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Decals on Player Pianos
Refinishing the Piano

At 01:42 PM 10/2/03, Duane wrote:
       I have been commissioned to refinish a player piano.
there is a stencil on the key cover that reads -

                Co. Emblem

                Player piano

               Philadelphia Pa.

These obviously are approximate

during the stripping this will be removed 
     The Question is can I get another logo??? If so $$
Also any other things I should watch out for??  I am known 
as a fine refinisher who tells my customers the truth.

                  MY RESPONSE

Hi Duane,

Contact "Decals Unlimited". Their number is 1-615-429-4465. 
If they don't have the exact decal in stock, you'll have to take 
a very good picture which has a ruler next to it for reference 
purposes. What I normally do is have the decal scanned 
using a color scanner. Most printing businesses should be 
able to accommodate you, but you could also do it at Kinko's 
or Staples. The point is, you'll need a picture that is exactly 
the same as the original decal to get the replacement decal 
custom made....  and that's not cheap!! Figure over $125.00.

BTW, looking through Decals Unlimited's catalog, I could not 
find a fallboard decal for Lawson............. ;-(

(The information below refers to upright player pianos.)

Precautions....  Make very certain that all of the internal parts 
of the piano are extremely well covered and masked off. It's a 
real pain to do right, but it will prevent hours of clean-up and 
prevent over-spray from getting into the piano action, strings, 
player mechanism, and keybed. The average player piano has 
some 17 individual wooden parts, not including the main cabinet. 
Some have as many as 25. The point here is, "If it can come 
apart, take it apart. You'll end up saving time." And be certain 
to store all of the various screws in such a manner that they 
will go back "EXACTLY" where they came from!!!! I mean every 
last screw!!!

Be extremely careful when removing the Soss invisible hinges 
if you don't plan to replace them (about $5.50 ea. depending 
on the size). They are usually made out of pot-metal and they 
will crack apart or break very easily. 

Removing the piano pedals is a must, and all of the old felt 
bushing cloth should be removed and replaced with new 
cloth. The same goes for the tracks of the sliding doors 
and the cloth under the key retainer (on the bottom of the 

Remove all detachable parts of the piano before masking. 
Nothing is more annoying to a technician than having to 
break apart parts that are 'joined' by coats of lacquer. 

Also, all of the rubber key buttons and rubber nails should 
be removed and replaced with new parts. They are available 
in either black or brown in a variety of sizes. So measure the 
originals (as best as possible) before removing them. 

Naturally, the various hinges should be cleaned and polished, 
but be careful. Many piano hinges are nickel coated brass, 
and aggressive polishing will 'burn' through the coating. I 
normally replace the hinge screws with new screws. It just 
looks better. But, depending on the condition of the screws, 
they can be cleaned and polished without too much damage 
to the plating.

A properly refinished piano should have about 17 coats of 
hand-rubbed lacquer. The finish should be 'flat-filled' after 
it has thoroughly dried. In other words, the pores of the wood 
should not be visible. It should look like glass.

Lastly, be sure to charge a fair price. Out here at the shore, 
Showroom refinishing starts at $3,800. Case damage and 
cosmetics (decals, rubber parts, felts, etc. are additional -
both parts and the labor to install them).

Hope this helps.


John A. Tuttle
Brick, NJ, USA

(This email may be used in the creation of a web page about 
proper upright player piano refinishing.)

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