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Looking for sustain rail for MK 1 73

Started by jimmymio, February 23, 2023, 08:42:14 PM

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I'm repairing a 1971 73 key stage piano and for whatever reason it has no sustain rail. Vintage Vibe has all the misc. parts I need but not the rail itself (at least i don't see it on their site) . Anyone know where i can find one?


As a follow up, my client has decided that he didn't want to wait for a 73 to show up so he will buy an 88 damper rail from Vintage Vibe. I'll have to cut it down and make whatever modifications are necessary.
I'll probably just hacksaw it unless someone here has a better suggestion.



Please promise me that you have called Vintage Vibe, and talked to Chris or Fred and asked them for the exact 73-key damper rail that you need.  If they really truly don't have it...

You will find that a radial-arm saw will cut the aluminum extrusion very cleanly.
You don't need a special blade sold explicity for aluminum, just use a carbide-tipped blade with as many teeth as you can afford or find handy.

Lubrication will help a LOT!  I use a wax bar that is sold for this purpose:  Olson Saw Blade Lubricant - $12 for a lifetime supply/little stick.  It makes a mess of your blade guard, and will probably get on the wall behind your saw, but it stops the aluminum from gumming up your saw blade.  You might still get a few teeth with aluminum stuck to them, but you can knock off the crud with a piece of wood (don't use your hand, it will be hot).  Inspect the blade before and after every cut!

Wear gloves, long sleeves, a face shield, and an apron.  Cutting through the aluminum creates a beautiful snowfall of hot aluminum flakes.

Clamp the workpiece tightly to the table of your saw.  The blade will pull it away from the fence, and you will get a crooked cut.  (Try a test cut before the final length cut.)  Really clamp it tight with at least two clamps, you really can't hold the large stock with your hand.  Don't try.

Don't cut slowly.  Cut just as fast as you would for wood.  If you go very slow with the aluminum, it will get very hot, and gum up the blade -- and then you will not get a clean cut.  Pull smoothly through the cut, don't stop, don't hesitate.  Not fast and herky-jerky, just be smoooth.

If you don't believe me, try cutting a thick-walled extrusion of aluminum that is not precious like the damper rail.  I have even cut one-inch round bar with the circular saw blade.



Thanks so much forfor the suggestions.

I'm debating whether to do a single cut and then have to drill a new hole for the center pin, or preserve the existing hole and make a cut on both ends of the rail.

I will probably do a practice cut towards the end of the rail before doing the final cut(s). Not sure the Dremel would be up for the job but I will certainly use it after the cut to smooth the edges.

Yes I did talk to Vintage Vibe. They had a 73 and 88 rail for the modular style actions but only an 88 for the pre-modular actions. I even discussed the possibility of using the 73 key modular rail but that would involve modifying the piano itself. So I ordered the older style 88.

Also Vintage Vibe doesn't carry the little spring that hooks over the back of the rail. They said it probably isn't needed. I guess I'll find out.

The rail should come Monday. Any other tips?


As a follow up- I had a friend cut it using a Milwaukee grinder. Even with that powerful tool it wasn't an easy task. Even drilling that center hole was a bit of a chore.

But all is well that ends well. And with some finagling, the client has a working sustain system.

Thanks for the help.


Oh, well.  A grinder is not a great cutting tool for aluminum.

An abrasive wheel will just smear the aluminum, rather than cut.  There are special cut-off wheels for aluminum that do a less-sucky job, but they still leave a nasty edge.

The circular saw blade leaves a remarkably clean edge.  But truthfully, either way we would hit the edge with a file and de-burring tools to clean it up after the cut.

So, you got it to work, and the Rhodes is alive again!  That's great.