Author Topic: Found a 1970 Fender Rhodes Mk I Stage 73 Missing its Keys. Is it savable?  (Read 535 times)

Offline TCHarley

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Hi everyone,

This is my first post to the forum so if I am posting in the wrong place or breaking any forum rules please know that it was unintentional and I will correct my error.

My fiance was quick on the draw of a Facebook market place ad for a rhodes in a state of disassembly and disrepair. The date stamp on it reads April 24 1970. It is missing a bunch of parts, damper arms, sustain pedal, parts of the legs, most of the case hardware but most importantly the keys. I was hoping to salvage this thing as a fun restoration project (I restored a 1977 MK I Stage 88 and found it incredibly rewarding) but I am starting to think that without the original keys that were made alongside the rest of the action that this might not be possible. Will keys from another Rhodes from the same era stand any chance of working or should I just keep it/sell it off for parts? Does anyone know where I can get some keys if that would work? I know vintage vibe has them but that would be a pretty expensive route to take. If anyone has a set of keys up for purchase I would be interested to hear what they might want for it.

Thanks!

Offline conke

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looks like it will be tough to source keys.. but they only want $50 for parts including a complete harp?? i would jump on that
Hohner Pianet T
1977 Rhodes Mk I
1966 Wurlitzer 146

Offline TCHarley

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looks like it will be tough to source keys.. but they only want $50 for parts including a complete harp?? i would jump on that
Yeah it looks like it will be tough if not impossible to find a set that will actually work. I already jumped on it, it is currently in my basement. Working on cleaning the corrosion off of the tone bars. Couldn't resist for $50, and luckily we were the first to respond to the ad.

Offline sean

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TC,

I have exactly what you need. 

I have the remains of a c.1973 Rhodes action:  73 Pratt-Read full-skirt keys on a keybed, wooden action rail with half-wood hammers, bridle straps, individual damper arms, and tooth-root damper felts. 

It is missing the harp, missing case, missing balance rail felts and front rail felts, missing the name rail, and strangely missing the wooden support for the action rail (the strip of wood that goes between the keybed and the action rail).  I think I have the cheek blocks too. 

The action is now clean, but still needs some work.  The balance and front rail pins were rusted, and have been sanded down.  They are not as smooth as ideal.  About 22 of the keys stick (they don't return on their own volition), and need to have their sides sanded down until they no longer touch their neighbors.  (Two keys at the bottom, two keys in the middle, and then nearly every single key in the top two octaves.)  This means that the action was exposed to water, and the keys are warped (or maybe just swollen?).  However, every single key looks perfectly straight when removed from the action.  I think they all work when I remove the neighboring keys, but I should test that to verify.   Every key pedestal seems to mate with the key above just perfectly, so I don't think this action is too far gone.


Where on planet earth are you?  Toronto?  I am in USA, near Washington DC.  Send me a PM with your email and phone number.

Sean

Offline sean

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... only about 460 miles away.  Nine or ten hours of driving each way, plus $70 of gas each way.  Hmmm....  Ouch.

Offline TCHarley

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... only about 460 miles away.  Nine or ten hours of driving each way, plus $70 of gas each way.  Hmmm....  Ouch.

What a coincidence! I will send you a PM. Thanks Sean.

Offline DAtkinson

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What a coincidence... I responded to that same ad only 10min after it was posted, but I was too late as I guess your fiancee was crazy quick on the trigger!!! I'm just starting another restoration and wanted another aspirational project to go with it.

Hopefully you work something out with Sean to complete the piano - he is generously helping me out in another thread.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2020, 05:57:53 PM by DAtkinson »

Offline TCHarley

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What a coincidence... I responded to that same ad only 10min after it was posted, but I was too late as I guess your fiancee was crazy quick on the trigger!!! I'm just starting another restoration and wanted another aspirational project to go with it.

Hopefully you work something out with Sean to complete the piano - he is generously helping me out in another thread.

Sorry man! She was quick on the trigger for sure. Sean is helping me out, which I am super grateful for. Seems like a great guy. Good luck on your project!

Offline TCHarley

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UPDATE:

Restoration is well underway. Since the last post a lot has happened. Sean is the MAN and sold me exactly what I needed to bring this piano back to life, for a great price too! From Sean I got the set of keys I desperately needed, as well as an action rail with damper arms and hammers installed. On top of that he threw in lots of extra goodies for me. Hinges, leg mounts (which I forgot to include in the picture. They were still packed and I missed them), some tuning springs, some new old stock damper arms, some new bridle straps, rubber feet for when I build one of his sustain pedal designs. On top of that he provided what has to be the best packing job of all time. The parts all made it across the border safe and sound. I can not thank you enough, Sean!






Since getting this thing home I have completely disassembled the harp. Everything was coated in a healthy dose of zinc corrosion. This was all taken off as best I could with 0000 steel wool and a lot of patience. The pickups all came out and I took off all the wiring. It was wired in the old criss-cross pattern. This took a couple nights of patience as well. I didn't want to overheat them and melt the bobbin or break the connection to the winding. Luckily that all went well and all the pickups came out safely. I have a desoldering gun which helped a lot in getting the old solder off quickly. I cleaned every pickup gently with IPA, a rag and some q-tips. I sanded down the wood harp rails and refinished with Tired and True Original Wood finish. It is linseed oil and beeswax which is super easy to work with, smells and looks great and is environmentally friendly. The harp frame also got sanded and painted black. It was pretty gross and this was the best option i could think of. I chose black to match the black fasteners I chose for the tone bars/tines etc. All the pickups are back in, rewired and each is producing sound, so I am happy about that. There was no sound coming from the harp to begin with, and the pickups are all north facing for those that are curious. I am currently working on getting all the tonebars/tines reassembled and put back into the harp. I got new tonebar springs from Vintage Vibe. Oh, and I also replaced all the wiring and the RCA jack.

Before:





Current Progress:





For anyone interested in any of the parts I am using, they all came from McMaster Carr and are listed below.

Grommets: www.mcmaster.com/9305K21/
Tonebar Screws: www.mcmaster.com/91555A123/
Tonebar Washers: www.mcmaster.com/96659A103/
Tine Screws: www.mcmaster.com/91251A342/
Tine Lockwashers: www.mcmaster.com/98437A108/
1/2" Grounding Tape: www.mcmaster.com/76925A103/
Pickup Screws: www.mcmaster.com/90286A194/

I also 3d printed some jigs to hold the tonebar and tine parallel/square to each other when assembling. If anyone wants the .stl files for these just let me know.



Hi res versions of the pics here: imgur.com/a/KUKvLCg

Offline DAtkinson

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WOW!!!!!!

Dude nice one. Glad your fiancée nabbed it, you're doing a killer job. I've had my hands full working on three clavs this month anyway, so it would've just been sitting in my basement. Good luck with getting it all done!