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Allen 301-B Problems, behaviors, and troubleshooting attempts..

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  • Allen 301-B Problems, behaviors, and troubleshooting attempts..

    Greetings all,

    I was hoping to highlight some of the issues I'm having with my newly acquired Allen MOS-1, 301-B organ in an attempt to educate myself and be as informed as possible about this instrument as I move forward with possibly costly repairs. I acquired it right before COVID-19 shut everything down, and then immediately ended up using instrument every week for pre-recorded services from my home, so it has given me a lot of time to experiment and pinpoint the troubles I've been having. I have been working with a local tech, without success, on the issues I'm about to list below, and am now currently waiting to meet with a local Allen rep, who has a better ear for the sorts of detailed issues I'm having. Everyone from this group is always so kind, helpful, and knowledgable about these instruments, so I will graciously accept any insight you may all have to offer. I also apologize for the long list and I'm happy to post pictures if that is helpful. Here we go from most to least problematic for me...

    DISTORTION
    I'm quite sure that the 2 HC-12's I'm using are in need of refoaming, a common issue with these speakers that I'm aware of and hope to address.

    Additionally, I believe there is some distortion coming from the flute channel. It seems to come in waves and sometimes if it's strongly distorted, I can turn the organ off and on again and it will improve. I can usually demonstrate the distortion when I add more stops from the flute channel together. (I'm not quite sure what the MOS limit is, but I'm pretty sure I never use every single stop in that channel) I used two test speakers from my home stereo setup to pinpoint this issue and hear it more clearly from a speaker that I know has no issues. When I swap the channels on the DAC board, the problem transfers to the principal channel and is even more obvious. Would all of this point to a problem with the flute channel amplifier?

    COMBINATION ACTION
    Mostly works, but is not reliable. The stops can sputter when changing a piston, and I can get insane goofy combinations on the generals sometimes. (Sometimes the organ will not play sound if it is on one of these goofy combinations)
    Dulciana 8' in the great is always selected regardless of what is programmed. However it lifts back up when I hit cancel.
    Has a strange battery pack that looks like D batteries in a black caddy with electrical tape on it that is not mounted. I believe the tech said that this didn't look problematic and that the voltage was OK. I do lose settings if the organ is unplugged for a while, and many of the combinations are goofy as mentioned above.

    ISSUES WITH COUPLERS
    Tuning Sharp and Tremulant tabs in the great couples the sound of the great into the pedals. (This one drives me crazy)

    TUNING ISSUES (Not sure what "normal" is)
    The swell is pretty darn close to A440.
    The great is a little bit flatter than the swell. If I use the "tuning sharp" tab, the great goes up in tune with the swell, but the pedals stay the same)
    The pedal is in tune with the great.
    If I couple the swell to the great, the coupled swell stops are in tune with the great. (flat) However, the swell is still in tune if you play from the swell manual. You can hear the tuning disagreement more noticeably if you're playing chords on both manuals at the same time)
    None of this is a dealbreaker for me, but it seems odd that there is no option for the organ to be completely perfectly in tune ever, and that more of the organ is under 440 than not. I'm not sure if I should be cringing at the "chorus effect" or grateful that it's not in perfect sterile tuning.

    RANDOM MOTION BOARD
    I noticed that the board was unplugged and thought that was odd and wanted to hear it and play with the adjustments. When the board is plugged in, the great couples to the pedal immediately with a gurgling sound. The higher the setting on the great knob, the more gurgle in the pedals. Oddly enough, when the GT-PED coupler, tuning sharp, or trem tabs are on, the great couples to the pedal with full clarity. I thought the board was faulty and ordered another on Ebay inexpensively; same exact behavior on the new board as well.

    ANALOG CELESTES
    I tried to re-tune the swell celeste just with my ear and achieved an effect that was better than where it was when I received it. Some of the knobs don't seem to be able to get the tuning where I need it. I think I read on this group somewhere that some component can lose its value after awhile. Is this an easy fix? Also, how do I tune the great celeste? I don't see any controls for that.

    ADDITIONAL TROUBLESHOOTING
    I mentioned the distortion issues on the Facebook Allen Owner's group and a long time tech thought there were issues with the MOS board, I thought it might also remedy some of the odd behaviors. I have access to another board through a 103 model organ that I donated to my church and had at my home before this instrument replaced it. My home board is an A146FS and the church organ board is an A146. (No FS) There was no change in any of the behaviors listed above with the temporary board.


