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 Post subject: Grafonola 202 and lots of questions:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 11:56 pm 
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Victor IV
I've got both kinds of music--classical & rag-time.
Joined: Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:39 am
Posts: 1304
Location: South Carolina
Today I took delivery of a Grafonola 202 which I bartered with Gramophone-georg for. (Thanks again George! It's a great machine.)

It's really nice. The expandable album is still in the lid and it plays. The machine has a No. 9 reproducer, Plano-Reflex arm, and Garrard 50 motor. Serial number is 12644. The old VV 2-65 Victrola I had was a good quality machine years ago but humidity and abuse had taken their toll and it was not something I could salvage with my skills. (However, its soundbox went to Wyatt, then to George, and boosted a neat machine of his own. So the voice of 2-65 No. 009xxx lives on in Oregon.)

Fortunately, with the exception of the auto brake, everything is in fabulous filthy-but-intact condition. This is literally the way I would like to find ALL my gramophones and phonographs. I found a good needle still in it, cranked it up, and put on "Song of India" with Fiedler leading the Boston Pops. It's incredible. A 1927 copy of "Bye Bye Blackbird" was clear as a bell and almost a little too loud. The horn is very good in this machine and I am more than pleased with the build quality--the English could straight-up BUILD a gramophone, and they took it seriously. It even still smells like a gramophone--all old oil and wood and grease and vintage luggage. I haven't been this excited about a machine's good condition since I unpacked a 1909 Victor from its original carrying case where it had been entombed since probably the 1920s.

The difference is, the Victor III was broken, but the Grafonola still runs like a champion. Also, I moved, and had to leave the Victor behind. Fortunately it is in a safe place and I will probably pick it up on Thanksgiving--because acoustic discs, amiright?

I feel honored to be caring for this diminutive portable for the next years. Already I shined up the Columbia Graphophone tag inside and was glad to see that the rusty specks on the tonearm will polish away easily. Also, I found a limit pin that had been bashed out of the tonearm and should be able to fit it back together soon. Being old is hard on a talking-machine and people too.

Questions are:

1. how is the auto brake supposed to work?
2. Is there a way to take apart these motors without them running noisier when re-assembled? It's absolutely perfect as is, but needs an oil change badly.
3. Regarding the reproducers, should that be serviced? The black mask is rather loose & rattly. If so...any ideas on parts? (It does sound really potent.)
4. The tonearm automatically lowers down into the horn when you close the lid (which was a cool feature.) The pipes appear to be diecast pot metal. Is there anything I need to do regarding lubrication/grease/sealing the ball bearing joints or should I just leave it be?
5. Lastly, with a serial number of 12644, any estimation on what year this cute little thing could have been built in? I know they were from 1928 to the 1930s but am not sure. It's probably a 1930s model.

Any help from our English phonograph experts will be much appreciated. I've never restored an English portable, let alone fully serviced a Garrard motor (springs and all) and hate to mess it up.


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 Post subject: Re: Grafonola 202 and lots of questions:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:14 am 
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Victor III
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 841
Location: Italy
Hello and welcome to the club of top-quality portable proud owners. Amongst others, I own a Columbia 112a, which I believe is more or less the same machine type as yours, and I fully second your positive sentiments about this outstanding gramophone.

1 - There were at least two different auto-brakes deployed on the 202. In general, however, a shaft below the tonearm should engage a pin located in the top-left corner of the turntable, which activates the brake. If you need details about how to adjust it, please post pictures.

2 - It will not be any noisier if you know how to properly adjust the regulator. However, there is really no need to take apart the entire motor if you just need to lubricate it: clean old oil with gasoline, relubricate, and that's all. In case the spring barrel has to be taken apart, well that's another matter...

3 - If the sound is good (no rattling, buzzing or squeaking) leave it as is. Otherwise, in Europe we tend to use for gasket replacement cycle valve tubing, which is ivory/yellowish in colour. Sometimes on eBay some orange tubing appears which is very similar to that originally used by Columbia, but I could never spot a constant and reliable source for this material.

4 - Lubricate the ball bearing with some drops of oil and let the whole mechanism as untouched as possible. So far it doesn't seem to be so prone to deterioration as many other pot metal parts in gramophones/phonographs, but still it's clearly the weak spot of the machine.

5 - Sorry I don't dig serial numbers too much, for some reason knowing the exact day in which something was produced never really excited me, a years' span is usually more than sufficient for my taste. Hopingly someone else will be more helpful on this point!


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 Post subject: Re: Grafonola 202 and lots of questions:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:28 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: 2806
Location: The Somerset Levels, UK.
Good advice from Marco, to which I can add a little background information.

The Columbia 201 and 202 portables were face lifted replacements for the 109a and 112a. The main improvements were a new soundbox, the No.15 replacing the No.9, automatic turntable brakes and detachable record albums. Nickel plated fittings gave way to chrome.

After Columbia's contract with Garrard expired, the 202 acquired an HMV 270 series side wound motor and a "Pakawa" carrying handle, but retained the Columbia/Garrard turntable and speed control. The 202 lasted until 1937, when it was replaced by the 206, an HMV102 clone.

Pictured below is my late 202 alongside one of my 112a's for comparison.

