Grand Piano Trucks: What Are They and Do You Need One?
Updated: Jun 25, 2022
Most grands found in homes are moved into a pre-selected location and set up there never to be moved again..or at least until the owners buy a new home and relocate the instrument to its new home. When a grand is placed in a static location, the only concern may be to protect floors and make sure it is not moved by accident allowing the casters (or wheels) to damage the flooring. We address this concern in our earlier blog article on caster cups. However, there are times, especially in an institutional setting where a grand needs to be frequently moved about the space.
Moving a Piano and Its Legs
Piano legs are designed to carry the weight of a grand, and when still in good condition, to allow some movement of the instrument if done carefully. This of course assumes a grand is well built and in good shape and that the legs are in good condition and well attached. If the legs are loose, have loose glue joints or inadequate or improper locking mechanisms to hold them firmly attached to the instrument, then the grand should not be moved without taking extreme precautions. Those might include hiring Fort Worth piano movers to inspect the legs and to move the grand around the room for you.
In an institutional setting such as a school, church, concert hall stage, recording studio or teaching studio, an instrument may need to be moved often. Even with adequate help who are strong enough to move it around, the frequent stress of moving will eventually cause damage to the legs, not to mention the flooring.
Moving a Piano on a Grand Truck / Dolly
Grand trucks (or Dollies) are designed to make the moving of a grand from place to place within the same space much easier and safer. A grand truck / dolly is shown in the image below. This device is a “Y” shaped steel platform with each of the 3 arms of the “Y” supporting one of the grands 3 legs. The truck is made with large rubber wheels which roll smoothly and efficiently while protecting any type of flooring in the process. Because the legs are effectively joined as one into the grand truck, there is no pressure on the instruments legs as it is moved. This maintains the condition of the legs and prevents much of the stress on the legs that comes from moving a grand that is not on a grand truck. This makes moving the instrument a much easier and safer process.
Installing a Grand Truck
While we will not go into all the technical details and processes involved in the safe and proper installation of a grand truck, we will offer an overview of what happens. First, the existing baby grand wheels (casters) must be removed from the legs. This will almost always require the removal of the legs. Once the original casters are removed, the legs are reattached to the grand. This process is needed so that the legs will rest securely in the 3 leg receivers built into the grand truck. It also places the instrument at the proper height for playing. You may notice a slight difference in the height of the keyboard after installation, but it is minimal. Once the casters are removed and each leg reattached, the grand is set onto the truck and all of the grand trucks connecting bolts and pieces are tightened down securely.
Options Available for Grand Trucks
Two important options are offered with the grand truck. One is locking wheels, which we feel are crucial and really should not even be considered an option. Locking wheels will prevent the instrument from swaying and moving as it is played but will also prevent catastrophes such as an instrument being rolled off a stage. See – they should not be an option.
The other option is size. Both the size (meaning length of the grand) as well as the size of the original casters (wheels). Some concert grands are manufactured with very large casters. Late model Steinway concert grands built in New York and earlier model Steinways built in Hamburg Germany are examples of concert grands which have these larger casters. These large casters require the legs to be shorter than they would be with a smaller standard sized caster. This is an important factor when ordering a grand truck for a concert grand.
The size / length of the grand also determines which size of grand truck you will need. Four sizes of grand trucks are typically produced by the manufacturers. The smallest truck is designed for instruments in the 4'-6” to 5'-11” size range. The next larger size accommodates grands in the 6'-0” to 7'-6” size. However, there are important exceptions. Some 6'-0” and 6'-1” grands by some manufacturers require the smaller sized grand truck to be used. This is all due to the dimensional placement of the legs on the instrument from one manufacturer versus another manufacturer. The next to largest grand truck accommodates a 9'-0” concert grand. Finally, for those rare instrument larger than 9'-0” in length, there is a truck made especially for the 9'-6” Bosendorfer Grand.
We should also mention a couple of other options. While black is the standard color, there is an option for a brown grand truck which will better match wood-tone grands. There is also an option for double truss leg instruments. These are legs found primarily on instruments built in the 1920-30's and are essentially two separate legs joined as one to form a single leg structure. These will normally have 2 casters per leg as well.
Install When Having Your Grand Piano Moved
An additional factor to consider. While a grand truck can be installed at any time, it is easier and more affordable to have the installation performed while your grand is set to be moved anyway. This is because when the grand is on its side for the moving process, the legs are already removed from the instrument and this allows for much quicker removal of the original casters.
Grand Leg Dollies
Finally, there is another type of device available to make moving a grand easier. Notice we did not use the word “safer” … only easier. The grand leg dolly is a device that contains a steel cup which is either round or square to accommodate the leg. Again, the original caster will have to be removed for installation. These steel cups have 3 (in the case of the round cups) or 4 (in the case of the square cups) rubber wheel casters. These rubber wheel casters do turn and roll easier than the original brass casters. While each leg is set into these cups, there is not connecting steel mechanism which attaches all 3 together making it one cohesive unit as in the case of the grand truck. Because of this, there is still danger that the legs can be damaged or even snap off while being moved. So while it may make moving the instrument around the space a bit easier, it is not necessarily safer. As a matter of fact, one major manufacturer of the grand leg dollies makes the following disclaimers:
For Specific Applications Only:
Recommended for Hard Surface Floors (Not Carpet)
Recommended for moving instruments short distances
Recommended for moving grands within a room
Recommended for grands under 6' in length
Not to be used in place of a Grand Dolly
Not recommended for schools
Not recommended for stage applications
As you can see, the use of the leg dolly instead of the grand truck opens you up to much potential risk to the instrument and to persons near it. While the Leg Dollies are a more affordable option, we believe in the long run the best investment is a grand truck.
PianoProsDFW not only moves pianos, but we also sell grand trucks (and grand leg dollies). While we are aware that you can purchase these devices online from various sources, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering doing so. First, the weight of the truck is extraordinary and shipping costs are very high due to the weight. This typically is not factored into the price you see from online vendors.
Secondly, the grand truck will ship in 3 very heavy boxes containing over 60 (yes SIXTY) parts. All of these parts must be assembled and assembled correctly. This is a time consuming task for even those of us who are experienced at their assembly. This assembly is also not factored into the online vendors prices. We believe purchasing a grand truck from us and having us assemble it is a great value, especially considering all the safety considerations of proper assembly and installation of a truck.
Finally, the installation of a grand truck is a process best left to experienced professionals. Remember, the instruments legs must be safely removed, casters properly removed, legs properly re-installed onto the instrument. The process of installation also requires a proper sequence of tasks to followed in order to ensure no damage is done to the grand or the installers. Finally, if important assembly or installation processes are omitted, serious damage or injury could result. Again, we feel purchasing your truck from Piano Movers such as your Fort Worth piano movers; PianoProsDFW is in the long run, the greatest value.