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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2020 1:07 pm 
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VTLA
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You've done a nice job on these two machines and I do not want to question your abilities. My view is just that I would never remove a complete finish because it has a few scratches and blemishes. An over all cleanup and maybe some careful touch up of these to make them less visible is all I would do. That is what I want my machines to look like. And yes, my machines are all over my living quarters. These are 100 year old machines and I would be ecstatic to be in such good condition at that age :D

Of course, it's your property and you can do with it what you want. This is just my opinion and what I would do with it. It will be very difficult to get the beautiful multi-colored finishes look better when refinished. All the best with whatever you decide to do.

Andreas


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:06 am 
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Victor IV
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F. Depero, "Grammofono", 1923.
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:19 am
Posts: 1065
Location: Italy
nostalgia wrote:
My question is still: Do I lubricate the complete governor area/gears inside the housing, with sewing machine oil only ( no grease) ? And, is this administered only from the top of the spindle outside the casing (photo of this area attached)? The question also arises about how much oil should be used...Since the housing not really is completely sealed, there are gaps around the removable lid on the housing, I am tempted to add oil manually to the governor spring itself, since I can't really see how the oil should reach this area if administed through the weck only. Filling up the housing with too much oil also is no solution, since the housing is not sealed.


In my opinion: yes, definitely. The general rule is that any gear that revolves slowly can be lubricated with grease, and any gear that revolves fast requires oil. Get rid of all that grease on the governor and relubricate with oil.

I personally have absolutely no trust in those channels-and-pits auto lubricating systems. Many motors have them and they're nice to see, and it's also nice to consider the ingenuity of whoever crafted the molds, but as you have already pointed out they don't reach all of the points that need lubrication, and actually sometimes the most crucial parts are not reached by them, or are not reached properly anyway. So, I suggest to lubricate the motor manually and carefully, and leave the top plate of the motor clean.


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 4:45 pm 
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Victor III
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Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 1:58 am
Posts: 731
Location: My gramophone repair room
I value your opinion Andreas, thank you for ypur response, this is what I want, opinions and feedback. I have cleaned the cabinet, and I have after the deep cleansing decided not to strip the cabinet front and sides. You are of course absolutely right about the fact that it will be hard/difficult to keep the multi colored finishes intact if I chose to strip the front too. I am however not yet sure what to do with the lid, since it has old paint,,pink and white dots that is deep within the finish, and also milk/alcohol or another form of liquid that really is deep within the wood. There is also some deep scratches etc. I am still deep cleansing the lid, and more and more black dirt is removed, I hope it is dirt, but it maybe also is part of the old finish, hard to say (for me). I may end up stripping the lid if I am not happy with the result after trying to refinish it. Whatever happens, I will post photos when the work is done. For good or worse, it is always something to learn! I want the Columbia to look as good as possible, since it represents Columbia in my sitting room, and it already have strong competition of the HMV 145 and Odeon "Stereo", that both look good.

Marco, thanks you also very much for your feedback about the motor.
After today opening and servicing the motor, it is evident that the wick, even when saturated with oil does not reach all areas inside the housing. However, when removing the top plate of the motor I was very surprised to see how clean it was inside the housing. Just a minor clean up around the top plate, and adding some sewing machine oil in hard to reach areas inside the compartment was needed. Obviously grease has never been administered within this area, the worm gear etc have only been fed oil by the weck. Something that striked my attention, was the high quality of the metal used in the gears and governor parts. Even after 90 years, the governor spins at excellent continuing speed after being given a light push. Compared to governors found on HMV 32 motors that I have serviced, I will say that this governor spins much easier. I decided not to remove it from its axis, just added some oil to it, and also to the gears, in addition to oiling the weck. Breaking a general rule, I did not apply grease to the gears inside the locked compartment, since it obviosly never was supposed to have grease in this area, and also is running well after 90 years. It may look brown and sticky inside the governor area, but it is not sticky at all. The brown color is residue of sewing machine oil that is not sticky (many of us know the sticky brown grease inside the HMV governor area), but it was still easily removed manually by some WD-40 before closing the compartment

The reason why this machine stopped working at some stage, has nothing to do with the main springs or the governor area. The non working anti return function of the winding handle, has caused this machine to stop functioning, it has at some stage been over greased, and the grease has turned too hard. Not the way we know from HMV motors, but still sticky and simply too much grease applied in this area.

