Author Topic: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage  (Read 629 times)

Offline Chi

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Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« on: October 17, 2020, 08:11:55 AM »
Hello fellow Rhodes lovers,

Firstly, i'd like to say how glad I am that forums like this exist - a wealth of knowledge and experience here which i'm hoping to draw from.

Long story short - I've had a pretty rough experience sourcing my first Rhodes.  The `professional` tech that I bought from in the UK ended up being a bit of a disaster. It took 4 months longer than he had said and when it turned up it was not in a playable condition  :'(

Despite having been (allegedly) rebuilt from the ground up with new grommets, a miracle mod, playing and sounding beautifully and looking superb with a brand new lid etc. in reality when it arrived the grommets were not replaced, nor was the lid and while I can see the miracle mod has been done there were a dozen or so stuck notes, several keys that double strike, some that cause muting, and a non functioning sustain...along with a buzzing ground hum.

There were many solder splashes and glue globs - in some places causing adjacent keys to rub or be stuck together. It all seemed a bit careless/rushed.  ::)

His response was that I could send it back and find another piano elsewhere or find a tech where I live (Norway) get them to fix it and then sell it for more than I paid (approx $4000) - he would not be paying for the fixes.  ???

I'm really sad that it all happened like this - I had hoped that paying a premium with a pro would go some way to ensuring that I got something in decent condition. At this point and after so long I just want to get this piano into a playable state and forget all about the experience. Sorry about the rant but I kind of needed to let it out a bit.

So, my mission now is to give this piano all the love it needs and deserves - If it's possible, I will do whatever it takes to make her playable. My research so far has led me to believe that the first thing to get right is the keys. Leveling the keys and then setting key-dip being the first steps respectively.

Looking at the keys they do appear to be slightly uneven here and there. The keys in the treble seem to sit slightly lower in the case than the rest.








It looks like the treble keys are about 4mm lower than the bass keys.

The same is true for the key dip with the treble keys being about 4mm more shallow.

I am thinking to shim the treble keys and see if that evens everything out.

More troubling I think will be the sustain. The behavior changes according to the position of the pedal and the length of the rod. When the rod is making good contact with the mechanism inside only some of the dampers are pushed away from the tines. Extending the rod so that the mechanism is floating quite high will let all notes sustain but this also prevents many notes from damping when they should (constant sustain). I have played with this to find a balance but sadly there is always some that will/won't sustain correctly. Looking at the damper combs themselves they appear to be quite uneven so I suspect that they will need fixing/replacing. The tension in each arm varies quite a lot too.






I notice in places that the tines seem quite out of line with the pickups and damper felts. I'm not sure if changing the grommets will help with this.



The double strike chirping and muting problems i'm also not sure about. My initial guess is that the miracle mod may have been done without proper care and might be contributing to this.

Should I begin by removing the miracle mod first and then leveling the keys and setting dip before trying to reinstall the mod again?

Any advice that can be offered would be greatly appreciated. I'm desperately hoping that this instrument can be rescued and made to sing again.










Offline goldphinga

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2020, 02:09:55 PM »
I think you should name who the tech is, this is not acceptable work at all. I would never, ever, let any Rhodes out of my workshop in that state and then to call it a pro level service? WTF!! Without a properly regulated keyboard and action, you simply can't have a decent result. There are too many errors here it's embarrasing. I would ask for some money back and have the work re-done.

Offline Chi

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2020, 04:54:12 PM »
I think you should name who the tech is, this is not acceptable work at all. I would never, ever, let any Rhodes out of my workshop in that state and then to call it a pro level service? WTF!! Without a properly regulated keyboard and action, you simply can't have a decent result. There are too many errors here it's embarrasing. I would ask for some money back and have the work re-done.

Yes, you're right - I was hesitant to name names because I don't want to come off as moany or entitled but I would hate for anyone else to go through a similar ordeal. My colleagues and family also share your thoughts that this persons work and behavior should be made public -  The tech in question is Douglas McKendrick aka Klassik-Keys. His website looked legit with positive testimonials but sadly the whole thing went pear shaped.

