I have noticed some talk of lifting uprights onto the standard 4-wheel piano dolly. I have done it the old brute force way for over 30 years. However, in the last few years, I noticed that I had a Sam's Club $39.99 two-wheel box dolly, and I found myself trying something that works like a charm.
Have one person ready who knows how to set the dolly under the piano. (That is, with the rubber tracks up against the bottom of the piano with two of the wheels in the air.) Have them ready and waiting in front of the piano with dolly at the ready.
You stand at the end with the two-wheel box dolly poised with its long foot under the end of the piano and wheels on the ground. Push the foot most to all of the way under the end (usually treble) of the piano. With one of your feet on the axle of the dolly, pull the top down almost to the floor. The piano kicks itself up in the air and your partner cocks the 4-wheeler up at one end and slides it under the piano.
The 4-wheeler will not be perfectly centered, but it usually does not need to be any more centered in most cases. If you need it centered, then take a deeper bite with the 2-wheeler while the piano is cocked up or with it sitting on the four wheel dolly pick it up a bit farther so the dolly can be repositioned. When you push the 2-wheeler down, raising the piano, you must notice the angle at the "foot to piano bottom board". If you go past a 90-degree angle, and push the dolly top all the way to the floor, you run the risk of the piano sliding off but usually that doesn't happen unless the bottom board is slick.
I have also used this method with a two-wheel appliance dolly with a shorter, more substantial foot: the kind with straps for a refrigerator and all. It still worked, except it felt more stable and you can hold the box dolly all the way down to the floor.
I needed this method because I do not move many pianos any more. I plan to keep my back in functional condition. I have used this method to move several hundred pianos and I have not had one catastrophe, except once when I had a complete idiot setting the 4-wheeler and he managed to set the dolly out of square, so that the piano tipped forward. Luckily it was a small Euro console and did not do much damage when it hit the floor.
Good luck to you all who try this, and save your backs.
This was originally published in 1997. Copyright D.L. Bullock 1997-2000
Doug L. Bullock, 06-22-09