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Columbia Grafonola - info sought

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Jim Bailey

Aug 15, 2001, 6:14:00 PM8/15/01
I just made an impulse purchase on a Columbia Grafonola floor model. I can't
find a model number, but it's quarter sawn oak, original finish, no serious
cosmetic flaws, and it works! The upper adjustable wood louvers control the
volume (wood horn inside). The lower cabinet is for record storage and is
missing the knobs (knob source?). The whole affair sits on 4 legs.

If someone has an idea how much a unit like this is worth, then I'll have an
idea on how much I overpaid :-( I just had to have it because it's the
first one I've seen in working order that matches the other quarter sawn oak
antique stuff in our living room, so I knew it would be a slam dunk
convincing my wife to display it there.

Any info on the care and feeding of these beasts would be appreciated. The
needle appears to be the equivalent of a sixteen penny nail and it tracks
pretty heavy. I guess this is normal. 78's must be indestructible (except
when you drop them).

Adam M. Dubin

Aug 15, 2001, 10:22:27 PM8/15/01

Make sure you only use the needle once (and that it's a new needle to
begin with, of course).

The phono FAQ of this ng mentions lots of important information. Also
be sure to visit Tim Gracyk's website
(, which has loads of fascinating as
well as practical articles.

Your Columbia is probably listed in Robert Baumbach's relatively new
"Columbia Disc Phonograph Companion, 1899-1929", which is available
from many sellers and hobbyists (e.g. Allen Koenigsberg:, who also sells new

These upright Grafanolas usually are in the $300-500 range of value,
unless a really top of the line model, in impeccable shape.

Hope this helps,

Jim Bailey

Aug 15, 2001, 10:27:59 PM8/15/01
I'm not getting any response to my post (the +phono part of the newsgroup
must be a small contingent).

Now I really need help. I brought my treasure home, hooked it up to the
isolation transformer (just kidding), and started to play a record. It
sounded great the first few bars and then, KABLAMO! The mechanism made a
loud noise and it stopped playing.

I removed the mechanism from the cabinet to exam it in more detail. Nothing
looked amiss. Everything is well greased and moving parts move. I tried
winding up the mechanism but got nowhere. There are 3 large tuna can size
metal boxes (spring containers?) that are concentric with the crank. The
first 2 (closest to the crank) turn as I turn the crank. The 3rd can, which
is locked in with the turntable gearing, does not move with the first 2
cans, so I suspect some link snapped inside. Maybe a spring broke loose
within the 3rd can so that the spring is moving loose inside the can? I'm
guessing that someone at the antique store overwound the mechanism (I never
touched the crank until after the disaster).

I know most of you are electronics enthusiasts. Are there any Renaissance
men (or women) out there who also understand mechanical devices that have
suggestions for me? My best guess is that someone overwound it and the
spring broke. If not, my next step will be to obtain the equivalent of a
Sams Photofact for this circa 1919 piece of equipment. It is really quite
neat, not unlike a watch, I suppose. If need be, assuming there's a phono
repair expert out there willing to help me, I will take photos of the
innards and post them. Here's a link I found which is for an owner's manual
very similar to the unit I have.

Bill Sheppard

Aug 15, 2001, 10:14:55 PM8/15/01
Jim, give these folks a growl -


Jim Bailey

Aug 16, 2001, 12:48:02 AM8/16/01
Lot's of good advice. I've ordered the Compleat Talking Machine, which will
show me how to fix the broken spring, I hope. I also learned about fingers
being chopped off during spring repair. There seems to be an element of
excitement and machismo in repairing old phonos! This is definitely not for
wimps with isolation transformers and other safety devices in place.
Nevertheless, I'll do my homework first before disassembling any of those
spring cans!

I paid $450 for the machine, which, apparently, was on the high end
($300-500 range). But, after all, I live in Utah. Back in 1919, not too many
folks lived here, so prices are bound to be higher than what all you lucky
folks back east pay for things. The unit actually came from Pocatello, ID.
To me, it was a good deal until the spring sproinged. Unfortunately, antique
stores don't have warranties :-(

Peter Wieck

Aug 16, 2001, 7:43:13 AM8/16/01
I keep "one of each" Edison machines, a diamond disc and a cylinder machine....
just to have them, not because I am a serious collector. About the only thing
that I would consider along this line for the future would be an outside horn
disc player. Both my present specimens are in excellent condition (so far no
broken springs), and I will say that they arouse the most *immediate* interest
when someone sees them (who is under 50).

But, sadly, when most of these individuals discover that they require actual
attention to play.... the interest wanes in a hurry. The two minute cylinder
machine is about the limit... half way through the average diamond disc, eyes
start to glaze over.

On the other hand, kids under 12 or so will listen for hours, and will even
volunteer to crank the machine if allowed. In my case, I allow it.... anything
to get their interest in the past and how their (by now) great grandparents
lived is worth the risk.

