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 Post subject: Playing cylinders: can groove-jumping be prevented/reduced?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:01 pm 
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Victor O
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:52 am
Posts: 92
Location: Redruth, Cornwall, U.K.
Throughout my fifty-five years of involvement with cylinder machines, I have taken it for granted that the stylus will sometimes jump a groove, either because the cylinder has crept along the mandrel or because the pitch of the cylinder groove does not precisely match that of the feed-screw. However, I have recently listened to many transcriptions of cylinders on YouTube and elsewhere, and it seems that the people who make these have found ways of controlling this problem so that it rarely occurs. This prompts me to ask whether there is in fact anything I can do to minimise it.

I have two Edison R reproducers, one with a two-minute stylus and the other with a four-minute, as well as a Columbia floating reproducer mounted on a Model Q. All three of these usually jump once during the playing of a single record, and the two-minute R will occasionally do so twice. Some of the records are new ones that I have made myself on modern blanks, so that there can be no question of their having shrunk or warped with age. As far as I can tell, the weights of the Edisons and the body of the Columbia are all free to move laterally as they should.

Oliver Mundy.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing cylinders: can groove-jumping be prevented/reduc
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:21 pm 
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Victor V
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Needle Tins are Addictive
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Maybe a laser tracking system instead of a feedscrew would correct it... That being said, I don't know where you can get one. :lol:
"The phonograph† is not of any commercial value."
Thomas Alva Edison - Comment to his assistant, Samuel Insull.

"No one needs a Victrola XX, a Perfected Graphophone Type G, or whatever you call those noisy things."
My Wife


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 Post subject: Re: Playing cylinders: can groove-jumping be prevented/reduc
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:51 pm 
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Victor IV
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The main thing is for a machine to be perfectly level, that the limit loop pin is in the center of the cylinder when starting out, this is important. If the machine is leaning one way or another, the limit loop pin might be either near the start of the loop or the end, in each case causing a repeat. Then there is the indestructible celluloid records, and these have usually shrank and skip, as the grooves are now closer together than when new maybe 2 or 3 grooves per inch. The problem with all of us who make new blanks today, is that everyone wants a fast turn around time. Cylinder blanks themselves do NOT like fast turn around time. Blank cylinders do shrink a little during the first month or two of life, not an amount precept-able by the human eye, perhaps 3 thousandths or around there. In the first year of life, of a blank some of the oils evaporate from them, and make them a little harder then the first day they are moulded. In fact a blank really should mature a year before use, but in the modern world, that is not gonna happen! Ediphone blanks, in fact were not sent out until they had cured 30 days.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing cylinders: can groove-jumping be prevented/reduc
PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:32 am 
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Victor I
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:43 am
Posts: 194
Location: United Kingdom
Dear Oliver,

As Edisonphonoworks has said, it may be due to cylinder shrinkage over the years, I assume that the skipping you experience is the stylus jumping forward a couple of grooves. I use my Columbia Q for playing brown wax cylinders (I can't afford an Edison B reproducer)and habitually the reproducer inclines towards the left as the cylinder is played. I have found that I can carefully disengage the feedscrew for a few seconds to allow the reproducer to catch up with the carriage and then all is well, although this is a bit of faff.

When it comes to your R reproducer, there should be suffient play in the limit loop to compensate for most normal shrinkage in 4-minute cylinders without skipping. I don't know what kind of phonograph you have but few things spring to mind:

Is the limit loop bent out of shape at all? If so GENTLY and carefully bend it back into a "U" shape.

Is the half-nut enganging with the feedscrew correctly and consistently? I don't know if you have already done this but check that the pressure on the feedscrew is sufficient to move the reproducer carriage consistently accross the length of the mandrelwithout unduly slowing down the motor. Depending on your machine depends on how easy this is to do.
Sometimes the feedscrew may not be 100% parallel to the mandrel and can become slightly disengaged at either the start or the end of the cylinder. Adjusting the pivot pins which hold the feedscrew may correct this.

It is always worth cleaning the feedscrew anyway to remove any 100 year old gunk, oil and general debris. I find the easiest way is to set the machine going and use one of those old fashioned razor blades to run in the grooves of the feedscrew. This may take one or two goes to clear everything out and try not to take your fingers off when cleaning the gunge off the blade.

Other than that, I'm not sure what else to suggest but someone else may come up with other ideas.

Hope this helps a bit

Tim W-W


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 Post subject: Re: Playing cylinders: can groove-jumping be prevented/reduc
PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:24 pm 
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Victor O
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:52 am
Posts: 92
Location: Redruth, Cornwall, U.K.
My thanks to all who have replied so far. I think I can answer for having set the half-nut engagement correctly on my Edison Standard B; this machine will play four two-minute cylinders on one winding without losing pitch, even at 120 r.p.m., and I do not think anyone could ask more of it. Similarly, I have ensured that on both my Edison reproducers the limit-loops are not deformed and that the pins can move freely within them.

I must admit that Shawn's point about levelling is one that I have not fully considered so far, and I am grateful to him for raising it. My old house, with its bumpy concrete floors, is certainly far from ideal in this regard, and I need to experiment with shifting and re-orienting the Standard in order to follow this matter through.

