Repairing / rebuilding a turntable

simon ess

Well-known Member
Hi

At some point in the future I intend to buy a high end, used turntable.

The problem is, I know next to nothing about TTs and am worried about making a huge mistake.

I have a solution - I think.

What I would like to do, over the winter, is buy a non-working TT, strip it and refurbish it, thereby learning a great deal.

Ideally, I'd like to finish up with something that's rather better than my current Project Debut 3, costs no more than about £500 in total and can be sold on.

Do you think this is a reasonable idea and could you give me any pointers to start me off? Eg. what would be a good model to look out for?

Thanks a lot.
 
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Mr Pig

Novice Member
Yes, you can do it. The hard part is buying the right deck in the first place.

Most of the decks that come up for sale are in working order and will need little more than a tune up and a few bits. At the other end of the scale are the basket cases that will cost more that they'll be worth to put right. Defining the area in between is the tricky part.

First you need to know that it can be fixed. What needs replaced and can you still get it. Even drive belts for some models can be hard to find with important things like lids and bearings impossible.

Second, if you can get the bits, what will they cost. There was a nice Ariston RD11 for sale recently which had been fitted into a Linn LP12 plinth and had a Rega RB250 on it. Looked good, guy wanted £200 for it, but it had no lid. The price was a little steep but not outlandish but a new lid will cost about £120 and the hinges another £20 on top of that! So suddenly your looking at £350 which is not cheap.

Basically, it will usually work out cheaper buying a complete deck including an arm. You should get a very nice turntable for £500 no problem.
 

simon ess

Well-known Member
Basically, it will usually work out cheaper buying a complete deck including an arm. You should get a very nice turntable for £500 no problem.

Thanks Mr Pig - appreciate your input.

I had a feeling that would be the answer. A Rega P5 with RB700 tonearm just went for £400. Is that a good price?

The thought I had was that it should be fairly easy to determine which TTs have readily available parts .........

and what price knowledge?

But, I suspect you're right.
 

Mr Pig

Novice Member
A Rega P5 with RB700 tonearm just went for £400. Is that a good price?

I don't know, I'm not very familiar with the prices of the different Rega decks. But the P5 is only one above the P3 range, there is the P7 and P9 above it. If I were you I'd be looking at decks that trade punches in the P9 range.

The thought I had was that it should be fairly easy to determine which TTs have readily available parts

Well it is I guess it is, it just takes time. You have to google, ask on forums, ask dealers, find specialist suppliers in some instances but you can do it. It's surprising how much is available even for quite old decks but you do have to do your homework first, before you buy anything. Which is fine, because that's what you're doing! ;0)

I probably wouldn't have mentioned them but anything made by Rega is fine. Even the top decks are relatively simple and the arms are among the toughest ever made. Anything made by Rega will sound better than the Début but if you want top performance you're looking at the P9. Even then it's questionable whether the design philosophies that make the budget decks so successful translate up to the top level but it's certainly not a bad deck.

Call be boring but I still can't see past the Linn LP12. There are plenty of decks that can beat it in certain areas, sometimes quite dramatically, but overall it's still a lovely, very well balanced record player to own. Quality wise it kills the Début, drags it out into the garden and buries it, then digs it up and kills it again!

But that's not why the LP12 is such a good bet. There are other good turntables out there but what makes the difference is that Linn were first and foremost an engineering company, and turntables are engineering products. They were not an electronics company, which is why all of the first amplifiers they made packed in and Naim were, which is why their amplifiers are brilliant but they still can't build a decent speaker, but meanwhile, back at the ranch...

The LP12 has been in production for forty years and you can still upgrade and get parts for every deck ever made. The constancy of build quality is staggering, I took an old top plate and fitted it into plinth twenty-years younger and it was a perfect fit. Even the screw holes lined up exactly!