I openened the spring barrels, and also cleaned and re greased them, the grease itself is far easier to clean than the HMV grease, but that was also expected. I took a photo of the main springs, to me they seem to be of a superior quality than HMV, also they are far easier to clean in the centre, and as previously stated, the quality of the metal seems to be very high.

I added grease only to the main springs in the containers, and to the area around the winding gears, it can be seen on the photos. The rest of the motor is oiled with sewing machine oil, following the channels, but also adding oil manually to areas where the channels were ending. I upload some photos for reference, and for anyone who get the opportunity to service a similar motor.

Phonosandradios, I hope the service details and photos from my work, also can be of help in the restoration of your machine !

More updates soon on the cabinet....

PS. Governor area photos are taken before clean up...


Attachments:
winding shaft area.jpg
winding shaft area.jpg [ 563.74 KiB | Viewed 400 times ]
vertical springs.jpg
vertical springs.jpg [ 497.62 KiB | Viewed 404 times ]
springs.jpg
springs.jpg [ 759.99 KiB | Viewed 404 times ]
governor.jpg
governor.jpg [ 630.84 KiB | Viewed 404 times ]
governor 2.jpg
governor 2.jpg [ 585.34 KiB | Viewed 404 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 6:26 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
Posts: 295
Location: Wiltshire, UK
Excellent work there on working on that motor. Do you think nostalgia that this would be a motor I could fully service myself? ie take all the springs out and fully clean and lubricate them? I am wondering whether this is one I could try to do myself - the only thing that puts me off is that it is triple springed which I am wondering if this makes it much more difficult? I've not serviced a motor fully before although I do know that the motor has to be fully unwound before work can begin and the springs need to be carefully removed so they don't suddenly fly out everywhere. What do you think?

Here is a photo of the front of mine. To come back to an earlier question of yours - I think all the wood on the front is the same and that the patterning comes from the cut and inlay of the mahogany veneers. Like yours mine has faded to the colour you can see below.

Attachment:
gram 1.jpg
gram 1.jpg [ 439.6 KiB | Viewed 379 times ]


The front of mine is in very good condition in fact the only poor area (if you ignore the fading) is the right hand front corner of the lid on the top. It would appear that someone always put their hand in one place to open the lid and this shows on the finish as it is worn through the shiny laccer through to the staining on the wood. I may just carefully clean and wax it to see if I can being back some shine.
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 29, 2020 7:08 am 
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Victor III
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Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 1:58 am
Posts: 731
Location: My gramophone repair room
Thank you for your compliments, phonosandradios.

Your cabinet is in better shape than my cabinet, that obviously have been stored in a not too clean barn or similar, for decades. I have this morning spent not less but 3 hours deep cleansing the top lid with several layers of Swarfega, a rough task where I used a kitchen sponge (whatever that is called in English) that has a somewhat soft abrasive side in addition to the normal sponge side. Using classic Swarfega (non abrasive), I have been able to remove old paint, and also liquids that earlier have been contaminating the wood. I upload a photo of the front, it is now drying together with the lid after also being cleansed with Swarfega. I will upload photos of the lid later on, to see the difference from the early photo I uploaded of the lid some days ago. I have decided not to strip any part of the cabinet. I was prety sure I would need to strip the lid, but after today's work, I see it is not necessary. (Thank you, Andreas;) I have never worked so hard on a wooden cabinet before with Swarfega, and I could easily have given in on the lid, actually only some weeks back, I would have given in disbelieving it could be saved.

About you servicing the machine. I am afraid to say something wrong here, since I myself started with some portable gramophones, before moving on to gramophones with bigger springs and more springs. The size of the spring is actually on your side, if starting with these springs, since bigger springs are easier to work with than smaller springs. If you never have removed a spring, I would highly recommend you to watch a video on youtube made by the now deceased gramophone enthusiast Graham Barber, he shows in an excellent way how to service a machine, even if the machine on his vide is a HMV 101 portable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOP_xeP8dyA&t=113s
On the Columbia spring barrels screws are used to hold the container together. They are easy to remove, but not always that easy to fasten again, since they often seem to be of uneven size. I had to skip one screw myself, but that really doesn't matter, since they are abundant.

