Category Archives: Restoration/Repurpose Vintage Gear

Vintage broadcast and production gear repair, restoration, and repurposing.

1975 Pachinko Machine goes Digital

In the 1970’s America, Pachinko Machines were all the rage as millions were imported from Japan. These were the used, dated machines from Japanese Pachinko parlors. The U.S. was an eager consumer of these old machines, placed under Christmas trees and in game rooms, family rooms and “dens.”  Does anybody still have a den?

Pachinko machines of this vintage require no electricity to operate, unless you want a lightbulb to flash during the payout; it takes a 9 volt battery.  All the mechanical features are powered by the gravitational weight of the pachinko balls. The machines are incredibly durable; Parlor operators in Japan routinely hosed down the machines with water and scrubbed the playing fields with straw brushes.

Modern Pachinko machines are flush with LCD screens, LEDs, loud digital soundtracks and powered ball launchers. They typically promote some movie or product. But who wants one of those garish billboards in their home? And when the power is off, they sulk like Space Odyssey’s monolith.

We found this machine for $20 at a flea market. There’s so many of these still sitting in Americas’ attics, that they don’t fetch more than $75, even in working condition. Some of the original machines from the ’20’s and 30’s will command a high price, however. And by today’s standards, the entertainment value is questionable, however quaint the operation.

We got the basic machine working quickly enough, but it soon became apparent that this device is ripe for some “electrification.”  There’s definitely may “trigger” points that can be used to execute effects- lighting, sound, and motors.  Here’s a rough video demonstration:


Electrical triggers harnessed to the sound and light sources:

1. The ball “cannon”- every time its fired, or how far it is drawn back makes an electrical contact

2. The levers that move when a payout occurs trigger a microswitch

3. The rejected balls falling into their reservoir fall against a trip switch

There’s more, but multiply the above 3 by four or 5 sounds and light actions, and you have 15 or more “changes” that can occur during play.  Relays were used to command multiple triggers and keep high voltages off the trigger contacts.

Drilling through the back of the playing field allowed us to insert the LEDs from a string of Christmas lights, that are controlled by the included sequencer. The sequence changes with every payout, or gradually steps through the 8 patterns when nothing else is happening. Note: drilling the playfield creates sawdust and plastic shavings that get in the ball pathways. These all have to be carefully cleaned. The light string had 50 LEDs. Half shine through the playing field, and the other half illuminate from behind the machine.  There is also a separate, small set of lights behind the glass panel door.

Various contact triggers were installed at the ball cannon lever, the ball return reservoir, and the payout assembly. A four-track digital audio recorder/player board from was employed, and rigged to the triggers. A second, simpler audio recorder/player, fed by a microphone, was installed for the payout sound, to allow the user to customize the message when the payout occurs. This could be a quaint holiday message, or in my case, me screaming “Bonzai!”

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 10.31.40 AM

“Upgraded” 1970’s Pachinko machine under construction

Various power supplies were required to power the audio boards, lights and motor for the spinning feature. The spinner doesn’t really do anything, it was just easy to implement, and added some appeal. The face of each spinner was given a colorful new look courtesy of my inkjet printer and some photo paper.  Lots of wire, soldering, hot glue, etc.

All the power supplies were tied into a mechanical electric timer assembly, that powers up the whole affair and also shuts it off after about an hour.

Who can take this thing for more than a few minutes, anyway? For Sale……

By Pete Verrando



Seeburg 1000 “Window Unit” Background Music Player restoration

A recently edited presentation of our Seeburg 1000 BMC player. We call it the “Window Unit”

Seeburg 1000 players employ special 9″ records with 2.5″ center holes. The device plays both sides of each record, then lifts the stack to the top of the spindle for replay. Seeburg BMS (background music systems) were In widespread use in department stores, restaurants, and other retail and industrial locations from the early 60’s through the late 70’s. They have become very popular mid-century modern artifacts.   The thousands of  music selections were individually crafted by professional musicians and studios, and are utterly representative of  a unique and often forgotten part of American culture.   The 16 rpm records are widely available on ebay.

This is my 4th complete restoration of a Seeburg 1000 player.  Thanks for watching!