After paying he let me know that it would take a week or two because he was going to give it the full works. I said no problem - take the time you need. A couple of days later he asked me if i'd like a Mk2 lid instead since he had a spare and they were very cool and you can have your lunch on it. I said thanks but i'll stick with the Mk1 lid. At first I thought it was a kind offer but 4 weeks later he said that he suddenly discovered that he had no more Mk1 lids  ::) He said he has ordered new ones from Vintage Vibe but they will not arrive for 3 weeks. I said no worries - it'll all work out in the end.

Another 3 weeks passed and I got another email in the middle of the night. There were photos of a Rhodes in pretty bad cosmetic condition - deep cigarette/joint burns in the cheeks, tolex in shreds etc.. He said would I be interested in it - it was a 74 model and sounded incredible and he could send it now. I was a bit shocked since I was expecting him to be done with the original 75 model but I know that 74's are a little more sought after so I was interested. I asked If he was intending to do any refurb work on it or would just send it as is. His response was "Nevermind - the original deal still stands".  ??? That was pretty strange - to make an offer and immediately retract it - oh well.

More weeks passed and I got another mail with some photos - the piano had the same case, lid and name rail as the 74 model he had showed before! I asked about it and he said that he had no more lids!! Eh, I thought we had been waiting for new ones? He said he had just ordered some from Vintage Vibe but that they would take three weeks to arrive. Deja vu - I thought this had already happened.

Another 3 weeks pass and he sends me a letter from the shipping company that there are delays from the US and that the shipment will not arrive for another 3/4 weeks. Fair enough I said - nothing we can do about that. He said good because it would give him time to work on the piano. I kind of thought that was odd since he had by now had ages to do the work but oh well. Meanwhile I was looking at the mod kits from VintageVibe and preparing to see what I might look to do myself - I asked him if he was going to do any of the recommended mods like the miracle mod, backchecks etc.. He said don't bother with most of those things - he will do the miracle mod and that he wasn't going to do that initially because he thought it might scare me but that since I was asking he would take care of it and that it would improve the action.

4 weeks passed and he said the delivery was arriving in a few days and that he would work the weekend to make sure he could send it as soon as the lids arrived. After a few days he said that his wife had surprised him with a weekend away for his Birthday so he wouldn't be able to send it until next week. I said no worries, enjoy the trip and happy birthday.

About a week later he sent some photos of the piano but none showed the lid which was a bit strange. I asked if he could send one with it all setup which he did and then I saw that the lid was not new at all  ??? I asked if it was new and he said "no, they are miles away in storage and it's too late now - I have already sent it". OMG what have we been waiting for all this time then? Anyway, he said that I should not be concerned about cosmetic parts that don't make sound - it's the playability that matters. Of course I agree that it's more important but when you make an agreement it's kind of bad not to keep it. After all that - when it turned up it was not even playable and I saw that he had not done many of the things he said. So depressing.

I don't think I have much chance getting any money back - he made that pretty clear. In his eyes I have gotten a great deal and will be able to get much more for it than I paid! Now that I have bought new damper combs, hammers, various felts, shims, grommets etc as well as tools I'm way past 40000NOK or about 3.3K Sterling - I really don't think I could get that much, not in this condition and I see them go for 20000/30000 NOK here quite often.

I can't really afford to have another tech look at it now so I'm determined to get it working myself. Tonight I took it apart and found that the miracle mod was badly done. The bump is too far back so that the hammer cams are resting on top of the bump in stop-lock position and the cams do not lie flat on the pedestal at this point. The back part of the cams do not contact the pedestal. The felt over the bumps are not placed carefully, not tight around the bump and there is so much glue everywhere. I have begun the long job of removing the mod so I can start fresh and get the keys level first. I realize this will take some time, lots of learning and patience but I'm not bad at repairing electronics, amps and synths and the like so I am reasonably confident that I can learn how to do this.

