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Allen ADC-2110-T Keyboard Questions

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  • Allen ADC-2110-T Keyboard Questions

    Hello everyone,
    In the past I had asked about my church's Allen ADC-2110-T organ key contact issues. Sometimes a note wouldn't play, and I would have to work the key several times for it to come back. However, it seems to be getting worse and I had a few more questions. It is a small Episcopal church in Phillipsburg, NJ.

    The contacts have been cleaned by Allen a few times, and it seems to hold for a few months before the issue starts to crop up again. I'm noticing now that the keyboards are starting to feel a bit sluggish and stiff. Some notes in particular are slow to return, and the keyboards feel kinda squishy. I know these aren't the most crisp feeling keyboards even when new, no doubt due to their plastic construction and simple return springs. However, they seem even worse than usual.

    Is this a function of something deteriorating in the keyboards? Would we have to have the keyboards replaced? If so, does Allen even make replacement keyboards for one of these organs anymore? Any idea what that would cost?

    Any thoughts you have on the matter would be greatly appreciated. Yesterday, for Easter service, during the opening hymn (Jesus Christ is Risen Today) I lost middle E in the great, which definitely made things interesting. I'd really like to get this remedied in a timely fashion to minimize disruption to the service.

    Thanks,
    Jon

  • #2
    Jon,

    The sluggishness of the keys themselves is due to the felt bushings not operating smoothly on the steel guide pins. If you look at each key from above, you'll see a red felt bushing pair and a metal pin in the center of the key that keeps the key stable. And if you look at the front end of each key (the playing end) you will see metal guide pins that keep the keys centered and spaced, and guide them straight down when you play. Each guide pin goes into a slot in the wooden keystick between a pair of felt bushings. (You may have to remove a piston rail to see the front guide pins and bushings.)

    The felt may start to drag on the metal pins, in either the center or at the front, for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the humidity is higher than normal and the wooden keysticks have become slightly swollen, the same way that the keys of a piano can get sluggish in humid conditions. Another possibility is that the felt has lost its natural lanolin, which serves as a lubricant, and is "grabbing" the metal pins as the keys are activated. This grabbing can be worse yet if the metal of the pins has lost its luster and gotten microscopically rough or pitted.

    When I run into an Allen that's doing this, I go to the pharmacy and get a tube of 100% natural lanolin. It is actually sold for nursing mothers to use to soften their nipples or prevent cracking when the baby nurses vigorously. Because it is considered a "delicate" product, some pharmacies don't have it on display, but you have to ask for it at the counter. Anyway, it doesn't cost very much, and a single tube of it can lubricate quite a few Allen keyboards. Hopefully, they won't even ask you what you plan to do with it ;-)

    To apply it, put a tiny bit of it on a toothpick and gently work it into the bushings on either side of the center rail pins of each keyboard. To apply to the front rail guide pins, you will have to tip the keyboard up and remove the piston rail. Use the same method to work some into each bushing. As you apply the lanolin, work the key up and down to spread it out. Make sure all the points where felt rubs against metal get lubricated. It doesn't take a lot of it. You don't want to see great big gobs of it in the keys, just the lightest coating, which will soon disappear right into the felt.

    This has worked for me on many Allen keyboards, especially in cases where an organ got put into storage and was in a damp environment for a while without being played. The more drastic measures that could be required include taking each individual key off the manual and compressing the felt bushings with a tool used in the piano trade for that purpose. But that is hardly ever necessary if you'll carefully apply the lanolin.

    The other problem -- intermittent notes -- can only be solved one-at-a-time. When a key is stuttering, use the $100 bill method. put the bill between the contact points, depress the key about halfway, and gently work the bill in and out to burnish the points. There is no short-cut method for this. Nothing that you can spray in there will do the job. (BTW, if you don't have a $100 bill, a dollar bill will also work.)

    When I service one that has had persistent complaints of intermittent notes, I'll spend a lot of time going from key to key, looking for any that have a slight "stutter" when the key is depressed very slowly. This indicates a problem. A clean contact will turn ON at some point in the stroke, and will not "stutter" on and off as the key goes on down. So when a key stutters, clean the contact. This will head off future note problems for a very long time, if you get them all properly cleaned up.

    While you're at it, check to make sure that each key makes contact when the front of the key is about halfway through its downward stroke. If a key speaks too early, tighten the adjusting screw (the rear-most screw on the metal "contact lifter" at the back end of each key). Not too much, a quarter-turn will make quite a difference in the playing point. If the key speaks too late, LOOSEN the adjusting screw a bit. Getting all the keys "making" at the same point will go a long way toward making the keyboard feel properly responsive to your touch.

    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

    Comment


    • myorgan
      myorgan commented
      Editing a comment
      For a temporary fix if you're in a hurry, you can press the key down, and firmly move the key from left to right and forward and backwards to"squeeze" the moisture out of the felt. It sounds like your instrument is housed in a church which has a moisture problem. In the past, some organs have been installed with a "Damp Chaser" bar inside to help abate the moisture inside the organ. I'm not sure the effect it has on organs vs. pianos, but since it has become a nuissance, perhaps it's worth a try.

      Also, I second John's suggestion regarding lanolin. It also comes in handy when lubricating French Horn slides.

      Michael
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