-Pete Verrando

16" transcription record

Presto T-68 16″ Transcription Turntable Restoration

 About 3 years ago, I saved the pieces of this 16″ transcription player & cabinet from a dusty internment.

The 16" platter, stripped, cleaned and ready for re-felting

The 16″ platter, stripped, cleaned and ready for re-felting

presto turntable

cabinet as found

16" presto turntable

Project in pieces before restoration

Presto top plate with idlers removed.

Presto top plate with idlers removed.




busy day at txsound

busy day at txsound



(Click the thumbnails above for a larger “before” view). ,  This Presto T-68 Transcription Turntable with Pickering 190D Tonearms was used at an Air Force base in Fort Worth. Found inside the cabinet was a 16″ acetate record, with the lacquer falling off the aluminum substrate. The disc labels indicated the acetate had various Reveille bugle calls, marching and teletype sound effects. The military base had its own radio station, or perhaps they used these effects over the public address system for PT!

acetate presto turntable txsound verrando

The acetate found in the cabinet.

acetate labels presto turntable

Old Acetate disc labels from in bottom of turntable cabinet










Upon complete disassembly, work started on the motor & start capacitor, with a gentle variac power-up to check for shorts in the windings, or a bad capacitor.  It’s an an Ashland Hysteresis Synchronous motor of 1/100 horsepower. after a complete overhaul, the motor ran continuously for a couple of days to observe operating temperature, let the bearings settle in,  and discover any latent noise or vibration issues.  New motor mounts were installed as well.

Ashland motor presto turntable

Motor removed for teardown, old lubricant removal, reassemble and re-lubricate. Slow power up with variac.

Three rubber idler wheels transfer the motor’s energy to the platter at 78, 45 or 33 1/3rpm, depending on which plane of the spinning motor shaft is engaged (see photo below).

presto t-68 idler wheels turntable txsound

Transport with Terry’s new idler wheels installed.

The existing idler wheels (above) were hardened and crumbling. The brass hubs were re-surfaced by Terry’s Rubber Rollers. The motor and idlers get the platter up to speed in about 1/4 of a platter rotation. Pretty quick, which was important for the operators ability to tightly cue the audio tracks.  

The tonearms are type Pickering 190D, originally wired for mono.  BTW, Mr. Pickering holds the original patent on the moving magnetic phono cartridge!  These tonearms were heralded for extremely low vertical to lateral moments of intertia, and minimal vertical mass.  Because of the big swing of a long tonearm, the tracking error is less than 2.5 degrees.

pickering 190D tone arm

Pickering 190D tonearms, mono wiring & magnetic arm rest.

pickering 190 txsound verrando

The Pickering 190D (click/enlarge)

The tonearm’s extremely low head-mass  can deftly handle a warped record very nicely.  The rear tonearm is intended for a 78 rpm cartridge/stylus.  The front arm is for a microgroove cartridge.  A top- mounted rotary switch selects which arm is fed to the pre-amp.  Before restoration, the signal passed through a Pickering model 132E passive equalizer before being pre-amplified by a mono model 230H Pickering tube preamp.



pickering 230H preamp. txsound

Ad for the original preamp. (click/enlarge)

pickering presto

Pickering passive cartridge equalizer.

presto tonearm selector

78- LP tonearm selector

presto power switch

Power switch with a hand-made plastic mount-plate










Both  tonearms get re-wired for stereo, no small task with hair-thin oxygenated tonearm wire. The rotary switch was replaced to enable stereo switching between tonearms. The mono Pickering equalizer was removed(which will fetch about $100 on ebay) and the resulting empty hole with a bat-handle power switch for the motor, a more practical use of the space.   The turntable previously was powered-up when the speed selector was enabled. A  black switch mounting plate was created to match the other label plates on the plinth.



A new stereo tube preamplifer is now required inside the cabinet, so a Little Bear Stereo Valve Preamp was shipped in from Hong Kong.  (below)


Little Bear Presto Pickering

The popular Little Bear stereo tube pre-amp from Hong Kong.  Very nicely designed!


presto rca patchbay txsound

RCA patchbay on rear panel.


To allow the user to select the internal or an external preamp, An RCA patch bay  is added on the rear cabinet panel. Also shown is the ground lift switch, power connector and chassis ground terminal.








pickering presto turntable txsound

Assembly and wiring of tonearms. Individual Channel signal/ground wires eventually made into twisted pairs for hum suppression.