That might not seem much of a big deal until you look at the alternatives. Two of the Linns big rivals were the Pink Triangle and Roxsan Xerxes. The inside of a Pink can only be described as shoddy, with plastic suspension adjusters that stripped held up by blocks of wood that can just fall off. It also has a sapphire bearing that was easy to break. The Roxan had a top plate made of MDF which they only laminated on one side, so it warped. Eventually so badly that the platter rubbed on the top of the deck.

The LP12 is not perfect but if you want a deck that you can get parts for easily and upgrade over time to a very high level it's a great choice.
 

cwilson

Novice Member
I very much doubt you will find a P9 at the budget, or a P7. Which means if you go down the Rega route you are looking tweaking a 5 or a 3. You can do lots of tweaks. Having been down that route myself, I would say go for a 7 or 9. The simple design philosophy does carry through into them, as does the sound per pound.

The LP12 is a tweakers playground as well, so many after market bits from Linn and others. My take on that is its a pity they didn't get it right first time. Either go with a early pre circus if you enjoy that sound, or be prepared to spend on the tweaks.

If you really want something to work on, then either look for a early Roksan, without the plinth sag, or a thorens. Thorens especially seem to be a good bet for buying and improving.

You may with careful searching find a voyd worth of your time effort as well, and they really can be worth the effort.
 

simon ess

Well-known Member
Have been doing some reading this afternoon.

In a moment of madness I just bought this
Thorens TD150 Mk II Vintage Record Player | eBay

Yikes :eek:

Still, can't go far wrong at that price.

Now, here's the thing....help!!! :lease:

What's the best approach would you say?

I know I'm going to enjoy this whole process, but don't want to make silly and expensive mistakes.

Thanks a lot folks.
 

steveledzep

Active Member
Many years ago I had a Thorens TD150 MKI. Good TT, not dissimilar to an early LP12. You will find that the biggest limiting factor is the arm. That would be my first project, replace the arm. I replaced mine with an SME 3009 MkII (a lucky find on ebay), but a Rega RB250 will trounce the standard Thorens arm. Good luck, enjoy your tweaking. The TD150 can form the basis of a good vinyl system, it did for me !
 

simon ess

Well-known Member
Thanks Steve. My reading this afternoon brought me to pretty much that conclusion.

At least you don't think I've been an impulsive buffoon - 'cause I can be. :D
 

Mr Pig

Novice Member
What's the best approach would you say?

Well it's a good turntable, a lot better than the Project, so you've not bought rubbish. The general layout is very similar to the Linn LP12 so a lot of the same setup and tweak rules apply. You might be able to use Linn springs and grommets on it. I don't know about the power supply, I don't know what motor is in the Thorns.

The standard arm is not brilliant and not very robust. I would consider fitting a more robust, better quality arm like a Rega. It'll need a bit of DIY as you'll need to make a new armboard. I think the armboard might be a bit small on that deck. An arm like the RB300 will fit but it'll foul the lid. You'd have to measure it.

You could fit it into a bigger plinth, so that you could fit a wider armboard.
 

simon ess

Well-known Member
Well....collected the Thorens today.

Connected it straight up when I got home and played a few records. Initial thoughts was it's more detailed and has a fuller sound than the Project.

So then I thought, " stick the Ortofon red cartridge on it."

Lesson no.1 - the Ortofon can't be fitted to the Thorens arm.

Never mind, put the original cartridge back on. Sadly, in the process, I snapped one of the leads. Brittle through age I guess.

Anyway, re-connected the Project.

Oh dear! It's immediately obvious that the Project is quite dull and woolly in comparison.

The Thorens is clearly the better TT even with no fettling.
 

Mr Pig

Novice Member
The Thorens is clearly the better TT even with no fettling.

Yeah, the stylus is probably had it and bearing oil and belt need changed.

You'll need to decide which direction to go not. The simplest one would be to fix the arm cable and adapt the headshell to take modern cartridges. Or you could go the full moo and do a rebuild. You'd end up with a nice deck but it'll cost you.
 

simon ess

Well-known Member
Yeah, the stylus is probably had it and bearing oil and belt need changed.

