The mystery machine

Discussions on Talking Machines of British or European Manufacture
moosepr
Victor Jr
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The mystery machine

Post by moosepr »

Hi guys, I'm new to the world of gramophones, inherited a stack of 78's and decided they needed playing properly!

Managed to acquire a cheap picnic gramophone in need of TLC, but I'm struggling to identify exactly what it is.
IMG_20210420_202244.jpg
The listing claimed it was thorens because that is stamped on the motor, but I have looked through all the catalogues im unable to find anything that looks similar.

The motor looks to be in good condition, and similar to the one that mrgstuff serviced on YouTube (it was after watching those videos I decided to take the plunge). The listing mentioned a clicking noise, which turns out was because the speed control lever wasn't attached, so everything went too fast and the governor weights started touching things they shouldn't!
IMG_20210421_200452.jpg
IMG_20210421_200610.jpg
Turns out the motor seems fully functional, I just need to tweak the speed adjuster
IMG_20210421_200649.jpg
The sound box has no markings, but seems to be complete and makes plenty of noise
IMG_20210421_200759.jpg
IMG_20210421_200826.jpg
The horn is a really simple curved box
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I can't see any markings on the box, the only thing I have found is an id number on the needle tray
IMG_20210421_200702.jpg
And this on the box catches (which look upside down to me)
IMG_20210421_201317.jpg
The only other interesting thing is a threaded rod attached to the inside of the lid. I'm assuming it's so you can bolt on a few 78's and take them with you for your picnic
IMG_20210421_200956.jpg
I would like to get it back fully working and in its original configuration. Planning on servicing the motor and straightening the motor board, just would be nice to know what it is :D

Anyone any idea?

Thanks, Pete

epigramophone
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Re: The mystery machine

Post by epigramophone »

Thorens were major suppliers of motors and soundboxes to the gramophone trade. Many small firms assembled these components into cases of their own manufacture, and many of these bore no name, making them difficult to identify.
The patent details on the needle bowl and the case locks are British, so we can assume that the machine was assembled in Britain.

moosepr
Victor Jr
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Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2021 10:45 am

Re: The mystery machine

Post by moosepr »

I was starting to think that might be the case after coming across many catalogues for the motors.

It doesn't seem in too bad a state. A service on the motor and getting the speed regulator adjusted right and it should work quite well

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jamiegramo
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Re: The mystery machine

Post by jamiegramo »

Hello Pete,

Welcome to the forum. The gramophone you have purchased will be difficult to identify. There were many smaller or local manufacturers producing machines. Even when they do have a name it is often difficult to find out much about it.

Thorens were a large supplier of motors and parts and are found in many machines. The soundbox is also Swiss and sometimes has a name but very often doesn’t.

This ‘Coronola’ (I know nothing about this maker) pictured below has similar fittings to yours and will almost certainly have a Thorens motor. You can see it also has the same type of basic horn which won’t sound very good, I’m afraid.

If you can rebuild the soundbox with new rubber gaskets, found each side of the diaphragm, that may improve the sound.

Remember to use a new needle every time you play. :D

Jamie
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moosepr
Victor Jr
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Re: The mystery machine

Post by moosepr »

yes that looks very much like the one I have!! will have to take a closer look inside the lid to see if I can see any evidence of that logo.

It sounds much louder than I was expecting, my initial tests before I found the speed control was disconnected sounded shocking, manually trying to regulate the speed with a finger on the edge of the record doesnt work too well!!

moosepr
Victor Jr
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Re: The mystery machine

Post by moosepr »

I had a quick dabble this morning, popped the platter off and there are some markings on the bottom, probably a standard "off the shelf" part no doubt
IMG_20210423_075450.jpg
The motor has what I assume is the part number stamped on top
IMG_20210423_075522.jpg
Everything came apart easily, and it doesn't look too dirty
IMG_20210423_080055.jpg
The spring feels a little bit odd when just turning both halves of the can by hand. It's a little jerky in its movement so I'm assuming it needs packing with some nice fresh grease. So that will be a jump straight into the deep end!

Pete

moosepr
Victor Jr
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Re: The mystery machine

Post by moosepr »

Well it was all going well, cleaned and greased the spring, cleaned all the gears, was just cleaning the governor and disaster struck :(
IMG_20210423_205931.jpg
Everything is screwed on, but are these springs available to buy/easy to make?

Pete

nostalgia
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Re: The mystery machine

Post by nostalgia »

Since none of our experts on repairs have replied yet, I will write down my experiences after repairing/restoring gramophones for 2 years.
Repairing governor springs is not the easiest task, depending on skills and tools available. The spring blades are different in size, and I believe also thickness, so when I have encountered your problem I have used spring blades from a donor machine, even if that also depends on the donor blade being of the same quality. For one portable I exchanged all the 3 blades , instead of adding one with a possibly different strength, and it worked on that portable but adding the weights was a nightmare for rather old eyes! I maybe could have better kept the original weights on the donor blades, but at the time when doing that job I was experimenting more than working by a plan, since it all was new to me. At one point on a different machine I also had to cut the spring blades into a different size and drill new holes, but this is miniature work and not exactly my own favorite activity for sure.
I don't know if spring blades can easily be bought in Europe, sometimes complete governor springs are for sale on Ebay, mostly taken from HMV portables...

moosepr
Victor Jr
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Re: The mystery machine

Post by moosepr »

I did start to scour the bay, but only found springs for other motors. I did also find someone selling the same motor without the large Spring, I could use that as a donor I guess

I also found some ebay listings for spring steel stock, thinking I could maybe cut and drill it and anneal it (if these are annealed) but I'm not sure how easy that would be

I had considered trying to shorten these springs, 2 are broken at one end, so I could trim the third, drill the ends, and would have off center weights and probably bad control of the speed

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Orchorsol
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Re: The mystery machine

Post by Orchorsol »

Assuming you're in the UK - try soundgen, or alternatively Ken Priestly (Holmfirth Antiques), or John Sleep maybe. Hopefully one of them can supply a set of springs that will fit. Soundgen (Mike) is here on the forum. Beware replacing only one of those - the governor may then be out of balance and cause flutter in the speed.
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