The cabinet was a challenge, especially the plinth. The 3/4″ plywood base surface was covered in a thick, ancient, funky, dull- green laminate. The surrounding metal was painted industrial grey with a good deal of chipping & corrosion. The metal surrounding the laminate was refinished in hammer-tone grey .  The funky-green clashed with the other colors, so the wood top was refinished in solid satin black.  The platter had plenty-enough green in it after the re-felting, which is done with felt, spray adhesive, and careful lathe-style trimming with a razor. The plinth’s vertical edges were stripped down to the bare metal and polished to a bright shine, almost chrome. The polishing process was observed in a motorcycle restoration shop, and has been sucessfully used here on lots of projects.  (Enlargable thumbnails below)


2014-07-04_13-36-10_96 2014-07-04_13-36-41_12 2014-07-04_13-41-56_855 2014-07-03_12-46-10_159 2014-07-17_21-07-16_881








cabinet7 cabinet8 cabinet9







Collection of 16″ transcription records are stored inside the cabinet. Those suckers are heavy.


The Presto- DuKane cabinet, preamp and associated wiring came together as pictured. The tonearms get fitted  with  Shure M91ED cartridges, the rear cartridge with a 78rpm stylus. The unit is extremely well grounded, including the motor shell, and cabinet ground is independent of signal ground. Wether using the internal or an external preamp, there are no hum issues. As a precaution, a ground lift switch was added to the rear panel.  Power lines are capacitor bypassed at the entry points and at the power switch.  (below pics are enlargeable)
P1030664h presto4h presto17H presto19h presto20h








The table adds a special allure to vinyl activities. A heretofore ignored  pile of 78 rpm records have provided some very interesting listening!  It’s the record industry in its infancy. Various recording techniques can be discerned, qualities, different equipment eras, groove depth variances, etc can all be heard.





presto turntable t-68 transcription verrando txsound


There’s a million cheap 78s, lps and 45s still floating around out there, in thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.  Many found 78s  have never been played, and those make for remarkable listening. Back in the day, the commonly used steel needles would destroy a 78 after 20 plays. Many outstanding shellac records are still out there, They are remarkable examples of recording skills and standards through the era.


presto transcription vinyl txsound pickering tonearm txsound

The 60’s produced some remarkably well mastered LP’s as well.  I particularly like the Command 35mm series, which are still in plentiful supply at the above mentioned sources. See you at the Goodwill!


In the US, professional transcription turntables were primarily made by RCA, Gates, Fairchild, Presto, and McCurdy in Canada. They also required a separately purchased  “transcription” tonearm, about 3″ longer than a standard tonearm. The extra “swing room” these arms create also reduce stylus tracking error, especially on 7″-12″ records.

I’d been searching for a 16″ transcription turntable for many years. These tables are a unique and dissappearing part of broadcasting history.  Unlike a 12″ platter, they can  accommodate vintage 16″ transcription vinyl records, popular in the radio industry through the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Amazingly, for their size, these records only contain about 15 minutes of program material per side!  That’s because the grooves are spaced far apart. The discs typically cannot fit on a standard 12″ turntable platter without hitting the tonearm base. The US Armed Forces and Veterans Administration used these records extensively to distribute their radio programs. The records also were popular for distributing library music, jingles and commercials.

RCA 70 transcription turntable. Thousands of these used to reside US radio and TV stations.

A 16 inch record press


Gates transcription turntable txsound

Earliest version of the Gates CB-500 Transcription turntable.

The big turntables often came mounted on a cabinet, the size of a dishwasher. The earliest tables used this space for a complex, gear driven, flywheel-stabilized motor, These motors provided the necessary torque required for slip-cueing records and fast startup rotation.  Eventually, the torque came from smaller, hysteresis sync motors with idler/puck drives.  By the early 60’s these became the standard turntable design for radio/tv stations. In the early 80’s, Technics Corp. introduced powerful, direct drive, crystal controlled motors. They were adopted quickly by radio stations and used until CD’s replaced vinyl entirely…

Huge flywheel motor affair that is under the platter of the early RCA transcription turntables.
Maybe there's still some hiding out there, somewhere?

