Author Topic: '76 Rhodes : best order for quite a lot of restorations ?  (Read 658 times)

Offline Man-U

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'76 Rhodes : best order for quite a lot of restorations ?
« on: April 20, 2020, 08:50:44 AM »
Dear forumers,

first of all, please excuse my probably uncorrect english, since I’m French!

I am new to this forum and I came here because I’m trying to occupy myself with a global restoration of my Rhodes during my (confined) spare time... This is the first time I do that (I’ve only be dealing with tuning and voicing the piano when I bought it 15 years ago), so I would appreciate very much to benefit from the advices of pros and other experimented persons. I’ve read a lot of threads in this forum (dozens, for sure) but I couldn’t find an answer to some of my questions.

To begin with, my piano is a '76 Rhodes Stage 73. I’ve planned to restore quite a lot of things inside the piano. I’ve already installed new front rail felts + balance rail felts and set key height and key dip. Now I would like to proceed with:
  • new tone bar grommets + screws + springs
  • new hammer tips
  • new damper felts
  • the bump mod, even if I’m not quite sure yet (see my questions on this other topic https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=10244). Note : my Rhodes have plastic hammers with white felts on the cam (hence bare pedestals)
As you can see, most of these changes will affect mainly the escapement. I’ve thought a lot about how to do the right things at the right moment and for now, I have in mind the following order :
  • change tone bar grommets and screws, set the tone bars in a 'neutral’ position (3/8’’ height) and the tines just above the center of the pickups ; the precise settings will be made at the end
  • disassemble hammers, change the tips
  • do the bump mod : remove the felts on hammer cams before putting them back on the rail and add bumps+felt on the pedestals 
  • set the harp height and the strikeline : there will be certainly some adjustments to do since I’m changing the old square hammer tips for new ones which are graduated and having not the same height, e.g. -3mm for the lowest keys, equal for the highestand in between in the middle part.

    Also, according to someone who did the bump mod with a similar model, it seems that it was necessary to lower the harp after that, unlike for pianos that came with felts on the pedestal :
    https://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=9953.0
    Can anybody else (having worked on the same model) confirm that observation ?

    Moreover I think that presently the escapement was set too high by 2mm all along the piano (when comparing to settings in the Rhodes manual)...

    To sum up it’s quite sure I’ll have to lower the harp by removing the MDF shims glued on the top of the aluminium supports: there are 1 at the right side (~3,5mm) and 2 at the left (hence ~7mm). And adjust with other harp shims. 
  • change the damper felts (hoping that the new ones will fit not too badly) 
  • come back to the tonebars to set voicing (timbre, module)

My main questions are :
- do you think that my order of the operations is correct ?
- did I miss something ? I mean, between some of the steps there could be something else to do I haven’t thought of ?
- do you have any particular advice concerning this global restoration ?
Actually my main fear is to create too many important changes without being able to control them (by lack of experience). For instance, after lowering the harp in 4) probably the (old) dampers will be pressing against the tines and will not let them resonate, so how to know if the escapement has been properly set ? Should I adjust harp height without dampers ? Or only after changing the felts (the new ones are smaller, luckily).

I would be very glad if some of you could help me in organizing this big restoration. Many thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2020, 09:51:19 AM by Man-U »
1976 Rhodes Stage 73
Located in France

Offline sean

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Re: '76 Rhodes : best order for quite a lot of restorations ?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2020, 04:52:39 PM »

I am surprised that your 1976 Rhodes has square hammer tips.  In 1976?  Really?

The order in which you do the operations is not super-critical.  You can do them in the order that you receive the parts.  The order that you plan to follow is reasonable.

There is no reason to replace the springs when you do the grommet job.  You can clean the wax off them if you like, but unless they are ugly rusted, keep them.
You can do the grommet job and reset the timbre in an evening or two, and you will notice a huge change in the sound of the piano.  It really is satisfying.

Then you can remove the harp, and set it aside while you tackle the hammer tip and damper jobs - and you should remove the felts from the hammer cams.

I don't think I would want to snap 73 hammers out of the combs just to get the felts or hammer tips off them.  Removing the hammers risks breaking the comb or nubs, and would require removing the bridal straps.  If they are glued in, that's a pain.  If the bridal straps have a dab of glue on every damper, then I would unscrew the key frame, and slide the whole action out of the piano. 

You can leave the keys and all your punchings and felts in place if you just unscrew the action rail and harp supports.  Then you can flip the action upside down to get at the hammer cams.

See Hollywood actor Fred Willard removing the felts:  https://vimeo.com/214571859

Take the felts off, clean it up, flip it over and replace the hammer tips and damper felts, then re-attach it to the key frame.  Put it back in the piano case, and put the harp back on, and re-set the strike line, re-set the escapement, then re-set the strike line again, and repeat until you get it where you like it.

Sean


(Actually Fred Dileone, not Fred Willard.  Honest mistake.)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2020, 02:23:53 PM by Cormac Long »

Offline Man-U

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Re: '76 Rhodes : best order for quite a lot of restorations ?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2020, 11:49:05 AM »
Thank you very much, Sean, for all the explanations and the tips. It’s going to help me a lot.

- About the grommets : actually I’ve ordered (and received) a complete kit, including screws and springs. Since the moment I’ve written my first post 2 days ago, I’ve removed all the old material. I was surprised to find some white thing all around the springs, crumbling when I took out the tonebars. I thought first it was silicon but as I read your message it should be wax. Do I have to put something myself back when installing the new kit, to lubricate or protect from corrosion ? Something like Protek CLP (I have some) or WD40 ?

- About the hammer tips shape : yes indeed, they are cubic, except the wooden ones. To be precise, of 5 families/colors : keys 1-23 (black), keys 24-33 (red), keys 34-43 (yellow), keys 44-57 (black or discolored ?), keys 58-73 (wooden)
Can I ask why do you find this surprising in a 1976 Rhodes ?

- About the hammer tips replacement : I thought it would have been easier to disassemble the hammers in order to remove properly the old tips and above all the residue of glue, not necessarily individually (probably a pain) but comb by comb, as shown there:
http://rhodes4ever.blogspot.com/2014/12/renewing-hammer-tips-of-your-beloved.html

Fortunately, the bridal straps are not glued on my model so I can easily separate hammers from damper arms.

Many thanks again.
1976 Rhodes Stage 73
Located in France

Offline sean

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Re: '76 Rhodes : best order for quite a lot of restorations ?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2020, 01:31:52 PM »

You don't need to lube the grommets at all.  So don't.  The wax that you find near the grommets and springs is a common woodworking trick: to drive screws into hard wood, rub the screw threads on a block of wax (or soap) and the screw will be easier to turn.

I didn't know that the square hammer tips were used with all-plastic hammers.  I thought that as soon as the half-wood hammers disappeared (around 1974?), so did the square hammer tips.  Square hammer tips on half-wood hammers is a really nice combination.  I haven't seen square hammer tips on all-plastic hammers.  I didn't know.  Thus my surprise.


Sean
« Last Edit: April 26, 2020, 01:33:46 PM by sean »

Offline Miles

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Re: '76 Rhodes : best order for quite a lot of restorations ?
« Reply #4 on: Today at 04:54:12 AM »
For the record, I have an early 1976 Stage 73 (week 3) and it had square hammer tips, slightly graduated, not as tapered as newer units with angled hammer tips.


I am surprised that your 1976 Rhodes has square hammer tips.  In 1976?  Really?
Restoring a Rhodes MkI 73 Stage from 1976