There’s screws, and then there’s SCREWS.
You can go completely bananas trying to find out the exact same replacements for some screws. Only once you start looking at them closely do you realize the vast variation between them. And some are simply custom made for the manufacturer, or in some cases even custom made for the PRODUCT. And you simply can’t find them anywhere for sale new, unless you pilfer them from another one of the same product units.
The number of different types of head shapes alone is staggering. I’d never paid attention much up until now. I kinda stopped at whether it was traditional cheese-head or Phillips, what color it was and whether it fitted when shoved in the hole. Spotting them and knowing what you are holding in your hand can be an advanced skill in itself. It’s not as easy as you might think.
There is the types of screw head drive to think about:
Then there is the type of head profile:
Then there is the type of thread:
And this is before the length or color or screw material used for its manufacturing is even considered!
There are several thousand screws inside and outside a Roland Jupiter 8. On Cora, there was probably a few hundred less than what she was originally born into this world with. No doubt they are scattered about on bar stage floors, buried in road cases, still bouncing around in the back of roadie vans and littered around on the synth workbenches of the world from her emergency transplant operations it looks like she received during her travels since the 80s. The screws that were left, were in many cases shoved forcefully into the wrong spot, stripped on their heads or thread, and most of all…Rusting. Cora the Corroder was living up to her name in every way possible.
I was going to replace every single one of her screws. I would spare no time or effort or expense to track them down.
Every screw that hung out the bottom of Cora’s base panel underneath had its black head “shaved” from the lack of synth foot-rests. She literally sat on her screw heads. Many screws under there were bent or had their heads completely torn off !! with just the stump remaining as a result of the punishing years that Cora had being ripped on and off keyboard stands relentlessly, anything sticking out underneath a synth panel tends to invariably catch on something eventually. Plus the ones that were still left had bare metal remaining and thus were all rusting.
Most replacement screws can be found reasonably easily for a Jupiter 8. In an upcoming post I plan to list all the screw types and where I sourced replacements from. But there are a few that are truly Unobtainable. Case in point… the 3 crucial front top panel black screws that run along above the keys in plain sight. (Circled in red):
They are a unique pointy shaped dome head, with an unusually small “+” on them for their size yet a considerably wide diameter, and feature in every single photo you see of a Jupiter 8. You can get away with close approximations for many, but in these 3 locations if you dont use screws that are Right, your Jup simply won’t look Right. When you play your Jupiter 8, and stare down at her gorgeous panel, these 3 screws are … right there. In your face. You can’t miss them.
From my deductions and discussions on forums these Phillips screws were a Roland Japan custom job, exclusive to a period in the 80s. They do appear on several other Synths of that era including the Jup6, JX3P and Junos. On the outset, they are a standard M3x6mm thread. From Wiki:
“The M3 is a metric screw specifying a nominal diameter of 3 millimetres (0.12 in); and standard coarse thread pitch defined as 0.5 millimetres (0.020 in). The M3 is the second most common screw found in PCs. … 2.5-inch hard disks and solid-state drive.“
But it seems Roland wanted to keep them looking reasonably inconspicuous, and thus gave them a small head “+” imprint. Smaller than usual. They also were given a larger “round” or mushroom style head shape and larger head diameter (often also called Truss-head) as their important job was to help hold down the whole front panel from swinging open, from only 3 anchor points across the front, and they needed to do this without supporting washers which were deemed ugly. (Ed: note that the side cheek screws also help keep the from panel secure and closed from the sides). These needed to handle a decent amount of force on them without letting the metal panel beneath pull over their heads, so they were wider and stronger. And they were also a dark grey to disguise themselves further with the panel color… Not a traditional pure black. Then there is the socket type…ie the type of “+” is actually formed in the head is a different type to your standard Phillips. It is called JIS, or Japanese Industrial Standard, a screw that was mainly made and used in Japan.
JIS looks much like a Phillips screw (and even more similar to another cross socket called Frearson), but the cross is “tighter” so the screwdriver will not to pop out (or “cam out”) if it’s tightened too much. JIS screw teeth can be damaged by a standard Phillips screwdriver if it is tightened too far. These screws had a strict criteria to meet and are indeed …Special.