Maybe there’s still some of these hiding out there, somewhere?

RCA BQ-2B 04

A more recent underside of a transcription turntable, the RCA BQ-2B. I do not recommend placing a tube amp in the cabinet!





If you’ve got room in your listening area for one of these behemoths, you’ll find them few and far between, and priced outrageously. And that’s before the freight shipping required to send to your place.  The most current and popular transcription unit is the Gates CB-500 ,  and the cabinet (if you can find it).

The Gates CB-500 and cabinet. The Holy Grail? This one's in Russia! The front panel controls are a sloppy, abortive add-on. 

The Gates CB-500 and cabinet. The Holy Grail? The front panel controls are a sloppy, abortive add-on.




gray-research-model-206-12-1 tx sound verrando

Grey Research Viscous Damped Tonearm with installation template.







 Personal Story Time: In my college days of Radio and Television (circa 1980), the school had a large, 3 camera TV Studio, with a huge cyclorama curtain surrounding the walls.  One day, while scrounging behind the curtain, I found two of the huge RCA transcription turntables, in their massive cabinets. They had the coveted Grey Research Damped Transcription Tonearms, so named, as the arm rode on a layer of oil to isolate it from the turntable’s vibrations. And also to minimize lateral friction. The RCA tables were in deplorable, but restorable condition. Piles of 16″ records cluttered the space around the machines. I had little interest in vintage gear in those days, and forgot about them.  20 years later, I  learned l that when the TV studio was renovated into a dance studio, the turntables had been unceremoniously trashed.  Truthfully, over 30 years later, I still have lucid dreams about finding vintage broadcast equipment in the bunkers and catwalks of my alma-mater’s fine arts building.  – by Pete VerrandoMeadows_School_of_the_Arts

Quadra-Quark Speakers


I’ve had a “stereo” of one kind or another since I was 10 years old. Does anybody even call it a “stereo” anymore?  Is there a human connection with stereos, like there is with cars?

vintage zenith portable record player

Restoration of a Zenith Portable Stereo, found for $5. Now in a San Francisco boutique.

So, I was basically hatched in the radio business. There, the day-to-day “fidelity” of what you are working on is just an afterthought. Either something sounds good, or it doesn’t. If “Fleewood Mac’s Rumors” got cue burn, you threw it away and pulled another. The tape heads weren’t cleaned until the grease pencil gunk got under your fingernails. When I was 26, everything sounded pretty damn good to me anyway.

sally diamond q102 dallas

My wife-to-be, 1986, clogging up the heads with white grease pencil

Recently I put together an odd assortment of components for my living room Hi-Fi.

. I’ve always been head-slapped at the revolutionary idea of 2 or more satellite speakers and a subwoofer. Why this idea had not been introduced into the personal listening space sooner is beyond me. For 50 years, manufacturers have been trying to make speaker cones bend in physics-defying ways in order to reproduce music from a single source, or two sources, woofer/tweeter, or stereo. I guess Western-Electric was doing bi-amped systems all along, but they were mostly in movie theaters.

So I rounded up a decent Altec computer speaker system consisting of two satellite speakers and a subwoofer. I got it a couple years back on Woot. for $49.

Ugly Satellite speaker enclosures must go.

Ugly Satellite speaker enclosures must go.

I mixed these components with a mono tube amplifier (6L6) push-pull and an extra large full-range ceiling speaker, in its own enclosure. The subwoofer and the ceiling speaker are on the first floor.  Add a tiny Behringer mixer for the mono sum and routing, and an abandoned TV cabinet.

motorola zenith stereo location sound mixer pete verrando

A 1950’s Motorola TV Cabinet. The front controls are tube power, tone, volume, subwoofer power, and sub volume.

Oh, and those ugly little Altec black plastic satellite enclosures will have to go. In with some 1950’s police squwak boxes.speechmasterjensen speechmasterjensen2

jensen speech master

Police Squaak boxes found at swap meet. Jensen Speech Master 4″ communications speaker.

Here they are post-restoration:satellitespkrs


Restore the speakers and the tv cabinet, stuff the amp, speaker and mixer in, drag it in the living room, put the little speakers on the mantle, and plug it in…..

