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 Post subject: EMG Restoration Project
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:30 am 
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Victor V
His epigrams are all his own, the man's an epigramophone!
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:21 pm
Posts: 2174
Location: The Somerset Levels, UK.
A couple of days ago Clevedon Salerooms http://www.clevedon-salerooms.com sold this machine, estimated at £50/£80, for £2500. Buyers Premium and VAT inflated the total to £3100.

I was unable to attend the sale, but have been told by an experienced collector friend who viewed it that the case had woodworm and the horn had a chunk missing from the bell which is clearly visible in the on line picture. The correct tonearm and soundbox were present. The motor was a Garrard electric.

Was it a good buy? The winning bidder must have thought so, and there may have been some gems in the two boxes of records included in the lot.

The auctioneer's reference to a "home made" case made me smile. It certainly looked home made! My informant thought that the case was genuine, but the auctioneer must have been unfamiliar with EMG/Expert's famously utilitarian approach to cabinet design.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Restoration Project
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:15 am 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:18 am
Posts: 837
Looks like a piece of cake to fix compared to the kraken http://forum.talkingmachine.info/viewtopic.php?p=72377#p72377. Certainly it would be a good pastime for Graham, the EMG guru.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Restoration Project
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:34 am 
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Victor III
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Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:57 am
Posts: 536
Location: Hampshire, England.
Well, good afternoon Roger and Carlos ! Not sure about the guru bit but I have to own up to the purchase on Thursday and have to say I am very happy with the result in spite of the cut horn and heavily wood-wormed case which was scrap---see attached photos. The item is a complete Mk Xb Oversize with 33 ½” diameter horn bell mouth. They still turn up !

Here are some notes I have made for my files which may possibly be of interest to others who might one day find themselves in the same boat ?

The base unit was not original to EMG but home-made at a later date---possibly in the nineteen-fifties or sixties judging by the materials used and colour finish (orange and white !). By the time I bought it, still very active woodworm had badly destroyed many parts of the case, especially at the back where it appeared to have lain against a damp wall. The dimensions had nothing to do with EMG and were quite a bit larger than the “proper” specification---in my view rather ugly and needlessly heavy/overpowering visually. The original EMG case may well have suffered the same fate---a reasonable supposition perhaps or why make a new item ?

I decided there was no option but immediately to burn all wooden parts.

However, the constructor tried hard to make a quality item in terms of robustness. ⅞” plywood was employed compared with ¾” or less by EMG but there was no veneered finish under the paintwork. Joints were glued, partially overlapped and strong---competent work.

There are a number of points to note :

1. The horn spigot has a 3/16" thick rubber ring compressed between the horn casting and the conduit outlet to try to ensure an air-tight connection---ostensibly a reasonable idea but which leaves an internal gap---undesirable acoustically. The need for the rubber ring is because the conduit casting finishes ⅛” below the level of the top of the case (inserted nickel-plated ring held by four countersunk wood screws) creating a gap. The case design is therefore incorrect---the dimension between top of the deck-board and the top of the case is critical---5 ¼”---to ensure that the bottom of the bronze horn spigot sits fair and square against the top face of the internally machined ledge inside the conduit to form an air-tight butt joint (with grease added as belt and braces).

2. The conduit below the deck-board had insulating tape wound around it---presumably to further deaden extraneous unwanted frequencies---a reasonable idea which can do no harm but which probably had little benefit in this case. The LM6 specification of the aluminium casting is already pretty good at confounding unwanted frequencies. NB. Modern heat treated LM25 cast aluminium would not be appropriate as it is a far more resonant material, even though stronger. External insulation on a thin-wall steel HMV 32 conduit does, however, have a great acoustic benefit.

3. The tonearm bearing flange was secured to the rear deck-board by machine screws with nuts underneath. Wood screws are standard. The nuts had rusted solid and had to be ground off. It was only possible to carry out this work having first demolished the whole case as the rear deck-board was glued in place and (amazingly) was not demountable ! Not well thought out.

4. There was no tonearm rest or circular collar around the deck-board conduit outlet.

5. All conduit parts were badly seized and required much time, heat and force to separate. An EMG would normally take perhaps twenty minutes to completely strip employing specialist tools but this work took six hours !

6. The nickel-plated brass top collar immediately below the horn spigot proved almost impossible to unscrew due to massive oxidization of the top part of the aluminium conduit. It yielded eventually but the latter now has a large area devoid of thread and will ideally have to be replaced. Fortunately, I have new Xb conduits in stock.

7. The conduit is the correct longer length (cf Mk Xa) for a Mk Xb, thus it is extremely likely that all metal parts are original to the Oversize model ex EMG. It was never upgraded in terms of audio specification.

8. Tracking would have been reasonable but not perfect. The distance between the tonearm bearing centre and motor spindle centre measured 11 ⅛” whereas 11.0 “ is usual. This is just within reasonable limits and fine-tuning by soundbox rotation would have produced acceptable results. However, the gap between the underside of the soundbox (particularly a four-spring item) and the top of the record would have been dangerously slim. Problems might have been encountered when playing a slightly warped record.

9. The number stamped on the underside of the tonearm bearing is 790. There are no other numbers but the original date of manufacture is likely to have been towards the end of the nineteen-thirties.

10. The electric motor is an attractive Garrard AC4 in what looks to be quite reasonable order.

11. The soundbox is EMG four-spring with rock-hard rubbers all round---clearly not in use for many years.The diaphragm is damaged but salvageable.

Considering all the above information, it is clear that the constructor had some knowledge of what is important technically in the EMG design and was an enthusiast.