Offline jwc44

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2020, 11:01:57 PM »
I can sympathize, I had what is probably the worlds most infamous tech go through my rhodes and it was a complete and total disaster, so bad in fact is sat in storage for about 15 years.  The good news you can totally handle it yourself.  I had zero experience and tore mine all the way down.  I rebushed both rails,  leveled and regulated all the keys, replaced all the bridal straps, damper felts, damper arms, hammer tips, did the the bump mod, grommets, made new shims, re-established strikeline and escapement, revoiced...the works and it came out great.  That isnt to say I didnt make a few mistakes but overall I really enjoyed it and learned a ton about the rhodes and am confident I can now tackle any problem that might arise.  The other good news is you have the Retro Flyer which I also installed, it's really nice.  The guys at Avion Studios were so helpful and great to deal with, also worked with Vintage Vibe and they are also helpful.  The best advice I can give you is just move on from the bad experience and move forward getting that Rhodes up and running.

Offline AvionKeys

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2020, 01:18:10 AM »
I can sympathize, I had what is probably the worlds most infamous tech go through my rhodes and it was a complete and total disaster, so bad in fact is sat in storage for about 15 years.

Haha, I know exactly who this is. Wassup maaaahhn!

So we've known Doug for years and in our experience he's a great guy and a quality seller. No idea what went down on his end but suffice to say sorry it didn't work out.
More importantly I wanted to let you know you can email us anytime. Just like with JWC there - happy to chat about your Rhodes.

Quick advice: I wouldn't pull the bump mod just yet, bring those keys up and level with some balance shims. Then maybe check the overall alignment of the harp to see about that double striking. You can gently bend some of the tines a bit, but also check the tonebar screws, sometimes if a screw is bent it will tilt the whole assembly.

There's a few things to remedy but also a nice clean original board. So a better starting point that JWC anyway.
Plus we can't very well have a board with a RetroFlyer not singing!  ;)  Shoot us an email anytime.

Best,
Morgen
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Offline wurlidoug

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2020, 02:07:28 AM »
I am that man, Doug McKendrick of Klassic Keys GB. 12 years of operation & hundreds of Rhodes & Wurlitzer pianos shipped all over the world. I never see any complaints.....from Guernsey to New Zealand.......hello, everyone.
OK, this 1975 piano has not worked out. Customer insisted on the "mod". So, I took many more hours, stripping the felts from the cams (boring) and adding the bumps on all 73 pedestals (very boring). Personally, I did not want to do this...the "mod" has caused more grief trough the years than anything I know.....I have just finished another 1975 Stage 73; works perfectly well as is, like it was designed to do.....
I offered this chap his money back.....this seems to be overlooked. This entailed re-collecting an 85Kg pallet from Norway, back to the UK. I say again, re-collecting an 85Kg paller back from Norway to UK....at my expense.
Instead, this chap moves on and dissects the piano. I am sure that any 45-y-old piano will always have something not exactly right, including messy soldering......uh,uh........Here is a tip. Analogue...the "A" does not mean analogue.....the "A" means Approximate.......
In better days, I had loads of Rhodes pianos. That has all changed over the past six months. It used to be a weekly occurrence, selling a Rhodes. NOW, its an event selling any. This will become progressively worse; and all the pianos are getting older and rustier.....and the prices are getting silly......
In conclusion, this 1975 Rhodes was not my best effort. Still a good, clean one......with a $300 Retro Flyer fitted et al.....chap is too tight to consult a local pro, and elects to do it all himself....fair enough.....good luck to him.
End of episode. I did my best to sort the situation out.....money back etc.                Enough.

Offline Chi

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2020, 05:25:36 AM »
Your welcome to defend yourself but lets please stick to the truth. I kept all emails so we have a log of exactly what unfolded.

Customer insisted on the "mod". So, I took many more hours, stripping the felts from the cams (boring) and adding the bumps on all 73 pedestals (very boring). Personally, I did not want to do this...the "mod" has caused more grief trough the years than anything I know....

I never 'insisted' on the mod, I made an inquiry about it being recommended on the 75 model and whether it was something you normally did. Why are you saying that I insisted? Furthermore, you did not once raise any concerns about it - on the contrary you said that it was needed and that you were proficient in performing the mod. Here is what you told me....

