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 Post subject: The new guy with a Columbia basket case
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:37 pm 
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Victor O
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 1:11 am
Posts: 58
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Hi Everybody!

I've recently acquired a 1902 Columbia Disc Graphophone type AH from my grandparents. I believe it's an early model because the crank hole location is offset rather than centered on the cabinet. They're uncertain as to where it originally came from, all they really know is that it's been living in their garage attic for a couple decades. As such there is water damage, delamination of the wood, some rust, and general grunginess to the finish. I'm guessing it was moved around a bit over the years prior to being stored in the attic as most of the parts are missing, which include:
- Turntable platter
- long throat analyzing reproducer
- brass horn (and elbow)
- tone arm

What I do have is the cabinet box, crank handle, motor, and lower tone arm support bracket. The motor does work, but likely needs a good cleaning and lubricating as it sticks during rotation sometimes and does make a loud whirring noise (which might be normal).
My big question to you guys: is this worth restoring to tip-top shape with original parts?

I don't see a lot of them for sale, which either means the AH model is super rare or mostly undesirable. I'm not too keen on buying the expensive used original parts if it means the final restoration cost is more than what I could ever hope to sell it for. If there's not a huge market for this particular machine, then I'm perfectly fine with buying reproduction parts or even using original parts from different machines and creating a 'frankophone'. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm a handy fellow and my workplace has some handy machines that would make it not too difficult to replicate some parts from scratch. Actually that would hinge on whether some of you have this same unit and would be kind enough to measure some parts; otherwise it'll be a lot of trial and error.

It all comes down to if it's worth it to restore it to original. Have a look at the photos I took and let me know what you guys think (I have higher res photos if anyone wants me to upload those later too).

Thanks!


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File comment: wood pulling apart
IMG_0691.JPG
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File comment: Looks like a piece of oak is missing on the right
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File comment: tone arm support
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File comment: I think there's supposed to be a brass cylinder surround that goes here to prevent this kind of wear.
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File comment: lid stays open
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File comment: motor looks pretty good
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File comment: Knob is a little worn down
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File comment: Crank Handle
IMG_0696.JPG
IMG_0696.JPG [ 270.6 KiB | Viewed 4124 times ]
Adam G.


Last edited by Adam_G on Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: The new guy with a basket case
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:14 am 
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Victor II
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Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:32 pm
Posts: 402
Location: PA
It would be a lot easier to tell you to part it out, if it wasn't a first model AH with that vertical motor.

I'd probably just set it in a better place and wait, either you will be a savior for someone looking for that motor or parts of it or you get lucky and find another one not so "basket-cased".

The other option is if you are good at woodworking tackle it yourself, going to be a lot of work. The missing parts won't be impossible to find, the reproducer is pretty common, the tone arm is available as a reproduction, the horn could be hard to find and expensive.


Chuck


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 Post subject: Re: The new guy with a basket case
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 4:43 am 
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Victor VI
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Joined: Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:17 am
Posts: 3150
Location: Where there's "hamburger ALL OVER the highway"...
I agree with Chuck: this is a machine to hold on to and consider carefully.

Looking at the case, I think it would be a good idea to check all the joints: clean and reglue them if they're loose. (I notice a significant gap between the trim and pillar on the front: you might want to see if you can close that before you replace the missing panel).

Give the case a good cleaning with Goop or Gojo (be careful with the decals), and then assess the finish. You might be able to put some new shellac over the existing finish, without having to strip it completely.

The motor looks good: some cleaning and relubricating will go a long way. You should probably send the mainsprings out to a professional for service and/or replacement.

As for the missing parts: be patient and persistent. Ask around the community, and you may find some good originals (or reproductions, if you're satisfied with that: for example, leather elbows): you can always upgrade parts when you find a better match. Always be specific about the model of your AH.

I hope this has been of some help to you.

Bill


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 Post subject: Re: The new guy with a basket case
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:01 am 
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Victor Monarch Special
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Who is John Galt?
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:08 pm
Posts: 5972
Location: New York's Finger Lakes
Adam,

I can't improve on the prudent advice you've received from Chuck and Bill. I'd follow it. :)

Additionally, I wouldn't run the motor until it has been serviced. The screws (or at least some screws) have been removed from the spring barrels, suggesting that intervention is necessary... ;)

The AH is a particular favorite of mine (all variations), and these early ones are especially interesting. There may be a serial number stamped on yours in the "first base" corner (if "home plate" is where the on/off lever is located). Would you mind sharing this number if it's there?

Best,
George P.


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 Post subject: Re: The new guy with a basket case
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:23 am 
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Victor I
Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 9:45 am
Posts: 171
If you don't place any value on the amount of time you would put into it I would say go for it!