I am glad to learn that Tim uses a Columbia Q for brown-wax cylinders; this is exactly why I bought mine, and it has risen handsomely to the occasion. This machine is decidedly less troublesome than the Edison, and when it does jump it tends to do so backwards so that a few notes are repeated rather than omitted. I do not mind this so much, since I can always edit out the repetitions when I come to digitise the cylinders; it is obviously much harder to put notes in than to take them out! If I could persuade the Q to play at 160 r.p.m. I would use it much more freely, but its limit seems to be about 132.

I do notice that my new cylinders, made on blanks bought from Paul Morris in September, are more erratic than any of my original ones, some of which date back to the 1890s. Obviously this is not because of any fault in the blanks themselves. Could it result from my method of warming them for recording? I put them in the microwave, standing them upright and giving them short bursts of from 15 to 25 seconds each for a total of about two minutes, turning the cylinder over after each burst so that it is warmed evenly. I cannot think of any other way of heating them gently and evenly.

Having said all this, I must add that I rebuilt my 'two-minute' R reproducer yesterday in order to replace the diaphragm, and by chance this seems to have alleviated the groove-jumping problem; I had to adjust the length of the link-staple between the cross-head and the stylus-bar, and this may have altered the geometry of the unit as a whole for the better. We shall see!

Oliver Mundy.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing cylinders: can groove-jumping be prevented/reduc
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:00 pm 
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Victor IV
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I use a lamp over the phonograph when recording. I would hesitate to put blanks in a microwave, for the fact that they contain aluminum, and any air bubbles in them could expand. point two zero percent to one half of one percent aluminum is the usable range in cylinders it looks like a small range and the changes in quality such as .25-.3-.35 can be a huge difference in quality.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing cylinders: can groove-jumping be prevented/reduc
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:23 am 
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Victor O
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2017 5:52 am
Posts: 92
Location: Redruth, Cornwall, U.K.
edisonphonoworks wrote:
I use a lamp over the phonograph when recording. I would hesitate to put blanks in a microwave, for the fact that they contain aluminum, and any air bubbles in them could expand. point two zero percent to one half of one percent aluminum is the usable range in cylinders it looks like a small range and the changes in quality such as .25-.3-.35 can be a huge difference in quality.


I hesitated myself; I realised that you, Shawn, or one of the other specialists would have thought of and applied this method long ago if there had been no objections to it. And yet I do not see what else I could do. I tried the light-bulb method first and it seemed to have no effect at all. Perhaps modern energy-saving bulbs do not generate enough heat, and I have not got any of the old type left. I have so far microwaved seven cylinders, some of them twice or three times (having meanwhile cleaned them down for re-use), without any problems. I was only wondering whether this method of heating could possibly cause more dimensional change than other more conventional approaches.

Oliver Mundy.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing cylinders: can groove-jumping be prevented/reduc
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:21 am 
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Victor IV
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A new blank with authentic formula and spiral core!
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:50 am
Posts: 1337
Location: 615 1/2 South Main Street Princeton IL 61356.
It is true any of those modern light bulbs, like LED or fluorescent lights don't heat anything up. I use two kinds of bulbs, a heat lamp bulb, however it needs to be about 18" away from the mandrel, or I use an incandescent bulb that looks like a carbon filament bulb. The ideal recording temperature is 85-90 degrees, if too much more echo results. I certainly will try the microwave method, and see how it does if something works, it works. I supposed the Aluminum suspended in the wax, probably won't cause a problem. As far as I know, all cylinders (except some Dictaphone brand blanks) contain aluminum. Brown wax, Gold Moulded, Columbia brown wax and moulded are all aluminum based. Dictaphone, and some European cylinders, and some other dictation blanks may have lead oxide. Edison Ediphone blanks are aluminum based.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing cylinders: can groove-jumping be prevented/reduc
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:00 pm 
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Victor IV
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Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:09 pm
Posts: 1649
I have more trouble playing 2 minute celluloid cylinders without skipping than any other. This seems due to shrinkage; I can watch and see the limit pin slowly drift until it hits the limit loop. The limit loop on my Model O is larger than on a C, H or K, so that helps. A floating Columbia reproducer may have more latitude. The stylus may bounce out of the grooves if they are shallow or too loudly recorded. Hard gaskets reduce tracking compliance.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing cylinders: can groove-jumping be prevented/reduc
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:20 pm 
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Victor III
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Groove jumping and skipping can be corrected.
It happens for a large variety of reasons, most of
which have already been mentioned here.

If the weight on an Edison reproducer is not
perfectly parallel to the surface of the cylinder
this can cause skipping.

If the hinge block pivot has any excess friction
this too can cause skipping.

As far was warming recording blanks, the best way
I know of is get one of those old gooseneck lamps
and have a 100 watt incandescent lamp bulb in it.
Place the bulb a few inches from the cylinder and have
it on the machine with the machine running for a few
minutes before making a recording.

Of course this absolutely will not work if any of
the modern-day fake lighbulbs are used. LEDs and
compact fluorescent type "bulbs" do not generate
the required heat.

Also, it is a good idea to remove the cylinder from
the machine mandrel right away after making the recording
because there is a chance it will shrink on there
way too tightly as it cools.

I personally would not ever microwave a cylinder blank.
For one thing, the "heat" in a microwave oven is
distributed very unevenly.

I know of one guy at a large and famous museum who
warms the blanks in a foil-lined box with an incandescent
lamp inside, with good results.
"Sustained success depends on searching
for, and gaining, fundamental understanding"

-Bell System Credo


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