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Odd issue with A100

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  • Odd issue with A100

    A '61 A100 showed up for sale, and I've been communicating with the owner. Has some of the normal issues, scratchy drawbars (though he's been spraying WD40 in there to "lubricate" them!), dirty key contacts. But, in connection with the key contacts, he describes this:

    "so when you push a key down slowly you can hear some stuttering as the contacts plow through the dirt. (You can’t see it but it’s there). This makes the note sound “scratchy” as the contacts slide across each other. The manuals have a key shifter mechanism that enables the contacts to be rubbed across each other manually to help clean this off if it becomes severe. It requires a piece of 2x4 the length of the keyboard, a long screwdriver and an extra pair of hands. This one does not appear to be bad enough to need that yet. What it needs is someone to play it a lot all the way up and down both manuals. That should enable the wiping action to clean off whatever sludge has built up on the contacts. Note that all the contacts are not showing this problem, just a few. It is most noticeable in the preset keys, which don’t usually get too much use to begin with. Again, holding the cancel key down and trilling the scratchy one for a few seconds will make it come back. Regular playing should gradually clear all this up after a few weeks."

    Is he talking about a bus bar shift in his description of needing a 2x4 and a long screwdriver?

    I don't understand why he needs to hold the cancel key down when "trilling" the scratchy key to get a key to "come back"? Also don't understand why this would be "more noticeable" in the preset keys vs. drawbars?

    Does any of this sound familiar?
    1956 Hammond B3, 1959 Hammond M3, Roland D-50

  • #2
    Personally I would NEVER shift the bus bar(s) in this manor. However, the more this organ is played the better the contact of the keys will become. Also, don't use WD40. There is almost no way for you to get to the "key contacts" without pulling the manuals.
    Allen 5300-DK, Hammond A-105, Conn Custom 905-DK

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    • #3
      Sounds like later “round bus bar” symptoms. I think they’re more 1965 production year though.
      Hammond B3, XB3, XB5, X5, Super B, M102 Factory Split x2,
      Leslie145 x3, 251,
      Farfisa Compact Duo, Compact Deluxe,
      Lowrey Heritage DSA,
      drawbardave.co.uk

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Hamman View Post
        Personally I would NEVER shift the bus bar(s) in this manor. However, the more this organ is played the better the contact of the keys will become. Also, don't use WD40. There is almost no way for you to get to the "key contacts" without pulling the manuals.
        Totally agree on the WD40. I shuddered when he told me that in an e-mail. That's never going to get rid of the oxidation, and will only leave a bad residue.

        Agree the key contacts should get better with use, but I'm still confused about why he says he holds down the cancel key?
        1956 Hammond B3, 1959 Hammond M3, Roland D-50

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Drawbar Dave View Post
          Sounds like later “round bus bar” symptoms. I think they’re more 1965 production year though.
          Interesting, the serial number he gave me does date to what looks like late 1961.
          1956 Hammond B3, 1959 Hammond M3, Roland D-50

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          • #6
            Originally posted by KeithB View Post
            but I'm still confused about why he says he holds down the cancel key?
            It's probably because when you hold the cancel key down, you can play the preset keys over and over quickly without having them latch down.

            For any tone to sound, you have to have two points of contact on a busbar, one contact under a preset key and one contact under a regular playing key.

            Playing an organ may cure missing tones, or the organ may need a busbar cleaning.

            You're supposed to spray the drawbar contacts with DeOxit D5, but it's hard to stop people who think WD40 is a cure-all.

            I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.

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            • gtc
              gtc
              ff Fortissimo
              gtc commented
              Editing a comment
              it's hard to stop people who think WD40 is a cure-all.
              That's for sure. It's 50% mineral spirits and 50% gunk that attracts dirt and dust. Some (most?) car mechanics use it for everything, including instruments in the dash board. Friend of mine repairs speedos and tachs. If he smells WD-40 he refuses to take on the job.