"Now, lesser techs would 1) ignore improvements, and just re-sell "as is", explaining the muddy action as "thats just how it is...."...or (2) affix the bump mod (which is more or less a 2mm "plastic toothpick") on to the pedestal itself.. This will work fine for a few years, then it will rub away the felt on the hammer cam...and you are back to square one. This is why I am glad I have more time to focus on your baby......to do a proper "mod".

I can understand you taking offense with your work being publicly criticized - maybe you had other things going on that affected your abilities on this occasion - but please don't tell fibs.

I offered this chap his money back.....this seems to be overlooked. This entailed re-collecting an 85Kg pallet from Norway, back to the UK. I say again, re-collecting an 85Kg paller back from Norway to UK....at my expense.

This was not overlooked. I stated the alternatives you gave me in the first post.

Instead, this chap moves on and dissects the piano. I am sure that any 45-y-old piano will always have something not exactly right, including messy soldering......uh,uh........Here is a tip. Analogue...the "A" does not mean analogue.....the "A" means Approximate.......
In better days, I had loads of Rhodes pianos. That has all changed over the past six months. It used to be a weekly occurrence, selling a Rhodes. NOW, its an event selling any. This will become progressively worse; and all the pianos are getting older and rustier.....and the prices are getting silly......
In conclusion, this 1975 Rhodes was not my best effort. Still a good, clean one......with a $300 Retro Flyer fitted et al.....chap is too tight to consult a local pro, and elects to do it all himself....fair enough.....good luck to him.
End of episode. I did my best to sort the situation out.....money back etc.                Enough.


I am "too tight" - what a disgusting thing to say. This was a very significant amount of money for me to spend, it took a long time to save up and I simply cannot afford to sink more money into this right now so my only option is to try and do the work myself. Your attitude is awful.

Offline Chi

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2020, 05:28:17 AM »
I can sympathize, I had what is probably the worlds most infamous tech go through my rhodes and it was a complete and total disaster, so bad in fact is sat in storage for about 15 years.  The good news you can totally handle it yourself.  I had zero experience and tore mine all the way down.  I rebushed both rails,  leveled and regulated all the keys, replaced all the bridal straps, damper felts, damper arms, hammer tips, did the the bump mod, grommets, made new shims, re-established strikeline and escapement, revoiced...the works and it came out great.  That isnt to say I didnt make a few mistakes but overall I really enjoyed it and learned a ton about the rhodes and am confident I can now tackle any problem that might arise.  The other good news is you have the Retro Flyer which I also installed, it's really nice.  The guys at Avion Studios were so helpful and great to deal with, also worked with Vintage Vibe and they are also helpful.  The best advice I can give you is just move on from the bad experience and move forward getting that Rhodes up and running.

Thank you - this gives me hope!  ;)  Moving on and getting it up and running is exactly my intention.

Offline Chi

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2020, 05:42:07 AM »
I can sympathize, I had what is probably the worlds most infamous tech go through my rhodes and it was a complete and total disaster, so bad in fact is sat in storage for about 15 years.

So we've known Doug for years and in our experience he's a great guy and a quality seller. No idea what went down on his end but suffice to say sorry it didn't work out.
More importantly I wanted to let you know you can email us anytime. Just like with JWC there - happy to chat about your Rhodes.

Quick advice: I wouldn't pull the bump mod just yet, bring those keys up and level with some balance shims. Then maybe check the overall alignment of the harp to see about that double striking. You can gently bend some of the tines a bit, but also check the tonebar screws, sometimes if a screw is bent it will tilt the whole assembly.

There's a few things to remedy but also a nice clean original board. So a better starting point that JWC anyway.
Plus we can't very well have a board with a RetroFlyer not singing!  ;)  Shoot us an email anytime.

Wow - thank you so much for your response. It's very kind of you to offer some advice! It may well be the case that I have been very unlucky and that Doug is usually capable of great work - I hope for his future customers that it is so.

