Traditional Brassware patterns for early instruments
Many late harpsichords, and a lot of pianos, whose stands are fixed together with screws or bolts. Had decorative covers to hide the offending bits of iron. These were invariably pressed from thin brass, and often are found with just the screw and a little bit of brass around it. I have filled the backs of the examples I have been able to use and made heavy castings from these which should survive into the 31st century. Some of the bolt covers are my own invention.
This was never something I wanted to get into. However, at the foundry we found a few orphan moulds, made ages ago for antique restorers who wanted one only, the bane of any small foundry. So I have these moulds and have used them in various combinations, and attached them in a couple of different ways to instruments.
Some are from old instruments, others I have invented to serve to complete a set; They are traditionally used to hide the overlarge hole made in the name-board when getting the lever position wrong, or to prevent a key from marking the wonderful paint surface around the lock.
I just thought it might be useful to see the whole collection in one place; sometimes if you already have the battens on the lid as when re-building or rescuing an existing instrument, the ‘open’ size is important.
The collection in one place, to make finding a particular hook easier.
Knobs and handles
There are so many knobs; the larger ones are drilled and tapped in the lathe, usually M4, M5 or M6, whichever is most appropriate to the size of the knob in question. I’m happy to use BSW threads too, ¼ BSW is close to the threads found on late English harpsichords for example. I can also provide a collar to act as a spacer through the name-board. Name-board screws either have their own thread cast in place or I solder a woodscrew into a drilled hole, like the old ones.
Locks and bolts
I make a couple of bolts, a tiny flush bolt (after one found on an old organ case), and one that can be fitted into drilled holes for retaining an upper manual as used on late English harpsichords (S/33).
The locks are all made using the smallest commercial mechanism I could find, attached to various decorative lock-plates. I had the opportunity to repair an old spinet lock recently:
I think you may agree that to reproduce this might be a bit too expensive!
Miscellaneous: the bits that don’t seem to fit into any reasonable category
Suits of brassware designed to suit what I wanted to use; mostly the designs are from early English virginals, Keene in particular, altered and amplified to suit other uses. Ref7 has proved very popular, the counter I had running got up to 2000 before a pc crash lost the information ten years ago; I’m on the 4th set of moulds now, the 3rd for the ref6.x strap hinges, so I must have got something right.
The basic design of the tuning hammer comes from an old (Schudi?) hammer that I own, made probably for an early piano. It fits both tuning piuns of several sizes and the lever adjusting screws so you can tighten the levers too. Clever. The shafts are all cast in Beryllium Copper, yes I know it’s dangerous stuff but I use extraction and you don’t have to eat it. If I make double heads to fit a Steinway t-lever thread then I can harden it too, handy, eh?
I make levers of all sorts to order. If the levers are more or less straight, I make them in brass, with the bit your fingers find either forged on the end or with a casting, usually the French heart shape, soldered on. I can shape the lever, and drill it to your requirements. I can make a pin that screws into the register and engages in a slot in the brass lever, and I can supply my preferred method of pivoting, a hardened bronze screw and washer which is threaded M4 and engages in a brass insert set in the wrest plank (Ref214). (I’ve had on a few occasions to deal with the mess left on Schudi and Kirkman harpsichord due to the screws having wrecked the screwholes and rendered the lever always loose)
I can also create (with the help of my friend Andrew who likes a welding challenge) those steel levers that are ‘L’ shaped, with tapped bosses for the stop knobs.