Friday, 24 August 2012

Technics 1200 Gets A Makeover, Part 1.

I picked up this Technics 1200 MKII a couple of months ago from a guy I know at a local flea market. I did not pay a lot as these tables go, but it needed a lot of work to get to a point that I would be comfortable either keeping it or selling it.

Technics 1200

It was quite scratched up especially around the front edges, the platter has corrosion most noticeably the strobe dots. The tonearm has a dent just ahead of the cueing lifter and the cueing "foot" on the side of the arm is broken off. Other incidental marks, no lid or hinges. It came with a generic headshell and a Shure cartridge, though the model escapes me right now. Maybe an M95?

Functionally it was pretty good. Bearings and pivots seem ok, speed a bit off but not much. It will not switch back to 33 rpm from 45 except when you turn it off, but that might just take cleaning.

Technics arm

I had no intention of doing a half-assed job of this. I might not be going full audiophile on it with tonearm rewiring and other tweaks, and I am definitely not pimping it with extra LEDs, smoke and mirrors. I want it to work as well as originally intended and to look as good as new or better. Not too much to ask, right?

I ordered from ebay a tonearm, a lid and hinges. They were all new and unused from a vendor with lots of similar items. Having them shipped to my USA depot meant free shipping so the total was about $100. I've had them waiting for a month or so now.

Technics 1200 1

The great thing about the 1200 series of turntables is that it was simply the most popular turntable ever made (I read that somewhere) and there are vast amounts of parts available. There are also many resources around on tricks, modifications and how-to articles. No new ground here, but I have taken lots of pictures to document the disassembly and other steps.

Technics 1200 2

This darn thing has lots of pieces. And this particular table was also a mess inside. Looks like spillage and maybe a mouse nest!

Technics 1200 4

Technics 1200 5

Technics 1200 6

I eventually got it completely stripped down to the point that the top of the plinth was ready for the next steps, cleaning and sanding. The box of parts and tonearm were set aside for now, but will get some work while I wait for the plinth to come back from paint, or rather powder coat.

Technics 1200 10

Technics 1200 11

I am lucky in that I know someone with a machine shop and sand blaster, using walnut shells specifically. He also lets me use some of the equipment sometimes. I did some sanding to get the worst of the scratches reduced with a medium grit sanding sponge. Then it was off to Toby's today where it took me an hour or so to get everything off the top. I also took most of the finish off the non exposed surfaces but was less fastidious about it.

Technics 1200 8

Technics 1200 9

Technics 1200 7

It looks pretty good at this point. Toby, Robert and I talked about the best way to finish it. There are spray paint options plus powder coat, and one I had not thought about until today and that was anodizing. I thought that would look great but one issue with that is the fact that it hides nothing. Any imperfections would be glaringly obvious and touch-up impossible. It also turns out to be quite tricky if the alloy is not exactly right to take it. That last fact I found out when I took it to the anodizers. However my second choice of powder coat was also something they offer so I took it to their other shop down the road.

There it will stay until at least next week, and will come back to me with a finish type called SandTex black. This should not only be somewhat unique, but a good finish that won't show finger prints.

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