Projects

This page showcases our work in piano mantenance and restoration. If you would like to take a closer look at our work, or are interested in having your piano serviced by us, please feel free to contact us using the information on our “About” page.

 

Our first featured project is a 1909 Hobart M. Cable Cabinet Grand. This piano holds a special place in my heart, as it is my personal piano, and one that I lovingly tinker with on almost a daily basis. This piano was constructed by the Hobart Cable Corporation, which produced pianos in Chicago from 1900 until the stock market crash of 1929. Cable produced some of the highest end pianos of the era, and many were found in the parlours and music rooms of some of the country’s elite. This particular piano originally cost $500, which equates to around $12,000 in today’s cash. By comparison, skilled labourers only made around $500 in wages per year back then, and a competent dentist could earn around $1,500!

Sadly, I do not have the luxury of having a full historical profile for this piano during its lifespan, other than after it was constructed it was sold through the Campbell Music Company in Denver Colorado, and somehow ended up in Rawlins, Wyoming from there. I aquired this piano from its lonely home in the Sunday school room of the local Methodist church, and began the two month restoration process.

About a week into the restoration process, Sanded down and ready for conditioning

This particular restoration was a cosmetic only operation. The piano has several features that I wanted to remain intact, in order to preserve as much as its original sound as I could. This means everything inside the piano, mechanically, aside from being cleaned and tuned up (no pun intended) is exactly as it was over 100 years ago. The main focus of my peservation was the stringing inside the piano. Before World War I, higher end pianos were strung with silver wound strings in the lower octaves, and with high quality steel in the tri-unison higher octaves. Silver wound strings are no longer used anywhere, with brass being the favored alternative. Re-stringing is an expensive, tedious and extremely labour intensive process, and I perfer to avoid it, if at all possible. In this case, restringing was not only unnecessary, it would ruin the vintage sound of this piano.

Moving an upright piano onto its back is a risky proposition. If done improperly, it will remain on the floor forever. This is in preparation for staining, using a piano tilter from Dave Kramer. Note the massive amounts of wood fill at the corners.

After providing the piano with new casters, and filling all imperfections with wood filler, the piano was ready for conditioning and three coats of Sedonna Red #4 oil based varnish. Working with these specific types of oily piano varnish gives the finished product a beautiful look, but is labour intensive, and relatively difficult to work with. After the application of varnish, parts of the piano were

painted using black oil based enamel paint, and then four coats of semi-gloss polyurethane were applied, and final waxing was completed.  Overall, the project took six weeks total to complete, and the cost of materials was held under $500. The most expensive part of this restoration was the purchase of specialized wood products to fix the major damage created by the last 100 years.

Final project pictures follow. I apologize for the poor quality of some of the pictures, but my iPhone just doesn’t do well in low lighting sometimes. Again, this isn’t a photography blog, but if you want to see some neat pictures, travel over to marcbacon.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After several weeks of dedicated and careful work: the end result

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rear corners of this piano were so badly damaged, I needed to rebuild them by using wood filler, and cap them using metal trunk corners, before covering the rest with specially fabricated wood trim. This is the end result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm a sucker for nostalgia, so I will never remove the original production logo. The inside color is the original varnish, and the gold leaf trim is added by myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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