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 Post subject: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2020 12:38 pm 
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Victor II
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I picked up recently a 1929 Columbia viva tonal machine which has a really nice mahogany cabinet. When I purchased the machine there was an issue with winding the machine as the ratchet didn't seem to be stopping the handle from unwinding again. I quickly discovered that the ratchet was gummed up and a little cleaning soon sorted out that problem.

The other problem I have is not so easily solved as it seems like the tone arm must of been swapped out of another machine at some point in the past. It is the correct plano reflex one but it seems too small (too short) and the crook of the tone arm almost touches the turntable. The range of movement of the tone arm to the right is insufficient to clear the 12 inch turntable so I suspect it is from a model with a 10 inch turntable.

I wondered if anyone had a similar UK model and could take some pictures and measurements of the tone arm so I can see the difference from mine.

Also this one has a number 9 sound box does anyone know if that is correct? or should it be a number 15?

I have attached some pictures below. I also picked up separately a pair of EMG fibre needle trimmers. As it has the Grape Street address is anyone able to advice the date of these?


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I am interested in all forms of audio media including: gramophones, phonographs, wire recorders, the tefifon, reel to reel tapes, radiograms and radios.
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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2020 1:01 pm 
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Victor VI
An analogue relic trapped in a digital world.
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:21 pm
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Location: The Somerset Levels, UK.
Here is the 1929 catalogue page, confirming that the 156a was originally supplied with the No.9 soundbox. Later examples may have the No.15.
The cabinet and table models used a shorter tonearm than the portables. Your tonearm appears to be the correct type, but looks as though it is sloping downwards. Is there any vertical movement where it joins it's mounting on the motor board?


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156a.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:14 pm 
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Victor Jr
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Location: London UK
Quote:
I also picked up separately a pair of EMG fibre needle trimmers. As it has the Grape Street address is anyone able to advice the date of these?


E.M.G. were based at 11 Grape St. from 1929 until 1948 so your Davey cutter would have been
made sometime during this period.


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:22 pm 
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Victor V
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 2:04 pm
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I think it is the correct tone arm but has been bent down somehow , a bit of brute force ( gently) may bring it back to a more correct position this works with HMV 101 tone arms which have had the lid smashed down on them


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2020 3:01 pm 
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Victor II
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So many audio formats, so little listening time!
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:49 pm
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Thanks for the replies on the tone arm and the fibre needle cutter.

I had a good look at the tone arm as I too wondered if something had slipped down or had been bent in some way.

With regards slipping down - where the nickle plated part of the tone arm joins into the black support there is a distinct lip which rests on the top of the black support. So there doesn't seem to be any way that any thing could of slipped down as that lip would of prevented that. I took the whole tone arm assembly off to have a close look and underneath was an obviously home made card board washer - so someone had been there before me.

I will have a look at whether the arm has been bent down in some way but I am not sure if this is what has happened as the limit pin at the back of the tone arm allows the arm to swing from just beyond the turntable spindle to almost the edge of the 12" turntable. but not really anything beyond that. So putting a 12" disk on the turn table means that you could only just be able to put the needle on the edge of the disk. It looks to me like the range of lateral movement would be what you would expect for a 10" turntable. Perhaps the original one froze up or broke. I have packed away a columbia portable with a 10" turntable so I will dig it out and compare them.

I will have a look at trying to bend things upwards but will look at that tomorrow as i've had some beers this evening so tugging "gently" on the tone arm now is probably not the best idea :). Ill let you know how that goes. I really hope that will sort out the problem. Its such a nice machine it seems a real shame that it isn't currently able to be used.
I am interested in all forms of audio media including: gramophones, phonographs, wire recorders, the tefifon, reel to reel tapes, radiograms and radios.


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:45 am 
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Victor III
Keep winding up
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Location: My gramophone repair room
I have the same machione, I bought it last autumn, but has not yet restored or repaired it. It has the same issue with the winding key, hopefully the solution to the problem will be the same as on your machine. I am starting to service the motor etc during the next two weeks. I have not yet serviced a Garrard motor, but along with 2 Columbia portables with Garrard motors, the time is now, since I really would like to have this Columbia 156a in operation before the winter sets in.
I took some photos for you, I hope they can be of help, so you can compare with your own machine. Since I myself not yet have serviced a machine with this tonearm, and also not yet have disassembled a plano reflex tonearm or Garrrard motor, I am not there yet to decide if all looks good or not. What I can see with the naked eye is that there is a very narrow space between the tonearm and the record on the turntable though. To me it looks like our tonearms have the same issue, but I have no idea if it is supposed to be that way or not, somehow it looks weird. I don't know if it affects the record plaing though, since I not yet have used the machine, since it also has a main spring issue not yet cleared out.


