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  • Need help with an old Allen....

    I just found out the church I attend has an old Allen organ in the smaller sanctuary. They stopped using it because "someone" told them it was not worth repairing although I found the sound to be quite nice when I played it.

    The organ is a computer organ system 100, 200 or a 300 model according to the manual in the bench. The console is self contained. It has some rocker switches on the left lower part of the console and has three pre-set buttons under the swell manual. The pre-set buttons don't appear to work but I couldn't open the console up to look for a battery of some sort. It also has two rotary switches on the left side just above the rocker switches.

    What I found it doing was after the organ was turned on it seemed to be turning itself on and off and back on suggesting a power supply problem to me. There was also a loud popping noise at times as well. All the stops I tried seemed to work ( I didn't try them all) and sounded rather nice for an old organ.

    I asked the Pastor if the organ had been lighning struck and he said to his knowledge it had not. Since it appears that I will be playing there shortly I wonder if the "wizards" of the forum could help me get the organ playing again?? I'm not fond of the idea of being a "Clavinova jockey".

    The bigggest problem at the moment is I couldn't get the console to open. It is what I call one of the "cutsey consoles " that I've never seen. It seems to have a screw on each side that might unlock the top but no one had a screwdriver to try it. The two sides on the upper console seemed as one part. How can I open it to see any visual problems?? It this is any help the console had what looked like presence projectors.

    The organ took about a minute to produce any sound as if the power supply had tubes in it. The organ would make popping sounds and my sense was it was turning itself on and off. I didn't smell any smoke, though!

    Any ideas??

    Thanks,

    Al
    Last edited by Nullifier; 12-18-2012, 01:14 PM.
    Allen T 12B

  • #2
    I've never opened one of these, but saw one open once. If the console style is this: http://www.allenorgan.com/www/compan...ital_lg105.jpg

    then the entire top is hinged--this includes the upper side panels, lid, and fallboard--it rotates back, leaving the keyboards and stop rail sitting on the desk part. If you look at the back side of the console, you'll probably see the backs of the hinges. Doing this will probably expose some wings that keep the back on.

    There might be hold down screws into the end panels that come up from the bottom of the keydesk.

    Toodles.

    Comment


    • #3
      This picture is almost exacty like the organ I saw except the area under the keyboards was cloth and there were no toe studs. I found a small screw-head on each SIDE of the organ "hidden" inside an ridge right at the bottom but no one had a screwdriver to try them. I couldn't get behind the organ because of the space it had been moved to but the was some sort of "handle" that rotated out on the back of the console at the very right side and it makes sense there would be another on the left side but I couldn't tell if it was some sort of handle or maybe a holder or some sort of support for a board that rotated out of the back.

      Al
      Allen T 12B

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      • #4
        Allen MOS-1 organs are pretty reliable, and this one probably has fairly simple issue that could be fixed. It should not take it over 6 or 7 seconds to produce sound. There are no tubes to warm up, this being a 1970's product, all solid state and digital. There is a delayed voltage that opens the audio mutes after a few seconds during which the computer system can boot up and stabilize. The delay circuitry could be malfunctioning causing the long delay time before the mutes open, and could even be causing the intermittent cutting out, if the mutes are "fluttering" on and off.

        Another problem that will cause popping though is the -27 volt line coming out of the main power supply being way off voltage. You can check it with a voltmeter and adjust it by means of a knob or screwdriver slotted pot on the power supply chassis. While you're at it, check the +5 and -5 voltages too and adjust if needed.

        Since this organ could well be 40 years old, it probably needs to have all its various plugs and connectors gently pulled loose (while the organ is turned off and unplugged), then lubricated with a tiny amount of Vaseline spread thin and wiped away until only a film remains before re-inserting. I normally remove every board in the system, pull every RCA connector in the audio chain, even take terminal strips apart when doing a very thorough cleanup of an old MOS Allen. All mating surfaces get a thin film of Vaseline to ease insertion and preclude future corrosion. Getting all the connections cleaned up and snugged, and making sure the power supply voltages are stable will go a long way toward making the organ work like new.

