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retrofitting tracker touch on pipe organ keyboard

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  • retrofitting tracker touch on pipe organ keyboard

    All,

    I have a Wicks pipe organ, two manuals and pedal, 30's era. The naturals and sharps have been re-covered and look and feel good to play. The trouble is what I'll call the "squishy" Wicks keyboard action of that time. The keys rest on two pins, like usual, with a coiled spring at the tail of the key, hooked to the key contact wiper by way of a hook and leather nut.

    Have any of you heard of anyone retrofitting tracker touch to an older instrument? OSI offers the omega spring option, as well as the magnetic bar option. I'd like to retain the original keyboards. I take care of an organ that uses the magnetic system and like how it feels.

    Any advice? Suggestions? Thoughts?

    Thanks much!!
    Brian

  • #2
    I did a little Googling on your behalf (pro bono). I haven't found any such a thing. I didn't think it likely that such a thing exists going in, so that may be influencing my search results. Of course if you are prepared to let the present keyboards go then you have several options available. Surely it would not be time or cost effective to fit the magnets (and adjust them) to even two manuals worth of keys. I have tracker touch keyboards at the organ at church. When I got my practice instrument I was prepared . to hate the very low cost keyboards that are SOEM for non-custom analog electronics of a certain age. You know what? Its just not that bad. YMMV.

    H

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    • #3
      Since OSI sells parts for both types, why not contact them? Often, they not not like to work with "do it yourselfers" but they sometimes make exceptions. In any case, they are probably familiar with Wicks keyboards of that era and can advise.

      That said, the magnetic bar system is just a set of steel plates that attach to they keys and a bar magnet that runs the length of the keyboard. This is for a rear-pivot keyboard--Wicks might have had middle pivot keys (with contacts/rocker bars for the contact/relay system) in which case this would need to fit forward of the pivot (closer to the playing end of the keys).

      The concept is that the key mounted plate is attracted to the magnet in the key-up position, and when pressed, it provides top resistance. Since the plate moves away from the magnet as the key is depressed, the attraction lessens, and the force is reduced after the top-heavy touch.

      Without a doubt retrofit is possible if there is enough space. Of course, the magnet and plates could be mounted behind the pivot point underneath the keyboards if the keyboards are center-pivoted. Space permitting.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for your thoughts. I play three different trackers and two tracker-touch instruments on a regular basis, and am surprised at the differences between them all. I agree with you that in the end, it's a lot about technique and good practice habits. Still pressing forward though... I am going to try to find a solution apart from $5k worth of new keyboards. Thanks again.

        Brian

        - - - Updated - - -

        Thanks for your thoughts. I play three different trackers and two tracker-touch instruments on a regular basis, and am surprised at the differences between them all. I agree with you that in the end, it's a lot about technique and good practice habits. Still pressing forward though... I am going to try to find a solution apart from $5k worth of new keyboards. Thanks again.

        Brian

        Comment


        • #5
          Hello,

          Thanks for your great thoughts on my project. I hope to be able to complete the retrofit at the beginning of the year. I'm not an amateur or DIY guy. I was simply looking for thoughts and experiences. OSI doesn't like to share intellectual property regardless. Can't blame them. I like the idea of fitting it under the keys, space permitting. Might just work right there.

          - - - Updated - - -

          Hello,

          Thanks for your great thoughts on my project. I hope to be able to complete the retrofit at the beginning of the year. I'm not an amateur or DIY guy. I was simply looking for thoughts and experiences. OSI doesn't like to share intellectual property regardless. Can't blame them. I like the idea of fitting it under the keys, space permitting. Might just work right there.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi,

            I have put magnetic systems on keyboards, both on center pivot as well as rear pivot. It is rather time consuming but well worth the effort. For the rear pivot ones, I had to remove every key, cut a notch for the magnet to sit in, glue a notch in place, and re-assemble. Then I laid on top of the keys a felt covered metal rail on top. The metal rail was affixed to the key cheeks, and did not move. One thing though, I found that the felt compressed over time and that would increase the pluck feel. So had to add another layer of felt. Usually after having done that twice, there was so much felt that even compressed the feel stayed the same. For center pivot, I would again take out every key, carefully cut on a band saw a cut of maybe 3/4" near the bottom of the key at the back of the key, and then glue magnets to the bottom of the key. The re-assemble. Then I would mount a metal rail below that. The reason for the band saw cut, is to make it feel like there is some give to the pluck. In any case, these keyboards have now been in service over 30 years and still feel fine.

            I have seen other methods like cross over spring and specially bent spring metal which kind of pulls away from riding on the tail of the key.

            I kind of like the magnetic method.

            AV

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            • #7
              Hi Arie,

              Sorry to not reply sooner... long weekend of tuning. This information on retrofitting tracker touch is excellent, and exactly what I was looking for! So you actually glued the magnet to the key, and allowed them to pull against a metal bar--rather than a magnetic bar and metal pieces on each key. Did you use something like epoxy to hold the magnet in place?

              Again, great info. Thank you so much.

              - - - Updated - - -

              Hi Arie,

              Sorry to not reply sooner... long weekend of tuning. This information on retrofitting tracker touch is excellent, and exactly what I was looking for! So you actually glued the magnet to the key, and allowed them to pull against a metal bar--rather than a magnetic bar and metal pieces on each key. Did you use something like epoxy to hold the magnet in place?

              Again, great info. Thank you so much.

              Comment


              • #8
                Why don't yhou try the obvious solution ???????

                Simply CALL WICKS at 618-654-2191 and ask to speak to Scott WICK !!!!!!

                If you have a problem contacting him, feell free to cal me at 315-708-6575

                -Doug Campbell

                [email protected]

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