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 Post subject: Re: The new guy with a basket case
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:11 pm 
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Victor IV
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Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:09 pm
Posts: 1651
I think it would be a shame to part out such an early machine. We have seen worse basket cases resurrected. Since you are a handyman, all the more reason to restore it. To keep the costs down, I would replace the missing hardware with replica parts. Better half an original machine than none at all! Whatever you are able to do for the woodwork would be an improvement over its current plight. A lot of us collect and restore phonographs for the sake of posterity, even when the economics aren't justified. Enjoy your hobby and your craft, and do a good deed.


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 Post subject: Re: The new guy with a basket case
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:29 pm 
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Victor III
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:30 pm
Posts: 857
VintageTechnologies,
I could not have said it better.
Martin


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 Post subject: Re: The new guy with a basket case
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:19 pm 
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Victor I
Joined: Fri May 22, 2015 9:45 am
Posts: 171
If you want to do a good deed, sell the machine and then give the money to a poor person!


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 Post subject: Re: The new guy with a basket case
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:10 pm 
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Victor O
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 1:11 am
Posts: 58
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Wow, you guys are quick to respond! Lets see if I can get through all the comments/questions.

Chuck: A vertical motor confirms this is an early model AH? That's good to know. I haven't seen a tone arm available as a reproduction; all I can find is one broken one on ebay. I'm also trying to decide which tone arm is the correct one; the solid one with designs, or the cut-thru one with 'COLUMBIA' in it (see examples below)?

Bill: From what I can see, the wood is pretty messed up, and half the finish is missing (and the Paris Exhibition decal is missing). I think I'll have to sand it all down to just get it smooth again as the wood is pretty rough from weathering. My big issue with the wood is the bottom corners (see my previously posted pic 'wood pulling apart'); it's been through so many temperature swings that the bottom edge-piece on all 4 sides has shrunk and pulled away from their corners. Plus the corners have been banged on things so much that now they're 'rounded' corners. My only options are to cut a thin slice of oak and wedge it in there, or remove all 4 bottom edge-pieces and try to recreate them to the proper length. The latter would be difficult since it has that pattern on it.

George: Good eye on those barrel screws! Haha, a little late for the 'do not run it yet' talk. That was the first thing my aunt and I tried to see if the thing still worked. Rest easy though, we only gave it a couple turns to see if it would move under it's own power. I'll have to track some of those little buggers down now. I have worked on pocket watches before, so I'm familiar with a spring barrel, but I'm guessing this spring packs a lot more eye-poppin, finger-slicing power than a little watch has. My intention was to do all the work myself, so is there anything I should be aware of before I attempt to crack open that barrel?
Also, I didn't notice that serial number before. Took a pic of it for you to see below. Looks like I have a 30181.

Edisonclassm: I do put value on my time, but I'd rather have something to do over the winter months and spruce-up (pun intended) my wood working skills rather than just going to an antique shop and buying one with the money I'd save. I'm the kind of guy that prefers to fix things rather than buy new stuff.

VintageTechnologies: I'm not too keen on parting it out either. I'd get more enjoyment out of working on it and getting it to function than just selling bits for a little cash that would likely be spent on a few tanks of gas. I'm thinking your suggestion is the way to go; do what I can, get the parts that will fit regardless where they came from and just get it to work. Then upgrade it over the years as the parts become available. I suppose that would also be a little silly as then I'd be buying two of every part in the long run...

Edisonclassm: Though that would be the classy move, I probably won't end up selling it as it was my grandparents.


To sum up: I fully intend to restore this machine, it's just a matter of using original parts, using reproduction parts, or just making the parts. The goal is to get it working and spending the least amount of money as possible. I think my game plan is to service the motor and repair the case as best I can because that will never need altering. All the other parts that attach to it (turn table, tone arm, horn) I believe I can build to a good enough level to get a tune out of this trombone. I'll keep my eyes peeled for the correct parts, but the prices are high and all the parts seem to be in the US. That's a big hurt to the pocketbook of the Canadian right now, so for now I'll just have to make do with what I can build. Except for the reproducer. Pretty sure I'll buy that part.


Attachments:
File comment: solid decorative tone arm
Columbia Graphophone AH 1.jpg
Columbia Graphophone AH 1.jpg [ 62.31 KiB | Viewed 3784 times ]
File comment: tone arm that has COLUMBIA cut-thru
IMG_0893.JPG
IMG_0893.JPG [ 27.05 KiB | Viewed 3784 times ]
File comment: serial number
IMG_0724.JPG
IMG_0724.JPG [ 382.93 KiB | Viewed 3784 times ]
Adam G.
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 Post subject: Re: The new guy with a basket case
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:37 pm 
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Victor VI
Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:42 am
Posts: 3585
Location: Western Canada
Adam, from one Canadian collector to another...I have sent you a private message.. ;).


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