    Last edited by OrganistAnthony; 06-27-2020, 04:18 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by OrganistAnthony View Post
    DISTORTION
    I'm quite sure that the 2 HC-12's I'm using are in need of refoaming, a common issue with these speakers that I'm aware of and hope to address.
    OrganistAnthony,

    You're probably right on the mark regarding the refoaming, however, don't overlook the mid-range speakers. Their surrounds crack over time and can cause buzz and/or distortion.

    Originally posted by OrganistAnthony View Post
    DISTORTION

    When I swap the channels on the DAC board, the problem transfers to the principal channel and is even more obvious. Would all of this point to a problem with the flute channel amplifier?
    I'm not sure of the audio chain in your organ, but the amplifiers should be the last part of the audio chain before the speakers. If you are swapping the RCA connectors on the DAC board, that would tell me the issue is BEFORE the DAC board rather than after. What boards do you have before the DAC board that could be causing the problem?

    Originally posted by OrganistAnthony View Post
    COMBINATION ACTION
    Mostly works, but is not reliable. The stops can sputter when changing a piston, and I can get insane goofy combinations on the generals sometimes. (Sometimes the organ will not play sound if it is on one of these goofy combinations)
    [snip]
    Has a strange battery pack that looks like D batteries in a black caddy with electrical tape on it that is not mounted. I believe the tech said that this didn't look problematic and that the voltage was OK. I do lose settings if the organ is unplugged for a while, and many of the combinations are goofy as mentioned above.
    Does the combination action "chatter" before coming up with the strange combination? If so, that issue has existed for years, and the only way I know to combat it, is to make sure I've pressed the piston solidly enough to have the combination take.

    Hope this helps get you started.

    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)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

    Comment


    • OrganistAnthony
      OrganistAnthony commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for your very quick message! I'm quite sure that the mid-range speakers are part of the problem as they have visible hairline cracks, and I think they might be causing more havoc to the sound than the big speakers. As I mentioned, I did have distortion on my test speakers, but maybe I could deal with the foam issue first and then reassess the other problem later with properly foamed HC-12's.

      I'm not 100% sure how to trace the audio chain, but if I follow the cords, it looks like there is possibly a "Swell to Great Attenuator Relay," analog celestes and trem II's before the DAC card. Perhaps any of those components, or the DAC card itself could cause additional distortion? I'm not sure about the computer boards and where they line up in the chain.

      "Chatter" does seem to happen if I don't hit the piston right on the money, however it seems to be hit or miss. There are times when I've really tried to hit the piston right on and it sputters and I've also tried half heartedly hitting the piston and it changes perfectly.

  • #3
    Some of your problems will be better diagnosed by the more experienced guys here. I'm sure they give input soon enough. Even with the Covid situation, it is still summer, and folks tend to be a bit more slower to respond at this time of the year.

    I can say that your combination action problem IS almost certainly the D cell rechargeable batteries in need of replacement. That particular combination action style uses the batteries as a sort of capacitor to help the combination power supply move the tabs. That combination action is said by some to work even with bad batteries ( as long as the organ has power ), but in my experience good batteries are essential to proper functioning. Not just for holding the memory, but making the entire action work as well as it can. If you are at all handy, it is a job you can do yourself. Batteries are available online fairly easily.

    Back in 2012 I restored a 301-B back to perfect order, and replacing the batteries was one of the first jobs I did to it. I'm fairly certain I made posts here about the job, and probably posted photos as well. A search will likely find them. Or, I still have the photos also.

    Edit : I just searched for my post about this, and found it. But I had put the photos on the Picassa site, and now that does not exist anymore, so you can't see them there. So much for storing photos on "The Cloud" I guess ! I still have them though, as I have a few hard drives with all organ stuff on them. If you want to see them, I can put them here.
    Regards, Larry

    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

    Comment


    • OrganistAnthony
      OrganistAnthony commented
      Editing a comment
      Greetings Larrytow and thanks for the message. I would be relieved if all of the issues I've mentioned with the combination action could be solved by replacing the batteries. I was able to find a post of yours from 2012 where you were responding to an individual about the the battery replacement and the card reader. There are photos in that post that I am able to view as well as a couple of links to your YouTube Channel. I just took a quick look and it appears that the battery pack I was referring to in my post is just sitting there in addition to the batteries in the cage that you mention in your post. I'll try to upload a couple of photos, but so far I keep get an error message when I try to upload.

    • Larrytow
      Larrytow commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes, photos are Always good ! Sounds like you have some variation of the usual DM capture action there. Or a previously hacked up one ? I forgot about the videos I made of that job - I think there are 3 altogether.

