Author Topic: Removing Stabilized Keys  (Read 18494 times)

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Offline Deiz

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« on: Wed, 29 April 2009, 19:06:56 »
I've got a slight squeak on my left shift key that I'd like to remedy, and I'm not sure how to go about removing the key from the stabilizing bar. See here for what it looks like inside. I haven't gotten that far, because gentle pulling has gotten me nowhere and I'm not looking to break my new keyboard.
Keyboards: Filco FKBN104M/EB; Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000; Logitech G15 (Dead and gone); Razer Tarantula (Permanent cold storage)
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Offline ozar

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 29 April 2009, 19:20:02 »
I always like to remove all the surrounding keycaps when trying to remove one like this so that there is more room to work and it's easier to see what needs to be done.  Doing so usually helps out quite a bit.
« Last Edit: Wed, 29 April 2009, 19:53:07 by ozar »

Offline majestouch

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 29 April 2009, 19:59:05 »
Hi Deiz,

Sometimes with new boards the small dab of grease that is put on the plastic stabilizing bar mount has not distributed uniformly around the bar and can cause a metal on plastic squeak. If this is the case, it may remedy itself with a dozen presses or so.

Assuming you're talking about a Filco, I'd recommend you do not attempt to take the switch off without my instructions. There is a way it can be done successfully and without too much hassle, but before you go to that trouble, consider 1. The switch may not be fully seated and is rubbing on another key or on the switch body below, so you might try putting equal force on the whole key and pressing down firmly. 2. The bar might not have enough grease as I mentioned, in this case you can remove the two keys in front of the Shift (Alt and Window) and you'll be able to see the mounts right below the Shift key. Any kind of thin lubricant will work, just make sure it is safe on plastics, you can dab a little on each mount with a small cotton swab and then press the Shift key a few times to work it around the bar. You only need the tiniest amount. Plant-based oils work, but may get gummy after a while, so a plastic-safe solvent-based oil may be a better choice, but they can be smelly, i.e. WD-40, I see white Lithium grease quite often under these keys on most boards, it is mostly scentless, and holds its place.

Let me know how it turns out.
« Last Edit: Wed, 29 April 2009, 21:46:55 by majestouch »

Offline Deiz

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 29 April 2009, 20:58:01 »
Don't have any non-oily lubricants around, I sprayed a cotton swab with WD-40, dried it, and dabbed the residue on the ends of the stabilizer bar.

No more squeak, and no WD-40 everywhere, either.

I'll pick up some less messy lubricants for future use, though.

I'm interested in finding out how to remove the key from the white stabilizer clips in case I want to strip down and clean the keyboard a few months or years down the road. Last time I tried forcing something electronics-related was my first PCIe graphics card, turns out that motherboard had a retention clip on the slot; One crunch later, and I had a chunk of retention clip clinking around on the motherboard. Whoops.
Keyboards: Filco FKBN104M/EB; Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000; Logitech G15 (Dead and gone); Razer Tarantula (Permanent cold storage)
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Offline majestouch

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 29 April 2009, 23:25:38 »
Quote from: Deiz;88209
Don't have any non-oily lubricants around, I sprayed a cotton swab with WD-40, dried it, and dabbed the residue on the ends of the stabilizer bar.

No more squeak, and no WD-40 everywhere, either.

I'll pick up some less messy lubricants for future use, though.

I'm interested in finding out how to remove the key from the white stabilizer clips in case I want to strip down and clean the keyboard a few months or years down the road. Last time I tried forcing something electronics-related was my first PCIe graphics card, turns out that motherboard had a retention clip on the slot; One crunch later, and I had a chunk of retention clip clinking around on the motherboard. Whoops.

Glad that worked out :) There are two real concerns with removing the large keys: 1.The stabilizing bars are very precisely bent, a millimeter of incorrect bend can cause problems. And 2. The backplate mounts that support the bar are made of plastic that can break if you're not careful. I'm reluctant to share the details, since it might be viewed as my approval that everyone do this, BUT I'm of the "give condoms to kids or else" philosophy, so here's plan B for when you just can't control yourself ;)

DISCLAIMER: If you are going to follow the instructions below, please be aware that damage made by you while performing this procedure on is NOT covered by your warranty.

1. Each large key is supported by 1 switch flanked by 2 white plastic bar clips on either side. While not necessary, removing small keys around the large key of interest, may help in removing the large key, since keycap tools generally do not fit something the size of a spacebar.

2. Use a keycap lifting tool or your fingers and GENTLY wiggle/lift the key until it slides off the center keyswitch. Careful, you do NOT want to just yank up on the keycap and detach the white bar clips from the key cap in one fell swoop! At this point the keycap will be attached to only the white clips which in series are connected to the stabilizing bar; the stabilizing bar is connected to two black plastic mounts connected to the backplate.