I have a feeling you already are used to working with your hands? I remember you said you were in your garage working. I am not saying people who are not used to working with their hands can not do this, because I am a teacher myself, and taught myself this work only a year ago! Some people are however less confident and used to trust themselves on such manual work, and it is of course a factor that one can not underestimate. I would say patience, resistence and focus are most important factors when doing this kind of work.

What is important, is to take photos when you disassemble the machine. Then you will have something to look at when assembling the machine again. In addidion you can of course ask me here, I will be happy to help. The three springs are all left winded, it means, you need not remember what direction each spring is running inside the spring container, something one normally always have to pay very much attention to when removing the springs. It is not difficult to put them back into the motor, again take some photos of how they are positioned when removing the parts.

Be prepared for a really dirty work, it is really messy in there. Feel free to ask questions as you move along, of course.

And if anyone have any comments to add...feel free, of course !

As you can see I also have a challenge with my cabinet, I miss a door knob.
I also did a mistake on the front with some abrasive, trying to remove two small dark marks that I at first thought were some stains, but I discovered too late they actually are part of the wood grain. Now I will have some work trying to camouflage them. So be careful.;)

Martin

Ps. If you decide to service the machine yourself, the first step you take, after removing the top plate where you find the auto brake etc, is to loosen the set screw on the axis that go through all the spring barrels. One screw holds them all, and the axis was easy to remove on my machine, thanks to the good grease used by Columbia on these early machines. ( I do not have the same experience from bigger HMV machines, where heat often have to be applied to release the same axis). When you remove this axix the barrels will be loose, they are all similar, so you don't need to notice to each of them to separate them from each other. Take a photo of the gears though, and notice the position of each barrel, since two of them are attached together, while the last one is single.


Attachments:
The brother.jpg
The brother.jpg [ 643.71 KiB | Viewed 374 times ]
The black hole.jpg
The black hole.jpg [ 504.42 KiB | Viewed 374 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:54 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
Posts: 295
Location: Wiltshire, UK
Thanks for those tips and the video link which was really interesting. I would say I am reasonably handy but I just haven't done spring removal before but slowly and carefully is the key. I am kind of semi putting the project on hold until I can find a tone arm so I am looking at ebay daily to see if either a junk machine or just a suitable tone arm turns up. It may take a while but I am sure one will come along eventually. I am actively working of my VE 9-55 which has been a project a long time in the making so most of my free time is being spent on that at the moment. I intend to do a thread on that when I get a bit further a long with it.

You should be able to find one of those knobs for the door ok. I had the same issue with my HMV 163 there was one missing but I put an add in the trader section with a picture of what I was looking for and someone had one so it was fixed. If I notice any on ebay when I looking for the tone arm I will let you know.

The cleaning up on your cabinet has made a big difference - it looks a whole let better now. Just shows what a difference a bit of cleaning and touching up can make. The horns on these viva tonals are a work of art from the back aren't they. They are like a cubist sculpture with all the corners cut off at angles for the clear line for the sound. Just a pity it actually makes no difference lol!

Whilst on ebay I have managed to pick myself up this duster which is in really nice condition which will live in my 156a. Apart from the tone arm all I need to find now is a key for the lock - although I have no idea what they key for this lock looks like. Did yours come with a key?


Attachments:
duster1.jpg
duster1.jpg [ 148.79 KiB | Viewed 344 times ]
duster2.jpg
duster2.jpg [ 162.86 KiB | Viewed 344 times ]
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 29, 2020 1:08 pm 
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Victor III
Keep winding up
Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 1:58 am
Posts: 731
Location: My gramophone repair room
Phonosandradios, I am sure you will be able to service this machine yourself, after your description of yourself. Patience and no stress, and it will be okay. The duster is great and in good condition too. It will be perfect inside the 156A, and yes..I will also be looking for one myself, it is on my wish list:)
There were no key with my machine, and I will be very surprised if I ever find one, but a door knob should be possible to find, thank you also for keeping an eye open, if you see one.
As you say, the horn om our machine is like creative art, and yes...unfortunately it does not make a difference, even if one can imagine it does so..if listening very carefully when plaing our records;)
I now finished working on the cabinet. The lid as it looks now is far beyond my expectations, I would never expect this to be the result, and it also would not have been the result without the wonderful Swarfega! In my opinion, it is absolutely unbelievable what this cleaner can do. I am sure though that my hard manual work with the Swarfega was the step next to stripping it down, :roll: I however stopped at the right time, something I did not at the two small marks at the front of the cabinet, that will need to be camouflaged with a touch up pen that I keep in my garage room in the neighbour city. The work on the cabinet was today happening in my house, in my sitting room, since the weather was nice, and window could be all open.

