My third (and last) Lenco GL75 build


floppybootstomp

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This is my third Lenco GL75 build. The first was given to me, plinth, turntable and arm, all I had to do, basically, was file out a hole in the top plate and lift mechanism plate underneath to take the arm.

The second is a slate plinth but a stonemason built the 4 layers of the plinth for me.

But this third one was all my own work. And it was not without problems, ‘trial and error’ being the operative modus operandi here.

Last September I had this idea that it would be nice to have another Lenco with an arm that had a detachable headshell so I could swap cartridges easily. I figured I’d also like to have a cartridge/headshell that played 78’s. Both arms on the GL75’s I had running at the time had fixed headshells. And they still have.

I saw an original GL75 for sale on Ebay, bid, and ‘won’ it for £110.00, which was quite a bit more expensive than GL75’s had sold for prior to that date, perhaps that was the turning point, Sept ’12, when they started to fetch more money. I drove to Essex (near Southend somewhere) from SE London to collect and pay cash for it, it was a bog standard original, original plinth, no cartridge, worn and scratched dust cover, and original arm with the headshell missing the little lift arm.

Got it home, dismantled everything, serviced bearing and motor, put back together, mounted a Shure M75ED and tried with the original arm. It sounded quite awful to be honest, especially compared to the two builds I had running. Most certainly need new V-Blocks and original plinth didn’t help, I suspect. But it worked, no motor/plinth noise, no vibration and stable speeds.

Decided to get different arm and build plinth. From an audio forum I acquired a rather battered Linn LVX1 arm with sagging rear part of arm (not by much but it did/does sag a little bit). It was a good price though. Bought a Jelco cable to use with the Linn arm, which actually cost me more than I paid for the arm. And this cable is considered a budget option.

So, I was getting there. Downloaded the plinth template from a Lenco turntable forum in PDF format and got a local printer to print out a couple of full size copies. Visited B & Q and had one sheet of 18mm plywood cut into enough oblongs to make two plinths. Which as it turns out was just as well cos I managed to make a complete pigs ear of my first attempt and abandoned it and started again.

This time around, I didn’t trust the templates I had but rather offered up cardboard templates to the turntable which had the studding for mounting fitted, made lots of measurements, took my time and cut to shape what were basically my own designs for each layer. I used one top layer of 12mm thickness and six more layers of 18,mm thickness.

This turned out to be a mistake, I didn’t fully allow for speed change and mains switch mechanism movements and had to modify my finished plinth with hammer and chisels. I’m fairly sure if I’d used 18mm ply for the top layer rather than 12mm I wouldn’t have to have done that. Chalk a few up for experience and quote ‘trial and error’.

Eventually finished plinth, planed all sides, used some wood filler to fill undulations in plywood and sprayed navy blue satin. I had sprayed the GL75 top plate gloss light blue, the idea being a kind of match between two shades of blue and a satin/gloss pairing. The end result is nothing original, it won’t win any design awards, but it is functional, it works and I like the look of it so that’s good enough for me. In this life I was never cut out to be a carpenter, that’s just the way it is, though I wish my woodworking skills were better.

There seemed to be lots of what I considered minor details that held me up, for instance finding three short bolts to mount the Linn arm took a great deal of time. But eventually it has all come together.

I already had two MM cartridges, a Nagaoka MP110 and a Shure M55E. I bought new styluses for them both, the Nagaoka stylus was £50 (not a genuine Nagaoka, but a substitute) and the Shure M55E stylus was £15.00.

For 78’s I bought a Shure M78S which cost £50. I am using the original Linn headshell and two headshells I already had which I bought from Maplins some years ago. The Maplins headshells are surprisingly rather good.

I have been very pleasantly surprised at just how good this build sounds, I didn’t expect it to be as good as my previous two builds (using Denon DL103 & DL110 respectively) but it’s almost up there on a par with them. In fact I feel if I fitted a MC cartridge to it, it may even outshine the other two builds.

The Nagaoka cartridge sounds very good indeed, the Shure M55E, however, to my ears, sounds a little lifeless and flat, it brings out detail ok, but the bass is a bit woolly and there isn’t much ‘sparkle’ for want of a better description.

The big revelation to me, however, is how good 78’s sound. I have just eleven shellac records, mostly worn but all playable. I don’t care much for any of their musical content really, they are just recordings I’ve picked up cheap whilst doing this build, but I am so surprised how good they sound. The Shure 78S is wired mono. There is actually some very nice bass here and a surprising clarity of sound. And most of all – a huge presence. Close your eyes and the musicians are in the room with you. I hadn’t expected that from 78’s. Or mono, for that matter.

