Hmv 511 Conversion

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Victor IV
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Hmv 511 Conversion

Post by kirtley2012 »

Some might like to see the completed machine first featured in the 'Butchered HMV511 on UK eBay' thread.

The 511 is actually an earlier one, one of the examples converted from a 510 Lumiere by HMV as can be seen by the side mounted lid stay and the three semi-redundant bolts surrounding the tonearm base which once held the Lumiere mechanism, and also of the more desirable and prettier mahogany variant, not an inexpensive machine when new, £50 when you could by a brand new 2 3/4hp motorcycle with a couple pounds of change!

In my opinion, the 511 is one of the most elegant cabinet gramophones ever made, I've always loved the veneers on them, I'm also a great fan of the look of the Lumiere diaphragms, and I think that this cabinet in its original 510 Lumiere form is one of the prettiest gramophones made, the 511 is probably an improvement functionally though.

As can be seen in the original thread, the legs had been cut in half, it had a non original soundbox and turned out to have a damaged motor, where by one of the hooks that secures the spring to the barrel had failed, bent up and the spring had got loose, spun round and snapped the end of itself off, so it was quite the project.

The legs were made out of the mahogany off cuts from the neck of some of the guitars I've been building lately, cut to approximately 2"x 2" x 9" blocks and then the initial angled taper was cut on the lathe to get a rough leg blank, after being trimmed to length the feet were carved with files and rasp before being mounted, I bored a 1" hole into the bottom of the remains of the original legs and into the top of the new legs to be grafted on, then turned a 1" mahogany dowel on the lathe and glued together, then they were shaped to blend into the original leg stumps, then dyed and finished, the repair is not immediately noticeable, and might not be noticed at all in person if you were unaware it was once like Uncle Snort - Sawed off and short.

To repair the motor a new barrel had to be found so a 32 motor was sacrificed and it's barrel was donated to the cause, it's springs also used to replace the one with a broken end, cleaning, greasing and re-fitting the springs was the easy part though, I've never before had a motor so locked together as this one was, it took a lot of persuasion with a hammer and a blow torch in order to get the central spring shaft out, but eventually it gave in, now all greased, it runs like a champ.

It now even sports a correct soundbox, luckily a friend had a spare gold No.4 soundbox taken from a 511 that was converted so that was able to be fitted and the humble 511 was back from the brink.

It has a dealer tag from Bowrans of Newcastle, the full name was Bowrans Pianos, evidently a piano dealership who sold gramophones on the side, I was unable to find any original photos or much background on Bowrans, but I've likely walked past the spot where this gramophone was sold dozens of times, I don't imagine a gramophone like this would have been tucked away in a corner while it was there either, likely in pride of place alongside their best grand pianos in the showroom.
It's fun finding local machines, my only other one is my red Edison Gem D which I found locally and has a dealer tag from Jarrow, only about 15 from my house

A funny thing was when I went to pick it up (The gramophone turned out to also be only 15 minutes from my house) the guy selling it took me to his garage where I was greeted by a gigantic cardboard box, turned out the reason it was removed from sale the first time round was some guy in Spain had been in touch about it and must have made a deal outside of eBay and it was agreed to post the 511 to Spain, now, when I say a cardboard box, it was only a cardboard box, when packaging it the guy had just closed the lid and wrapped the whole thing in cardboard and parcel tape, the lacquer home recordings were even still on the turntable, and not a scrap of bubble wrap in sight, I wouldn't have fancied it's chances much!

Here's a video of it playing, not a bad sound for a fairly simple steel horn I think!

(Double-click the video above or click this link to go to the video on YouTube.)


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Victor III
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Re: Hmv 511 Conversion

Post by CharliePhono »

Alex, I think you'd have a career as an orthopaedic surgeon, judging by your expert work on this former amputee machine. Looks (and sounds) marvelous. I'd love to find one myself, but methinks these are scarce globally. I consider myself fortunate to have snagged a 101 and 157 here in California!

Fantastic work, sir.

A talking machine might be the closest you'll get to a time machine.

Victor III
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Re: Hmv 511 Conversion

Post by nostalgia »

Fantastic work, and a beautiful cabinet. Thanks for sharing the photos and your story around this gramophone.

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Re: Hmv 511 Conversion

Post by Oedipus »

Well done! I don't know what it is about 511 legs, but that's not the first I've seen with them cut off and restored.

The screws adjoining the tone arm base are not semi-redundant, they are there to hold the flange at the top of the horn in place. All the early No 4 soundbox machines have them, until someone at Hayes realised that the flange on the horn didn't need to be so big, and the screws holding the tone-arm in place could do the same job. The holes for the Pleated Diaphragm base are slightly further apart, but there is no sign of them. Possibly this was a 510 case that had never been fitted up, but if it had been, it would be typical of HMV to disguise the conversion thoroughly by either fitting a new tone-arm rail, or at least re-veneering the old one.

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Victor III
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Re: Hmv 511 Conversion

Post by AZ* »

Very nice work, Alex. I'm glad you were able to save it.

My HMV 511 is one of my favorites for the same reasons you mentioned. I listen to it often. Like yours, mine has the earlier repurposed 510 cabinet with the same lid stay, etc. Fortunately, the legs on mine were intact.

Maybe you can get a gig on "The Repair Shop." :lol:
Best regards ... AZ*

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Victor IV
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Re: Hmv 511 Conversion

Post by Inigo »

You're a real master, congratulations. Enjoy it! Thanks for the photos and reports!

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Re: Hmv 511 Conversion

Post by CarlosV »

Alex, the sound on the video is quite nice! I have a number of Lumière HMVs, French and English, including a 510 in oak, and although the pleated diaphragm looks impressive, its sound is not as good as the internal horn of the 511. This shortcoming, allied to the fragility and clumsiness of the Lumière diaphragm, probably explains why the 510s did not sell much and ended up replaced with the 511. You should be deservedly proud of the work you achieved restoring a poor cripple to its former glory.

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Re: Hmv 511 Conversion

Post by Dangermouse »

I have the HMV 461, which is the table top variant made from the HMV 460 Lumiére, it was very rough when I bought it and needed a lot of work on the case. but a lovely machine. a video of the final result can be seen here.

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