Spammers successfully cancelled to date: 2453

Peter Wieck
Wyncote, PA

George Conklin

Aug 16, 2001, 7:58:30 AM8/16/01
In article <9lesbr$toc$>,

There is a book which lists the Columbia models. You need to
change the needle after each play. Get needles (see below):

Frequently Asked Questions for Phonographs

Availability of this information:
* The FAQs are posted monthly in the newsgroup
* The FAQs can be downloaded from the Web at this URL:

Revision history of this part of the FAQ, originally part of the
combined Radio+Phono FAQ.

Most recent revision: July 6, 2001. Version 6.4. Information
added for Victor Collectors.

Previous revisions have been as follows:
1. 6.3 December 26, 2000.
2. 6.2 October 15, 2000.
3. 6.1 Sept. 25, 1999 Fifth Version updates and Posted
4. 6.2 April 9, 2000 Additional information added.
5. 6.0 April 20, 1999 Fifth Version by George Conklin
6. 5.1 July 22, 1998 Fourth Version with address updates.
7. 5.0 Feb. 24, 1998 Fourth Version by George Conklin.
8. 4.0 Dec. 11, 1997 Joined the two separate FAQ versions on
9. 3.0 March 12, 1996. Third Version. This material was supplied
by George Conklin (
10. 2.0 May 3,1995 This material was supplied by George Conklin
11. 1.1 Dec. 12, 94 Revisions by George Conklin.

Editor: George Conklin (

Note: The section of the FAQ for Old-Time Radios is maintained on
another server by Trevor Gale.

The most frequently asked question continues to be from the very
first day of the group: "Where can I buy steel needles for my
Victrola? What about repairs?"
* Answer: In the USA contact the Antique Phonograph Supply
Company, Route 23, Box 123, Davenport Center, NY 13751. Phone
607-278-6218 or for needles and
* In UK, contact Phonoservice, 157 Childwall Valley Road,
Liverpool L16 1LA for needles and repairs. For thorn needles
in UK you can contact K. Erwood (Thorns) at +44 20-8337-9172.
* Remember to change your steel needles after every play. The
engineering concept was simple: the needles are softer than
the record, and will wear without stressing the record. Some
records had grit in the mix to wear the needle and not the

Section 1.1: Technical Questions about Phonographs

1. I have found a phonograph. Can I overwind it? I've never
wound one before.
+ Unless you wind your new acoustic phonograph very
quickly and let the wound spring(s) fetch up sharply,
you should not worry about overwinding. Turn the crank
slowly until you feel the springs tighten. After a few
tries, this should be second nature to you. If you hear
a spring slip after you wind a few turns, or if the
handle keeps turning forever, you have a broken or
disconnected spring. A single-spring phonograph will
play 1 or 1.5 records. A 2-spring model will play for
2-5 records. There are also 3 and 4 spring models.
2. My phonograph does not work. What can I do?
+ Answer: There is one excellent book which explains how
old phonographs, gramophones and cylinder players work.
"The Compleat Talking Machine" by Eric Reiss. It is also
available from APSCO listed above. It explains how to
work on a phonograph to get it running again. It
contains detailed photographs. Be sure to buy the Third
Edition since it contains updated price lists and a good
discussion of fake phonographs.
3. I have just found this wonderful windup phonograph. How can I
tell if it works? I don't have time to read a book. What can
I do? (Is it REAL? See Q4 below).
+ Answer: Phonographs are found which look new. Others
look as if they have been sitting in a wet basement for
70 years. But there are a few quick tests:
+ Does the dealer demonstrate the unit? If it plays and
sounds fine, it probably is in good shape. It is
relatively hard to hide problems with spring motors.
+ Is the spring broken? This means that your turn the
crank and nothing happens. Usually the spring is broken
near the center, so the phonograph does not play. New
springs can be found for most phonographs from the
Antique Phonograph Supply Company. Cost: about $50 if
you send in the barrel. If a new spring is not
available, you can patch the old one by following
instructions in the Reiss book listed below. But please
note that you may not want to do this without some
experience since you can cut your fingers off.
+ If the turntable rotates (or the cylinder turns), but
you hear a loud bump while the record is playing, then
the spring needs grease.

a. This is not easy. Purists will say to take the
spring out of the barrel, clean it and the reload the
barrel. Warning: if you try to do this, you can cut your
fingers off. The barrel is a cylinder into which the
spring is wound. Some cheaper units simply have an open
spring. Greasing such a spring is much more easy.
b. Shortcut: You can add grease to the spring
without first taking it out of the barrel. Most barrels
had an opening called a graphite hole. Wind up the unit
all the way. Take the plug out of the graphite hole and
force in grease. The original Edison formula, which I
have used, contains 10 parts vasoline to 1 part
graphite. Put the screw back in the hole. Let the unit
run down, dispersing the grease.
+ Listen to see if the governor is in good shape. When you
play the unit, is there a high speed vibration. If so,
you may need work on the governor. This is difficult.
+ If the turntable works (or the cylinder turns), then
play a record. What does it sound like? If you hear a
lot of vibrations, or if the sound is bad, you probably
need to rebuild the reproducer.