    • myorgan
      myorgan commented
      Editing a comment
      OrganistAnthony,

      Try re-sizing your photos. There's no need to include incredibly large (original) photos on the Forum. Just make sure they're clear. When I re-size my photos to 50% of the original size, the filesize changes to about 10% of the original. You should be able to upload then.

      See which set of batteries in your organ are connected, and replace the one that is connected. That should solve your issue. By the way, DM=Double Memory (A/B) capture action. It came after the original capture, and before the later quad memory capture action.

      Michael

  • #4
    Thanks for the tips Michael. Here are photos of the battery cage that Larry mentioned and the extra battery pack sitting in the console that appears to be wired to the cage. I’m not sure which one is active, but maybe one of you can tell by the connector. My 301 has the dual memory system.

    Comment


    • myorgan
      myorgan commented
      Editing a comment
      Anthony,

      I can see that the battery holder next to the cage is connected, but there another pair of Black & Red wires going to somewhere. Are they to the black cage that holds the other battery pack, or somewhere else? If they are connected to the black cage, is the cage empty or does it have batteries in it?

      I'm not sure if you've noticed the red warning label on the black battery cage, but it does provide instructions in case you've disconnected the organ or it isn't turned on for a while.

      Hope that helps some.

      Michael

      P.S. Too bad I didn't know you needed help last week, as I drove through Akron.

  • #5
    I cant tell for sure if the original batteries are still in the cage and hooked up. If they are, and they are bad, that could be the cause of your problem right there. Even if the external batteries are in good, OK, functional condition, they will not work well when connected to a set of bad ones.

    I can see the point of putting the new(er) ones outside of the cage, but only if the bad ones are not in the circuit as well. That is what you need to check . It really is not that big a deal to take the transformer / cage out of the organ and put new batteries in where they are supposed to be.

    I have to go play for a service tonight, but I will post some detailed photos of the procedure late tonight, if you would like.
    Regards, Larry

    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

    Comment


    • #6
      From what I can tell, the two extra wires appear to be incorporated into the larger wire bundle. After that I’m not sure where they end up. I’m not sure how to take the cover off of the cage, as I don’t see room to get a screwdriver in there easily. I’ll have to take a look at Larry’s guide. However, I see the yellow batteries inside.

      Comment


      • #7
        Anthony,

        To start with, you really kinda need to unscrew the whole assembly from the organ side, so that you can get a good look at everything. The AC power cord is routed down the side and across the floor to the Power Distribution block. You don't really need to undo the whole length of the cord routing, but you do need to untie enough ties that you can get it out of the space it is in to some degree. The red and black wires can be unhooked from the screw terminals - just keep track of where they each go to.

        Then the perforated metal cage can be taken off by unscrewing 4 little screws - two on each side. Then you will be able to see if the internal wires from the inside batteries are still hooked up. Or not ? If they are, I would test the inside battery voltage ( unplug the AC cord from the Power Distribution block first ) to see what they are at. Good ones will be close to 6 volts with all 4 connected together. But with batteries, just having a voltmeter reading that is in range does not always mean they are good.

        There are fancy meters that will measure load capacity, but you don't need to bother with all that for this job. If the internal ones look old, then you are at the point of replacing them. If I were fixing this organ, I would just replace them as a matter of course. You can just use the external 4 battery pack that is in the organ now, or replace the internal ones with brand new ones. You really don't know the age or condition of the external ones either, so they could well be elderly and bad too.

        If I were working on this, I would just put brand new D size NiCad rechargeable ones back in the elegant holder in the cage that Allen provided, and do away with the external ones. On this organ ( unlike ADC models ) if the batteries should ever leak, it would not damage anything real critical. The batteries on this organ do not need to replaced nearly as often as on the newer models, so having them external is not actually that important.

        The photos should show the procedure fairly well, as it is not all that complicated. But feel free to ask questions if you decide to do the job. From a distance like this I can't say for Sure, Sure that it will fix all your combination action issues, but I will say that has been the fix for every DM, 4 D cell memory system that I have encountered. You will see in the photos that I took the whole unit out of the organ and did the replacement on the bench. That is the easiest way, but I was also working on other things in the organ, so had the majority of the cable runs loose anyhow. They are held to the wood inside the organ by heavy duty twist ties, so taking the whole length of the AC cord loose is not that difficult if you wanted to do the soldering outside of the organ console.