Now to gather some more 78’s, I really would like some rock and roll and skiffle 78’s, Lonnie Donegan would be good. Trouble is I don’t know where to look, the local junk shop has lots of them but the titles aren’t mostly to my liking, they’re not in very good condition and the owner wants £2.50 each for them. Therefore a new quest has started – source 78’s ;)

The phono stage I’m currently using is a cheap and nasty I bought some 20 to 25 years ago. It works but my next task is to build a valve RIAA stage I have all the parts for, I really have to get it together to do that thing.

Here’s some pix of this build. This is seriously my last GL75 build, I may make another plinth or two but I am definitely not buying any more GL75’s, three is quite enough, two in my living room (One primarily for 78’s) and one in my bedroom, mostly for recording from vinyl to digital.

Thanks for looking :)

Pix:

Plinth layers:



Top two layers:



Middle two layers:



Bottom 4 layers:

















Shure M55E:

















Cheap n nasty phono stage:











 
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Very nice mate. Don't think I've got the patience to do that kind of thing so hats off too ya

They look heavy?
 
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:bow:Bloody great mate, I tip my hat to you I wouldn't have the patience or the technical ability to do what you have done:bow::bow::bow:
 

muckshifter

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I actually wear a hat, I tip it to you ... looks a pro job to me. :)
 

Taffycat

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Jolly well done Flopps, the end result looks great - and tbh, I found it really interesting to read about the project. Enjoyed seeing the photos too. There is something very satisfying about woodworking and particularly when the end product looks so good. Most impressive. :nod:
 

crazylegs

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A very nice job there Mr Flopp's

Seriously impressive stuff, you are a very clever chap! :bow:
 
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floppybootstomp

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Thanks for all the replies everybody, apreciated.

Now here's a strange thing, the day after I posted this thread I visited a school in Fulham to do a little work and after I'd finished met the schoolkeeper/premises manager in his office. I spied a Lenco turntable sitting under his desk. It was a GL78. I started talking about it and told him I'd just finished a rebuild of a similar turnable and generally waxed enthusiastic about all things Lenco. He looked at me a whiles and said 'Do you want it? I have two of them here, I only want one, really'

Couldn't believe my luck, never again will I ever mutter 'Nothing good ever happens to me' not that I ever muttered that much anyways but sometimes, good things just happen. I felt good. Muttering to Danny 'I owe you' and promising to send him lots of DVD's filled with mp3's of reggae, I left the site and returned home, glimpsing my new acquisition on the car's rear seat every now and again.

Right, it's in pretty bad shape, has been water damaged, and parts of the arm including the headshell are missing. But, and this really surprised me, it still works. Plugged it in and the platter revolves with no noise and all speeds are correct and stable. I think, if you look at how bad a condition it's in, this speaks volumes for the sturdiness of Lenco turntables.

I have a couple of stock GL75 arms from two of my builds and some extra assorted parts, but I don't think the GL75 arm is a direct match for the GL78. I will have to investigate this. I propose to renovate this but fancy keeping it as near to original as possible, including the auto play mechanisms. Oh, and the arm lift also still works, I haven't tried auto mode yet.

I think if I can get the GL75 arm fitted the hardest part here will probably be restoring the wooden plinth. And there's no dust cover either.

I really am rather excited about this and can't believe my luck. And I know I titled this thread 'My last build' but I did specify 'GL75', lol ;)

I will start by cleaning things up and this will be ongoing, if and when I finish I'll start a new thread dedicated to it's renovation. Here's some pix:













 

muckshifter

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I hear the Swiss were good with cuckoo clocks too. :D

Have fun Flops, you bring a new meaning to quadraphonics. :lol:
 

crazylegs

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Wow you lucked out there Flopp's :D

If you can get that beautiful wood to show through on the plinth in the restoration that will look seriously good! :nod:
 
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Yes flops that serves you right, now you will have no time to stand and stare that will keep you occupied and am looking forward to the pictures of the finished product. Great stuff :thumb::lol:
 

Taffycat

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What a great piece of good luck! It will look and sound great once you've worked your restorative magic and, given this noble machine some well-deserved tlc. :thumb:

Also looking forward to the work-in-progress pix. :)
 
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floppybootstomp

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Thanks for replies good people :)

I put this post up on my nerdy's audio/turntable forum and received a PM asking me if I'd swap my GL78 for an immaculately restored GL75. Now, this would have made financial sense as, looking at pix of offered GL75 I'd have no probs selling it for between 150 & 200. Easily.

