Turntable renovation


floppybootstomp

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I live in a block of flats and residents share a communal rubbish room on the ground floor. Whilst depositing my refuse there in January this year I spied a Technics SL1210MkII turntable perched atop a mountain of black plastic sacks full of rubbish.

It looked a little sorry for itself but it was a turntable! So I clutched it to my bosom, scurried to the lift, zoomed to the fifth floor where I reside and proceeded to inspect my lucky find. It was not very clean and it seemed apparent it had been used near a food environment as it had a fine coating of cooking grease all over it.

On plugging in to the mains the speed indicator light lit up, the platter jerked but wouldn’t rotate and then the light went out. Delving deeper showed that both PSU board fuses had blown. Further inspection revealed the spindle had seized and some liquid had been spilled into the turntable’s interior. The liquid had caused a fair bit of rust to form beneath the mains transformer.

When I turned it on initially the transformer must have had one last gasp in it as when I tested it it was dead as a dodo, not a hint of any voltage on the secondary. I purchased a 15V toroidal, used part of the original transformer mounting plate joined to a fabricated aluminium plate and mounted the new transformer. It is wired so that both 110V & 220V are selectable from the original internal switch.

Dismantled the spindle, cleaned and lubed – it rotated. Cleaned everything best I could, this revealed quite a few marks and scratches on the plinth but they’re all cosmetic, it hasn’t affected the turntables’ mechanics integrity. Also spent quite a lot of time repairing and reassembling the ‘lighthouse’ cue pillar. I did get it working but the new bulb blew after I subjected the turntable to a fair bit of rough handling whilst fitting the arm.

Bought a new switch top and an arm headshell but then discovered the original arm was broken, I hadn’t realised that. It’s made of plastic and it had suffered a heavy weight to the front which fractured the rear of the arm near its’ pivot. So I removed the arm and all it’s mounting paraphernalia and decided to fit an SME Series III arm I had bought to use with my forthcoming turntable project.

I had spent so much time and a little money on this so I just had to get it going, which is why I decided to use the SME arm with it. I also have an Ortofon RS212 arm which I’ll probably use now for the forthcoming build. Whether the SME arm is a permanent fixture with the Technics, I don’t know. The SME cost me £180 on Ebay which was a very fair price.

I used a piece of 9mm ply for the arm mounting board. There is a circular hole beneath the arm mounting board in the thick rubber turntable base and I had to enlarge this by about 1cm all round using a Dremel for it to accommodate the SME arm base and the phono plug lead fittings. Any 2 x phono to phono lead can now be used with this turntable/arm combo, just a case of plugging it in to the arm base at the bottom. For ease of fitting, the lead I’ve used I made using right-angled phono plugs into the SME arm base.

On a friend's recommendation I had fitted an Audio Technica AT95E MM cartridge to one of my Lenco L75’s, on a Mayware Mk IV arm, and I was really quite impressed. As the AT95E can be had for £25 on Amazon I bought another one and fitted it to the Technics/SME combo.

So – how does it sound? Overall, not bad, not bad at all but I honestly don’t think it’s as good as any of the Lenco 75 setups I’m using. Whether that’s due to the turntable, arm or cartridge I have not a clue. This setup is happier with newer records, it doesn’t like worn ones very much. I also noticed some recordings were suffering a little boominess but that may have been to it’s temporary location, in relation to the room acoustics and position relative to the loudspeakers.

I could certainly live with this combination as a system turntable, it’s certainly better than a lot of budget turntables I’ve been privy to hear.

This is my first experience with the SME Series III arm and my first impression is that it’s a helluva lot more complicated than it need be, I followed all the setup instructions, I just hope I’ve done it correctly. But I could be wrong, perhaps this arm setup is a genius piece of mechanical engineering, the jury’s out on that one for now

As a bonus a Lenco L75 perspex cover fits this Technics turntable perfectly. I’m not using the Lenco Perspex cover at the moment as it’s not tall enough for a Mayware arm I’m using, but now it has a use.

Lastly, the Technics turntable platter is low and even at the arm’s lowest height setting I couldn’t get the cartridge needle to rest on a record. So I put a plastic spacer, about 2mm, between the cartridge and headshell and used a spotmat I’d had for some time to raise the record. This solved the problem. Using a thinner arm mounting board may have been another solution but possibly at the expense of losing some board rigidity.

If I ignore the cost of the SME arm – which may be a temporary fixture anyway – costing has been:

Mains Transformer - £11.52
Switch spindle/fascia - £4.99
Audio Technica AT95E Cartridge - £25
Total: £41.51
Incidentally, the ‘official’ Technics replacement mains transformer sells for around £75.00, which is considerably more than £11.52.

A new Technics Perspex cover and hinges to suit costs around £70 on Ebay should I wish to add one.

It has been a satisfying renovation but, I have to ask myself – do I really need another turntable? And the answer is – no I don’t, but I can’t help myself.

Before:

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After:

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Taffycat

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What a transformation Flopps! It's wonderful that you were able to rescue this unwanted, unloved turntable, and restore it back to useful life again. Another first-class piece of work. You should feel jolly proud of that, my good sir. :cheers:
 

muckshifter

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Once again, I take my hat off to you ... jobs a good'un ... :bow:
 

floppybootstomp

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not bad considering when I used to use these they sold for about £400 each new

Aye, so far I'm in for £220.51 and a lid/hinges would bring it to around £290.00.

And the result is a turntable with a much better arm than stock and a brand new cartridge, albeit a cheapie cartridge. But it is scruffy, scratched and worn and the question I have to ask is - what could I sell it for?

Without a lid but with SME arm and new cartridge, would it fetch £250.00? I wonder.

And thanks for replies folks :)
 

V_R

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Great effort Flops, They cleaned up good.

Mate of mine used to have a pair of 1210's and a mixer of some description or another, He loved them more than he loved his own mother! :D
 
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floppybootstomp

sugar 'n spikes
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Great effort Flops, They cleaned up good.

Mate of mine used to have a pair of 1210's and a mixer of some description or another, He loved them more than he loved his own mother! :D

Thanks for the comments folks :)

It's odd, but in the 43 years I DJ-ed, I only ever once used a pair of Technics turntables, far as I can recall, a pair of 1210's in a nightclub named Hollywoods, in Wandsworth.

That was a late one, didn't get home til 5am and it paid pretty crap money, so I jacked it in after a month.
 

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