        Hope this helps.
        Regards, Larry

        At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

        Comment


        • #8
          Here are 2 more photos.
          Regards, Larry

          At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

          Comment


          • #9
            Larry, thanks for the detailed explanation of the battery assembly removal. Aside from some awkward tight angles and the twist ties, it was a very straightforward process. (Maybe that's why the external battery pack was tacked on anyway, for ease) The blue batteries in the external holder are dated November 1998, so I would imagine the batteries in the Allen cage are even older and they appear to be connected. Perhaps that is the root of my problem as you mentioned earlier. I live close to a Batteries Plus, I called and they are willing to sell and solder the new batteries in the Allen assembly. I'm going to try to get this done this week and I will update! Hopefully I'll be burning through pistons until my heart is content by this weekend. Thanks again!

            Comment


            • #10
              Batteries Plus is actually where I got the ones shown in those photos. They tend to be a bit higher in price than ordering online, but if you are not wanting to do the soldering yourself they are a good choice. Back in 2012 they were about $7.00 each. The brand was Nuon, and the part # was 5000-DF.

              They tend to have youngsters working there, so make sure that they wire the batteries correctly when they do the soldering for you. The pack needs to be wired in Series. So the batteries all together total 6 volts or so.

              Edit : I just thought of something that you need to check, because of the unusual ( wrong actually ! ) way the the batteries were added on in the past. Make sure that whoever added the external battery holder on did not unhook ( or perhaps even cut ! ) the wires from the internal batteries. Should be easy enough to see when looking at the wiring on the bottom of the unit. I sorta doubt that they would have done that, but check to be sure.
              Last edited by Larrytow; 07-01-2020, 01:20 PM.
              Regards, Larry

              At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

              Comment


              • #11
                Hi Larry, I was able to buy the replacement batteries listed above and have them installed into the assembly in series as you pointed out. I installed everything back into the organ and unfortunately I'm experiencing the same behavior. There are a couple of things I'm confused about though...

                Your photo appears to have a red wire going from the 2nd jumper to the 3rd jumper. (which is labeled BATT, for battery I assume) My photo has both the allen jumpers and external batteries going to jumpers 1 and 2. (Now, just the Allen jumpers) Maybe I am bypassing the function of the battery this way?

                Also, you mentioned that the voltage should be around 6 volts, however with 4 batteries at 1.2V that brings the total to 4.8. Which is what was reading when the batteries plus employee showed me the voltage. I'm a bit confused about this.

                Comment


                • #12
                  Conventional D size batteries are nominally 1.5 volts each. Perhaps NiCad rechargeable ones are 1.2 volts ? Yes, I think that a jumper wire needs to go to the Batt terminal. It's been years now since I did that job, so I'm forgetting some of the details. But when I did it, I would have put everything back the way Allen built it and it worked fine. They would not have put the jumper wire on there unless it was needed. So yes, I would try that on yours.

                  If you look at the one photo I posted of the top view, you can see that I put a label on that says 5.98 V after I was done fixing it. I do not recall if that was measured with the unit plugged in or not. Most likely it was plugged in so that the batteries were charging.

                  I'll be thinking more about it today, but that is my suggestion for now.

                  Edit : You can see from this bottom view photo that the Yellow wire coming from the battery pack goes to the Batt terminal. So ya, you need the jumper to get the batteries in the circuit.
                  Regards, Larry

                  At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    Regards, Larry

                    At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), FX-20, EL-25 ( X 2, 1 chopped, 1 not ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Baldwin 626. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755.

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      The jumper should be connected between the Battery and Voltage terminals on the capture memory supply for normal operation. It should only be removed if the organ is going to be unplugged for more than 24 hours. This prevents the batteries from being damaged by excessive discharging.

                      The nominal voltage on the NiCad is 1.25 volts. According to Allen, the voltage between the GND and 5 volt terminals on the supply should be between 4.75 and 5.8 volts after ten minutes of operation. If the voltage is under 4.75 volts suspect that one of the cells is bad.
                      -Admin

                      Allen 965
                      Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
                      Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
                      Hauptwerk 4.2

                      Comment


                      • Larrytow
                        Larrytow commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Ah, those are the details I was not recalling ! That is obviously why Allen bothered with the extra terminal and jumper arrangement.

                    • #15
                      For what it's worth" spotted this on *bay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Allen-Organ...8AAOSwo5pe~PgJ
                      Can't play an note but love all things "organ" Responsible for 2/10 Wurli pipe organ, Allen 3160(wife's), Allen LL324, Allen GW319EX, ADC4600, many others. E-organ shop to fund free organ lessons for kids.

                      Comment


                      • myorgan
                        myorgan commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Rats! You found and posted it before I did!

                        Michael
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