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:41 am 
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Victor V
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 2:04 pm
Posts: 2313
nostalgia wrote:
.
I took some photos for you, I hope they can be of help, so you can compare with your own machine. Since I myself not yet have serviced a machine with this tonearm, and also not yet have disassembled a plano reflex tonearm or Garrrard motor, I am not there yet to decide if all looks good or not. What I can see with the naked eye is that there is a very narrow space between the tonearm and the record on the turntable though. To me it looks like our tonearms have the same issue, but I have no idea if it is supposed to be that way or not, somehow it looks weird. I don't know if it affects the record plaing though, since I not yet have used the machine, since it also has a main spring issue not yet cleared out.



Your tone arm is also bent , it shouldn't look like that


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:57 am 
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Victor II
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So many audio formats, so little listening time!
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:49 pm
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Location: Wiltshire, UK
nostalgia wrote:
I have the same machione, I bought it last autumn, but has not yet restored or repaired it. It has the same issue with the winding key, hopefully the solution to the problem will be the same as on your machine. I am starting to service the motor etc during the next two weeks. I have not yet serviced a Garrard motor, but along with 2 Columbia portables with Garrard motors, the time is now, since I really would like to have this Columbia 156a in operation before the winter sets in.
I took some photos for you, I hope they can be of help, so you can compare with your own machine. Since I myself not yet have serviced a machine with this tonearm, and also not yet have disassembled a plano reflex tonearm or Garrrard motor, I am not there yet to decide if all looks good or not. What I can see with the naked eye is that there is a very narrow space between the tonearm and the record on the turntable though. To me it looks like our tonearms have the same issue, but I have no idea if it is supposed to be that way or not, somehow it looks weird. I don't know if it affects the record plaing though, since I not yet have used the machine, since it also has a main spring issue not yet cleared out.



Thanks for those photos. These really are machines that are very pleaseing to look at :)

Looking at the plano reflex tone arm on my portable a well as some examples on ebay (see below) it looks like the tone arm should be parallel to the motor board and not slope downward like both of ours do. Also I have noticed that the metal bar on my tone arm for the auto stop slopes away from the button by the turntable that it needs to touch - so a sure sign of just how much it is bent. I am going to take my tone arm off wrap it for protection and put it in a vice and then to try and bend it back to its original position. I don't want to do it in situ and risk ripping the fixings out of the motor board.


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I am interested in all forms of audio media including: gramophones, phonographs, wire recorders, the tefifon, reel to reel tapes, radiograms and radios.
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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2020 7:29 am 
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Victor II
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So many audio formats, so little listening time!
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OK so I have been looking closely at my tone arm and I can see that there are cracks in the pot metal at the front and back close to where it joins into the black support. Both cracks are quite long and have probably been caused by the bending that has taken place. I strongly suspect that given these cracks if I try and bend it back then it is just going to snap off. I have attached some photos but it is difficult to see them.

Anyone have a suitable replacement in their pile of parts that I could buy off them so I can get this one working again?

Also does anyone have any tips of the removal of a turntable stuck on the spindle? Mine won't budge but because of the velvet turntable covering I cant drop penetrating oil down the spindle. Would heat via a soldering iron to heat the spindle be a way forward?


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I am interested in all forms of audio media including: gramophones, phonographs, wire recorders, the tefifon, reel to reel tapes, radiograms and radios.
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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2020 8:09 am 
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Victor VI
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2009 3:08 pm
Posts: 3146
Location: Harrison Township, MI
phonosandradios wrote:
OK so I have been looking closely at my tone arm and I can see that there are cracks in the pot metal at the front and back close to where it joins into the black support. Both cracks are quite long and have probably been caused by the bending that has taken place. I strongly suspect that given these cracks if I try and bend it back then it is just going to snap off. I have attached some photos but it is difficult to see them.

Anyone have a suitable replacement in their pile of parts that I could buy off them so I can get this one working again?

Also does anyone have any tips of the removal of a turntable stuck on the spindle? Mine won't budge but because of the velvet turntable covering I cant drop penetrating oil down the spindle. Would heat via a soldering iron to heat the spindle be a way forward?


I was always of the impression that these arms are brass and not pot metal. Could the flange be a soldered-on piece? Is it possible that the solder joint has cracked, allowing the flange to skew and causing the arm to droop? If that's the case, it should be very repairable.


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