a. Rebuilding an Edison reproducer for a cylinder
phonograph is ususally an easy job. Kits cost $6.00. A
new sapphire is $30.00 and is likely to outlast you.
b. Rebuilding a Victor #2 (the most common) is not
difficult either.
c. Rebuilding a Diamond Disc reproducer is more
difficult. The old diaphragms take effort to remove
without damage. It can be done. Kits are available. New
diamond needles: $60.00. But the old diamond may be in
good shape.
d. Rebuilding the Victor Orthophonic is very
difficult and few people will touch this one. Such
reproducers (heads) cost about $100 in auctions. Many
were made of pot metal, and they are gradually falling
e. Rebuilding other heads requires buying generic parts
and doing the best you can. 6. Ok, I don't know much
about mechanical things. What can I do? You can send the
entire works off for repair and cleaning. This costs
about $150 for an Edison unit. 7. What about parts? What
if something wears out? If you buy an Edison or a
Victor, most motor parts are still available. As for the
other units around, if something other than the spring
is broken, you might want to look for a different unit
unless you are handy around a machine shop, or are
willing to pay to send the entire motor out for repair.
4. The dealer offered me a nice external horn machine. Is it a
fake or a reproduction? Is it as old as he says it is? The
catalog says the phonograph is 'remanufactured.' What does
this mean?
+ Answer: Since external horn machines command a big
price, operators in South Asia has begun taking old
motors and remanufacturing cases to make 'new' old
phonographs. These phonographs are often excellent in
appearance, and come with marvelous reproduction brass
horns and often with good reproducers too. But their
weakness is often the motor, which is from an old
portable phonograph, or even a reproduction too. The
horns are pretty, and may be the case. If it works, a
fair price would be $250-300, if you are so inclined.
But be careful, because the tone arms are usually weak,
and the brackets which hold the horn to back support are
usually thin sheet brass, totally useless. Recently in
the United States some mass catalogs which sell
'discontinued' products have started adding reproduction
phonographs to their catalogs. They state they are
'remanufactured' using old and new parts, including new
horns. The price asked is $399, plus a huge shipping
charge of about $45. Do not even be tempted unless you
just want something for interior decoration. One
important clue to a fake old phonograph is the
reproducer---where the needle goes. If it is covered
with a piece of metal, it is probably new. Old horn
machines used mica which is transparent and not covered.
Eric Reiss also has a section to how to spot fake
5. E-bay lists an old cylinder player. Should I bid on it?
+ Answer: E-bay is not a place for a beginner. When Edison
players first hit E-bay, the prices were not only high
retail, they were retail + 50 to 75%. After a half dozen
or so common machines were sold, prices declined to
average retail.
I purchased one at below retail and it was only fair,
although the seller thought it was great. Despite the
price, I would never have looked at a second machine had
I seen it. Digital color pictures make anything look
good. E-bay is a seller's market, but a rough road for a
buyer. I use E-bay, but be very, very careful. If you
are reading this FAQ as a beginner, then buy your
machines from somewhere you can trust locally.
For a beginner I would recommend the first machine to be
an Edison Standard or Edison Home. Get a machine which
plays both 2 and 4-minute cylinders, and a horn which is
pleasing to your wife. For playing 78s, start with a
Victor internal horn machine and move back to the
external horn machines as you save up your money. Prices
are headed up for Victor and Edison machines so the
'book value' you see in the guides is just a starting
point. Even well-known dealers are raising their prices
blaming the Internet auctions.
As for purchasing cylinders from E-bay, I suggest being
very, very careful. Many shippers do not know how to
pack wax cylinders and thus ruin old artifacts by
packing carelessly in newspaper. I have had at least 4
cylinders smashed in the mail by bad packing. And the
average antique dealer does not know how to pack
anything. Even when they pay a fortune to have a
commercial company pack, often they make elementary
mistakes due to total ignorance of what they are doing.
This includes shipping a cylidner player with a cylidner
on the mandrel, virtually making it certain the stylus
will be broken.
6. I just found some 'thick' records. How can I play them?
+ Answer: Many people think that the standard 78 record is
'thick.' However, the really thick records were made by
Thomas Edison and are called Diamond Discs. They were
made from 1912 until Edison closed his phonograph
business in 1929, one day before the stock market
crashed. In their time, these were the premium records.
Do NOT try to play a diamond disc record with a Victrola
steel needle machine. It will ruin the record and it
will not play. The DDs were recorded vertically, using
the hill and dale method. They were played with a
special diamond needle. You can play such records today
at 78 rpm on with a stereo catridge using either the LP
needle or a 78 (3 mil) needle. Or, better yet, such
records still work fine with an Edison machine. A good
DD machine should not cost over $400 in the USA.
Specialized models may be more.