3. Now that the cap is released from the center switch you should be able to hold the left and right sides of it with your fingers. Hold both sides firmly and carefully pull up on one side just a bit, you should feel the keycap begin to slide off the clip, you might need to pull the opposing side and alternate between pulling sides until one side comes off. HOWEVER, only release one side first! THEN, carefully note the orientation of the clip as it is not a symmetric part and must be correctly re-oriented when you put the key back on for it to work. Each clip actually has a long side that should point toward the back of the keyboard for the Shift keys. (Other keys you should examine!)

[strike]4. Once both white clips are detached, you can set the clips and the keycap aside. At this point the bar must be removed. Why? Because otherwise you will spend an hour trying to precisely balance those wiggly clips on the bar while trying to put the keycap back on; not recommended. The bar can be removed with your fingers or a pair of needle nose pliers. Firmly grasp one side of the bar (the vertical L-shaped region) directly above the backplate mounts. The black plastic bar mounts open towards the front of the keyboard for the Shift keys; this is the point where you can break something EASILY - so very carefully pull the bar forward while providing a small amount of downward force. This shouldn't take too much power, just DO NOT PULL UP, as you can break the mount! The bar will release from that side the mount. Repeat for the mount on the opposing side.

Note: At no time should you try to pull the bar from the center. This is good way to bend the bar irreparably. Always grasp the bar near the L-shaped turn where it is structurally the strongest.

5. Replacing the key: Reattach the bar to the keycap using the white clips, be sure to orient the long side of the clips correctly as previously noted. At this point you may want to put a bit of your grease of choice on the mount or the bar or both; sparingly of course. Next hold the assembled key/bar combination and position the bar near the mouth of the backplate mounts. Employ your needle nose pliers again and firmly grasp the bar on one side below the clip in the same way you did to remove it. Gently push one side of the bar back into the mount. Repeat for the opposing side.[/strike]

EDIT: I've subsequently found that the bars on the FILCO do not have to be removed in order to replace the keycap. Instead you insert the white clips back into the keycap in the proper orientation. Then attach one clip to the bar and gently push it to one side, parallel to bottom of the bar, with a little bit of the force the L-shaped part of the bar will bend slightly and the second clip will slip into the L-shaped bar on the opposite side. The bar has enough spring to it that this won't permanently bend the bar and the clips are made strong enough that they shouldn't break. This method greatly simplifies the removal/replacement of the large stabilized keys. I recall trying this on other boards in the past with mixed results, but works well on the FILCOs.

Done. I guess a video would have been easier, but there it is in writing for the visually impaired among us.

Reminder, You break it = TOO BAD!
« Last Edit: Sat, 20 June 2009, 00:12:14 by majestouch »

Offline Hyperion

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 30 April 2009, 06:52:42 »
Ha my Das3 also had the same problem with the spacebar. I just put some olive oil in the part where the metal bar touches the white cross. Works fine now, although it took me a long time to put the crosses back carefully.

Majestouch: Thanks for the info, it would have helped me out when I had the problem, but anyone with basic knowledge of materials should be able to fix this problem easily.

Offline keyb_gr

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 30 April 2009, 07:37:44 »
Olive oil? :shocked:
Don't you think that'll degrade eventually? :suspicious:
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Offline bigpook

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« Reply #7 on: Thu, 30 April 2009, 08:15:54 »
Quote from: keyb_gr;88260
Olive oil? :shocked:
Don't you think that'll degrade eventually? :suspicious:


Interesting. Olive oil may congeal a bit over time and go solid over time. I could be wrong though, but I would think it would take a long time for that to happen.
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Offline itlnstln

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« Reply #8 on: Thu, 30 April 2009, 08:24:24 »
I would just be careful of some lubricants degrading the plastic used on the switches themselves.  You wouldn't want the stabilizer supports melting/corroding over time.  Olive oil wouldn't hurt anything I would imagine.  Hell, it even comes in plastic bottles.  I would worry more about petroleum-based lubricants.


Offline keyb_gr

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« Reply #9 on: Fri, 01 May 2009, 06:47:28 »
Silicone grease might be worth a try. Seems to be handy for CD player mechanics in any case.
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Offline huha

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 01 May 2009, 09:00:56 »
Maybe a teflon-based dry lubricant like Kontaflon would do the job just fine.

-huha
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Offline keyb_gr

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« Reply #11 on: Fri, 01 May 2009, 09:10:35 »
Quote from: huha;88457
Maybe a teflon-based dry lubricant like Kontaflon would do the job just fine.

This actually is what I was thinking of when I wrote "silicone grease" above. My bad.
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Offline majestouch

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #12 on: Sat, 02 May 2009, 14:33:30 »
Bump. I edited the tutorial post, above, on removing and replacing large keys after fooling around a bit more with some of the large stabilized keys on my board.