I had already started removing the bump last night before I read this today - hopefully I won't make things worse. I'll take my time and get everything level with the balance felts first - I haven't come across any keys that had felts around the pins of the balance rail yet, only a few paper shims. I have new screws and grommets for the tonebars too - hoping this might remedy the misaligned tines a bit.

Again, thanks for letting me know I can shoot you a mail - it means a lot ;)

Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2020, 06:18:31 AM »
Chi,

Just in case if you need to know how to go through it here's the standard method. During a service changing the grommets, screws and damper felts is a good start and will definitely help with the alignment, you can also adjust the pickup as well.

Set key dip:

Standard is 3/8", this measurement comes from measuring the top of the key cap from its resting position to the top of the key cap when it is fully depressed (but not going in to aftertouch.) If it's already at 3/8" then you're good to go on the next step.

Square key tops:

Over time the keys can become angled (when looking at them from the front) you can make adjust their position by very gently adjusting the balance rail key pin with the key removed.

Set key height:

Now that each individual key cap is level and not at an angle you can now level the entire keybed with paper shims. Once you've got them all at the right height place the felt washer above the shims to prevent wear to them. The factory used to leave the paper shims on top to save time during manufacturing, you wouldn't see this on an acoustic piano.

Remove action from case:

For the next step you need to remove the entire action from the case and take the harp off.

Install miracle mod:

See Ben Bove's amazing post which goes in to all the detail you'll ever need on it: Here

Install damper felts:

Depending on how much a customer can spend and the condition of the dampers sometimes new dampers are required as the old ones become quite tired. If purchasing a new set is completely out of the question you can always remove the originals and level them out. When out of the action I often use acetone to clean the remaining glue for a fresh install of felts. EP-Service or Electric-Keys do full sets for a small amount. The felts when installed should have the grain running horizontally to prevent chirping (I think the treble is the exception.) Vintage Vibe do a good video on this.

Set escapement:

My prefered method to adjust the escapement is by keeping all the tonebars at the standard 3/8" height measured from the wooden harp to the underside of the tonebar. You can then adjust the overall escapement of the piano by using the two fibre shims on each harp support. Ideally you want the measurement between the hammer tip and the tine when depressed to be 1/4" to 3/8" in the bass and 1/32" to 3/32" on the highest note.

Set strikeline:

Remove the harp pivots on both sides and remove the 2 screws which hold the bass side down and the bottom screw from the treble side. Carefully adjust the position of the harp on the supports until you feel the notes ring out and sound pleasant. See here for more details.


Tune / Voice

Fender Rhodes technotes are your friend: http://www.fenderrhodes.com/service/technotes.html

I would suggest going through each of these steps and see what you might want to do depending on the situation.

All the best
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 06:21:59 AM by Tim Hodges »
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Offline Chi

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2020, 06:57:37 AM »
Just in case if you need to know how to go through it here's the standard method. During a service changing the grommets, screws and damper felts is a good start and will definitely help with the alignment, you can also adjust the pickup as well.

This is fantastic - thank you so much for taking the time to post this, invaluable information :)

I ordered most of the parts I need from Christian at Electrickeys so I have new damper combs, damper felts, balance and front rail felts and shims, new hammer tips and pedestal felt. I didn't order a new miracle mod set and so far it seems I am able to remove the bumps so that I can re-use them again after sorting out the keys. I did get 4x 1/32" and 4x 1/16" wooden harp shims too - I wasn't sure if the fiberboard shims would need replacing but I read quite a few posts here that suggested that it was sometimes necessary to remove them and make new ones.

Is there a special tool needed to adjust the balance rail key pins for squaring the keys?

Thanks again! 




Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2020, 12:48:36 PM »

Is there a special tool needed to adjust the balance rail key pins for squaring the keys?

Thanks again!