Click here to see and hear possibly the most rare Edison DD ever
7. I just found a "Victrola." What is it worth?
+ Answer: Most people use the word 'Victrola' as a generic
term, like Frigidaire is used to mean all types of ice
box. Most likely such a term means an upright machine
made during the 1920s and housed in a 'brown box.' Since
millions were made, it is impossible to give a specific
value. However, most upright Victors go for about $400
right now in the Eastern USA.
8. Where can I read about my Victrola?
+ Answer: Buy the book Look for the Dog by Robert
Baumbach. It lists all Victor models, starting with the
open horn machines. Some were quite rare; most very
common. Production figures are given. Buy the book from
Allen Koenigsberg, 502 E. 17th Street, Brooklyn, NY
11226. Phone 718-941-6835.
9. Where can I find out about record auctions? Parts? Supplies
for old phonographs?
+ Answer: Join MAPS, the Michigan Antique Phonograph
Society, 60 Central Street, Battle Creek, MI 49017.
After you join, purchase the Resource Directory. It
lists hundreds of dealers and places to buy records and
get your phonograph serviced. It also lists other clubs.
10. I want to buy an Edison Standard. Can you name some dealers
in my area?
+ Answer: Generally the answer to this question is
unfortunately 'no.' The market for used phonographs
remains fragmented. In certain areas there are
well-known dealers. But you are not going to find one
listed in every city. Antique malls often sell machines
that are offered to them. Prices can be high. As for
buying on-line, please look above the my comments on
E-bay. Prices of Victor or Edison machines seem to be
going up rather quickly.
11. I just found a phonograph. I can't remember the name. Who
made old phonographs anyway?
+ Answer: The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison. He
let it sit on the shelf for 10 years. His patents
covered cylinder records, the original format. Later
Berliner obtained a patent for what we call today the
78. Its virtue was that the 78 could be mass produced
easily. Victor took up the Berliner patent. Edison
stayed with cylinder records. By 1920 it seems as if
every urniture store would put together a case and
generic works and a new brand was born. Sometimes Edison
would sell spare cases so conversion companies would put
together parts from different sources even in well-known
cases. Some common brands: Edison, Victor, Sonora,
Brunswick, Silvertone, Zonophone, Aeolian, Pathe,
Granby, Columbia, Vocalian, Harmonola, Heinman and
12. What is a gramophone?
+ Answer: The British refer to a phonograph which plays
flat records as a gramophone. In British usage, a
phonograph plays cylinders only.
13. I just found an Edison cylinder player. Where can I find out
about how it works?
+ Answer: There is one authority on Edison players, both
cylinder and the Diamond Disc (DD) type. His name is
George Frow. He wrote two books which define the field.
The book on cylinder phonographs is now available in a
Second Printing 150th Anniversary Edition of "Edison
Cylinder Phonograph Companion," Available from several
sources, but I have a listing from Koenigsberg listed
above. Avoid the first printing (1994) since the
pictures are less clear than in the second 1997
printing, and the new edition contains additional
information. The second book covers Edison Diamond Disc
machines. "Edison Diamond Disc Phonographs, 1912-1929."
Frow covers all models, including some which may have
never been made! His research comes from the Edison
historical site in Orange, NJ. Source: write Frow
himself at George Frow, 48 Woodfields, Chipstead,
SEVENOAKS, TN13 2RB, Great Britain. (This is a new 1997
address). He airmails the book, with no delay. Check for
current price. He took my personal check. Also available
from Koenigsberg listed above.

14. Where can I find a list of cylinders which were made?
+ Answer: Wax cylinders made up until by Edison 1912 are
covered in a book written by Alan Koenigsberg, 502 E.
17th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11226. There are several
listings of Edison's celluloid Blue Amberol cylinders,
but all seem to be out of print at the moment.
15. Are there any magazines which discuss old phonographs?
+ Answer: Not really, in the traditional sense of the word
magazine. Collecting phonographs is really a hobby and
publications come and go. The Michigan Antique
Phonograph Society has a newsletter called "In the
Groove." It is probably the best source of information
right now, with the additional of several regular
authors to the masthead. The City of London Phonograph
Society CLPGS publishes a semi-annual magazine
Hillandale News. As of October 2000, the editorial
e-mail address is
16. What are the most common old phonographs?
+ The phonographs which have survived today are Edison,
Victor and Columbia. Of the three, Edison was the most
sturdy, although Victor was often well made also. The
Columbia units used more pot metal, which decays with
age. Their reproducers were never up to Edison
17. Are all phonograph cyliders the same?
+ Answer: Not all phonograph cylinders are the same. The
cylinder was the original format for recording. The most
commonly found ones today are Edison's black wax (Gold
Moulded) cylinders. These play for 2 minutes. Columbia
made 2-minute cylinders wax cylinders until 1902, then
switched to making their cylinders out of celluloid. The
celluloid cylinders are often found today in excellent
condition compared to their wax counterparts. Later
everyone switched to 4-minute cylinders. Edison always
offered kits to upgrade his players. The 4-minute
cylinders turned at 160RPM (as did most 2-minute
cylinders) and had 200 grooves per inch. Edison produced
4-minute wax cylinders and later 4-minute blue celluloid
cylinders. The blue cylinders (called Blue Amberols)
were launched in 1912 and were made until 1929, long
after everyone else quit making them.
18. I have just found a phonograph in a brown case. When as it
+ Answer: If the phonograph has a large external horn, it
was made before about 1912. After that, the ladies
wanted horns inside a case, hidden from view. If the
unit you are looking at has an enclosed soundbox in a
pice of furniture, it was made from 1910 or so up until
the end of the wind up era about 1930. Not many
phonographs were made from 1929-1945. The depression
caused a collapse of sales, with one authority claiming
that record sales declined by 90% during the 1930s.
19. What is the difference between Victor and Victrola?
+ Answer: The Victor Talking Mahince Company made external
horn phonographs. When they switched to horns inside of
the case, the name -ola was added. Victrola technically
means an internal horn machine. Edison did the same
thing. He called his internal horn cylinder machines
20. I have some 78s I got from my family. I am afraid of hurting
them with a diamond needle. How can I play such records?
+ Answer: You can play 78s with a modern phonograph using
a diamond needle. If you have only a stereo stylus, you
can still use it to play your 78s without hurting them.
Of course, it is best to use about a 3 mil needle made
for the purpose. Modern equipment, tracking at 2 grams,
is quite gentle on records compared to the old Victors,
tracking at several ounces.