I haven’t sat down and listened to a record in a long time. Having been raised listening pop music production values, I tend to go there when auditioning sound systems.
I spent quite a bit of time balancing the tube amp with the computer speaker system, while listening to to Steely Dan’s “Aja”.

Its kind of fun running a tube amp, and this one adds lots of volume to the system, and takes away some of the mid-range and bass chores from the subwoofer. Is also got nice glowy glass.

Well, it sounds very nice, for what it is.
The last time I had something nice in the living room for playing music, was before the kids were born. And with kids, all you end up using your hi-fi for is playing Raffi records. God help ya’ll with young kids. Get behind me, Satan!

My main conclusion about my little system is that there seems to be a “wall” just outside the satellite speakers. It sounds nice seated in the middle position, its even loud, but the room doesn’t fill up.

I guess the big advantage to an exceptional stereo system- is that it interacts with the room. You are surrounded with sound, but not just from multiple little speakers- you are surrounded with room reflections.

Then I put on some opera (Cecilia Bartoli), hoping for the walls to go away. And they sort of did, because I was no longer listening to a 24 track studio production of highly isolated instruments, like on “Aja.”

Trying different sources, one thing I noticed was how horrible any music from Pandora sounds. Its take awhile, but I’ve finally, finally developed a real disdain for digital compression. CD’s sound good to me, but I’ve found MP3’s and any other similar scheme really fatigues my ears. I can’t listen to music for very long when its compressed. It starts to get irritating, like when there’s young kids in the room.

I still have the stereo I got as a teenager! A Pioneer SX-450 receiver when I was sixteen. And, a pair of Frazier Mark IV speakers, built in Dallas, Texas. These hang from the ceiling in my office, and take all sorts of abuse from the buzzes beeps and crunches when I’m testing audio signals. But they hang in there. In my office, I’ve been playing a lot of Seeburg background music while I toil away.

SX-450 Receiver

SX-450 Receiver


Frazier Speakers made in Dallas, Texas.

I’m a sound man, not an audiophile.  -By Pete Verrando

The Allure of Nagra Tape Recorders

Nagra IV-S tape recorder

Nagra IV-S Stereo Tape Recorder

Particularly regarding the Instrumentation Nagra SJ, an audiophile client was asking me what made the Nagra sound “special.” The SJ has “extended frequency response” to allow for measurment of vibrations and supersonic artifacts. Does it sound better? Is it the amplifier design?

Nagra III tape recorder 1960

This 1960 Nagra III has unusual head shielding. Also there is no tone generator or BA (before/after) switch.

The SJ is not necessarily going to sound better. The SJ recording system did not include the same pre-distortion tricks that are employed in the audio Nagras. As you go up in record level, saturation and non-linearity increase. Pre-distortion served maintain that linearity. Otherwise, the SJ has NAB/CCIR record and playback EQ like any other Nagra. The head gaps on the SJ’s were narrower, to allow for higher frequency recording and playback at 15ips. The specifications have the response at 35khz at 15ips. ….Nagras were often built to order, with unique circuitry combinations based on what the individual customer needed. Along with circuit improvements/changes done at the factory, (many undocumented) there’s hundreds of different Nagra configurations. There were even Nagras built without a front meter or input level controls, just a blank panel (Nagra IV-ML) These days, every Nagra I encounter is different in some way from the norm.

Nagra IV-ML

The Nagra IV-ML had no front panel meter or level controls.

nagra IV-ML

The levels were meant to be controlled at the mixer.

The Nagra playback amplifiers are simple, discrete transistor designs. I’ve had clients who own outboard tape head pre-amps they’ve paid $4000 for, like the “King Cello” preamp, so they want the outputs of the heads available on the side panel of the Nagra. For example see -one of these expensive preamps.

