Repair of 1980 Rhodes Piano

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JonoSkip
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Repair of 1980 Rhodes Piano

Post by JonoSkip » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:14 pm

I thought I would post a few pics of a little project I have just finished - repairing a 1980 Rhodes 54 Piano (54 keys) that belongs to an Uncle-In-Law. He had been asked to get rid of it for someone but had instead diverted it to his garage where it has sat for at least 15 years. He cornered me at Christmas and asked if I knew anything about them and if I could fix it for him. I replied "No, but I'll give it a crack". After he told me what was wrong with it - "It doesn't make any sound" we arranged for it to be brought to Hamilton from Palmerston North. Here it is with the lid off:
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What I found was that every key has a single magnet/coil pick-up and they are all wired in series so if one pick-up fails there is no output (just like the old Christmas tree lights). Using an Ohm meter I found 12 pick-ups were faulty (open circuit); a "good" pick-up measured between 170-190 Ohms. Closer inspection of the faulty ones showed that the pick-up wire was corroded at the very start of the winding and had broken the connection to the binding post at that end. If it had been corroded at the coil winding "end" I could have unwound a few turns and re-soldered it. That meant either replacing each pick-up (US$20-$30 each) or re-winding the coils - 3000 turns of 0.003" enameled copper wire.

I chose to unwind them carefully, keeping the wire to re-wind it again. I did that with a jig I built using my cordless drill, some scrap 4x2, ply and dowel, a pencil sharpener lid, some L-hooks and an eye-bolt. This is a pic of the first version where I am unwinding a coil, winding the wire onto a driver bit:
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I soon modified the jig to un-wind the wire onto a reel and made holder for the drill. This one shows the set-up in reverse for winding the wire back on from the blue reel with the pick-up held in the drill.
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This is a close-up of a pick-up where I have just started re-winding the coil:
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You can see the pick-up is a plastic coil bobbin with a magnet through the centre. The bobbin is attached to an aluminium leg that holds it in the piano. The coil is wound around the bobbin with each end soldered to the binding posts - the post on the right is for the coil "start" and the one on the left is for the coil "end".

This is a re-wound coil with each end soldered and Kapton tape wrapped around the coil to finish it off:
DSCF2994.JPG
2x BFM Jack 112 (DIY), Cort Action A, GenzBenz Streamliner 600.

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JonoSkip
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Re: Repair of 1980 Rhodes Piano

Post by JonoSkip » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:34 pm

Sorry, this is turning into a novel!

Once all 12 were re-wound and back in place, new wire jumpers were soldered on to connect them in series to the other pick-ups:
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You can see the state of the other "good" pick-ups and the piano in general. I've had a good close look at all of the pick-ups and while there is a fair bit of flux residue I can't see the same corrosion that affected the others. I plan to paint clear nail varnish over each binding post just to try and prevent any further corrosion. There is a fair bit of oxidation on all the metal parts, due to the long storage in a garage.

I plugged it into my practice bass amp and it lives again and I tortured my family and neighbours with a poor renditions of "When the Saints Go Marching In", the Star Wars Theme and "The Knuckle Song" - I can't play piano. All up I spent about 30 hours on the repair. That includes building (and refining) the jig, re-winding each pick-up and reconnecting them in the piano. My Uncle-In-Law can't play piano either but is now happy it is alive again.

I hope you enjoyed the thread, sorry if it is a bit long.
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Jono :D
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john
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Re: Repair of 1980 Rhodes Piano

Post by john » Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:32 pm

Wow. Amazing work!!!!

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Re: Repair of 1980 Rhodes Piano

Post by beagle » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:28 pm

Yeah that's very cool. How long did it take you to do the whole project?
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JonoSkip
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Re: Repair of 1980 Rhodes Piano

Post by JonoSkip » Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:19 pm

john wrote:Wow. Amazing work!!!!
Thanks John!
beagle wrote:Yeah that's very cool. How long did it take you to do the whole project?
Thanks Beagle and sorry, I thought I had the time in the post but I must of edited it out. About 25 hours spread over 2 months, only on weekends and I was lucky if I got to spend half a day on it. Being summer time, the weather was often too good to spend the days in the shed - better spent taking the kids to the beach. So it was a bit stop/start and it all had to be packed away to make it kid proof for the week and so I could get the car back in the garage.

After a couple of pick-ups were done I timed the unwind to be 9 minutes and the rewind to be 25 minutes! That's a long time to be pulling the trigger on the drill! As I got better at the unwind/rewind process and it got a bit faster but was still slow. If there were more faulty pick-ups I would of had to automate it. I also cleaned up the pick-up once it was unwound, so probably 40 minutes to get the pick-up ready to be put back in. I was never in a hurry :lol:
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beagle
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Re: Repair of 1980 Rhodes Piano

Post by beagle » Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:57 am

Yeah that's impressive. A nice bit of DIY.
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monster
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Re: Repair of 1980 Rhodes Piano

Post by monster » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:54 am

This is great! I love your wooden jigs for the drill etc. Nicely done.

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JonoSkip
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Re: Repair of 1980 Rhodes Piano

Post by JonoSkip » Wed May 07, 2014 10:02 am

Thanks Monster! :D
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timi
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Re: Repair of 1980 Rhodes Piano

Post by timi » Mon Jun 16, 2014 2:44 pm

Rad.

Is it for sale? :wink:

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JonoSkip
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Re: Repair of 1980 Rhodes Piano

Post by JonoSkip » Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:05 pm

Sorry timi but no it isn't and there would be a queue if it was! :mrgreen:
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