Section 1.2: References and Sources.

Books about phonographs are written mostly by hobbyists, not
engineers or academics. Below is a listing of common sources to
get you going in the hobby.
1. The Compleat Talking Machine, Third Edition by Eric L. Reiss
is the most important book for a beginner. It lists not only
many models, but it tells how to oil a machine and how to
make most repairs. Order from: The Antique Phonograph Supply
Company, Route 23, Box 123, Davenport Center, NY 13751-0123.
(607) 278-6218. Order this book first. There is a section on
the value of old machines, and numerous pictures to help the
beginner identify old machines. Try
2. The Talking Machine: An Illustrated Compendium 1977-1929 by
Tim Fabrizio and George F. Paul is a marvelous book with
hundreds of fine phonographs of rare, early machines as well
as the more common models a beginner might find. According to
the book, it may be ordered from The 1999
Fabrizio and Paul book Antique Phonograph Gadgets, Gizmos and
Gimmicks is also highly recommended if you are interested in
phonograph accessories. Published in 2000 by the same authors
is Discovering Antique Phonographs: 1887-1929, with beautiful
photographs of some of the more obscure machines. This book
would be of most interest to the advanced collector. The
authors accuse Edison of following an elite market, without
mentioning that his diamond disc format produced records
which were good for 3,000 or more plays while the
competition's needle records wore out rather quickly. Because
both his cylinder and disc players were high quality
products, they often survive today in excellent condition,
while others, especially Columbia machines, are difficult to
find in excellent working order.
3. For books about Edison machines, George Frow has written the
"bibles." For cylinder machines, order Edison Cylinder
Phonograph Companion. It was newly revised in 1997 and
contains about all you can possibly want to know about the
various models. Note: it does not discuss prices. Earlier
editions of this book are found only in rare book rooms of a
few libraries. The only drawback to this book are the
photographs, which are small and dark. The second book by
Frow covers diamond disc phonographs by Edison (the 'thick'
records players): The Edison Disc Phonographs and the Diamond
Discs: A history with Illustrations), 1982. APSCO sells both.
You may also contact George Frow, 48 Woodfields, Chipstead,
Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 2RB, Great Britain. This is a new
address for Mr. Frow.
4. For Victor machines, there is also one book everyone uses
called Look for the Dog by Robert Baumbach. A new paperback
edition is out. The illustrations are good, but the
discussion is more limited than what is found in Frow's books
on Edison. APSO sells this book too.
5. The main 'general' book on phonographs is called From Tinfoil
to Stereo: The Acoustic Years of the Recording Industry
1877-1929 by Walter L. Welch and Leah Brodbeck Stenzel Burt,
University of Flordia Press, 1994. Yes, it is somewhat
scholarly and does contain some errors, as do many of the
books about phonographs. Some reviewers found dozens of
errors. Unfortunately since phonograph collecting a hobby,
good referees are few and errors and myths are common.
6. Magazines about phonographs are few and far between. However,
I recommend the following for the beginner in the hobby
because they are readily available, appear regularly and are
nicely done:
+ In the Groove ,a monthly newsletter published by the
Michigan Antique Phonograph Society. Contact MAPS at 60
Central Street, Battle Creek, Michigan, 49017. If you
are looking for parts, this is the place to start. They
publish resource guide and membership directory which
lists about 800 phonograph collectors and about every
known organization dealing with phonographs and parts in
the world. This is the document to get if you want to
buy parts or look for local dealers.
+ Hillandale News published by the City of London
Phonograph and Gramophone Society . This is a nicely
produced magazine. Contact Suzanne Lewis, 51 Brockhurst
Road, CHESHAM, Bucks, HP5 1LG, England. Current dues in
US dollars are $28.50.
+ I am sad to have to report that the journal Victrola and
78 Journal has ceased publication. However, 13 issues
are still available and they are a valuable source of
information. Purchase of the back issues in a package is
highly recommended. Contact Tim Gracyk, 9180 Joy Lane,
Granite Bay, CA 95746-9682 or

Places to Get Repairs in the USA

As for places to get repairs done, some members of this news
group recommend you contact Dwayne Wyatt of Wyatt's Music World,
PO Box 601, Lakeport, CA 707 263-5013. The catalog lists all the
parts for various Edison cylider and Amberola phonographs, with a
price for each and every screw, gear and so forth. Columbia
Grafanola, Models AT, AZ, and Q and some Victors and Brunswicks
are also listed. He sells reproduction Cygnet Horns. Also, APSO
( does compete overhauls of old phonographs
and supplies parts.

