You are here:

Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/dead key and broken key on Thomas Californian 263

Advertisement


Question
i just acquired a Thomas Californian 263 that has been gathering dust for a long time.  One key on the upper keyboard will not make a peep.  I have played around with it quite a bit and have not heard even a rasp from it.  Several other keys are intermittent.  One black key is broken from whatever suspends it at the rear.  It is lying in the depressed position but makes no sound.  More than half of the rocker switches are either intermittent or make no contact at all.  Except for the broken switch, I expect all the problems have to do with oxidized or dirty contacts.  I haven't opened the back yet to have a look.  Do you have any precautions or suggestions?

Answer
Hello Charles!  One of the ways one can determine the likely cause of a problem is to know the history.  Obviously, this is not possible, but it does sound like something fell onto the keyboards with enough force to break keys or pop the contacts out of position.  The fix is to first determine how extensive the damage is then decide whether it is repairable.  Parts are difficult to come by unless you can find a similar Thomas instrument for parts.  Most organs that sit unused for long periods develop intermittent keying because layers of dust and pollutants coat the contacts.  Usually, an organ that is played regularly does not develop intermittent keying because the contacts "self clean" themselves every time the keys are depressed.  

If your instrument has keyboards that are hinged, they will swing upward, allowing you to access the underside of the keyboards to determine what the problems are.  It is possible some of the contacts have been knocked off their actuators and can simply be placed back where they belong.  

The rocker switches are a similar situation.  You can usually access their contacts by lifting the top of the organ up.  It is usually hinged in the back.  Burnishing the contacts or working them vigorously up and down usually does the trick.  I am not a great proponent of spray cleaners because unless you spray and immediately wipe the critical area clean, the spray can simply redeposit the foreign matter as mud somewhere else, possibly making the problem worse.  Also, some spray cleaners can melt plastics so keep the spray away from the keys and stop tabs.  

Piano, Organ, and Keyboard

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Thomas Britanyak

Expertise

I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics. If you need a piano's date of manufacture, please go to http://www.pianoexchange.com/howold.htm or http://www.bluebookofpianos.com/pianoage.html I am happy to answer musical or technical questions, however, I CANNOT offer appraisals on pianos or organs. Please do not ask what an instrument is worth. For this service please contact an experienced local appraiser or try the following links: https://mmm1100.verio-web.com/blueb1/appraisal.html or http://www.57piano.com/questions.htm

Experience

I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics.

Education/Credentials
I am a full time organ/piano technician who has been actively involved with the design, building, repair, maintenance and installation of organs and pianos for 35 years. I began as a keyboard instrument apprentice and hold degrees in music and electronics.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.