A word of warning don’t use pliers. I typically use one of those screw drivers which has an empty shaft for using removable bits. Put the key pin in the shaft of the screwdriver and gently lever the key pin (only if required) and in as few steps as possible as you don’t want to damage the hole.
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Offline jwc44

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2020, 01:45:57 PM »
To echo what Tim said, definitely DO NOT USE PLIERS.  The previous tech on mine did and the pins have the scars to prove it.  I ended up using a pencil cut in half ( a wooden dowel would have been a better choice) and gently tapped that against the pin with a rubber mallet until the key was squared up.  Shimming and leveling is a piece of cake its just kind of boring, grab a beverage and something flat and level and get to it.

You can totally do this job, lots of vids on youtube and outstanding support from the Rhodes community.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 01:52:33 PM by jwc44 »

Offline Chi

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2020, 02:44:46 PM »
A word of warning don’t use pliers. I typically use one of those screw drivers which has an empty shaft for using removable bits. Put the key pin in the shaft of the screwdriver and gently lever the key pin (only if required) and in as few steps as possible as you don’t want to damage the hole.

To echo what Tim said, definitely DO NOT USE PLIERS.  The previous tech on mine did and the pins have the scars to prove it.  I ended up using a pencil cut in half ( a wooden dowel would have been a better choice) and gently tapped that against the pin with a rubber mallet until the key was squared up.  Shimming and leveling is a piece of cake its just kind of boring, grab a beverage and something flat and level and get to it.

Thank you both! Pliers it is then hehe :P

I just finished removing the last of the bumps - hooray! I've noticed there was lots of gunk left on the underside of the hammer cams where the previous felts has been. I will clean that off so that they are smooth.

When depressing the keys (before aftertouch) should the hammer tips all reach the same height give or take a couple mm's?

I see that some are much higher/lower in no obvious pattern - sometimes by 10/20mm. This can be within the same grouping/section. The keys themselves are pretty much the same height when taken out and laid side by side - both the key front and the pedestal height. The hammer cams seem to be equal too so it's a bit odd that they can rest at such varying heights when depressed.



A few of the balance pin bushings fell apart as I lifted the keys. Are they tricky to replace? I see that there are special tools and jigs for this - I suppose I will need the correct tools to to it?







Offline jwc44

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2020, 08:00:07 PM »
My hammers at rest are not level.  I had the pure luck of getting to spend an afternoon with a great piano tech , one thing I learned is Rhodes (as cool as can be) are NOT precision instruments, not even close so don't have the expectation of all the hammers, felts and tips being in perfect height, they should just be in the neighborhood.  You can compensate some issues by bending the aluminum damper arms, (dont be afraid they were designed for that) just be gentle and take your time.  Escapement, bridal strap length, damper arm position and hammer tip height are are variables you will be dealing with, the geometry of pianos is such that everything has some effect on everything.  I know at first this can sound overwhelming but you will see as you get into the piano it's not too bad.  I printed out the manual and kept it on my bench at all times.  Start out with the recommended specs and adjust as needed.

As far as the bushings (the felts that are falling out) I chose to rebush mine.  To do it right is not inexpensive, I ended up buying all the mortise cauls and key bushing cauls and it was not a fun job, the piano tech loaned me a bushmaster felt cutting tool that made it slightly less painful.  If yours are not worn out I wouldnt mess with them.  If you do end up doing the job use hide glue, the previous tech used super glue on EVERYTHING and made all my repair work extra time consuming.  You're starting off in pretty good shape.  You are going to be really happy when you finish.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2020, 08:02:05 PM by jwc44 »

Offline goldphinga

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2020, 03:40:31 AM »
A word of warning don’t use pliers. I typically use one of those screw drivers which has an empty shaft for using removable bits. Put the key pin in the shaft of the screwdriver and gently lever the key pin (only if required) and in as few steps as possible as you don’t want to damage the hole.

To echo what Tim said, definitely DO NOT USE PLIERS.  The previous tech on mine did and the pins have the scars to prove it.  I ended up using a pencil cut in half ( a wooden dowel would have been a better choice) and gently tapped that against the pin with a rubber mallet until the key was squared up.  Shimming and leveling is a piece of cake its just kind of boring, grab a beverage and something flat and level and get to it.