King Cello Nagra

King Cello Tape Head Preamp- $4000

Using the Nagra in a home music playback environment goes beyond the sound of the internal amplifiers. Users also appreciate having a very unique, professional, portable recorder. Stereo Nagras sold back in the 80’s for around $10,000. The build quality is remarkable, with no stamped parts, only machined aluminum/stainless steel parts. The functionality and durability were designed to withstand constant use in extreme environments and temperatures. The servo motor speed control can maintain perfect speed while the recorder is dropped to a table, or while the user is running on foot with the recorder on the shoulder. The tape tension mechanics are ingenious, continually self-adjusting tape tension during transport operations. The aesthetic design is a direct reflection of Kudelski’s sensibilities, from the unusual dual-needle meter, to the use of excessive panel labeling. Kudelski’s electronic designs were not complex, but all component values, tolerances and other characteristics were carefully regulated. All transformers and inductors (using toriod cores only) are wound entirely in-house. All fasteners are made of stainless steel. It is a laboratory-grade instrument that found its primary home in the alternative universe of motion picture production. That the film art-form once required such elegant, yet precision equipment is part of the Nagra’s allure. -by Pete Verrando www.txsound.comNagra IV-S Verrando  

Nagra 3 Tape Recorder Repurposed to ipod Speaker Amplifier

Nagra tape recorders were the de-facto industry standard for motion picture film sound for almost 40 years. Made in Switzerland by the company Kudelski, there was no higher standard for battery-powered, analog audio recording. Nagras are an object lesson in quality engineering and excellence in manufacturing. Now that digital recording has largely replaced tape in motion picture production, there are thousands of Nagras in disuse, deep storage, or on the shelf of the vintage audio collector. On the bright side, audiophiles and tape recording enthusiasts have embraced Stereo Nagras as the primary record/playback device in their very-expensive listening rooms.

INdeck Of the many Nagra models, I have a particular attraction to the Nagra III. The III was the 1st culmination of Kudelski’s hard work in addressing the needs of professional audio recording for film and many other fields of sound acquisition. Even since its introduction and acceptance in the early 60’s, technical specifications for analog recording have rarely been exceeded. Using mostly germanium transistors, and all fixed-value components, the Nagra 3 can achieve recordings with 70db signal to noise ratio, just about the limit for analog, (with no noise reduction). There are no trimmer potentiometers under the deck. All alignment is done by changing/soldering fixed value components. Its meter, the modulometer, was a far more precise instrument in gauging record level than any ordinary VU meter. The III could record in either NAB or CCIR equalization curves at 3.75, 7.5 and 15 ips. The single motor is hand-assembled, and has rock-stable servo-controlled speed regulation. Upon playback, even the internal speaker is loud and robust, probably more so than any Nagra since. The tape transport allowed fluid movement of the tape for racking/cueing, loading and unloading, and has a grace that surpasses the models IV, 4.2, etc. Moreover, the III has an aesthetic that represents a labor of love. It is a study in circles. A simple form factor with few controls performing many functions. A classic Swiss Army knife! A feel and solidness that exceeds all the models that followed.INsideview

Why then would I hack up a beautiful machine like the Nagra III and force feed it lowly compressed digital files of pop music? I used these machines on a daily basis in the first 10 years of my sound career. Countless 12-hour days staring into the face of these machines. Thousands of recordings, head cleanings, reloads, battery changes, expensive service tuneups- cleaning, rebiasing, lubrication. Enduring blistering hot and icy cold condtions. Lugging over the shoulder, or perched atop a recording cart. A thousand drained D-cells.

Well, then, with the advent of digital, it was all over.

Suddenly I was working with a little clock-radio affair, a DAT recorder, at less than half the cost of my time code stereo Nagra IV-S. The DAT had superior specifications to the Nagra, but none of the tangible, hands-on, craft-feel of sound capture that the Nagra gave me daily. Every day I turned my DAT machine on, I did so with a prayer that it would not fail, because I was no longer in control. It was all inside that tiny machine with its rotating head, a mere spec of dust might shut it down. In summer, it ran so hot, I could not keep my palm flat on its lid. It would be another 5 years before digital recording disposed of tape transports entirely. Those were 5 long years of praying that clock- radio would continue to function. Back then, in the heat of battle, I didn’t think much about the retirement of my Nagra IV-STC and 4.2. It was nice not to hear tape hiss in my headphones. Thinking they would soon be more valuable as boat-anchors, I sold them to pay for my new digital machines. INpwrsup