Questions are sometimes asked Victor phonographs, especially
where to find the Orthophonic Brackets which seem to break. Both
sizes are available from Wonderful Wind-Ups, Inc, at 330-758-5001
or . Front mount phonograph arms are also

The above sources are enough to get you started. They are not
a complete listing of very book about Victors or Thomas Edison.
They are, however, the most important pieces of information and
enough to answer many (if not all) questions. For the most new
information possible, get the resource guide from MAPS.

Phonograph Sites on the WWW

Now, what about the Web? In the past several years there has
been an explosion of pictures of old phonographs on the WWW. What
can a beginner expect? Please remember the a FAQ is designed to
answer frequently asked questions in an interactive discussion
group. In contrast, the WWW is a series of pages developed by
those with a special interest in the phonograph, commercial and

The WWW is totally unrefereed, meaning that anyone can post
information. Most information on web pages is accurate, but not
all. Some is designed to sell phonographs, while others are
interested in keeping the hobby alive. Having stated that you
need to be aware of its limitations, the WWW does provide
interesting surfing for beginners. Most WWW sites end up being
referenced by each other.

My personal opinion that the best single place to start
surfing the web for a beginner is at

I have received information that postings on are archived: An archive for this
newsgroup is located at the University of North Carolina,
formerly Sunsite, now Metalab, in the Agronomy partition
maintained by Steve Modena AB4EL..
O+PHONO/ Archives are available from the beginning of 1998, in
text files containing several days' worth of posts. This is much
more convenient for browsing than retrieving posts one at a time
by DejaNews. Older archives going back to the newsgroup creation
in 1994 used to be on the server but now apparently you have to
ask AB4EL for them (address given in the archive). If you have
some time to spare, reading the old posts can be fun as well as
instructive. There was more technical discussion in those days,
and much of it is just as relevant now. There was even quite a
lot of discussion on, of all things, phonographs, before those
collectors got outnumbered and gave up. The archive gets updated
every six or seven days now.


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George Conklin

Aug 16, 2001, 8:00:36 AM8/16/01
In article <9lfb3g$182r$>,

Jim Bailey <> wrote:
>I'm not getting any response to my post (the +phono part of the newsgroup
>must be a small contingent).
>Now I really need help. I brought my treasure home, hooked it up to the
>isolation transformer (just kidding), and started to play a record. It
>sounded great the first few bars and then, KABLAMO! The mechanism made a
>loud noise and it stopped playing.

It sounds as if a spring broke. You can send the barrels out
for repair unless you are interested in learning fast about
multi-spring units--not recommended.

Get the Eric Reiss book for starters.

There is nothing like it on the WWW.

dwight elvey

Aug 16, 2001, 3:27:12 PM8/16/01
Hi Jim
I'm sorry to say that the spring is surely broken. It
is rare for something else to go. There are a few companies
that can replace the springs but I don't have the info on
them. If worst comes to worst, you can find someone with
a wood workshop. Most that have band saws have band welders
to make up new bands. These can be used to weld the broken
ends. It'll take out a little temper where the weld is
but it should work.
Get you self some heavy gloves. Removing the springs from
phono motors can be a dangerous operation. They unwind
from the center out but one has to hang onto things or
it can get out of control. Stuffing it back together is
also a lot of fun. Usually the pegs that hold the ends
don't want to catch the spring. It takes a about 3 or 4
hands. A help is a good idea here.
As with anything. The first rule of intelligent tinkering
is save all the pieces. In this case, it means working
in an area that is a controlled space. Springs can make
things fly. A bathroom or lighted closet work well
( plug drains in bathroom ).
Make sure that none of the springs are holding any
tension( it doesn't sound like they are ). Hold the crank
and release the ratchets. Unwind with the crank going
backwards. A lot of damage is done disassembling spring
wound devices without removing the tension first.

"Jim Bailey" <> wrote in message news:<9lfb3g$182r$>...

Jim Bailey

Aug 16, 2001, 3:47:02 PM8/16/01
You've about convinced me to pack it up and send it off for repair. I was
hoping it might be something simple to fix. It's unfortunate that this
disaster didn't take place in the antique shop. I only played around with it
for 30 seconds to verify it was working before I plopped down my money.
Another 15 seconds and it would have sproinged and I might have got him to
knock off another $100 :-(

Bill Sheppard

Aug 16, 2001, 4:42:47 PM8/16/01
Wyatt's Musical Americana does super good and prompt work (I
posted treir website earlier). Had a dual-spring Brunswick motor rebuilt
by them. Works great. This was my very first foray into a windup phono.
One look at those greasy cans, and _no way_ was i gonna mess with
replacing those springs. Sent it to the Xperts instead.
You have to get Wyatt's on the phone directly, as they do
not do e-mail.
Phone # is 1-707 263-5013, during business hours. They're in Lakeport
CA, just north of S.F.

