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It’s always something

The guilty capacitor

I can tell from the reader logs for this blog that y’all are preoccupied with the political situation, as am I. But please bear with me as I try to get oriented to the terrifying new political reality and distract myself with things that are closer to home and relatively unimportant.

For almost two months, I had hardly turned the organ on, because I was busy with politics. But just over a week ago, resolved to work up some Christmas music, I sat down to do a little shopping through a stack of music to figure out a short Christmas program. As I was playing, the organ started smoking. It continued to play, but smoke rolled out from under the keyboards. I turned the organ off, of course, and called the Rodgers technician.

Some types of electronic components can last virtually forever. But electrolytic capacitors don’t last forever. They contain a liquid, and eventually this liquid can leak. The liquid conducts electricity, and as it leaks out onto a circuit board, electricity gets conducted into all sorts of places that electricity ought not to go. Things smoke. Boards get fried.

The cause of the smoking organ was a leaky capacitor on the power supply board for the organ’s lighting systems. The heat melted a small hole in the board, and the bottom of the board was blackened. The board was damaged, but it was repairable. A replacement board would cost well over $1,000 from Rodgers, so repair was the way to go.

It’s a pleasure to watch a good electronics technician at work. The Rodgers technician who serves most of North Carolina is incredibly good at diagnosing problems (he’s seen everything over the years), and he’s very good at getting out his soldering iron and doing component-level repairs.

After about an hour, the organ was back up and running. He cleaned up the blackened board, replaced the offending capacitor, and replaced three identical capacitors elsewhere in the organ as a preventive measure.

What keeps us sane after a political disaster like the election of a dangerous con man to the U.S. presidency? Music, of course. Cats, for sure. And what I call the literary labor of novel-writing.

The yellow jumper wire replaces a trace on the board that was melted by the capacitor burnout.

Testing the voltage output after repairs

Pulled out from the wall, back panel removed for electronic surgery

Two new capacitors where old, leak-prone capacitors used to be


  1. Namin wrote:

    You said , it’s a pleasure to watch a good electronics technician at work. I’ll say it was equally pleasant to see the photographs . Slice of solid ground.

    Monday, November 21, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink
  2. Henry wrote:

    Play on! Deck the halls!!!

    Monday, November 21, 2016 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

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