To sum it all up, I have:
1. Used Swarfega hand cleaner to clean the cabinet, using a kitchen sponge and also massaging with fingers into the wood.
2. Added Howards Restor-A-Finish Mahogany to the complete cabinet.
3. Added Howards Feed-N-Wax as a last layer..
4. I will probably add an extra layer of Renessaince wax on top fr9om my garage room, even if it most probably is not needed.

I will add one more photo tomorrow, when the motor is installed into the cabinet. It now is in my car, ready to be installed into the cabinet.

The Columbia 156A now can proudly find its place in my sitting room, next to my HMV's and Odeon. It has nothing to be ashamed of, for sure. :coffee: :squirrel:


Attachments:
lid.jpg
lid.jpg [ 586.91 KiB | Viewed 335 times ]
lid before cleaning and refinishing.jpg
lid before cleaning and refinishing.jpg [ 635.73 KiB | Viewed 335 times ]
finished cabinet.jpg
finished cabinet.jpg [ 711.32 KiB | Viewed 336 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 2:28 pm 
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VTLA
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Congratulations, that came out beautiful. I am glad you decided to try the cleaning route before starting anything irreversible. It sure will be a nice focal point in your living room and proudly represent Columbia.

Andreas


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 2:35 pm 
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Victor III
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Posts: 553
Your Columbia is a lovely machine indeed. I have a table version (117a/"Table Grand"; also my avatar), and the sound it produces from its small "Stereoscopic" horn is amazing. I can only imagine what yours will sound like once you get it up and running. Good luck!
A talking machine might be the closest you'll get to a time machine.


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 Post subject: Re: Columbia 156a viva tonal gramophone
PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:32 am 
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Victor III
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Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2019 1:58 am
Posts: 731
Location: My gramophone repair room
Andreas, thank you for saving my 156A from being stripped, and thank you for the compliments. Hopefully this thread also can show what cleaning, and well.. deep cleansing, with a non abrasive hand cleaner can do with a lid that I admittedly felt could not be saved from stripping.

CharliePhono, nice to read you have good experiences with your Table Grand Columbia, every word written about the different Columbia machines are welcome, and very positive and interesting reading for sure. Thank you also for wishing me luck with the machine.

I upload the last photo for now, the motor is now installed. Now I will look out for needle containers, a different tonearm, and plush for the turntable.

I have been thinking a lot about the tonearm the last days, and the only thing I can think of, is that this is caused by fatigue in the pot metal. The screws holding the tonearm is not entering the wooden motor board deeply, and if someone had leaned on the arm, it would have caused the tonearm base to loosen from the board. There is no sign of that on my machine. Finding exactly the same problem on "phonosandradios'" machine, with the exact same angles..as far as I understand this, after removing all parts on this machine, it can only be metal fatigue, and actually a manufacture weakness on the tonearms made for exactly these machines, or a particular batch of tonearms. It may well be the reason why the machine was stopped being used, and the build up of sticky grease around the anti return function of the winding handle, could even have occured at a later time, when the machine ended up being stored for decades.

PS, for "phonosandradios": IF you ever remove 6 black screws from your machine, when servicing your 156a, please tell me where they belong. When re installing the motor into the machine late yesterday evening, six small black screws were gazing at me from the table, when I had re installed the motor, tonearm, etc. I don't even remember if they were lying on the table when I started to remove the motor, lid, tonearm etc from the machine two days ago. That's the stupidity of not using small containers for the screws, and start with a clear table when you start disassembling a machine!


Attachments:
under the lid.jpg
under the lid.jpg [ 654.08 KiB | Viewed 258 times ]
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