        The stops are divided into two channels which Allen called "main" and "flute" with the main channel carrying diapasons, strings, reeds (except for the 16' reed), mixtures, and the card reader voices (if the organ has them). The "flute" channel carries all flute stops plus all the pedal stops and any 16' stops that are on the manuals. If you can determine that the popping issue affects only one of the channels, you might be able to trace it and determine if you have, for example, an amplifier issue.

        These organs are quite decent and serviceable and do not normally cost a lot to keep going. Good luck!
        John
        ----------
        *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

        https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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        • #5
          The handles on the back pull out for moving the organ,those screws on the sides hold down the top,you will need to move the organ out from the wall because the whole top lifts up and needs space to be lifted all the way up,don't walk behind the organ with the top up without being aware of the clear music rack,I got a nice cut above my eye from one,they are hard to see if you are not paying attention,
          Tim K.
          anonimoose

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          • #6
            I just sold one of those. I had never completed the battery repair for the pistons (mine had 6 generals and 6 settables on each manual) but I was told it was easy for a technician. I believe that was the case since the wholesaler had the organ ready to go on ebay within 2 weeks of picking it up. It sold for $1200 at auction so definitely worth repairing. And if the church isn't small enough for the self contained set up, additional speakers can be wired in through the amps. Mine had some when I tested it but for home use I decided to stay with self contained. I was interested to learn about raising the top. Never had tried to do that. Repaired mine with a replacement amp from tkosiorek. He is a great guy. Look to him with any future questions through private messaging which can be reached through mousing over his name and clicking.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks Tim and Jbird!! I wondered how that top might rest if it did open straight up and I appreciate the heads up about the music rack. I'll have to go back to the church with some hand tools, a VOM and a little vaseline and see what I can do!!
              Allen T 12B

              Comment


              • #8
                OrgansR4me....

                Thanks for your input also. The orginal sanctuary is smaller than the new one and I don't know if there are any extra speakers about the old room. If I can get the organ to function properly it can be moved into the new room but I disagree with their solution of routing the sounds of the Clavinova thru the new sound system. I've found doing this limits the range of the instrument. What do you think about this??

                I might be asking you for suggestions for an extra speaker or two later.

                Al

                - - - Updated - - -

                By the way...what does MOS mean???
                Allen T 12B

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                • #9
                  MOS = "Metal Oxide Semiconductor" (or possibly "Metal Oxide Silicon" depending on which source to believe) ..... That's a phrase that describes the type of technology used to build the integrated circuits or chips that were the basis of the original Allen Digital Computer organs. I pronounce it like the word "moss" and when talking to other Allen techs use it to refer to all the Allens built from 1971 to about 1983. There were two distinct phases in the MOS era, MOS-1 and MOS-2, because Allen revised the structure of the main circuit boards around 1981 and called the new system MOS-2. A radical change in design came about in 1983 with the introduction of a totally new technology called "ADC" (which simply means Allen Digital Computer) and thus ended the MOS era.
                  John
                  ----------
                  *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

                  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Do NOT let them run the organ sound through the sound system. Organs require dedicated systems capable of handling the very loud low-frequency tones of the Pedals and any 16' (or 32') stops it has. PA systems just are not usually equipped to handle such loads, and any attempt to use one for the organ will result in very unsatisfactory sound, and possible destruction of the sound system.

                    David

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Not to mention that sound systems are usually designed to beam sound directly to the listeners' ears, specifically aiming the speakers to avoid reflections or bounces of any kind. Organ sound, on the other hand, is often quite unsatisfying when heard straight out of the speakers, and organ speakers are normally set up so that the sound takes advantage of the natural reflections and reverberations of the room to the greatest possible extent. When we install an organ we want to couple the sound to the room, make it seem to emanate from a much broader location than just a speaker cabinet or two. We do this by having the sound bounce off the chamber walls and/or the walls or ceiling of the room.

                      That's one reason why a keyboard or synth, no matter how good a "pipe organ" sample it has, will not sound or perform like an organ in the typical situation where it runs into the house mixer and plays right out the house speakers.

                      Another big drawback to running an organ (or keyboard) through the house system -- there's usually a teenage kid running the sound system, and he usually has no concept of what an organ sounds like, what effect it's supposed to have in the room, and no understanding that it isn't supposed to be the same volume level all the time. You try to play softly, he rides the gain and turns you up. You attempt a grand crescendo, the level lights blink on the soundboard and he turns you down just as you wanted that big buildup. Would the director of an orchestra allow the sound of his ensemble to be gain-ridden by an amateur non-musician?