I enquired as to history with the very helpful auctioneer who told me that he cleared a five storey house in Clifton which had been owned by an “antiques” dealer and was stuffed absolutely full of artefacts and stock---clearly amassed over many decades. He said that such houses and situations now very rarely occur—much to his chagrin as a house-clearer !

He found the gramophone and two Century chests containing the Ambrose records in the damp basement and the horn had already had the missing section cut off. Clearly this had been done many years ago---probably by someone wanting to get the 33 ½” diameter horn into a room or car. He thought the house had contained much of this stock for many years and that the EMG may have been bought many decades ago. He died some years previously---his widow is now in a home and not in a fit state to be contacted---their client is a distant relative in Australia (I think he said). Thus, sadly, there is no link to the man or family who originally would have actually used the instrument. However, I do have three pieces of evidence as to prior ownership before the current vendor.

There were two Century cabinets also sold with the lot which, although once-again, heavily wood-wormed, contained 150 exclusively Ambrose records in pretty good order. These appear at first glance to be late thirties shellac discs. The cabinets are monogrammed “DLC” and were clearly treasured at the time. Having removed all the records to allow timber treatment I discovered a number of paper items (see photo) giving clues as to a former owner. It would appear that DLC refers to one D.L.Clarke of 21 West Mall, Clifton, Bristol 8 who had a radio receiving license on 30th September 1939. M.L. Clarke (presumably related) was manager of Merriotts---radio and electrical engineers---at 88 Redcliffe Hill, Bristol 1. I therefore surmise that the Oversize Mk Xb EMG may have been the instrument used to demonstrate records in the retail outlet ? There is also a strobe’ referring to Bristol Wireless Ltd which may or may not be associated. The latter still exists (now a charity in the IT world I think) according to Mr Google but I have not yet had time to follow any links. If anyone can assist with further information I should be most grateful.

The whole horn has been painted white on the outside which, of course, is a shame and probably impossible to remove in any sensible way. The internal finish is the original paper in reasonable order. I shall hope to reconstruct the missing segment which is a slightly tricky repair, especially in terms of matching the papers. Unfortunately, the Krakenhorn had highly decorated internal paper which is, therefore, not suitable. Does anyone have any old snippets of plain "reptilian" or "snakeskin" paper they would be willing to part with ? There are also other distortions and weaknesses on the bell to sort out. Quite what to do with the exterior finish I have yet to decide but it will certainly have to involve fresh paint or new paper.

Finally, I bought another EMG base unit (Mk Xa) last year at auction needing full restoration which has now been carried out. This came with an incorrect very droopy Expert Minor horn and thus will be the perfect recipient for the current item under discussion, in due course.


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File comment: Requires removal of machining spigot.
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 Post subject: Re: EMG Restoration Project
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 2:06 pm 
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Victor III
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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:03 am
Posts: 680
Location: near Utopia, UK
Fantastic news Graham - how exciting that the remains of another Oversize should surface, and have passed into the very best hands possible for completion and restoration.

It's fascinating to think that two cabinets have evidently bitten the dust (or more accurately, been bitten to dust!). It must be quietly thinking to itself, "Third time lucky" - and it'll be right. :lol:

I can't wait to hear more - and to see the finished instrument in due course!


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Restoration Project
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:38 pm 
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Victor II
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:51 am
Posts: 356
This must be a new record for rabid woodworm! Did not think they would eat plywood! Awesome pile of sawdust next to the case. Fantastic project though for someone with your expertise. Look forward to be very impressed after restoration!

Could you please show a pic of what an Ambrose looks like. Did not find anything on the internet.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Restoration Project
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 6:49 pm 
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Victor III
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Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:57 am
Posts: 536
Location: Hampshire, England.
If you put "Ambrose 78 rpm" into UK eBay you will see dozens of Ambrose records for sale :

https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from ... m&_sacat=0


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Restoration Project
PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:23 am 
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Victor V
His epigrams are all his own, the man's an epigramophone!
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:21 pm
Posts: 2174
Location: The Somerset Levels, UK.
Well bought Graham. The machine went to the right man!

Sidewinder, it is the animal glue in old plywood which makes it irresistible to woodworm, and as you have no doubt discovered, Ambrose was a British band leader not a record label.

I have searched my collection of period record covers but have yet to find one for Merriott's of Bristol, although one may still be lurking around somewhere. Meanwhile, here are some views of Redcliffe Hill showing the results of what some call progress.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Restoration Project
PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:09 am 
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Victor II
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:17 am
Posts: 351
Excellent news. Another one saved.


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Restoration Project
PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:42 am 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:18 am
Posts: 837
Well, I am not sure anymore if this is an easier job than the Kraken, but certainly shows that Graham enjoys challenges! It is impressive to see all the technical information gathered and detective work already accomplished in short time, so keep us in suspense for the next chapter!

PS: Ambrose's band was a good one, but two racks full of his records is overdose! Beware, the next find may come with Victor Silvester's complete discography ...


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 Post subject: Re: EMG Restoration Project
PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:23 am 
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Victor III
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:12 pm
Posts: 707
A little off topic but can't resist posting this. Epigramophone mentioned "animal glue." I have a little story about that term. Many years ago, before the advent of the Internet, I was reading a book published in Britain on furniture preservation. I still have the book. The book referred to animal glue. In principle I knew what that was but couldn't locate any on Long Island, NY, where I lived. I went to hardware stores and called many furniture repair shops, asked about "animal glue," but came up empty handed. One time a receptionist answered my call. She sounded about 16. I asked if her business sold animal glue. She went, "Ooooh! That's disgusting," then immediately hung up on me. Later, I actually managed to speak with a cabinetmaker who told me that I was looking for hide glue. A rose by any other name . . .


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