Thank you both! Pliers it is then hehe :P

I just finished removing the last of the bumps - hooray! I've noticed there was lots of gunk left on the underside of the hammer cams where the previous felts has been. I will clean that off so that they are smooth.

When depressing the keys (before aftertouch) should the hammer tips all reach the same height give or take a couple mm's?

I see that some are much higher/lower in no obvious pattern - sometimes by 10/20mm. This can be within the same grouping/section. The keys themselves are pretty much the same height when taken out and laid side by side - both the key front and the pedestal height. The hammer cams seem to be equal too so it's a bit odd that they can rest at such varying heights when depressed.



A few of the balance pin bushings fell apart as I lifted the keys. Are they tricky to replace? I see that there are special tools and jigs for this - I suppose I will need the correct tools to to it?






The hammers should not be uneven like this. The things contributing to this amount of even-ness can be a poorly installed miracle mod (prob the no.one cause in this case)- so the bumps are in the wrong places and as you have already mentioned, glue left on underside of cams (these need to be super clean and polished up), unevenly installed pedestal felt and possibly uneven back rail felt that's worn, bunched up or full of gunk. Personally speaking, I would remove this miracle mod and start again if it's this uneven up and down the keyboard. BUT first, get the key heights and dip to factory specs, and go from there.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 03:43:51 AM by goldphinga »

Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2020, 05:48:46 AM »
Chi can you post some photos of the mod?

The best stuff to remove glue from the hammer cams is methylated spirits. Over here in the U.K. it’s purple and has an absolutely terrible smell but is perfectly safe for the plastic hammers, in Norway you will know it as rødsprit. With the hammer combs out or the entire action rail off you can easily get to them in one go. They need to be completely free of residue before re-installing.
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Offline Chi

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2020, 08:25:07 AM »
The hammers should not be uneven like this. The things contributing to this amount of even-ness can be a poorly installed miracle mod (prob the no.one cause in this case)- so the bumps are in the wrong places and as you have already mentioned, glue left on underside of cams (these need to be super clean and polished up), unevenly installed pedestal felt and possibly uneven back rail felt that's worn, bunched up or full of gunk. Personally speaking, I would remove this miracle mod and start again if it's this uneven up and down the keyboard. BUT first, get the key heights and dip to factory specs, and go from there.

Unfortunately - this is after removing the mod :( 

I'm not sure but I think the balance felts, or rather lack of them, might be contributing. There are only various paper washers on the balance rail pins. Still seems a bit too big of a difference for it to be down to these parts though hmm.

The key pedestals are uniform heights and the hammers too are all the same - there isn't that much more to the mechanism - I will check again later when I am home.

Thanks for the tips JD ;)

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2020, 08:30:28 AM »
Chi can you post some photos of the mod?

The best stuff to remove glue from the hammer cams is methylated spirits. Over here in the U.K. it’s purple and has an absolutely terrible smell but is perfectly safe for the plastic hammers, in Norway you will know it as rødsprit. With the hammer combs out or the entire action rail off you can easily get to them in one go. They need to be completely free of residue before re-installing.

Sorry Tim - I finished removing the mod last night. I would have described it more as a lump than a bump in this case since the felt placed over the bump was not pressed tight around the bump. There was so much glue underneath that it was more like a big felt lump. The hammer cam was always sitting on top of it - even at stoplock - such that the cam never lay flat.

Will get hold of some rødsprit to clean up the hammers - I was using nail varnish remover to get the glue of the pedestals.

Cheers ;)

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2020, 08:35:36 AM »
....i'm wondering how to adjust the key-dip on a 75 model with the aluminium frame. I watched the VV vids but they are treating an earlier model with the wooden frame and action rail - on the metal one the action rail doesn't look to be shimmable in the same way.

Offline jwc44

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2020, 10:25:41 AM »
Are you looking to increase or decrease?  I ended up taking off the particle board shims on the top of the rails and making new ones to get it where I wanted.  If you are looking to decrease the keydip you can use a thicker back felt, Avion has a green thicker felt strip.

