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 Post subject: Meltrope soundboxes.
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:50 pm 
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Victor II
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I have sometimes wondered what it was that Mr William S Wild actually did to the earlier Meltrope soundboxes when he inscribed his name on the stylus cover plate showing that he had made modifications of some kind. I recently bought such an item (Meltrope No.II) which, due to the completely solid tonearm rubber, suggested that it had not been used for many decades and therefore might usefully show the original specification and work done.

There seem to have been two ideas ; firstly, to add material at various points to ensure a completely rattle free item and secondly, to increase compliance. In the latter respect, leather washers have been interposed between the two spring steel brackets retaining the stylus bar and their fixing screw heads---see image three (WM1). The standard Meltrope seems to have had none---see image two (M1). The same images also reveal a red coloured material placed between the ball bearings and the spring steel bracket ends. This might reasonably have been thought to be leather but does not appear to be so, neither is it wax, for self-evident reasons.

Images 4, 5, 6, and 7 show the addition of wax at the four outer ends of the stylus cover plate where it attaches to the casing and also to either side of the stylus fixing point at the centre of the diaphragm.

In the interests of further study, I have not dismantled the “Wild-tuned” box to determine the actual materials used.


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 Post subject: Re: Meltrope soundboxes.
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:03 pm 
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Victor II
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Following on from the previous post, it is interesting to consider just what were the differences between the Meltrope I and the Meltrope II. Having combed the contemporary advertisements, I have only found references to the No. II. A friend (Loudbass on this forum) recently acquired an original item which we are pretty sure is a No. I, thus we are able to make comparisons.

The first difference is that the needle thumbscrew on the No.I is at right-angles to the plane of the diaphragm but at an offset angle on the No.II. It is easier to operate when offset and can therefore be viewed as an improvement as can be seen in the attached photograph.

The same photo shows that the overall diameters of both models are similar but that there is a difference in the positioning of the stylus platform. The No.II stylus platform is cut into the main casing and it therefore follows that the stylus itself is shorter. Also shown is the fact that the needle holders are of different metals---brass for the No.I and aluminium for the No.II. Both are pierced in a triangular fashion.

The final point to observe is that the housings containing the rubber washers for tonearm attachment are of different sizes---both in diameter and depth (screw caps have been removed). The No.II is considerably larger in both respects. It is also the case (not easily observable from a photo) that the overall thickness of the No.I soundbox is less than that of the No.II. The difference seems to be accounted for by a deliberate flattening of the stylus cover plate at its four extremities where it is held by the main casing (see photos in previous post--M2 and WM2). The weight of the No.II is perhaps 10% greater due to the differences mentioned. Both patent references are indentical and dated 1927.

The Meltrope III is rather a different animal altogether.


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 Post subject: Re: Meltrope soundboxes.
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:31 pm 
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Victor IV
His epigrams are all his own, the man's an epigramophone!
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:21 pm
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Location: The Somerset Levels, UK.
Here is a period advertisement featuring both the Meltrope I and the Meltrope III.

I have never seen any reference to the Meltrope II in period advertisements and wondered whether it ever existed, but on examining what I thought was my "I" I can now see from your posts that it is clearly a "II". All very interesting.

Although the ad states that the "III" is intended for use with steel needles, I have examples cut with round holes for steel and triangular for fibre. Why would two versions have been made? My theory is that the earlier "I/II" design was discontinued, leaving only the "III", and that a version was needed to keep the fibre enthusiasts happy.


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 Post subject: Re: Meltrope soundboxes.
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:22 pm 
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Victor II
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Many thanks Roger and I must apologise for saying I have only seen advertising references to the No.II---I meant No.I, of course.

I too have several No.IIIs---all different ! Some have small circular needle holes, some large and some triangulated. I presume they were keen to cater for all tastes---steel, thorn and bamboo---as you suggest. Quite why they made the change to the No.III is a bit of a mystery as, in my (limited) experience, the No.II is the better performer. Cheaper to manufacture is probably the answer ? It is indeed curious that your advertisement dated July 1929 shows the No.I and No.III with no reference at all to the (more common ?) No.II.

Here is an extract from "The Gramophone" April 1928 detailing the prevailing debate. Click to enlarge.


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 Post subject: Re: Meltrope soundboxes.
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:14 am 
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Victor I
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:05 pm
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Captivating topic Graham! Thanks ever so much for those excellent photographs and the article from the Gramophone. Any information that can help us understand what the acoustic reproduction experts of the period had discovered is really the next vital step in this endlessly fascinating world.

I eagerly await any possible further elucidation!


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 Post subject: Re: Meltrope soundboxes.
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:39 pm 
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Victor III
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Many thanks indeed Graham - several puzzles solved there, which have hitherto mystified me. I must get my Meltrope Is/IIs out (including a Wild-inscribed one, although I don't recall seeing any sealing wax when I rebuilt it) and have another look.


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 Post subject: Re: Meltrope soundboxes.
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:21 am 
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Victor II
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Probably just trouble with semantics but I should have made clear that all the wax used in different places is soft (as in beeswax) and not the brittle sealing wax.


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 Post subject: Re: Meltrope soundboxes.
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:17 pm 
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Victor III
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emgcr wrote:
Probably just trouble with semantics but I should have made clear that all the wax used in different places is soft (as in beeswax) and not the brittle sealing wax.

Thanks for clarifying Graham, my error entirely. Without so much as giving it a thought, the red wax sealing the four mask fixing points had the appearance of sealing wax to my eye - but clearly not!


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 Post subject: Re: Meltrope soundboxes.
PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:20 pm 
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Victor III
Edison, Columbia, Victor, Pathé...and oddball makes
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:06 pm
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Are these Meltropes noteworthy performers? Would it be worth the hunt for a US enthusiast to obtain one? And if so, which of the three variants would you recommend first?

How does their sound compare to common US soundboxes? Along the lines of the Victrola #2 or #4, or more like the orthophonic? Or?

Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Meltrope soundboxes.
PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:34 pm 
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Victor V
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Much like an orthophonic. Are they worthy of having? Yes, I'd say, I have a I and a III and I love them.

Sean


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