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Allen Stop Tab Saga/New Project

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  • Allen Stop Tab Saga/New Project

    Well, time to update on what I've been up to recently. Those who have been following my W. Bell Reed Organ post know that I have been working on putting together replacement stop labels. I had come upon a solution using epoxy, and I was happy to use that for that project. However, I also have some Allen Style stop tabs I wanted to use in another project, which I'll talk about further down. There were a few stops that I wanted that were missing from my Allen stop tab collection, so I wanted to see if I could label them myself. Getting the acrylic in the right thickness wasn't too hard, the hard part was labelling them! I tried putting paper on them with epoxy, but I didn't like how the finished result was. At first they were quite sticky, this improved when the epoxy hardened a bit more, but I thought they looked quite different from the Allen originals, and wouldn't blend in. So the next was trying to engrave them by hand. I printed off the labels, and they transferred on well enough with carbon paper, then I tried using my dremel tool and an engraving bit to carve the letters in. The result was readable, but looked like a halloween font! Next I tried using the Dremel engraving bit in my drill press, but it was too hard to move the stop tab when the bit was pressed into the plastic, so I gave up on that idea. So finally I bit the bullet and bought an inexpensive laser engraver from NEJE. I managed to get one for $200 USD (The NEJE 3 N30820). Any more expensive and I wouldn't have been able to afford it! So finally today I set it up, and gave it a try. I found that just trying to engrave white acrylic didn't work (at least with this laser). I tried sanding it with 800 grit paper just in case the white acrylic was too reflective, but that didn't work. Putting the included paper on top of it worked, however, as did ordinary masking tape. It took a while to get a hang of the software and how to upload images, but finally it worked! I'm happy with how the engraving turned out, now just need to paint it! I painted it with black acrylic paint, and I'm planning to let it totally dry, then sand the paint around. Since it's so easy to do it this way, I'll probably just make up replacement stop labels for the W Bell using this technique as well.

    Also an introduction to a new organ. I would like a 4 manual MIDI organ console, and I don't want to pay too much for it. The original plan was going to be to gut my Allen, and combine the keyboards there with my Allen's keyboards to make a 4 manual Frankenorgan. However, it just didn't feel right taking the Allen apart, it's such a good machine and it's so complete. So instead my plan is to make a 4 manual console from scratch! To that end, I have already made the base of the organ, using pine furniture boards. I have collected a number of Allen stop tab brackets, which will be for the stops (Which I plan to be 150 stop tabs total). The keyboards I'm planning to make by hand using MDF boards that I have already cut to size, with pine/oak key frames. I've ordered the nickel plated pins, and the plan is to weight them with steel rods cut to size and placed in the sides (I thought about using lead, but my wife doesn't like that idea!). The naturals will be covered in oak (since it's the cheapest around here), and the sharps will be a mix of whatever dark wood I find in small amounts at my local lumber shop (I already got a small block of Wenge on sale). I'm going to use reed switches to sense the key strokes, with metal shutters as I've seen others use. I may be able to make a pedalboard, but I think I'm just going to buy one from Classic Midi works or PedaMidi kit. The expression pedals I'll make myself out of wood, with hardware store hinges and the expression pedal brackets I'm already in the habit of making. Everything will be Arduino controlled, and I'll probably need at least a handful of Megas to make everything work. I also have some Teensies, and am toying with the idea of having the Megas sense everything, then send the Midi messages through a Teensy so I can just connect to it via USB. So not a quick project, but already getting pretty far along!

    Here's the Halloween looking experiment. At least it is legible!

    Here is my first stop tab with the identical thickness acrylic. It's pretty reflective, but I can get it looking the same with some 800 grit sandpaper.

    An early experiment with the laser engraver. It looks pretty burnt, but otherwise it looks good! A bit of scrubbing with oil and dish soap, then sanding with 800 grit sandpaper improves things a lot. Then on to painting it.

    This is the final product with the acrylic paint on. Just have to let it dry hard, and will sand the rest off, drill the holes (the easy part!), and it will be done!

    Here is the base of the organ console. It will have 4 expression pedals, and the back will be covered with the thinner MDF sheet on top. It's not the most beautiful looking wood, so the plan is to paint it.

    Current: Allen 225 RTC, W. Bell reed organ, Lowrey TGS, Singer upright grand
    Former: Yamaha E3R

  • #2
    Impressive project! Looking forward to pics as you go along.

    I'm in awe of your tab labeling device. I've used a paper tape label maker and just slapped them on over the existing names. Not very pretty!
    *** 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!



    • #3
      I was thinking about maybe using the font found elsewhere on the forum and printing on to paper and then having them laminated on sticky-back laminate and cutting them to the size of the stop tab using exacto knife????
      Pittsburgh, PA
      Allen MOS-2 125-RTC, Allen ADC-221, Tabor Organ Parlor Organ (under reconstruction)
      Lots of Western Electric branded Telephones as my other collection since I seem to be accumulating organs now.


      • Larason2
        Larason2 commented
        Editing a comment
        Nice suggestion! I actually tried this but forgot to post about it. What I did was tape the printed font onto removable adhesive vinyl, but the font is just too small to cut out so it looks good with even the finest x-acto knife. Also thought I could maybe use my wife's cricut machine, but again, the font was way too small.

    • #4

      Well, I tried finding where I posted the font used on Allen's labels, as well as the engraving method, but for some reason I can't seem to find it anywhere.

      If I recall, the stop tabs are engraved, with the lettering filled in with black ink. Then the stop tab/label is then laminated under a clear layer. I forget the font the engraver used, but I do remember using the letter "S" to determine whether the font matched or not. Allen's "S" appears to be a hybrid between an angular "S" and the more standard curved "S." I checked out the remainder of the letters to be sure they aligned.

      I hope that helps a little.

      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)
      • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos


      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        I'll keep looking.


      • cinnamon
        cinnamon commented
        Editing a comment
        Looking for this post Michael?

      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you for the link cinnamon. That post was for the drawknob labels on a pump organ. In this case, we're talking about an Allen label. I posted a link to my toe stud addition project on my ADC-4300, but for some reason, I never named the font my engraver used. Now I'm curious–I know he kept it on file.