I have restored a few cast-off Nagras. My goal with these machines is to bring them to as close to original condition as possible, both technically and cosmetically. A few years ago, I acquired three retired Nagra III’s in various states of repair, for $240 all-in. That purchase is what really got me started. Out of the three, plus one other, I created two near-perfect examples of the Kudelski Nagra III. One was sold to a audiophile in Japan for $900. The other is mine and always will be. Its fun to have. Lace a tape, plug in a microphone, and record some stuff. Play it back. Work the controls. Rack the tape. Listen to the robust, boomy, sound of analog, full-track, monophonic recording. INidlersMy restorations efforts left me with a lot of parts and two Nagra III’s that were shells of their former selves. Ipod popularity had gotten me and a lot of other re-purposers thinking about the Ipod Dock, that plastic affair on the shelf of Best Buy. There’s so much discarded technical equipment from the days of old that can be re-upped into a Gestalt of past and present. For me these Nagra III’s are at the front of the line. I like to play with my old tape recorders, but I rarely have the time. With my Ipod Nagra, I can keep it useful, every day. It now plays music, podcasts, internet streams, with room-filling volume, and a happily bouncing modulometer. It delights all who see and hear it. It lives again. by Pete Verrando

One-of-a-kind Ristaucrat Automatic 45rpm Turntable Record Changer

Ristaucrat Commercial 45RPM record player changer

Ristaucrat Commercial Record Changer

About a year ago, I restored this Ristaucrat M-400 commercial record changer. A collector in Utah recently purchased it. This device plays both sides of a stack of 45 rpm records. Then, it lifts the stack back to the top of the spindle for replay. Originally designed for background music in restaurants and department stores. It behaves like a pinball machine while functioning. Lots of clacking, abrupt sequencing and high torque motors. There are spinning clutches in this device that use cork as the slip-plate when engaging. The bat-handled switches and chrome carry-handles were added by yours truly. I have only seen 1 other example of this device in the 20 years I have been building/restoring electronics. There is a video demonstration on youtube (below). -by pete verrando

The photo below shows the device as found from a swap meet.

Pete Verrando –

ristaucrat m-400 verrando

Ristaucrat M-400 as found

Collins 200 Broadcast Turntable Restored

I had the chassis floating on silicone blocks to isolate from plinth, but later found the rumble excessive. Rumble reduced dramatically when chassis bolted to plinth (the manual confirms this need)
The Micro-Track is a simple tonearm. the base is oil filled as an anti-skate device. The pivots are isolated from the gimble with rubber. It will  track to 1/2 gram. The weight adjustments are made from the headshell. The tracking with the M91ED is set to just under 2 grams.
This turntable was sold under various labels. The shifter housing is a separate aluminum piece. Some versions reveal the seam between housing and chassis, but Collins filled the gap with a Bondo-like material.
Bodine Motor. New idler and motor shockmounts from
signal ground is isolated from chassis ground
3 speed shift, neon indicator and standard bat switch
MicroTrack tone arm is unusual, all aluminum. Most have wooden arms
Front Collins Emblem was a nice find.
Brass wafer weights under cartridge. Heads can be interchanged without adjusting rear weight.
signal wire internal RCA connections.
internal power connector
Original Condition
Original Condition

Collins Broadcast Turntable goes under the knife

I have quite a few vintage turntables awaiting restoration.  This is a 70’s vintage Collins model 200 with a MicroTrack tonearm. The tonearm is completely aluminum, which is unusual for MicroTrack, as their arms were typically made of wood. This has been lots of fun to restore. It brings me back to my college radio days.

For some reason, these idler-wheel broadcast turntables are very desirable among collectors. Turntable collectors/audiophiles are also very picky and temperamental about their vinyl reproducers. They love the idler concept, but the buyer also wants the specifications of a direct-drive/belt drive. On these behemoths,  the best rumble isolation you can hope for is about -40db.  Anyway,  I think perception of sound quality is biased by how much money is spent.  Maybe part of the attraction is the ability to “slip-cue” records, as radio DJs did in the 60-70’s.  The powerful motor maintains speed even if you hold the record still against the felt.

The platter rides on a single ball bearing packed in grease.    I built the massive plinth, rebuilt the fractional horsepower motor, and installed new rubber dampers and idler. The frame rests on four large silicone bumpers to isolate it from the plinth.  Currently waiting for the paint to cure before buttoning it up. I’ll sell it with the popular Shure M91ED cartridge. The felt is from JoAnne’s.  January’s been quiet for location sound, so I’ll post some pics/video soon, as I should finish this up in a few days.
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