The problem is..they are also the Primary Gatekeepers to opening the top panel of a Jupiter 8 so as to gain access to its inner workings and voice boards… that let’s face it need access OFTEN and regularly. To fix stuff. So their tiny teeth are the first to get damaged… their threads the first to get stripped. And with all that handling yet small size they are indeed the first to fall off the bench, roll under the desk, get mixed up with other screws and thus…Get LOST.
Cora landed in my arms with ONE of these original screws remaining, that was in a miserable condition. Flogged to within an inch of its life. The second screw along was a brown wood screw! Shoved in there as a feeble attempt to hold things together, with the 3rd screw completely missing. Unbelievable. The blatant disrespect. Fortunately the wood screw was short and too small for the job, so it did not do irreparable damage to the securing thread below. This is what the single original screw that was left looks like:
It is not easy to find JIS screws on the Internet. Even harder to find black ones. Most are silver. These 3 screws get twisted and turned on a regular basis, it’s not just a simple case of spray painting the silver screws to a black color. Once a screwdriver touches the screw head for the first time the paint chips off with any kind of pressure applied. And then the silver shines through and it looks dirty and messy. I’ve been told it’s possible to spray paint a screw black and then ease it in gently into its location using Blu-tack on the tip of your screwdriver to help reduce damage but it’s a one-off proposition.
Not a viable option for 3 screws that need to be used every time to get into a Jupiter 8 synth. It’s also very hard to convince a powder Coater to do some screws. Every powder coater has a minimum flagfall fee. From my experience it’s between $100-$200. They don’t like mixing up the powder and cleaning their jet guns for anything less. Plus the powder coat tends to sit inside the screw head cavern and make it harder to get the screwdriver in successfully. The only successful method is to buy the right color screw, anodized that color from the factory. So I was going to try and find a black screw .. and see how it looked on the panel. I would then decide if I would need to spray paint the screws as well over the top of the anodized black to a panel- matching dark grey color. At least then if the spray paint chipped off it would uncover a black color underneath rather than a raw shiny silver. A black chip showing here and there through an otherwise dark grey spray paint would be acceptable.
Searches for a JIS black M3 screw on the Internet after several days were not very successful. I found an excellent JIS M3 screw but like many others looking for such a screw i was disappointed that the only one available was silver. Frustrating. However in a forum I was given the hint that a search for “truss head” was going to show up a similar dome-shaped screw head, although the “+” was not going to be the tight JIS shape. It was as close as I was going to get. At least it was not going to be the flat pan-head shape which is the main visual giveaway that the screw shape is “wrong”. I did some extensive technical calculations according to the graph below:
And after deliberation I finally found these on EBay:
They look pretty good! They were expensive for what they were … more than $15 for only 50 small screws. So they tilted my Value vs Effort graph somewhat. But if they were an acceptable match then they had to be tried out.
Finally they arrived. Below I convinced 4 screws to stand up straight in a line for their very first photo shoot. Bunch of amateurs they refused to stand still. It was about as easy as trying to keep 4 kittens still in a bathtub.
(Cue fashion parade music)…
“Well welcome everyone …First today we have Coras original Roland screw showing her age somewhat, looking rather miserable and wearing a decidedly rusted coat….Second in the line now its great to see new Ebay Screw which just arrived …looking just stunning in shimmering and glowing polished black! That domed head shape is eerily close in shape and design to Cora Screw we just experienced beforehand … this new arrival is one sexy screw! Third is Standard vanilla everyday black M3x6 PAN HEAD screw that is about as common as Pencil Sharpenings. As you can see, pan head screw for this special main-event purpose just ain’t gonna cut it in the looks department I’m afraid. That fat side rim and smaller diameter flat head is just miles away from the original. And lastly, as a special bonus we have for your entertainment a “truss head with washer” black screw combo that you might find comes up in your searches to find a match with Cora Screw. The diameter width is right, the color is right, it’s an M3x6mm Phillips screw all right but she is about as ugly as a Christmas sweater. Big thanks to all our participants I think we have one clear winner…number #2 step forward to claim your prize!”