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 Post subject: Re: Missing latch on Columbia 160. What to do?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 3:26 pm 
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Victor V
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Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Marco, that looks great! You can't tell the original one from your beautiful new one. Congratulations!


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 Post subject: Re: Missing latch on Columbia 160. What to do?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 5:14 am 
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Victor III
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 885
Location: Italy
Thanks once again to everyone for your very kind words. I wasn't expecting my humble replica to receive so many congratulations! :oops: Thanks a lot.

CarlosV wrote:
Congratulations, Marco, great job! Now, photos of the whole and complete gramophone, please.
Dear Carlos, the reason why I refrained from presenting the rehaul of this gramophone as a whole, is that it was in bad shape and I had to take some liberty with it. Most of the people here seem to criticize any attempt to bring back a battered machine to the honors of the world, but that's really not my attitude. A beaten-up, untouched machine is perhaps more compliant with hardcore collectionism, but is also at higher risk to be dumped or scrapped for parts, and I really don't want that to happen. A restored and working machine will have a proud owner and also a market, even if perhaps not strictly the collectors' market. Shortly, this was preminently not a restoration but a recover.

So, few forewords. The Columbia 160 (or its english counterpart 113) is a gramophone that - to quote graham-o-phones.co.uk - had been on my wish list ever since I knew of its existence. Its distinctive reversed, shell-mounted, double-S shaped arm (more on this later!) really attracted me. However, these portables are also terribly scarce, and as a matter of fact not even one ever surfaced on eBay since I began to automatically "sieve" it.

But at the end of this summer a battered 160 popped up in a private ad in Venice. Although I generally don't buy machines in such conditions, the idea that I could pick it up with a pleasant daily train travel, without VAT, duties and postage and all that mess, was tempting. Incidentally, I also liked the idea to spend one unexpected day off in Venice, a town which has been like a second hometown to me in the past. So I decided to take the chance of this challenging rehaul. Actually, I didn't have much to loose as - as said - no other machine for sale ever surfaced. It was basically a "take it or leave it" scenario.


Attachments:
File comment: The 160 how it came into my hands. This is a seller's picture so it's even a bit "optimistic".
DSCF3050.jpg
DSCF3050.jpg [ 553.24 KiB | Viewed 833 times ]
File comment: Last Tango in Venice, for both myself and the gramophone. The 160 is inside the blanket in the big blue Ikea bag.
IMG_2962.JPG
IMG_2962.JPG [ 459.69 KiB | Viewed 833 times ]


Last edited by Marco Gilardetti on Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:56 am, edited 3 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Missing latch on Columbia 160. What to do?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 5:51 am 
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Victor III
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 885
Location: Italy
As it can be seen in the first picture, some metal corners had already been added in a far past, but most of them had also been smashed and ripped doing further damage, and exposing the bare wood (not even to mention the fabrikoid - or what remained of it...). The case had also wormwood holes (some of which are visible in the picture), which in my experience are a very rare event with portables. The diaphragm was pierced and "fixed" (=further damaged) with glue (more about this point had been discussed in another topic). The carrying handle was, simply put, to pieces.

As a side note, most of these problems were US Columbia's fault. It was not a good idea to leave a portable machine without protective corners in first place and, most of all, without feet of any kind. This really facilitated the general status of wear. English 113 machines do have corners (and bezels, also). The handle, in turn, was too weakly engineered for such a huge portable that - to quote graham-o-phones.co.uk once again - challenges the notion of portability. UK handles are sturdier by design.

However, as the corners were too far damaged and eaten by wormwoods to get anything decent out of them, I decided to recover two of the "vintage" metal corners and reuse them at the bottom of the records compartment lid (where they would not interfere with the hinge) and to protect the others with a corner type that was as similar to the type used by Columbia UK as possible. I also saved the shell of the handle, but passed some black strings across it and padded it with real leather to make it once again functional, although not "original".

In the end, even hough this 160 is no longer "museum-grade original", I think it is again a pleasure to look at (but, please, may you be the judge). And, most of all, it really plays like a charm now. :)