Jim Bailey

Aug 16, 2001, 5:32:59 PM8/16/01
Bill, I've already contacted them by phone and will ship it off ASAP for
repair. Thanks for the tip.

George Conklin

Aug 16, 2001, 8:37:16 PM8/16/01
In article <>,
The Eric Reiss book has pictures of the process.

George Conklin

Aug 16, 2001, 8:38:26 PM8/16/01
In article <9lh7vi$2kea$>,

Jim Bailey <> wrote:
>You've about convinced me to pack it up and send it off for repair. I was
>hoping it might be something simple to fix. It's unfortunate that this
>disaster didn't take place in the antique shop. I only played around with it
>for 30 seconds to verify it was working before I plopped down my money.
>Another 15 seconds and it would have sproinged and I might have got him to
>knock off another $100 :-(
Be certain that when the spring broke it did not also
strip on the gears. I was sitting around one day when an
Edison Standard spring broke for no apparent reason. It
took out the spring and the first gear too.


Aug 16, 2001, 9:15:50 PM8/16/01
George wrote:
"I was sitting around one day when an
Edison Standard spring broke for no apparent reason. It took out the spring
and the first gear too."
The physics of this just doesn't make sense. When the spring breaks, it is
releasing stored energy within the spring barrell. So, how is this energy
being directed to the first gear? The spring is spinning rapidly and
dissipating the stored energy. It just doesn't make sense. What does make
sense is that someone damaged the first gear while taking the spring barrell
out for replacement of the spring. Sorry, very bad mood today.

Jim Bailey

Aug 16, 2001, 9:43:11 PM8/16/01
> Be certain that when the spring broke it did not also
> strip on the gears. I was sitting around one day when an
> Edison Standard spring broke for no apparent reason. It
> took out the spring and the first gear too.

The gears all look to be in good shape. I can manually turn the last spring
box with my hand and all the gears turn. When I send it in, I might pay them
an extra $30 to check out the rest of the mechanism, just in case there's a
problem I can't see.

Eddie Brimer

Aug 16, 2001, 9:50:31 PM8/16/01
>George wrote:
>"I was sitting around one day when an
>Edison Standard spring broke for no apparent reason. It took out the spring
>and the first gear too."
>The physics of this just doesn't make sense.

probably happened visa-versa

Eddie Brimer
2480 S. Beersheba Rd.
Sharon SC, 29742

visit my web page "THIS OLD RADIO"

Mike Knudsen

Aug 16, 2001, 11:27:47 PM8/16/01
In article <9lh7vi$2kea$>, "Jim Bailey"
<> writes:

>It's unfortunate that this
>disaster didn't take place in the antique shop. I only played around with it
>for 30 seconds to verify it was working before I plopped down my money.
>Another 15 seconds and it would have sproinged and I might have got him to
>knock off another $100 :-(

I was lucky once. The dealer or seller was showing me a spring phono, and
halfway thru the record he gave it a couple more cranks, and BANG! there went
the spring.

I was *so* glad it was his hand on the crank and not mine when she blew!

But the fact is, any phono or music box spring can let go at any time, for no
reason other than its time is up. I've been lucky so far. The only advice is
to not leave the spring wound tightly, but keep the machine run down *most*of
the way. If you let it run down completrly, the spring may come of the hook

I would advise you to let a profressional fix it this first time. --Mike K.

Life is a game. Play to enjoy!

Bill Turner

Aug 17, 2001, 6:00:38 AM8/17/01


New WD-11, #199, 1L6 6E5, 6U5, 6G5, 6T5 AND #45 equivalents. Glass and
plastic dial covers. phonograph idlers retired and ground perfectly
round. Sase for a four page "catalog".
Bill Turner WA0ABI
1117 Pike Street
Saint Charles, MO 63301
636-949-2210 (FAX TOO)

George Conklin

Aug 17, 2001, 8:22:48 AM8/17/01
In article <9lhsrf$2b9$>,

I sent mine off to APSCO. It was the last and first and
only problem I have had with the springs. I have had a A100
DD since 1948 and it works just fine to this day. It shows
you how long springs can last even if you use them a lot, as
I did to play my Little Richard records in the 1950s.

George Conklin

Aug 17, 2001, 8:21:15 AM8/17/01
In article <>,

Are you telling me it didn't happen? I imagined the
whole thing? In fact such a happening is quite common due
to the violent shaking.

Jim Bailey

Aug 17, 2001, 9:39:13 AM8/17/01
> I sent mine off to APSCO. It was the last and first and
> only problem I have had with the springs. I have had a A100
> DD since 1948 and it works just fine to this day. It shows
> you how long springs can last even if you use them a lot, as
> I did to play my Little Richard records in the 1950s.

