At around the same time as the plastic key bushing, floating centres started appearing in British pianos (those boffins again). These piano actions used wooden flanges but each flange was fitted with small cylindrical plastic inserts through which the centre-pin passed instead of using the traditional cloth bushings. You can just make one out in the picture at the base of the jack.
Some pianos used these ‘floating centres’ as well as plastic key bushings.
A great number of these pianos are still around – and still working. My point is that the plastic parts don’t work or last as well as the traditional alternative and can be noisy – and when it comes to restoring a piano like this it will prove impossible, as the specialised parts are no longer available. But perhaps that’s what should happen. Perhaps that’s where the piano industry went wrong and why there are no longer any makers of any significance left in this country. In the past we probably made pianos too well and when they finally reached the end of their playable usefulness after fifty years or so, we made them so that they could easily be stripped down, re-felted, re-strung and on they would go again for another fifty years.
Maybe the future should be plastic after all.