You'll need to decide which direction to go not. The simplest one would be to fix the arm cable and adapt the headshell to take modern cartridges.

I've decided to do exactly that for now.

Have ordered a new belt and some bearing oil, and will fix the cable.

Have also bought an old Shure cartridge for £20 that can be fitted without mods, but might mod it in future.

I have to say, I might have got lucky with this TT. The platter runs really freely with no noise and everything underneath looks pristine.
 

simon ess

Well-known Member
I hope folks don't mind if I keep giving little updates.

Had a better look at it today.

I think this TT must have been hardly used. The belt looks brand new and the spindle oil looks clean and fresh. I'll change them anyway though.

Fixed the cable and put on the cartridge that originally came with the Project. I know it's not a great cartridge, but at least the stylus is new.

The only problem I've had to sort was the arm was way too high, to the extent that the arm lifting thing was at it's full height and still didn't touch the arm. God knows what the VTA was!!

Thankfully, the arm is really easy to adjust, and everything is now nice and level with everything working properly.

Also reset the balance - it was much too heavy.

Even with the budget cart, the sound is just so much better than the Project. I might make that alteration to the headshell to fit modern carts after all.

Please bare in mind I'm a complete novice at all this but, so far, a bit of common sense seems to be getting me through. Any and all suggestions are most welcome.
 

simon ess

Well-known Member
Cheers Rich.

Here's a few pics.

287314-albums2027-picture10828t.jpg


287314-albums2027-picture10829t.jpg


287314-albums2027-picture10830t.jpg
 
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steveledzep

Active Member
The arm on my Mk I was much simpler than yours, no anti skate device. Lovely looking piece you,ve bought, congrats !! With routine attendance to suspension and bearing lubrication (easy !) you've only got to sort out the arm to your liking. It's quite easy to do a replacement armboard, but may not be enough room for some arms you may select. The existing arm is very light and better suited to the high compliance cartridges of the time, Shure V15 and Ortofon VMS series. Enjoy your foray in to vinyl !!
 

simon ess

Well-known Member
Thanks Steve.

On the specialist Thorens forums I've been reading they seem to think this particular tonearm is as good as the Rega RB300.

I've no way of knowing that for sure, but I quite like the idea of keeping it visually original, so will stick with this arm for the time being at least.

Just need to find a really good cart for it at a sensible price. Thanks for the suggestions.
 

nwgarratt

Member
I think my Dad would have liked it too.

This Lenco one was his. He made his own plinth using excess kitchen worktop. He also put it on a paving slab, painted black for no vibrations.



I am happy with a Technics SL1210 with a Shure M97 cartridge. I also had a SL1700 mk 1 (also has the Direct Drive) from the 70's but had to go down to just one deck. My first was a belt driven Rotel when I was a teenager so I have had only 3 decks in 23 years.
 

simon ess

Well-known Member
I think my Dad would have liked it too.

This Lenco one was his. He made his own plinth using excess kitchen worktop. He also put it on a paving slab, painted black for no vibrations.

Tony Mottola - Frenesi - YouTube

Nice one!

I quite fancy the idea of making my own plinth, but have no woodworking skills. I'm aware of a woodwork class near me where they like you to have a project to do and they help you with it. Might go for it after Christmas.
 

simon ess

Well-known Member
A bit of an update:

Cleaned and oiled the spindle bearing. The old oil was quite clean, but very little of it.

Fiddled with the suspension. I think I got it a bit better, but I need to have another go at that.

Bought another old TP50 headshell and drilled it out to fit more cartridges. Replaced the leads.

Fitted an Ortofon Red cartridge.



6564632495_8af9095a83_m.jpg




6564626903_417f6fff14_m.jpg



I now think there's something wrong with my CD player :D:thumbsup:
 

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