I was tempted, but, financial considerations aside, I already have 3 GL75's and I'd have no use for another.

This newly acquired GL78 is going to take a lot of work and time to restore but I don't have a GL78, they are rare compared to GL75's, so me want to keep it. So I'm going to keep it. It may be nerdy, may be financially ill-advised, but what it gives back in pleasure is immeasurable.

And besides - it's a challenge ;)

Still not sure whether to keep original plinth or build a new one and/or keep original arm or fit a better one. We shall see, Renovating/restoring top fascia plate will be the hardest part I think.

Anyhow, I'm hanging on to it. All I've done so far is clean the rubber mat. It doesn't look quite as new but it sure does look a lot better :)
 

Taffycat

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Sounds like a very good decision Sir Flopps; sometimes it makes sound sense (oops, no pun intended...) to enjoy an item, rather than feeding the piggy-bank. Yes, making a profit is all good, but probably not nearly so satisfying as refurbishing your GL78 will ultimately be.

You clearly have a very genuine interest and appreciation of the Lencos you've already restored, so imho the GL78 will provide many hours of enjoyment, during restoration and future listening pleasure.

floppybootstomp said:
Still not sure whether to keep original plinth or build a new one
Just a thought... but perhaps it would be interesting to keep the original this time, just to see how it compares sound-wise with the others. As CL commented earlier, it looks as if the wood could be brought back to its original good looks, given a bit of love with some sandpaper, etc. :)

Good luck with sourcing the bits and bobs you need. Looking forward to seeing the work-in-progress, it's all interesting stuff. :thumb:
 

floppybootstomp

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An update: After long and careful consideration and having dismantled my new aquisition I have decided that this Lenco GL78 is beyond my capabilities for restoration.

However, this has not stopped me from planning a new build, a build I had been considering for some time.

Basically, all this build will use from the original turntable is the heavy platter; idler wheel/speed change arm; bearing and motor. The idea is to mount the motor on a steel plate completely independently of the main chassis and then to mount the rest on a seperate steel plate.

A guy at the turntable forum I'm part of who is based in Holland makes these plates for around 180 Euros so I'm saving up me pennies.

This will take some time and I still have to renovate all the turntable donor parts. I also intend to eventually buy a quality arm and cartridge combination for this one. And it will probably also make me offer up one of my three current turntables for sale, not sure which one.

I have, so far, for this build, the plinth, which will consist of 4 wooden bamboo butcher's blocks measuring 35 x 45 which I picked up from Lidls for £8 each and which, after cutting apertures, I will clamp and glue together. I also have a spare set of 4 spiky feet for the plinth plus, of course, all turntable mechanical parts.

So 'all' I have to buy are the two metal plates, a tonearm and a moving coil cartridge.

Like I said, it will be a while cos I is skint atm :D

To give a better idea of the concept, for anybody interested, here is an article from the US magazine 'Stereophile' which describes the product the guy who makes the plates in Holland makes and sells. My eventual project should equal one of these sonically, if not aesthetically, I think these turntables look beautiful:

Idler wheel drive comes of age (Page 2 of the article shows the turntable with platter off revealing the two metal plates, the smaller holding the motor, the larger holding the platter bearing & spindle)

The article may be a little technically outside some folks' scope but hopefully you'll get the idea.
 

Taffycat

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Aww sorry to hear the GL78 didn't quite work-out for you Flopps, but it looks as if you have another exciting project lined-up in its stead.

What a great idea...! Those bamboo butchers' blocks sound like they will be ideal for constructing the new plinth. Should look rather good too, I would think.

I enjoyed the article you linked-to. The author's enthusiasm certainly shines through....(not a relative, is he Flopps..? ;)) Sort-of got the general gist, (despite being unfamiliar with various components mentioned.) It was still a good read.

Hope it won't be too long before the piggy-bank can be replenished so that you'll be able to get all the bits and bobs you need. :thumb:
 

muckshifter

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Always nice to read on an update.

Was a good read too. :)








wonder what the chinese stirfry will turn out like
 
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crazylegs

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Yep looking forward to the new project then flopp's..

Hows about a "Flopp's new project fund thingymajig"..I'll sling a pound in :D
 

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