Author Topic: Restoring and removing keybed outside the case  (Read 226 times)

Offline Sisboombah

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Restoring and removing keybed outside the case
« on: December 18, 2018, 02:20:54 PM »
Hi all - first thing’s first - a huge Thank You to all on this forum who contribute.  The advice and experiences here are very helpful.

Keeping it short, I’m finally embarking on restoring as well/as much a 1977 MarkI 73 Stage. She’s in bad shape, somewhat playable, but way out of whack and in need of everything mechanically.  I’m going for the delux VV restoration pack (grommets, screws, dampers, hammer felt, probably graduated tips, maybe Miracle Mod - I play with a pretty heavy hand so I’ll try a few keys). The case lid and bottom shell are failing at the joints, have been reinforced with 1” alum angle, Tolex is gone on top and near gone on the bottom. 

So that’s the bad news; the good news is that though it’s about a D+ mechanically and cosmetically, all the parts are there and seem restorable. All the legs, braces, and even original pedal are there. There’s a goofy electronic mod (maybe a vibrato?) that seemed to be useful at one time, but has been mercifully euthanized.

In short, I’d like to start restoring the action outside the case if possible or advisable, as I’m pretty resolved to having to build a new enclosure. Until I get access to a shop, I’d like to have the project moving somewhat. Is it advisable to pull the keybed/action/harp out and work on it on a nice level workbench? Or is it necessary to have it in the enclosure?  And any advice for enclosure building would be great - I’ve seen some other threads covering this.

Many thanks!

Offline sean

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Re: Restoring and removing keybed outside the case
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2018, 10:11:53 PM »
You can leave it in the case to do the grommets, dampers, tips, and felts.  I prefer to be able to check my progress as I work, so it is nice to keep it mostly assembled.  Do ten grommets, play a little.  Do ten more, play a little. The hammer tips or damper felts have to be done as a whole batch so the glue can dry, so you don't get to play as you work.  But the grommet job involves re-setting the escapement and voicing, so it is nice to have the piano in playing order.

You will probably take the cheek blocks, action, and harp out of the case to do the tolex job.  If you are going to repair the case, you would take all that out, and remove the harp supports. 

You get to decide what order you want to do the work.   You could get it playable now, then wait until summertime to build a new case and do the new tolex. 

It is probably a good idea to do a very thorough inspection and assessment of the bottom of the case.  You should be able to get a good look at things by simply removing the keys and the damper release bar.  Since the case is broken, and the tolex is ratty, I would suspect that there is water damage.  If there is no water damage, then your Rhodes may have been dropped.  If the bottom of the case isn't water damaged, or cracked, or warped, then I think you should do your best to keep it.  Bondo and epoxy can do amazing repairs.  If it can't be re-used, save it as a template to locate and drill the mounting holes for the action rail, keybed, and harp supports in your new case.

I assume that you already know about the service manual on the Super Site at

Post some photos of the piano, and especially of the added electronics.

« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 10:17:09 PM by sean »

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: Restoring and removing keybed outside the case
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2018, 07:43:57 AM »
I agree with Sean. Working on a Rhodes outside of the case is vastly different from working on a grand piano action outside of a piano. You need the case to do this work. There is a jig for grand pianos but not for Rhodes to set action parameters outside of the piano. Plus, you need something to attach the harp supports and the keybed to, so it’s much easier to leave it in. Maybe remove it to clean out the case, then put everything back before working on the action and harp.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 200A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2000 Yamaha acoustic piano
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
....and a few guitars...