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Replacing old Allen keyboards with something new

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  • #16
    Lanolin is just "wool juice" -- the soft waxy extract of raw wool. So it's not like putting oil or something into the felt. That would be the wrong thing to do for sure. The lanolin simply refreshes the felt's natural smooth slippery feel by restoring its natural moisture content. It doesn't make the felt wet in any way and doesn't look like grease or oil being applied.

    You get lanolin at a drug store, possibly by asking the pharmacist, as it is a bit of a specialty product. It comes in a squeeze tube. Some pediatricians recommend that new mothers apply a bit of it to their nipples if nursing is painful, thus it's a special item not normally out on the retail shelves. But they should have it behind the counter, and it doesn't cost much.

    Squeeze out a bit and coat the end of a Q-tip with it. With the keyboards raised, and the piston rails removed, apply a little bit of the lanolin to the red felt on each side of the big wide oval-shaped chrome plated front rail guide pin. Move the key up and down, maybe wiggle it gently from side to side, whatever it takes to sort of spread it around in there. It's not critical to get it all spread out evenly, just get "some" of it on each bushing. It will naturally migrate into the felt fibers.

    To apply to the center guide pins, just put a dab of it on the end of a toothpick and gently insert the tip to place some of it around the guide pin or on the red felt itself. this is done from the top of the keyboards.

    The change in feel is quite immediate. Instead of a "friction-y" feel when the keys go down, you'll find the movement of the keys to be silky smooth.
    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

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    • #17
      Thanks for the detailed explanation. I will try it and let you know how it goes.

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      • #18
        The Lanolin arrived today, and I have already applied it to a handful of keys. What a difference! Thanks for that tip.

        Here's the full story. The springs are tensioned too tightly, even with the Lanolin. When I loosened some of the springs, I noticed that the keys started sticking (i.e., they would not return completely to their original position when depressed). This leads me to conclude that the gentleman who sold me the organ several years ago did not know the Lanolin trick, so he over-tightened the springs to mask the key sticking. It worked, but it made the keys incredibly heavy and tough on my wrists. It will take some time to apply the Lanolin and de-tension the springs, but in the end, based on the few keys I've done so far, it will feel like a new keyboard.

        Many thanks again.

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        • myorgan
          myorgan commented
          Editing a comment
          Thank you for updating us on your progress. It is very helpful to hear when things go right and what works. We all can learn from your experiences.

          Thank you again.

          Michael

      • #19
        Try wiggling the keys to the left and to the right several times when pushing a key down. So that the key rubs against the pin on both sides, left and right. See if that helps at all. It could possibly be that the organ hasn't been played for a while and the felts swelled. (No pun intended.)

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        • #20
          Unfortunately the organ has been played a lot, by me! I have owned it for five years but just assumed the keys were stiff due to old age of the organ. I never realized I could fix it until now.

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          • #21
            Glad to know that the lanolin helped. I only learned about it some 15 or 20 years ago, and can't recall who introduced me to it. But it is quite a miracle drug for aging Allen keyboards. Keep up the good work!
            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

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            • #22
              I would try John's lanolin trick before you do anything. I've used that trick on practically every donated organ I pick up and it works wonders. I've never had to do any "funny business" with the key mechanism. I used to tune pianos and I still don't like to mess around too much with any keyboard adjustments. Trust me. Lanolin. Also ask for some of those long, long Q-tips. My pharmacist knows the story every time I lose my tube of lanolin in my desk somewhere. He just automatically includes a bunch of Q-tips for free, which, considering how cheap the lanolin is... is ..remarkable?

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              • #23
                Thanks Hiawatha. I did the Lanolin trick and agree--it worked wonders. But I also needed to de-tension the springs, which worked amazingly well too. But I agree that I would prefer not to mess around with keyboard adjustments; I'd rather be playing.

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