                      Feel free to use these ideas and insist upon a musical setup for either the organ or any keyboard you're compelled to play.
                      John
                      ----------
                      *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

                      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nullifier View Post
                        If I can get the organ to function properly it can be moved into the new room but I disagree with their solution of routing the sounds of the Clavinova thru the new sound system. I've found doing this limits the range of the instrument. What do you think about this??
                        I might be asking you for suggestions for an extra speaker or two later.
                        The PA speakers sold to my church as a package in the new sanctuary are apparently designed for voice only, because the mike they stuck in the piano sounds particularly hideous over those. They have a cheap transistor radio quality on musical instruments. Same effect with the new PA speaker in the church I visited last Sunday. The speaker was not designed for music, and those are apparently preferentially sold to churches. By contrast PA speakers designed for bar bands can be flat 50-14000 hz and cost only $50 more than the speech only models. Bar band type speakers can have enough range to satisfy nearly everybody except the teenagers whose ears still work 14000 hz to 20000 hz. And organ, not including orchestral instrument synthesis, doesn't have sounds above about 7000 hz.
                        David Casteel, there are subs available from PA companies fully capable of massive power down to 16 hz. If one is going to concentrate the power of the amp into a couple of 32' notes and run the sound into a speaker designed for >50 hz, one should install a "speaker level crossover" which has a wideband and sub outlet, then hook the wideband speakers to the wideband outlet. 16' organ sounds are above 50 hz. A $3 non-polar capacitor of ~2200 uf (value for 8 ohm speaker) in series with the amp output to the wideband speaker can achieve the same protection as a $100 speaker level crossover , although electrolytic caps are not useful for piano or percussion sounds because they distort extreme high frequencies some.
                        city Hammond H-182 organ (2 ea),A100,10-82 TC, Wurlitzer 4500, Schober Recital Organ, Steinway 40" console , Sohmer 39" pianos, Ensoniq EPS, ; country Hammond H112

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                          Another big drawback to running an organ (or keyboard) through the house system -- there's usually a teenage kid running the sound system, and he usually has no concept of what an organ sounds like, what effect it's supposed to have in the room, and no understanding that it isn't supposed to be the same volume level all the time. You try to play softly, he rides the gain and turns you up. You attempt a grand crescendo, the level lights blink on the soundboard and he turns you down just as you wanted that big buildup. Would the director of an orchestra allow the sound of his ensemble to be gain-ridden by an amateur non-musician?
                          John,

                          Even professional audio engineers have their idea of what sound should be, and will customize the organ sound to match that. That's not to mention that there are equalization controls on the mixer that will probably also affect the sound of the organ. When I played for my brother's funeral last spring, the church had a Nord or Korg going through a sound system, and the piano sounded simply awful. I'm sure the samples were fine, but I resigned myself to the fact that the sound produced is probably what that church is used to hearing, so it didn't sound as bad to them as it did to me.

                          Michael
                          Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                          • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                          • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                          • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

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                          • #14
                            Organ speakers and amps are specifically designed for the range necessary for fine music. The clavinova is in my opinion a better piano than organ. I'm playing on Sundays in a rental space where we can't keep our instruments so we use keyboard but they are amped through a music system. Sound system unfortunately is a modern term for the old P.A. (now that takes us oldsters back to public school in the 60's). Great for voices as mentioned already but not musical quality.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Another question...

                              The subject of sound systems came up yesterday when I met with the Pastor. The last church we visited before deciding on this church had some type of organ running thru a sound system and it sounded AWFUL! We picked this church because we liked the Pastor best. He said the lady that was playing the Clavinova liked the sound routed thru the sound system. I thought I would try both ways if I can't get the organ playing again to see which sounded the best but I agree the sound system will most likely take something away from the musical sounds.

                              The other question is since this is the first compter organ I have worked on I was wondering what is the best way to clean the connections. I don't want to use something that might be a "gotcha" later.

                              I'll let everyone know what happens but it will take a couple of weeks as Christmas and New Year's are coming up and we will be traveling.

                              Thanks again for all the replys.

                              Al
                              Allen T 12B

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