Columbia n.120a: help needed to save it!

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newbiephone
Victor Jr
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Columbia n.120a: help needed to save it!

Post by newbiephone »

Hi everyone!

A few days ago I came across a Columbia 120a machine in a local flea market. It's not in a particular good shape, as it seems to have spent a lot of time in a dusty and dump basement. The lid is missing and overall the whole machine is dusty, scratched and covered in rust, but I have carefully cleaned it and opened and I like to think there is still a chance to save it.

I am totally new to this world so any advice would be welcome. I would particularly be interested in finding out if the internal mechanism can be fixed.

I am attaching a few pics and a short video (which might appear as a link for download) . Any help would be much appreciated!

Thanks in advance!
Attachments
video-1634198302.mp4
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245572499_963181314407913_3208596509158924879_n.jpg
245466208_407116600862303_2511871793473508458_n (1).jpg
245330245_3012958338959236_7677363001566432447_n.jpg
245206345_296859925585912_3570696226420798724_n.jpg

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Marco Gilardetti
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Re: Columbia n.120a: help needed to save it!

Post by Marco Gilardetti »

No offense intended, but entering this hobby with a machine that has a lot of problems and no clue was not a good idea. There is little that can be done just by looking at pictures and doing some storytelling.

First of all, it seems that the tonearm is frozen as it stands above the record. Try to spray some unblocking/penetrating/releasing spray on all joins of the tonearm.

Then the motor. It is unclear how the picture is oriented. Did you unscrew the motor and let it hang over the handle? The handle can be removed by turning it counterclockwise. Remove the handle, remove the motor, oil well everything you see, including the small leather pad you see in picture, and see if perhaps the motor will begin revolving.

newbiephone
Victor Jr
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Re: Columbia n.120a: help needed to save it!

Post by newbiephone »

Thank you Marco! No offence taken, I know the status of the machine is not ideal and my knowledge of the subject even less so, but one has to start from somewhere.

I will indeed try to follow your advice by removing and oiling the motor. As we have established that I know near to nothing about internal mechanisms, I was wondering what is the correct motion I am looking for. What I mean is how a functioning motor of this kind of machine is supposed to look like. I know that chatting over pictures and videos is not the best way, but if there is any indication of which kind of picture could help you better understand the overall status of the motor, please let me know and I will be happy to follow your instructions.

In any case, thank you again for your help!

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Marco Gilardetti
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Re: Columbia n.120a: help needed to save it!

Post by Marco Gilardetti »

Well, the three semi-spheric masses that you pictured in the 3rd photograph should revolve almost freely if the motor is quite all right, and should begin to revolve fast if you apply few turns of winding to the mainspring with the handle (turning it clockwise).

Don't overwind the spring, as you may need to completely disassemble the motor, and it can't be done if the spring is winded up.

If the handle doesn't turn clockwise at all, it probably means that the mainspring is fully winded already. Don't insist or you may break the spring.

newbiephone
Victor Jr
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Re: Columbia n.120a: help needed to save it!

Post by newbiephone »

Thank you so much! I will give it a try when I get back home and if it's alright with you I will let you know if I have any additional doubts (as it will likely be the case). Have a good day!

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Marco Gilardetti
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Re: Columbia n.120a: help needed to save it!

Post by Marco Gilardetti »

Of course, and there are also many other fellows here that will surely do their best to help you!

nostalgia
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Re: Columbia n.120a: help needed to save it!

Post by nostalgia »

I have the same machine in my storage locker, still not serviced. And yes, it is not the easiest way to start the hobby as Marco states too, but if you get problems, I will dig out my own machine and try help too. I have serviced a triple spring Garrard inside a Columbia of the same era last summer, and also others in here that will do their best to help you. Welcome to the forum ! :geek:

Here are the link to the restoration of the Columbia 156a, it may be of some help, even if this is a bigger motor, it is still Garrard of the same era: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=46490&hilit=columbia+156a&start=40
(You may need to look at different pages in that thread to get some ideas/help, since the photos were uploaded several times during the restoration.)

epigramophone
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Re: Columbia n.120a: help needed to save it!

Post by epigramophone »

Here is the 120a as it appeared in the 1929 Columbia catalogue, when it cost £9.10s.
You can now see what the lid should look like, but the only chance of finding one is probably from a donor machine.
Even if it bears the Columbia name, the motor will be a Garrard.
Many of us have built one good machine out of two.
Attachments
120a.jpg
120a.jpg (59.61 KiB) Viewed 158 times

newbiephone
Victor Jr
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Re: Columbia n.120a: help needed to save it!

Post by newbiephone »

Dear all

thanks again for the warm welcome to the forum. I have unscrewed and oiled the motor. I am attaching a picture and a video (link under the pic) while winding the handle, as I am under the impression that something is not quite working.

Thanks for your support despite the distance and just photos and videos as support!
Attachments
247402572_420815706080237_8681378322552199891_n.jpg
video-1635004979.mp4
(4.11 MiB) Downloaded 4 times

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Inigo
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Re: Columbia n.120a: help needed to save it!

Post by Inigo »

Many of these motors, if not all, have a spring that forces the small governor brake arm against the governor disc, and keep it stopped. When there motor is assembled on its motorboard, the rest of the speed regulation device, a long lever attached to the motorboard, goes under the turntable and reaches the end hand lever or indicator, which is what you touch when playing for adjusting the speed. This device engages the small arm in the motor and releases that spring, so the governor can run freely until the disc accelerated touches the pad in the arm and stays rotating in that fixed position. If you move the lever, it moves the small arm in the motor to another position, so another speed, etc.
With the motor taken apart, all this lever is disengaged from the small motor arm, and this gets free, and the pressing spring sends it against the governor disc and doesn't let it run.
Just look at the governor, see the disc, the brake pad and the small arm, and the spring that holds it in full brake position. Move it with your finger and you'll see the governor disc getting free from the pad, and starting to run... Let the motor run until the main springs wind down and lose the tension completely before tinkering with the motor... While running, carefully examine the motor and get familiar with it, you'll understand how simple it is and how it works. It's a little and very powerful marvel
This is the small speed arm I'm referring to
This is the small speed arm I'm referring to
Inigo

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