pins, so an upright's plank is always in better shape, just because it lays vertically. Second, the upright plank is protected and supported with a heavy backing board glued directly to it and supported by the timbers, in addition to the plate (usually) in front. Tuners who decide to pound pins on uprights are almost always justified in doing so. But they took the idea too far when they decided there wasn't any problem in doing the same thing to a grand. They demolish them!
When a pin is pounded further into an old, unsupported grand plank, it breaks the plank several ways, just like a karate chop. As it tears the hole, it carries any tight laminations down with it, breaking each subsequent lamination, or popping the glue lines between them. Once the laminations can no longer rely on each other for combined strength, the piano is virtually ruined.
Another way that pin pounding destroys a plank is when the pins have been excessively bent by the tuning lever to "set" them. In every old piano which has been repinned, without exception, if you use a powerful drill motor to remove the old pins, you will notice that many of those pins take the drill motor around in a tight circle as they are being extracted. Those are noticeably bent pins. There are obviously many tuners who don't know the proper way to set a pin, and discovered that they can put a dogleg in a pin after raising pitch and it'll stay better. But when you then pound a bent pin deeper into the plank, you ruin the pin hole eventually, as that pin gets squirmed back and forth.
Never Pin-Tite a grand with the action still on the key tray! You can make quite a mess of things without realizing it. The best way is to dope the pins, both from the top and from the bottom. Cover the bottom of the plank with clear packing tape, very well rubbed and set, and then using a hypodermic #18 needle which you have heated and curved 90 degrees, stab through the tape into each pin hole from below, set the end of the needle between the end of the tuning pin and the hole and fill the remaining hole with Pin-Tite. It will gladly wick up around your pin and create a permanently tight and very tuner-friendly pin. Take your time. Don't rush the job! Be careful, and be conscientious.
Other uses of Pin-Tite for example are when you have to re-pin an action tray, and have some loose centerpins or front rail pins. Just dope each hole before you ever start to drive the pins. Do _not_ do this with a doping solution of glycol. You will ruin the key tray and have to use oversize pins, eventually.
When driving new pins into a new pin plank, Pin-Tite is the way to go. Expect a hard, cracking tuning the first time because the plank's wet. After that, it's like silk. A pin-driving fluid allows a much easier pinning, much less trauma against the plank laminations, a permanent, stabilized pin hole, great evenness from bass to treble, and wonderfully smooth tunings. It's one of the nice things I do for myself. Pin-Tite is worth every nickel you pay for it. Don't let anybody tell you that people who dope pins are just hacks. Ask what they use first, and why. They may know what they're doing, after all.
(Message sent Sun 2 Mar 1997, 14:59:55 GMT, from time zone GMT.)