Help: performance lever screw won’t tighten properly

  • Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #254962

    I have a late-model L&H Troubadour V (2006) with performance levers that I bought 2nd-hand a few years back, and, from day 1, the 4A lever has rattled when engaged and has been too loose where it makes contact with the wood of the neck. I’ve tried to tighten the main adjustment screw many times without success (using a proper 3/32″ Allen/hex driver). It screws in to a certain point and then just turns without going in any farther as though something is stripped. If I remove the lever completely and turn the screw directly into the wood, it goes all the way in and stops just fine. I’ve even experimented with adjusting the smaller screw in the top-right corner of the lever that basically just bites into the wood, but nothing helps. Lately, I’ve just been tuning the string to A-natural as needed and avoid using the lever altogether. Is there anything easy I can try to solve this? Could it have been like this from the factory?

    • This topic was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by Gregg Bailey.
    Participant
    charles-nix on #254999
      With the lever off the harp

    , will the screw head bottom out into the hole provided? Is the screw too large, or the hole too small, or does either have a burr keeping the screw from seating.

    Also consider that when you screw directly into the harp you are seating the screw threads more deeply than when the screw seats onto the lever. Perhaps the hole is stripped out in the upper part, and you are simply engaging more threads when the screw goes straight into the harp.

    Does either of those sound right? It would be easy to tell if I were feeling it and looking at it.

    Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #255043

    Hi, Charles,

    With the lever off the harp, the screw indeed screws all the way into the wood properly and then stops once the head meets the wood (I assume that’s what you meant by “bottom out”). Nothing seems to me to be the wrong size. I’m guessing the hole is stripped out in the “upper” part, as you suggest. Assuming that’s the case, is there an easy fix that you know of?

    Participant
    charles-nix on #255048

    Fixes are easy for someone who knows how–but it can be hard to write how to do it–especially without knowing your experience with woodworking.

    I don’t know from memory what L&H used for screws, so let’s start there. What is the screw size? Machine or wood? TPI? Length? Head style? Part of the reason for asking this is also to have some idea what your experience level is. Chances are if you don’t know immediately what I’m asking that your best bet is to find a harp technician–or another musical instrument technician who works with wood and small screws.

    On to the general fix. You will need several tools: a drill motor and a drill index number 1-60, round birch toothpicks, wood glue, and a 1/4″ very sharp chisel. The problem likely is that if you had all that, you probably wouldn’t be asking the question. It is not at all a difficult repair, but getting a good repair that will hold without damaging the harp finish takes skill.

    How are you feeling about taking on the repair yourself at this point?

    If you’re uncomfortable, let’s talk about where your are, and who might be available in that area to do the repair.

    Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #255049

    Hi, Charles,

    As you must’ve guessed, I don’t have much knowledge about this. I have a friend here who knows much more about it than I, but he’s never worked on anything as refined and valuable as a harp. I’m in the desert of West Texas (Midland/Odessa area).

    Participant
    charles-nix on #255051

    Well, one can’t really tell about knowledge level. If I knew a lot of details about the screw size, etc., I might be able to guide you through it.

    Since a harp technician is unlikely, how about a general luthier? Anyone who does fine guitar or violin work could do it. Even a woodwind technician. Or a pipe organ builder. Or a good piano technician (look for someone with the RPT certification, not necessarily just a tuner). Maybe call the local orchestra office, contact some of their players and get a recommendation. I’ve looked through the pipe organ builders (my day job) that I know, and the closest I’ve come is Ft. Worth.

    The only unusual thing about harp levers, compared to other wood items, is that they are frequently attached with machine screws into the wood neck, instead of wood screws. It works because the maple is so hard, and the screws are often fairly long. But all that also makes sizing the hole before threading the screw in very exacting. I’d be glad to help anyone you can find locally.

    Charles Nix

    PS: I just had a thought: we used to work for Greg Pysh decades ago when he served in Tennessee. I’ll email him on your behalf and see if he has any suggestions. He moved from here to be Minister of Music at First Presbyterian Midland, and I think he conducts the symphony also now. Will let you know what I find out. Please send me your email address to cnix at bargerandnixorgans dot com. This is getting rather too much like a personal conversation; don’t want to pollute the forum readers!

    Participant
    paul-knoke on #255055

    Have you tried shimming the screw with a strip or two of brown paper?

    Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #255056

    Hi, Paul,

    Earlier today, I tried putting a sliver of wood in the hole, and now the screw and lever are indeed much more snug. I’ll have to see if it stays that way. Thanks!

    Participant
    balfour-knight on #255251

    Hi, Gregg,

    In answer to your question on the other thread, we do not seem to get notifications when someone “edits” their post. It only lets me know when someone posts something new. Sorry I forgot to let you know.

    So glad you were able to get the screw to hold.

    Best wishes,
    Balfour

    Participant
    Gregg Bailey on #255252

    Thanks, Balfour!

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