P.S. Thanks to iMav for adding the a bbCode strikethrough filter :-)

Offline cchan

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #13 on: Sat, 02 May 2009, 14:39:49 »
Quote from: majestouch;88697
Bump. I edited the tutorial post, above, on removing and replacing large keys after fooling around a bit more with some of the large stabilized keys on my board.

P.S. Thanks to iMav for adding the a bbCode strikethrough filter :-)
What's the strikethrough option? I tried , [strikeout], and [strikethrough] and none worked. I want to use strikethrough to represent previous owned keyboards in my sig.
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Offline keyb_gr

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #14 on: Sat, 02 May 2009, 14:52:02 »
It's "[strike]".
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Offline Rajagra

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #15 on: Sat, 02 May 2009, 19:46:53 »
Quote from: itlnstln;88270
I would just be careful of some lubricants degrading the plastic used on the switches themselves.  You wouldn't want the stabilizer supports melting/corroding over time.  Olive oil wouldn't hurt anything I would imagine.  Hell, it even comes in plastic bottles.  I would worry more about petroleum-based lubricants.


Ballistol. Protects plastic, doesn't resinify. Great stuff.

Offline keyb_gr

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #16 on: Sat, 02 May 2009, 20:00:24 »
Quote from: Rajagra;88744
Ballistol. Protects plastic, doesn't resinify. Great stuff.

Supposedly it dries in and becomes some interesting white stuff over time though, thereby lending treated parts somewhat of a cauliflower-esque appearance. Seems to be better for conservation than for lubrication. At least that's what one reads as far as potentiometers and stuff are concerned.
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Offline keyb_gr

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #17 on: Sun, 10 May 2009, 07:21:03 »
Let me add some observations on Cherry G80 and G81 stabilized keys:

Generally the G80 keys are more service-friendly here. The keycap itself does not contain any of the mechanical parts, it's just pushed on in three spots (switch + 2 extra for mechanics). Easy.

With the G81, the stabilizing bar is attached to the keycap and has to be hooked back in at the side of the switch assembly when reattaching it. Removing the key actually is easy, but make sure the metal bar moves after putting it back on. This is best done with the top case removed.
The space bar is special, its metal bar resides on the membrane. It should be removed carefully, and reassembly (which is a little tricky) pretty much requires the top case to be removed.
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Offline o2dazone

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Removing Stabilized Keys
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 15 May 2009, 21:55:46 »
I took the advice of this thread, sorta. I'm familiar with disassembling my g80-3000, having it a few weeks longer than my Filco. I ripped it apart, lined the big open plastic areas with sound dampening material (they kind they use in cars, had some left over), and filled the two plastic stabilizing tabs to the left and right of the spacebar switch full of white lithium grease. Kind of messy, but didn't get it anywhere except for the plastic tabs. Talk about the ultimate in dampening the sound lol. I'm still getting the usual click from the spacebar, but no wiggling plastic against plastic rattling sound by tapping on it. The rest of the keys sound a little less hollow (testing against my brothers untouched g80-3000).

I also got a water soluble dry lube, safe for plastics, and worked that on the stabilizing bar of the Filco to remove that little squeak. Everything is ship shape :)

Thanks thread!

Offline o2dazone

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« Reply #19 on: Fri, 15 May 2009, 22:19:20 »
Pretty much, although I'm a pro at manipulating it. I originally put it on my spacebar, underneath where it's hollow, but it drastically changed the sound (which was a plus) but also changed the weight (which sucked) so I pulled it off, and used a goo gone treatment to remove the excess goo left over. I also had to be careful not to line too much of the keyboard with the sound dampening material as the non adhesive side looks like a conductive surface. Probably wouldn't bode well with the underneath of the board where all the exposed soldering points are lol

http://blasterchemical.com/display.cfm?p=50003&pid=6

This is the dry lube I used. I've used PB Blaster before loosening stuff, and it works great. I guess that doesn't really mean anything with a different product - but it got rid of any squeak that I had (which only happened rarely, now it's completely gone). Picked it up, along with the white lithium grease at Lowe's.
« Last Edit: Fri, 15 May 2009, 22:21:51 by o2dazone »

Offline Hamps

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« Reply #20 on: Mon, 22 June 2009, 22:08:48 »
I'm having the same problem as watduzhkstand4 http://geekhack.org/showpost.php?p=97822&postcount=9
My spacebar on my Filco is squeaking. I can't stand the noise. It's such a good board other than that one thing. It doesn't squeak any other way that I press it except for the way I naturally press it when typing! This thread makes it sound too risky to attempt fixing it myself especially since I don't fully understand some of the parts described in the steps. I've read each step repeatedly countless times yet I'm still unsure of what exactly is being talked about without seeing it myself, but I'm afraid I'll mess it up permanently if I go through with it.

