Loar’s Research for Webster’s Dictionary

Professor Gehrkens’ correspondence, chiefly with Paul W. Carhart, the Managing Editor of Webster’s Dictionary, indicates that Loar helped with such questions as: how castanets are played, whether there should be a separate musically oriented definition of resonance, what a piano action looks like, and more. Here is a letter from Loar to Gehrkens dated November 21, 1931.

Loar's Letter to Websters

In regard to your query about flange and jack flange. In either a grand or upright action that is completely defined, if they are actions of the most complicated type, there would be at least five flanges. The one referred to in the drawing and description I sent you is probably the jack flange but it might not be. I abbreviated the description definitions somewhat and confined them to essentials because of the necessity of conserving space. In the grand, for instance, it takes about 95 definitions to completely explain it. The flange in every instance is a fastening to direct the motion of some moving part. It is always fastened by a screw to some solid part and by a hinge to the moving part. On the solid part there is a ridge that fits into a groove on the flange, this keeps the flange from twisting sidewise and throwing out of line the moving part it guides. I imagine it is this feature that entitles it to be called a flange. The jack in either upright or grand action, is a straight, slim piece of wood that lifts the hammer. If the flange in question is attached to the jack it is the jack flange. On the upright action there is also a sostenuto, guide, wippen, and a damper flange. On the grand there is a damper swing, damper lifter, sostenuto, wippen, and a support flange. If it impossible to exactly identify the flange in question it is still correct to just call it a flange. If there is time to send me the drawing and the explanation of it I will be glad to attend to it. Any flange takes the name of the moving part if guides. 




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