Ah, Little Richard. Lucille, Good Golly Miss Molly, etc. I had about 300
vintage R&R records from the 50's and 60's. While I was in the military,
they all mysteriously disappeared. How sad :-(

Peter Wieck

Aug 17, 2001, 10:25:35 AM8/17/01
>I have had a A100
>> DD since 1948 and it works just fine to this day. It shows
>> you how long springs can last even if you use them a lot, as
>> I did to play my Little Richard records in the 1950s.

If I read the above correctly, you played "Little Richard" on a Diamond Disc

Now, I know there are adapators out there, did you have one of these? How did
he sound at 84+/- rpm?

Inquiring minds want to know.........

Or am I entirely misreading the above? Given my (very) limited knowledge of
these species, this is most likely.

Neil S.

Aug 17, 2001, 5:02:09 PM8/17/01
to (Pgonshor) wrote in message news:<>...

Not quite so, Dave. When a wound spring breaks, the potential energy
stored in the spring is quickly converted into kenetic energy in the
fast moving spring steel strip. When the whirling mass of well
lubricated metal expands to fill the cup, it is forced to transfer the
rotating kenetic energy to try and rotate the cup (and break the gear
from the shock loading) or if the gear train holds, potentially burst
the cup (probably too much viscosity friction loss to do this, though)

Neil S.

Bruce Mercer

Aug 17, 2001, 9:11:44 PM8/17/01
Edison Diamond Discs were recorded at 80 rpm. The Little Richard records
were probably played using an aftermarket attachment that played lateral cut
records on an Edison machine. There were many offered by various
Peter Wieck <pf...@aol.comspam> wrote in message


Aug 18, 2001, 5:48:33 AM8/18/01
George Conklin wrote " Are you telling me it didn't happen? I imagined the
whole thing?"
Hold on George! I didn't say it didn't happen. I said the spring breaking
probably didn't break the gear. As Eddie said, it happened the other way
around. A worn or misaligned gear slipped, broke a tooth and the barrel spun
rapidly. That's why the spring broke. Just another theory!


Aug 18, 2001, 5:55:22 AM8/18/01
Neil S. writes "Not quite so, Dave. When a wound spring breaks, the potential
stored in the spring is quickly converted into kenetic energy. . . "
So you are saying the initial potential energy, which wasn't enough to break
the gear, gets transferred to kenetic energy when the spring breaks. Then the
whirling mass of well lubricated metal expands to fill the cup and the rotating
kenetic energy is transferred back to potential energy. This lower level of
potential energy now somehow is large enough to break the gear. Sounds like
phunny physics to me! As Eddie said, it seems more likely that a worn or
misaligned gear slipped, broke a tooth, resulting in a rapid spinning of the
barrel, and the breaking of the spring. Just another theory. I still don't
believe that the spring breaking would break the gear.

George Conklin

Aug 18, 2001, 8:19:52 AM8/18/01
In article <9lj6pv$vft$>,

I also had some nice Roy Acuff records. I played Fireball
Mail so many times I wore it down to the paper backing.
Later I replaced all those records, even though they were
available on CD too. But the Little Richard records still
wow them at Xmas parties. I use the Acme reproducer for
playing 78s on the DD. It still is the best reproducer I
have ever seen, easily better than the Orthophonic, even
though it is brand x.

George Conklin

Aug 18, 2001, 8:21:19 AM8/18/01
In article <>,

I am not sure how Little Richard sounds at 84 rpm. DDs
played at 80, and of course 78s (of that era) at 78 or so.
You can adjust the speed to whatever sounds good. And the
Acme reproduer for the DD is better than even the

Mike Knudsen

Aug 18, 2001, 2:33:33 PM8/18/01
In article <>,
(Eddie Brimer) writes:

>probably happened visa-versa

Quite possibly. If the gear(s) failed first and let the spring down suddenly
with no resistance, the instant release of tension could very well have broken
the spring.

OTOH, if the spring snapped, the main gear on the barel would probably bounce
back and forth a couple times against the worm or next gear, damaging a tooth
or two.

And great to see George is still up and crankin' with the best of us!

Mike Knudsen

Aug 18, 2001, 2:33:31 PM8/18/01
In article <9llmg3$bsh$>, (George
Conklin) writes:

> I use the Acme reproducer for
>playing 78s on the DD. It still is the best reproducer I
>have ever seen, easily better than the Orthophonic, even
>though it is brand x.

Hmm, now I'll have to go upstairs and see if there's any brand mark at all on
the 78 adapter I got to go with my big DD machine.

Trouble is, even the big "Lab" models didn't have very long horns, so you don't
get the bass notes like an Orthophonic 8-4 or Credenza.

By playing DDs on a "miswired" KLH, I found that some of them have very deep
bass indeed. --Mike K.

Bruce Mercer

Aug 18, 2001, 5:09:06 PM8/18/01
If you aren't getting good bass response the dampers probably need replacing
or there could be a problem with the diaphragm itself. Any of my Diamond
Disc machines can play rings around its' Victor or Columbia counterpart (of
which I have several good examples) and without the fuss of changing
needles. The limited repetoire on D.D. is its' main drawback, certainly not
sound quality. My $.02.
Mike Knudsen <knud...@aol.comOscar> wrote in message
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