I found it difficult to fold up the pedals the other day on my best harp which hadn’t been out for a while and had to resort to WD-40 to ease them.
Alison, I would ask the harpmaker what to use on the pedals. Liza Jenson, harp tech, advised me not to use anything on a Camac pedal harp, because the screws in the pedal joints can be turned to adjust the tightness. I believe that Tom Bell used something like sewing machine oil on Lyon & Healys, but I would ask to make sure! What brand is your best pedal harp? Carl Swanson would also be a great person to ask.
All of the 20th century harp companies(Lyon & Healy, Wurlitzer, Venus, etc.) used bronze rivets to hold the brass pedal to the steel pedal bar. Over time, and lots of folding and unfolding the pedals, that joint either becomes so tight that it can’t be moved, or so loose that the pedal will not stay folded up. Most companies now use a bolt and nut specially made for that joint that can be adjusted for tightness. Whenever I have to replace those bronze rivets, I drill the old rivet out, smear the hole with graphite grease, and then install a bolt and nut. It works beautifully and can be adjusted from time to time if needed to make it tighter or looser.
Thanks guys, that all makes sense. Indeed my Salvi harp is probably over 40 years old and whilst the mechanism was completely overhauled in Chicago, the pedals weren’t touched as the body of the harp went back to Italy. Now I appreciate why the new Aoyama has bolts and nuts there, having thought initially it was a cheaper solution.
You’ll have to find out from Salvi if they now make a nut and bolt for the pedals. Lyon & Healy does, and I have them too. You would need to have someone(a machinist perhaps) drill out the head of the rivet on one side, then punch out the main shaft of the rivet. The hole in the pedal bar and brass pedal is 3/16 inch, so the nut and bolt you use has to be the same size. The bolt is specially made for this and is not simply a 3/16 bolt from a hardware store. The hole in the steel pedal bar should be greased with graphite grease before installing the new bolt. Then be careful not to overtighten the nut on the bolt or you could break the new bolt. Having someone do this to all 7 pedals should not cost more than about $400 US, and probably less, mostly for the labor of getting the old bronze rivets out.
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