          • #7
            Originally posted by David Anderson View Post

            It's probably because when you hold the cancel key down, you can play the preset keys over and over quickly without having them latch down.
            So, does that indicate the preset keys are not making good contact? Seem like a separate issue from dirty key contacts. Seems like this organ probably has both.
            1956 Hammond B3, 1959 Hammond M3, Roland D-50

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            • #8
              Originally posted by KeithB View Post
              So, does that indicate the preset keys are not making good contact? Seem like a separate issue from dirty key contacts. Seems like this organ probably has both.
              Maybe I didn't explain myself well enough. The contacts under the preset keys are the same as the contacts under the playing keys, so you have to have good contact at both points on the busbar. The busbars are not hard-wired to anything.

              The audio signal flow is: Tone active on playing key contact -> busbar when playing key is played -> busbar to corresponding preset key contact on same busbar -> wiring harness -> preset panel/drawbars -> matching transformer.

              Thus, for any tone to sound, you have to have two points of contact on any given busbar. The preset key contacts are simply latched down. If the wired presets (as opposed to the drawbar presets) are rarely used, they may not have perfect contact on the busbars due to dust buildup or oxidation.

              To put it another way, you have to have good contact under the playing key and the preset key for a tone to sound.

              Also, the idea of holding down all the keys and turning the busbar adjustment screw may have been safe when the organs were new, but it's not a good idea now that the busbars have grooves in them from years of playing. It is NOT advised. Damage can result.
              I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.

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              • #9
                WD-40 gets a bad rap here, it does have it's applications. IMHO Its good for freeing up mechanical stuff but never for electronics or contacts. I was told to never touch the keys while doing a bussbar shift as that would break contacts in the organ. I have had good results clearing up scratchy notes with repetitive note playing and just good robust use,

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                • #10
                  OK, thanks David, that makes sense.

                  Seems like this might be a risk to purchase. The contacts might clean up, might not.

                  From what the owner has told me, sounds like he got it for free or very little $ 30 years ago, but also had a B3, so this was little used/maintained, all original components. Now he's looking to sell it. Asking price is $1k. (No karma there...)
                  1956 Hammond B3, 1959 Hammond M3, Roland D-50

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                  • #11
                    The contacts are made from precious metals, unless there were abused they will clean and clear up with use. I think you can use that service need to talk him down and of course go play it!

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                    • #12
                      "Round" busbars seem to get a very stubborn oxidation on them that resists clearing up with vigorous striking or playing. These types need to be pulled and polished when they become too scratchy.
                      Tom in Tulsa

                      Fooling with: 1969 E100, 1955 M3, 1963 M100, Leslie 720

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                      • #13
                        Originally posted by tpappano View Post
                        "Round" busbars seem to get a very stubborn oxidation on them that resists clearing up with vigorous striking or playing. These types need to be pulled and polished when they become too scratchy.
                        The organ is two hours away, so I'm relying on what he can tell me. Are the pre-mid 60's busbars square? How would the owner be able to tell?
                        1956 Hammond B3, 1959 Hammond M3, Roland D-50

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                        • #14
                          Originally posted by tpappano View Post
                          "Round" busbars seem to get a very stubborn oxidation on them that resists clearing up with vigorous striking or playing. These types need to be pulled and polished when they become too scratchy.
                          Just to boost the signal for Keith, yes, this is the case.

                          Older busbars were a piece of steel (I think) with a palladium wire welded onto the contact edge. I'm not a busbar age expert, but at some point, Hammond started using round busbars with some kind of plating on them. Like tp says, with these, you are more likely to have to remove them, clean them, and reinsert them. It's done through ports on the side of the manuals.

                          Busbar cleaning is sometimes a necessary procedure. It's not too bad with the right instructions. I wouldn't consider it a deal-breaker on an organ purchase. Better to have manuals that haven't been played to death than those that have been.
                          David Anderson
                          fff Fortississimo
                          Last edited by David Anderson; 11-09-2021, 12:04 PM.
                          I'm David. 'Dave' is someone else's name.

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                          • #15
                            And with the A100, the removable top lets you swing the manuals out just far enough to gain access to the busbar covers without having to disconnect anything. I turned one up on end so the bars could be pulled out vertically.
                            Tom in Tulsa

                            Fooling with: 1969 E100, 1955 M3, 1963 M100, Leslie 720

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