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MMD > Archives > April 1999 > 1999.04.07 > 04Prev  Next

Seek Estimates for Soundboard Etc. Replacement
By John A. Tuttle

Hello,  I need to get a ballpark estimate for the replacement of the
soundboard, bridges and pin block in a 1925 player upright.  I require
the numbers for a damage estimate being prepared for a customer who is
filing an insurance claim.

Talk about your heart breakers.  Today I had the unfortunate task of
evaluating a severely damaged unit that I finished restoring in 1989.
For financial reasons, this local customer had me spread the process
out over a four year period of time.  Once completed, he contacted a
large local newspaper (The Asbury Park Press, Asbury Park, NJ), who
elected to publish a nice article including a picture of Pandora (when
she was an employee) and me standing by the instrument.  You can't buy
advertising like that and, as far as we can recollect, we've never posed
for a similar photo.  We were dating at that time (see photo).

To make matters even more wrenching, I saw that picture just yesterday,
gracing the top of another customer's player piano, some thirty miles
south of my home.  Also a long time customer, he had started collecting
articles about me some ten years earlier when the above article and
picture came out.  It was flattering to the point of minor embarrass-
ment.  Little did I realize what I would encounter the very next day.

Upon examining the damaged instrument this morning, my heart sank to
my feet as pieces of molding and veneer literally fell off in my hands.
As I started to lift the left side of the piano to examine the back,
the frame felt like jelly and the right toe broke loose from the side,
jump-starting my heart.  It's hard to explain the condition of the
soundboard.  Numerous large cracks, loose ribs and visible warpage

The piano action was a mess and pieces of loose felt were seen here and
there.  The player action, once a delight to pump, just barely worked
when pumped at 'light speed'.  And although the new hot hide glue held
amazingly well and the cloth looked and felt excellent, it appeared
that the all the wood had swollen to the point of cracking or coming
apart, and then dried out, leaving large cracks and open joints.  The
finish on the cabinet had thousands of expansion cracks but held up
extremely well considering the circumstances, which brings me to the

This past Winter, while the customer was away in Florida, one of pipes
supplying hot water to the base board heating system started leaking.
Estimates are that it continued to leak from approximately two months.
The leak, being in the pipes that ran in the ceiling of the finished
basement room where the piano resided, soon destroyed the ceiling
tiles, which fell to the floor.  This allowed the leak to spray an arc
of steaming hot water across the room, about ten feet from the front on
the instrument.

One can only imagine how it must have felt in that room.  Visions of a
huge sauna come to mind.  Since the floor was raised about three inches
off the concrete, the piano was never in standing water, even though
the thick pile carpeting and padding under the piano was completely

So, that's why I need the estimates.  Thanks for your time.  Please
send responses to:

Hoping yours was a better day,

John A. Tuttle
Brick, NJ

 [ We'll put the photo at the Pictures page.  It's fun to see the
 [ faces which go with the familiar names at MMD! ;)  -- Robbie

(Message sent Wed 7 Apr 1999, 22:13:52 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Estimates, Etc, Replacement, Seek, Soundboard

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