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MMD > Archives > October 2001 > 2001.10.03 > 03Prev  Next

Moving Player Grand Pianos
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Charles Kelly's posting (011002 MMDigest) really strikes
a nerve because I have to travel from New Jersey to Ohio in early
November to repair the damage caused by the three grown men who
recently moved a customer's Steck Duo-Art Reproducing Grand.  They
were supposedly "Piano Specialists".  They rested the piano on the
stack before tipping the piano onto the skid board, which damaged
the stack.

Before I go any further, please understand that my 135 pound wife and
I (all of 156 pounds) moved the instrument to Ohio by ourselves, but
we had the correct equipment to do the job.  The correct equipment
includes two cinder blocks, a manual floor jack (or correctly sized
4x4-inch board), a skid board, three stair rollers, a 7-foot ramp,
a dolly, and lots of movers straps and blankets.  You should also have
a socket wrench set, an assortment of screw drivers, and a leather
mallet or rubber hammer (for legs and lyres that are 'wedged').

Next, the lyre and left leg should _always_ be removed from _every_
grand piano before the piano is tipped.  The lyre was never designed
to support the weight of the instrument.  Period!!

Armed with the above tools and equipment:

Step One: remove the left leg and support the weight of the piano
with the jack (or the 4x4) such that the piano is about 6" higher on
the left side than when it's resting on its leg.  This provides enough
clearance to easily remove the lyre even if you're moving a grand with
the Ampico mechanism, which has the pneumatics in the box that's
attached to the top of the lyre.  (The lyre on most regular grands
comes off easily before the left leg is removed.  So there is no need
to elevate the piano any higher than the leg.)

Step Two: remove the lyre, insuring that the screws or bolts used to
secure it in place _do not_ get mixed up.  In some cases, the screws
or bolts are different lengths.  Mixing them up can be a recipe for
problems when putting the unit back together.

Step Three: Place the skid board on the cinder blocks (see drawing).
Place one block at the front of the board and the other approximately
four feet from the front.  This provides adequate room to put the dolly
under the board.

(Elevating the board 8" off the ground provides adequate clearance for
the stack, which hangs down from the underside of the instrument
approximately 6"-7".  Adding to that the height of the skid board
(about 2"), this gives you at least 2"-3" of free air space between the
stack and the floor when the instrument is tipped down onto the board.)

Also, if you're moving a unit that has the 'aprons' around the stack,
they should be removed before the leg and lyre are taken off.  Here
again, make sure all of the screws are kept in their correct

Step Four: Tip the instrument onto the board such it contacts the board
approximately 2-3 inches from the front of the board (near the lip) and
2 to 3 inches 'in' from the right hand edge of the board (see picture:
the red 'X' marks the spot).

Step Five: Continue tipping the instrument over until it is standing
upright on the skid board.  Once you have a little experience, you'll
find that the board has to be placed at an angle to the piano such that
when it's tipped all the way onto the board it will be squarely on the
board.  You'll also discover that it actually requires much less effort
(work) to tip the unit because gravity isn't working against you quite
as hard as it does when the piano has to be let down to the floor.

Step Six: Blanket the piano and strap it to the skid board.  Make
absolutely certain that the straps _do not_ contact the stack or any
of the other parts of the player mechanism.  Period!!

Step Seven: With the piano dolly in the correct position under the skid
board (and between the two cinder blocks), lift the back end of the
skid board and remove the rear cinder block.  Then lift the front end
and remove the front block.

That's it!  When setting the instrument back up, reverse the above
procedure.  Although it is a bit precarious, the above steps can
actually be done by one person.  I know because I've done the job
all by myself in the shop.  The two tricks are a stable floor jack
(manually operated) and the two cinder blocks.


John A. Tuttle  (Smart -- Not Strong!)

 [ See the drawing at  -- Robbie

(Message sent Wed 3 Oct 2001, 17:04:38 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Grand, Moving, Pianos, Player

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