Author Topic: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build  (Read 40531 times)

Offline voltergeist

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Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« on: February 17, 2014, 09:55:59 AM »
Figured I'd start a thread on my next project, which I officially kicked off last night.  The objective is to build the Student Model (KMC) I pickup up in Duluth, MN into a Student/Suitcase hybrid, intended to be a badass studio or home piano.  My plan is to build in a 4-pin preamp, Peterson power supply/amp, 2x12 baffles on both sides, and 4 rack spaces in the shelf area.  I plan to replace the felt hammer tips with repro square tips (when they become available), and do a  complete overhaul of the harp and action. 

Last night I started digging into it, and was pleased to discover there is enough room on the front baffle for 12's, so I'll be able to do it as a 4x12 (I was thinking I'd have to use 10's, or even 8's to fit the front baffle).  That also means I can use the set of new P12Q's I had previously purchased before my plans for the Peterson amp set changed.  The front baffle is not tall enough to stagger speakers diagonally, as on a suitcase, but I'll still be able to mount all 4 speakers symmetrically on a straight line in both front and back; the speakers on the back can be mounted lower to provide clearance for the magnets.

I plan to use a 4-pin preamp rail and run the 4-pin cable internal to the cabinet.  I'll have hole plugs where the 4 pin connector would normally be in the preamp and power supply.  The front baffle will be comprised of three sections; two speaker baffles with speaker grill, and a middle Tolex-covered section to which the power supply will be mounted. 

The shelf area will be converted to rack spaces, with two spaces on each side.  The back side of the rackmount area will have a removable panel to access the I/O of the rack units. 

Last night I opened up the cabinet to figure out exactly what will be required to mount baffles, and it looks like it will be pretty straightforward.  A fair amount of fabrication required, but nothing particularly difficult, and nothing requiring major modification of the cabinet to make it work.

The rebuild of the Peterson amp destined for this piano is documented on this thread:

http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=7884.msg40820#msg40820

The stock piano after cleaning it up:
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2014, 10:03:26 AM »
Aesthetic check of piano with 4-pin preamp rail after I removed the stock amp module.  I intend to use the original student model harp cover (it will have to be modified with a cutout to accomodate the preamp) and original metal rail badge.  Rather than drill out the original rail, I'll use the rail pictured, which is an extra one I had on hand with a VV preamp.

My current plan is to use black grill cloth on both sides, which I think will be really sharp. 

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2014, 08:01:29 AM »
I ordered a set of isolation grommets from Ken Rich for the Studecase based on others' recommendations.  I'm quite pleased with them; the quality is very good.  I have yet to find a single grommet that has any flaw whatsoever.  They all appear to be perfectly molded with dead-center holes.  The KR grommets are a bit more pliable than the ones from another supplier I usually get, and the quality more consistent.  The photo below are compare randomly-selected grommets- KR on the bottom, the other on top.  It's not a completely fair comparison, since the KR ones were randomly pulled from a full pack, whereas the others were from my leftovers, so they probably have a higher proportion of defects than would be present in a full pack.  Nonetheless, it's a good illustration of the defects that are not present in the Ken Rich grommets.

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2014, 01:13:10 PM »
Started working through the action this weekend.  Replaced the broken bridle straps, removed all the pedestal felts, and almost half done removing hammer tips and damper felts.  A couple weeks ago I went through the harp, installed Ken Rich grommets, polished the tines, and tuned it.

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2014, 01:19:16 PM »
This piano contained some notable detritus- two types of multi-colored macaroni and a sunflower seeds for good measure.  I had already removed all the keys and vacuumed it out.  The photo below is of the foodstuffs that weren't visible until the whole piano was removed from the case.



Rare and valuable vintage Mickey and Minnie Mouse macaroni:
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2014, 08:57:09 AM »
Making some progress on the Studecase.  All the old hammer tips and damper felts removed, about half done buffing the keys, cut the harp cover cutout to accommodate the preamp, and started building the front baffle. 

