Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Holy Steuerpimpel!

It seems to be raining turntables around the home front, especially Dual turntables. Actually it has rained Kenwoods and Technics as well but that's for later.

Dual 1242

I brought home for repair 3 different Dual 12XX series tables lately and in the last 2 days have worked on all of them. The 1225 has already gone back to the owner but I still have the 1228 I brought home yesterday and the 1242 from today. Even the ones that I still have I made progress on though and they should be working well soon.

Among other issues the 1242 above had a stylus that was nearly gone and the 1228 below had no stylus whatsoever. Both of them and the 1225 all had the most common Dual problems.

The mechanism of the Dual changers has a lot of moving, pivoting, sliding, rotating parts. All of those have some need for lubrication either by oil or grease. That lubrication gets dried and caked and stops doing the job very well. Another area needs little to no lubrication and in fact relies on just a bit of friction to operate.

That area controls the movement of the tonearm during the Start phase in automatic mode and the Return of the tonearm at the end of the record side. It relies on a steuerpimpel to do the job. A what? A steuerpimpel. It's a little plasticy bumper that sits on the clutch pin and slides against a platform taking the tonearm with it during the arm start and return action. When the needle is on the record it sits a bit away from the arm and the arms nearly friction free.

This pin is where the steuerpimpel goes. (Seinfeld to Costanza: "You just like saying that don't you?")

Dual clutch pin

The steuerpimpel almost always fails after 30 years or so. The piece just disintegrates and breaks apart. When it does the arm won't move properly if at all. The part is also not that easy to find but also is easy to fabricate once you figure out what to use. I tried heatshrink tubing, small sections of the end of pen refills and other sizes of wire insulation but settled on 14 gauge insulation as it seem to provide good performance and fit.

Steuerpimpel in progress

16 gauge might work but 14 goes on easily and when cut nicely to the right length seems to work well. The 1242 has a longer pin and seems to prefer about 6mm long but the other 2 are best with 4mm. The key is that it should be just a bit longer than the pin itself so that the metal does not stick out. The smaller piece shown is about 4mm and the longer is around 6mm. Below is the longer one once installed.

Dual clutch pin 2          

I love simple fixes. That's not to say that every Dual turntable problem has a simple fix, but this one is not bad once you work out a few details.

Aside from that these turntables work amazing well after so long that I am starting to enjoy working them. I still have some other details to address on both the Duals sitting here but once again, another day...

Who needs Linear when you have Zero 100?

My latest favouritest turntable is this Garrard Zero 100. It is not quite my latest, and perhaps not my favourite but it's very close on both counts.

Garrard Zero 100 5

This was manufactured in the early 1970's. It addressed effectively the error that linear tracking tonearms also worked to resolve and that is that cartridges with elliptical styli (or any shape other than conical) would not always be at an ideal angle to the record groove.

Records are cut or mastered by arms that move at a tangent to the groove. Most tonearms move through an arc and present a different surface to the groove that can cause a different "interpretation" of the music trapped in the vinyl. Through careful alignment one can minimize this variance but it can't completely be eliminated with the conventional tonearm.

Garrard Zero 100 ad

Above is an ad from an audio magazine dated August 1973 that describes how the Garrard Zero 100 addresses the problem. It does it very well and with a great deal of style.

Garrard Zero 100 6

Garrard Zero 100

The Zero 100 is another idler drive, much like many Dual turntables. It's also automatic and comes with a single play spindle and a changer spindle. The extra spindle and 45 adapter are stored in a little box under a wooden cover, reminding me of a cigar humidor.

The performance is great, though I have some small issues to work out. The manual switch does not always want to stay engaged for example. Also the lid is a bit funky and someone tried an even funkier repair on it. The lid is in 2 parts and the tabs that hold the smaller piece to the base had broken off and whomever had drilled through it in the wood base. I've got a plan to fix that but more on it later.

For the time being I really enjoy the look and it does not sound half bad either!