Roger.


Attachments:
112a & 202.JPG
112a & 202.JPG [ 1.29 MiB | Viewed 722 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Grafonola 202 and lots of questions:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 8:27 am 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 2:38 pm
Posts: 765
Location: United Kingdom
epigramophone wrote:
The main improvements were a new soundbox, the No.15 replacing the No.9,


I wasn't sure, but I've certainly never seen a 202 with a No.9 soundbox.


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 Post subject: Re: Grafonola 202 and lots of questions:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 8:31 am 
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Victor III
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 841
Location: Italy
Thanks in return for your interesting notes, Roger. I didn't know so far of the existence of the very late model with slanted crank handle.

Is there perhaps in UK any illustrated book in which Columbia portables, or portables in general, are considered?


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 Post subject: Re: Grafonola 202 and lots of questions:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:15 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: 2806
Location: The Somerset Levels, UK.
Marco Gilardetti wrote:
Thanks in return for your interesting notes, Roger. I didn't know so far of the existence of the very late model with slanted crank handle.

Is there perhaps in UK any illustrated book in which Columbia portables, or portables in general, are considered?


When Columbia and HMV merged in 1931 to form EMI, the HMV archives were carefully preserved but Columbia's were not. In the absence of the original source material, it is unlikely that anyone will ever be able to write a book about UK Columbia to match "His Master's Gramophone", whose authors made extensive use of the HMV archives. Even Columbia machine catalogues are hard to find, although I and others have posted those for 1913 and 1929 elsewhere on this forum.

It seems almost as though the HMV interests in EMI deliberately sought to write Columbia out of the history books, and today's collectors and researchers are the poorer for it.


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 Post subject: Re: Grafonola 202 and lots of questions:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:12 pm 
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Victor IV
I've got both kinds of music--classical & rag-time.
Joined: Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:39 am
Posts: 1304
Location: South Carolina
Thanks to all who responded. Thanks to Marco for the tip about motors--I tend to pull them all the way apart which might not be the best.

Mine has a No. 9 reproducer, no doubt of it.

Unlike the ones in epigramophone's (Roger's) post, my 202 has the album in the lid. In that respect it resembles the one on the right. But mine has a claret-colored velvet pad on the turntable, and the winding handle protrudes through the front & folds up.

Oddly enough, the needle bowl has an inverted-bowl lid that rolls over to cover it. You flip it back and it disappears down under the motor board. Pull it up and it makes a chromed hemisphere over the top of your needles.

I pulled the platter off and got a look at the auto brake. It appears that the bakelite collar round the spindle shaft is broken. I shall have to fix it with epoxy or something--a pity to not have an auto brake on such a fine machine.

Really, it is the most solidly constructed thing I have seen this side of a Victor or an Edison Amberola. Quite the phonograph. I am looking forward to playing 78s on it.


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 Post subject: Re: Grafonola 202 and lots of questions:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:57 pm 
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Victor V
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:55 am
Posts: 2379
Location: Eugene/ Springfield Oregon USA
VanEpsFan1914 wrote:
Thanks to all who responded. Thanks to Marco for the tip about motors--I tend to pull them all the way apart which might not be the best.

Mine has a No. 9 reproducer, no doubt of it.

Unlike the ones in epigramophone's (Roger's) post, my 202 has the album in the lid. In that respect it resembles the one on the right. But mine has a claret-colored velvet pad on the turntable, and the winding handle protrudes through the front & folds up.

Oddly enough, the needle bowl has an inverted-bowl lid that rolls over to cover it. You flip it back and it disappears down under the motor board. Pull it up and it makes a chromed hemisphere over the top of your needles.

I pulled the platter off and got a look at the auto brake. It appears that the bakelite collar round the spindle shaft is broken. I shall have to fix it with epoxy or something--a pity to not have an auto brake on such a fine machine.

Really, it is the most solidly constructed thing I have seen this side of a Victor or an Edison Amberola. Quite the phonograph. I am looking forward to playing 78s on it.


Seems to me when I was reading up on this some time ago, that the split is supposed to be there. If I recall the fix is something like roughing up the spindle where the auto brake rides, but don't quote me.
"He who dies with the most shellac wins"- some nutty record geek


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 Post subject: Re: Grafonola 202 and lots of questions:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 5:46 am 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 2:38 pm
Posts: 765
Location: United Kingdom
This is what the autobrake fitting should look like. Hard to see, but there is a steel ring round the centre. Sorry about my rotten photography, blame the camera!


Attachments:
P1050145.JPG
P1050145.JPG [ 439.32 KiB | Viewed 638 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Grafonola 202 and lots of questions:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:43 pm 
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Victor III
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Keep'em well oiled
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:51 am
Posts: 511
Location: Madrid, Spain
Correct me if I'm wrong, but from other posts I've caught the idea that the 109/201 has a 'single' horn inside the case, while the counterparts 112/202 have a 'double' horn, I mean, split in two that rejoin at the mouth, so better impedance matching.
Is this right?
I'm lacking this type of Columbia (I already have a huge luxurious 113a) in my small collection of portables, and if this is right, I'd rather add the double horn model.
Inigo


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