My design plan has been evolving.  Currently planning to locate the Peterson power supply faceplate on the side like a suitcase, and ditch the rackspace idea in favor of clean design and simplicity.  I'm planning to cut back the front edge of the shelf to avoid knee-knocking and build a small baffle to cover the shelf opening.  Without needing to access the back of rack gear, I can build one large baffle to cover the entire back rather than a door and a smaller baffle. 

Rather than using a hole plug to fill the 4-pin connector hole in the control panel, VV is building me a cheek block power supply without the power supply jack, which will serve as 1/4" stereo post outs and make the 4-pin connector on the preamp useful.  Connections to the Peterson power supply/power amp will be made internally.  Granted, I could just wire 1/4" outs to a cheek block and forego the cable, but I'm thinking the aesthetics would be better with the short 4-pin cable than with a hole plug in the control panel. 

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline PaulBuck

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2014, 10:56:33 AM »
I just bought a KMC last week and my first inclination was to perform a similar mod, making it into a suitcase hybrid with a few upgrades.  After researching the model, I noticed it was a less desirable model because of the cabinet but the prospect of turning it into a really cool studio or home piano was immediately appealing.  My cabinet is not in as good condition as yours so I'm thinking of sanding it down.  I also need to replace the t-molding because mine is really banged up.  Hopefully the molding I bought from t-molding.com will form to the contours using heat.  Guess we'll find out.  I'll be watching your progress with a lot of interest.  Thanks for posting!
Wurlitzer 200, Rhodes KMC

Offline PaulBuck

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2014, 11:01:09 AM »
Also, I noticed in your first pic, the front rail has no outputs or knobs at all.  Was all the audio routed thru the module amp?
Wurlitzer 200, Rhodes KMC

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2014, 11:15:32 AM »
Also, I noticed in your first pic, the front rail has no outputs or knobs at all.  Was all the audio routed thru the module amp?

Yeah, in the original configuration, the harp output went straight to the amp module through internal wiring. 
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2014, 12:28:26 PM »
I also need to replace the t-molding because mine is really banged up.  Hopefully the molding I bought from t-molding.com will form to the contours using heat. 

The T-molding on these things always turned me off.  Too much like those long folding tables in a school cafeteria for me.
Why not just replace the sides with some nice hard wood?
I'm guessing right now they're particle board?
Ray

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2014, 01:01:45 PM »
I also need to replace the t-molding because mine is really banged up.  Hopefully the molding I bought from t-molding.com will form to the contours using heat. 

The T-molding on these things always turned me off.  Too much like those long folding tables in a school cafeteria for me.
Why not just replace the sides with some nice hard wood?
I'm guessing right now they're particle board?
Ray

Ha, yeah, T-molding does kinda have a cafeteria vibe.  Others might call it a 70's vibe.  The sides are actually good quality plywood under the veneer.  A walnut edge veneer would be another option, and far easier and less costly than doing big solid hardwood panels.  You'd probably be looking at a couple hundred dollars at least just for raw lumber to build solid panels, and dismantling the cabinet to put new sides on would not be a trivial task, since the sides are primary structural components.  Dealing with expansion on solid hardwood side panels would require some thought, too.

There are several areas where I'll need to cover plywood edges, and I plan to use walnut edge veneer on at least some of them.  Some places I may use black painted hardwood strips, another I may use natural color solid walnut strips.

There's an easy way and a hard way to do the rear baffle.  The easy way the baffle would stick out from the adjoining surfaces by 1/2".  The hard way the baffle would sit flush with the adjoining surfaces.  Being a glutton for punishment and anal about aesthetics, I'm planning to do it the hard way, which involves covering plywood edges surrounding the new baffle, and deciding on material and finish.  I'm thinking the trim surrounding the rear baffle I'll do the horizontal pieces in natural walnut strips and the vertical pieces in gloss black painted strips.  I also have a large metal(!) Rhodes emblem I plan to put in the middle on the back, where it would be on a stage/suitcase piano. 
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2014, 10:16:18 AM »
Cutting speaker holes.



Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2014, 10:18:29 AM »
Holes drilled for speaker mounting screws, test fit on cabinet.



Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2014, 10:20:03 AM »
Incorporating a rear baffle will be a bit more challenging.



Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2014, 10:25:15 AM »
Front baffle painted and ready for hardware and speakers.  Front baffle is attached to the cabinet by screws from behind.  Looks like it means business with those big cutouts.

Sorry for the poor quality photos.  The window on my phone camera is cracked.



Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline PaulBuck

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2014, 11:12:00 AM »
I also need to replace the t-molding because mine is really banged up.  Hopefully the molding I bought from t-molding.com will form to the contours using heat. 

The T-molding on these things always turned me off.  Too much like those long folding tables in a school cafeteria for me.
Why not just replace the sides with some nice hard wood?
I'm guessing right now they're particle board?
Ray

New hard wood sides were my first inclination but then I found the t-molding I needed for $20.
Wurlitzer 200, Rhodes KMC

Offline bumpyrhode

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2014, 12:06:50 PM »
How about some edge veneer. Heat activated glue with iron on application. I've used it on other
projects. Works good.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_16545-99899-34210_0__

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2014, 10:33:24 PM »
Pretty badass, no?




Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline David Aubke

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2014, 07:24:34 AM »
Being unfamiliar with both the Suitcase and KMC, I'm not clear on what this conversion means. The KMC had a built-in amp, right? but it doesn't include the effects available on a Suitcase?
Dave Aubke
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Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2014, 07:56:27 AM »
Being unfamiliar with both the Suitcase and KMC, I'm not clear on what this conversion means. The KMC had a built-in amp, right? but it doesn't include the effects available on a Suitcase?

Yeah, the original KMC configuration had a 15W amp module driving a single 8" speaker with no effects. 
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2014, 11:09:02 AM »
Here I cut down the back edge of the shelf to make room for the baffle:



Below is the basic rear baffle idea.  Notice the exposed plywood around the perimeter that needs trim.  With this arrangement the baffle will sit flush with the rest of the rear surfaces.

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2014, 11:10:42 AM »
Here I'm starting to glue in the boards that the baffle will be screwed to.

Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2014, 11:24:29 AM »
It's coming along great.  Even incomplete, it looks better than the old brown grill cloth etc.
Nice work!

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2014, 12:13:34 PM »
It's coming along great.  Even incomplete, it looks better than the old brown grill cloth etc.
Nice work!

Thanks!
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline vanceinatlance

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2014, 05:14:01 PM »
This is very cool to watch. Your other posts have been very entertaining and informative as well. It sort of reminds me of an english pub Rhodes in this configuration. I think it will sound amazing with your speaker/cabinet setup and, of course, the Peterson pre-amp. Have you decided what amp you are going to use?

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #25 on: April 11, 2014, 06:11:58 PM »
Thanks!  I've got a full Peterson amp set for it. 
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #26 on: April 11, 2014, 06:50:54 PM »
I don't know...
With all that room, it's begging for a pair of tube power amps. 

Offline voltergeist

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #27 on: April 12, 2014, 03:32:37 PM »
I don't know...
With all that room, it's begging for a pair of tube power amps.

That would be cool, but I've already got the Peterson stuff and two tube power amps would get pretty expensive.
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2014, 03:35:01 PM »



Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270

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Re: Student Model/Suitcase Hybrid Build
« Reply #29 on: April 12, 2014, 03:37:20 PM »
Baffle surround trim ready to put on.




Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
In Progress: 1 '78 Suitcase (2nd one), '70 KMC - Customized w/ Peterson 4x12, '77 Wurli 270