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2020, 12:12:36 PM »
Are you looking to increase or decrease?  I ended up taking off the particle board shims on the top of the rails and making new ones to get it where I wanted.  If you are looking to decrease the keydip you can use a thicker back felt, Avion has a green thicker felt strip.

Looking to increase the dip a little bit. Did you re-shim the harp supports to set the key dip or was that more for escapement? I think I've read that quite a few people remove the factory particle board ones - something about them being generic and not really the right thickness for each individual instrument.

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2020, 12:29:33 PM »

I'm not sure but I think the balance felts, or rather lack of them, might be contributing.


So underneath the keys on the balance rail pins there are no white felts with those paper punchings?

With an aluminium action rail you can still shim it. Just need find a suitable shim made of something like wood from a modellers shop which won’t easily compress or some thick gauge card.


Looking to increase the dip a little bit. Did you re-shim the harp supports to set the key dip or was that more for escapement? I think I've read that quite a few people remove the factory particle board ones - something about them being generic and not really the right thickness for each individual instrument.

Changing the thickness of the particle board on the top of the harp supports changes escapement. That is also known as the distance between the top of the hammertip to the underside of the tine with the key pressed down. Too small a distance between them and they will choke and break quicker. Too far between them and the action will feel spongy and more difficult to play.

« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 12:51:07 PM by Tim Hodges »
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Offline Chi

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2020, 12:36:53 PM »

So underneath the keys on the balance rail pins there are no white felts with those paper punchings?

With an aluminium action rail you can still shim it. Just need find a suitable shim made of something like wood from a modellers shop which won’t easily compress or some thick gauge card.


That's right - there was not a single felt washer on any pin along the balance rail - only paper punchings.

Brilliant - that's good news about the aluminium action rail - I may cut up some of the old damper arms for this.

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #24 on: October 19, 2020, 12:51:31 PM »
Oh dear
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Offline Chi

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #25 on: October 19, 2020, 12:59:25 PM »
Oh dear

 :D luckily I have the full balance and action sets for felts and punchings - I take it they are there for a good reason.

Offline jwc44

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #26 on: October 19, 2020, 01:10:27 PM »
Are you looking to increase or decrease?  I ended up taking off the particle board shims on the top of the rails and making new ones to get it where I wanted.  If you are looking to decrease the keydip you can use a thicker back felt, Avion has a green thicker felt strip.

Looking to increase the dip a little bit. Did you re-shim the harp supports to set the key dip or was that more for escapement? I think I've read that quite a few people remove the factory particle board ones - something about them being generic and not really the right thickness for each individual instrument.

I had escapement issues which is why I had to make thinner shims for the harp.  On my board I initially thought my key dip was a bit shallow at just under 3/8 and was going to shim the aluminum rails but once I screwed it back in and measured my keydip ended up somewhere over 3/8 and under 13/32 which feels nice to me.

Offline Tines&Reeds

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #27 on: October 19, 2020, 01:38:27 PM »
Let me give you a hint:

You'll need 3/8" a lot... key dip, escapement, etc.

Did you know that the tine-body is 3/8" thick? You can take a tine for reference in many many cases! :-)
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Offline Chi

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #28 on: October 19, 2020, 02:38:12 PM »
I had escapement issues which is why I had to make thinner shims for the harp.  On my board I initially thought my key dip was a bit shallow at just under 3/8 and was going to shim the aluminum rails but once I screwed it back in and measured my keydip ended up somewhere over 3/8 and under 13/32 which feels nice to me.

I see - that sounds great! I have 8 wooden shims from ElectricKeys (4 x 1/32" & 4 x 1/16") so they may come in handy when I approach escapement.

Cheers JWC ;)

Offline Chi

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Re: Restoration newbie - 1975 MkI Stage
« Reply #29 on: October 19, 2020, 02:40:16 PM »
Let me give you a hint:

You'll need 3/8" a lot... key dip, escapement, etc.

Did you know that the tine-body is 3/8" thick? You can take a tine for reference in many many cases! :-)

Aha! Thanks for the tip. It might be a good idea to unscrew a tine to use as a measure then - much easier than trying to squint out 9.5250mm on my ruler  ;D