I wish I could just shrink down, The Magic School Bus style, and get underneath the spacebar without taking it off and just rub lube on whatever is causing the squeak.

Is there a video of this anywhere? That would help immensely.
« Last Edit: Mon, 22 June 2009, 22:15:09 by Hamps »

Offline Hamps

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« Reply #21 on: Mon, 22 June 2009, 22:15:39 »
I'm having the same problem as watduzhkstand4 http://geekhack.org/showpost.php?p=97822&postcount=9
My spacebar on my Filco is squeaking. I can't stand the noise. It's such a good board other than that one thing. It doesn't squeak any other way that I press it except for the way I naturally press it when typing! This thread makes it sound too risky to attempt fixing it myself especially since I don't fully understand some of the parts described in the steps. I've read each step repeatedly countless times yet I'm still unsure of what exactly is being talked about without seeing it myself, but I'm afraid I'll mess it up permanently if I go through with it.

I wish I could just shrink down, The Magic School Bus style, and get underneath the spacebar without taking it off and just rub lube on whatever is causing the squeak.

Is there a video of this anywhere? That would help immensely.

Offline Hamps

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« Reply #22 on: Mon, 22 June 2009, 23:54:51 »
Alright I'll give it a shot. Well, maybe once I get the right lube... the only lube I have on hand right now is Graphite Lube. I don't even know wtf this is for. It's a dry powder but that wouldn't work huh?

Offline o2dazone

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« Reply #23 on: Tue, 23 June 2009, 08:35:24 »
Silicon grease is a realm different from a dry lube, just fyi. A dry lube (mostly used to lube wood on table saws, and parts that can't be "covered" in grease) will dry, and leave no residue left behind.

Silicon grease, from what I've found, is all petroleum based. Not sure how caustic it is on plastics, but I've read it numerous times it's no good for it. I'm personally having a hard time finding a local store that sells a "grease like" substance that's not petroleum based. This includes white lithium products.

FYI, after using the dry lube, about a week after, the squeak on my Filco came back. I put some white lithium grease very gently on where the stabilizer bar meets the mounting point "hook" on the board (that's where it's squeaking), and the squeak hasn't come back. Even when pushing the spacebar towards the home row and then depressing it, it doesn't squeak. It's working real well. Not sure how long white lithium takes to "erode" plastic, or if it ever will in normal temperature/low stress conditions.

Offline itlnstln

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« Reply #24 on: Tue, 23 June 2009, 08:46:31 »
Quote from: o2dazone;98549
Silicon grease, from what I've found, is all petroleum based. Not sure how caustic it is on plastics, but I've read it numerous times it's no good for it. I'm personally having a hard time finding a local store that sells a "grease like" substance that's not petroleum based. This includes white lithium products.

Just use butter.


Offline bsvP585hUO2Y6

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« Reply #25 on: Tue, 23 June 2009, 08:59:24 »
Quote from: itlnstln;98554
Just use butter.


I sense a thread topic from the near future.  It reads: "What's the best way to deodorize a keyboard of rancid butter smell?".
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Offline itlnstln

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« Reply #26 on: Tue, 23 June 2009, 09:37:04 »
Quote from: ripster;98558
I haven't had squeaks myself on the two Filco boards I have.

I don't have squeaks on the spacebar on my Filco, but I do on both my ABSs.  I can't imagine what the difference would be, though, unless there is a different stabilizing mechanism on the Alps switches vs. the Cherrys.


Offline o2dazone

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« Reply #27 on: Tue, 23 June 2009, 09:46:05 »
Quote from: ripster;98558
I thought you were going to tell people to rub their nose on the stabilizing bars? ;-)


Hey, I've had my trackball, in a completely working fashion with no problems for over 6 years of rigorous use. That tells you the face grease method is something special!

Offline Hamps

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« Reply #28 on: Tue, 23 June 2009, 13:32:55 »
I went to my local auto store and asked the guy there if he had any grease I could use on plastic and he gave me some synthetic brake grease. I told him I was using it on my keyboard and he looked at me funny and later asked if I was in a band. I said, "No, I'm putting it on my computer keyboard." Him and his friend looked at each other and then laughed at me. They were the Hank Hill types, "I yell ya huwhat, them kids with their vidya games and space bars and fancy keyboards... the boy aint right"

It worked though, no more squeak! Also the space bar removal was laughably easy after worrying about it so much. I thought it was gonna be some painstaking, meticulous ordeal but it literally just slid off without so much as a snap. Now the Filco is once again the perfect board.

Online talis

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« Reply #29 on: Tue, 23 June 2009, 13:43:21 »
I use this stuff.   Should be able to find it or something similar at most electronics/hobby stores.  It doesn't damage plastic, and is about the same consistency as petroleum jelly, so it stays in place and doesn't flow around.
« Last Edit: Tue, 23 June 2009, 13:47:21 by talis »