Attachments:
File comment: General view of the rehauled 160.
IMG_3029.JPG
IMG_3029.JPG [ 442.05 KiB | Viewed 833 times ]
File comment: The carrying handle, V 2.0.
IMG_2991.JPG
IMG_2991.JPG [ 241.78 KiB | Viewed 833 times ]
File comment: The embossed fabrikoid at corners. This is perhaps the sole detail in which the US 160 finish is superior the the 113 UK counterpart, and it is also the reason why the case could not be plainly re-lined but had to be restored and preserved as far as possible, although it came into XXI century in pityful conditions.
IMG_2977.JPG
IMG_2977.JPG [ 461.89 KiB | Viewed 833 times ]
File comment: The distinctive records compartment. Side by side, on the top of the opened lid, the original and replica latches which were the subject of this thread.
IMG_3031.JPG
IMG_3031.JPG [ 438.8 KiB | Viewed 833 times ]
File comment: The "double-S" shell mounted arm. This is the detail that I love most in this model line, not only because it's so distinctive, but also because the front of the soundbox is displayed while a record is played. In most cases, only the soundbox' back is visible from the front, with portables. I believe that the "double-S" shape was introduced to extend the linear length of the arm, in order to compensate the length of the internal horn, which in these models is notoriously short compared to the aperture of its mouth.
IMG_3028.JPG
IMG_3028.JPG [ 392.94 KiB | Viewed 833 times ]


Last edited by Marco Gilardetti on Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Missing latch on Columbia 160. What to do?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:51 am 
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Victor VI
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Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:14 pm
Posts: 3708
Location: Merritt Island, FL
Excellent craftsmanship. I think very few, if any, here would quarrel with doing a restoration where there is a machine so far gone. Now it is once more a very handsome machine ready for many more years of enjoyment.

Clay
Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume's Laws of Collecting
1. Space will expand to accommodate an infinite number of possessions, regardless of their size.
2. Shortage of finance, however dire, will never prevent the acquisition of a desired object, however improbable its cost.


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 Post subject: Re: Missing latch on Columbia 160. What to do?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:41 am 
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Victor III
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 885
Location: Italy
Thanks a lot Clay, I truly appreciate your endorsement. As you might have figured, to set the limits between being too much conservative and ending up with a dog gramophone, or altering and over restoring it beyond the reasonable, has been quite a struggle and a matter of conscience for me. In the end, I think I did what it was reasonable and also necessary to do in such case: nothing more, but also nothing less. Personally, although the gramophone can no longer be described as 100% original (but it was already altered, to some extent, when I purchased it) I'm happy with the results.

I'm glad that you really got what my goal was: to have again a machine whose owner (whoever he might be, also in a far future) would be proud of and would take care of.


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 Post subject: Re: Missing latch on Columbia 160. What to do?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:57 am 
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Victor Monarch Special
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Who is John Galt?
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Location: New York's Finger Lakes
A beautiful machine, Marco. :)

Judging from the single "before" image, I don't see what anyone could criticize in your final result! You brought it back.

Congratulations - -

George P.


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 Post subject: Re: Missing latch on Columbia 160. What to do?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 10:10 am 
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Victor III
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 885
Location: Italy
Thanks a lot George, I really treasure your positive comment! :)

Indeed this is an outstanding machine, back then and today.

You know what? When you work on a machine that is so compromised, you have the advantage of having no pre-set obvious limits. Why not change the diaphragm, since it's already pierced and unusable? Why not take the risk of rehauling the arm completely, as it totters on its joins? You don't even know if all the balls of the bearings are still there, so why not unscrew the shell to check? If two are missing, loosing a third makes no difference after all. You can't really do damage.

You end up bravely rehauling it in every lesser detail, lubricating and adjusting literally everything, sealing all air leaks of joins you would usually not even touch. And indeed you end up with a superb sound, an accuracy of reproduction that leaves you open-mouthed, from a merely mechanical machine! :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: Missing latch on Columbia 160. What to do?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:18 pm 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:18 am
Posts: 991
Indeed a superior job, Marco, congratulations!

I have one of those, bought in the US, it is not perfect but came in better shape than yours so I did not do much to it other than cleaning inside and out, replacing gaskets of the soundbox and relubricating the arm.

Soundwise it is the same as the English counterpart with the internal record compartment, I have a couple of them, they are easy to find, but the 160 looks nicer with its record lid on the outside. And unless the owner is Tarzan, calling it a portable is a stretch, it is really a boat anchor inside a gramophone box.

Did you have to apply new leatherette on the box? where did you find one like the original - a kind of wood grain pattern ?


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 Post subject: Re: Missing latch on Columbia 160. What to do?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:36 pm 
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Victor III
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 2:38 pm
Posts: 772
Location: United Kingdom
Marco, that's a restoration job you can be proud of.

One thing I found interesting was your comment that in your experience, woodworm was a rare thing in portable machines. Here in England, it's a very common occurence. I have scrapped more machines through severe attacks of woodworm than anything else. In my experience, Columbia machines seem to suffer from it far more than any others. Fortunately my 113 and two 113a models are not affected!

Barry


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 Post subject: Re: Missing latch on Columbia 160. What to do?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:57 pm 
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Victor V
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Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:01 pm
Posts: 2265
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Simply stunning, Marco. That handle you fashioned is the work of a master craftsman! The entire machine is just terrific. Molto bellissimo!


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