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Rodgers organ 610--Sticking keys

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  • Rodgers organ 610--Sticking keys

    I have a Rodgers organ, Model 610, that was built in 1993. Recently a problem has developed. Two keys are sticking in the up(off) position. By pressing the key down--hard--and then pulling it up, it loosens up some. It can then be trilled up and down for 10-20 seconds. After that it works fine--for 15-20 minutes. While playing, if the key is starting to stick again, I just need to press harder on the key. The note sounds OK even if it is harder to press. The two offending keys are the second E flat and A flat above middle C. The keys are plastic and there is no sign of rubbing against adjacent keys. This is on the swell keyboard. The location is central Indiana and the humidity is frequently high, but the organ is in a room that is always air conditioned.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for correcting this problem?

    I would like to gain access to the key mechanism that I cannot see. Does anyone have instructions for gaining access to the keyboard mechanism on this organ?

  • #2

    If this is the pink goo issue, you are likely not to be able to fix it. Only solution is to get replacement keyboards, which costs a bundle of money.



    • #3
      Sadly, I'll second Arie's statement. The 610 is one of the "Cheetah" series and uses the dreaded Roland keys with a pinkish glue holding the keyweights inside the shells of the plastic keys. When it softens over time, the glue begins to ooze out and gum up the action. It only gets worse, once it starts, and the organ is pretty much doomed. Eventually it will be sticking all over the place, keyweights will fall like raindrops and soon be found stuck to the pedalboard and other spots. Glue will run down the piston rails and will also invade the key contacts under the keys, which will be the death knell.

      There are probably threads here about it, if you search. Or maybe someone will remember the name of a thread. Until 15 or so years ago, Rodgers was giving owners of these organs brand new key action sets. After the free replacement program ended, they still had new actions for sale, though they were a bit pricey. Eventually they ran out completely, and now I understand Roland, who made the keys for Rodgers, doesn't even have them any more. Rumors occasionally surface about someone, such as Matt C. Neill of Oregon, having some for sale, but who knows for sure.

      Certain fixes have been done, including the drastic method of totally dismantling the key action, down to the individual keys and such. Then soaking the plastic keys in a solution of Drano and water to completely remove the glue. The keyweights come out as well, of course, but the reports are that this has little or no impact on the feel of the keys. Other methods I've heard of include taking out the keys and covering over the pink glue lines with various kinds of other glues and fillers and caulks to stop it from oozing out. Not sure of the long term success of that type of work.

      To be honest though, I have one church nearby with such an organ that has only had a couple or three keys sticking so far. I've removed the affected keys only, scraping away the glue as needed, using tiny bits of felt and such to cover over places where the glue had made downstop felt sticky. That repair is currently holding, but I don't give it many years.

      A really creative and ingenious tech or hobbyist might find a way to take out the key contact rail and mount it beneath a set of better-quality organ keys that might be salvaged from some old organ, such as an old Baldwin or something, anything with the same form factor on the keyboards, which is to say the keys are only about 6" long and have a spring at the rear -- ruling out the use of old analog Allen keyboards, for example, which are over 12" long.

      Too bad about the keyboards. These organs were not top of the line, of course, but they did have a rather decent sound, and still sound great in a good acoustic setting.

      To get to the keys you have to remove the organ back and top, remove the roll-top cover, take out the screws that hold the stop-rail in place, disconnect some wires. Then remove the piston rails, disconnect all the ribbon cables involved with the keyboards, take out some screws under the keydesk, then slide the entire key stack out forward. The swell keys are held in place over the great by some brackets and stuff. Not nearly as easy as taking the keys out of a typical modern digital, or even out of an older Allen or Rodgers. They never intended for anyone to do repairs this involved, as these organs were probably only expected to last 10 or 15 years tops.
      *** 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!


      • #4
        Thanks very much for your comments. I had read of the glue and weight problem, but did not think it applied to this organ. I naively thought I would be able to look under the key and see the weight and glue if it was there. For right now, the problem can be tolerated. But if it spreads and worsens, that will not work.

        The organ is used for Sunday vespers service in the retirement community where we live. Since we moved here 6 years ago, my wife(the organist) and I have hoped that the organ could be replaced with a better quality Allen organ(MDS series). However, no one else shared our enthusiasm for replacement. This problem will perhaps generate some enthusiasm for replacement. So it is not necessarily bad news.