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1988 Rodgers 840 organ making a horrendous sound

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  • 1988 Rodgers 840 organ making a horrendous sound

    Hello Organ Experts. Our 1988 Rodgers "840 Windsor" 3 manual organ has been working reliably since it was installed new in our church in 1988. Early this month it started making an "intermittent noise". It would happen briefly while playing then disappear. If the organist turned the power off and back on the issue would go away. This Rodgers 840 would work perfectly when the repairman came out - multiple times. Frustrating. We rented a used Allen organ while we figure out what to do about the Rodgers.

    I began calling it the Phantom of the Rodgers.

    Last week our church had Vacation Bible School Monday - Friday so I waited with a video camera while the organist played. It played hymns prefectly Mon - Wed but Thursday the phantom returned and I caught it on video. I posted a 3 minute clip on youtube including how it played before the phantom noise occurred.

    Our repair person watched the video and then suggested I contact Bill Ehrke. While I am waiting for Mr. Ehrke to return my call from last week, I thought it would be helpful to post on this organ forum. I am not criticizing our organ tech nor Mr. Ehrke. Perhaps one of you has experienced this unusual noise on a similar organ and can tell me what you did to fix it? Also, if and when this is repaired I will close this thread with the findings (and another youtube video) so someone on this forum in the future can learn from my "phantom of the rodgers".

    Since this is a 1988 organ (analog?), people on my church counsel are leaping to the conclusion that we need a new "digital" replacement organ - comparing it to a 1988 Ford. They think it will just continue to have problems. Someone commented that replacement boards are not being manufactured. I am not an organist - I am a church trustee (person over the building & fixtures). My hobby is resurrecting abandoned Seeburg jukeboxes 1970 - 1980's (recapping boards, etc) and have learned there is a wealth of experience & knowledge on these forums. My Atlas ESR60 meter can check any capacitor "in circuit" but I haven't touched an organ. I understand that electrolytic capacitors fail due to age but is it really time to put this out to pasture?

    Does anyone know where I can get a PDF of the Rodgers 840 organ service manual? I have an "840 owners manual" which is meant for the organist.

    Thanks - Mark

    PS - the organ is located in Plano Texas a northeast suburb of Dallas.

  • #2
    Sounds like a grand cipher that I've seen in other organs where a ground has come off.
    Since this is so intermittent I suggest next time it does it check things like:
    Is it affected by the expression pedals?
    Is it there when all stops are cancelled?
    Does the transposer affect it?

    Servicing electronic organs since 1969.


    • #3
      It sounds like all the notes on one or more keyers are turning on all at once. As tuscondave suggests, this could be an intermittent ground, or it could possibly something in the keying logic circuitry.

      When it occurs, turn off all stops, and then turn them on one at a time--if you can confine it to a single keyer, that will tell you where to look for the culprit. If it is on all keyers, I'd look to an intermittent on the main power supply or a problem in the microprocessor control circuit. It did not, however, sound to me like all keyers were being effected.

      Rodgers might provide you with the service manual in pdf form--the problem is that the files are bigger than most email services allow as an attachment.

      Unless there is a catastrophic failure of the microprocessor board, then the organ is repairable. Generally circuit boards do not often need to be replaced, and the individual circuit board components (or substitutes) are still available for the most part. Nothing about an intermittent would indicate a catastrophic failure to me.

      While I'm sure you'd find the modern digital organs very nice it would be an expensive replacement.


      • #4
        Is the problem "touch sensitive"? In other words, when the noise starts, would a solid bump with the heel of your hand to the console end make it go away?

        When your congregation bought the 840, you should have received a printed tech manual updated to the serial number of your Rodgers. I suggest you do some searching in the church files, perhaps in the file labeled "organ". (Hey, hold on here: have you looked in the bench?) If you don't find it, Rodgers in Hillsboro can provide a new one.

        IMO, your 840 has many years of service left: don't give up!

        . . . Jan
        (veteran of Rodgers Hillsboro)


        • #5
          Sometimes technicians leave the technical manual inside the console, too.


          • #6
            Just to help clarify "toodles" point, 'inside" the console means you'll have to take the cover off of the back of the organ where all the electronics are located. It could very well be that is where the tech manual is although it has been my experience that those can disappear over the years. I'm sure you can get the organ fixed and it is well worth doing because it is a fine instrument which still has plenty of life left in it.
            Last edited by fingerstoes316; 07-01-2014, 11:31 AM. Reason: mis-spelled word


            • #7
              While at Hillsboro, we fastened the manual (in a bag) to the top of the outer rack, inside the console.

              . .. Jan


              • #8
                Thanks for all the replies. Time to do a few things to answer your questions. Mark