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Ozisounds

Rola MKIII Professional Tape Recorder

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Posted (edited)

Hello all,

As Chief Draftsman and designer at Rola Tape Recorder Division, South Melbourne 1959-1962, I started just after Rola bought it from Byer.

I developed the 77 MKIII deck which was quite a challenge to improve on after the previous decks,

like the Original Byer 66 which was already very good. 

The 77MKIII was the last model built. Rola was taken over by Plessey soon after and eventually disappeared as a Co.

My design was well accepted by the broadcast studios, so many were sold, including overseas.

I went on to found 5 companies including 2 factories building automatic packaging machines, which were also exported to Asia and Europe.

Now at 89 years old, retired in Switzerland, these are great memories.

Edited by Ozisounds
Minor spelling correction

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Guest Simonon
Posted (edited)

I spent hours rebuilding this machine and even found some new old stock heads for it as this one had a hard life with the ABC. A very well designed and beautiful machine that has pride and place in my collection. It is frequently used and shown off to friends. Full track mono at 15ips with the original tubes sounds amazing.

I commend you for your design.

Plessey 77mk3.jpg

Edited by Simonon

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Guest Simonon
Hello all,
As Chief Draftsman and designer at Rola Tape Recorder Division, South Melbourne 1959-1962, I started just after Rola bought it from Byer.
I developed the 77 MKIII deck which was quite a challenge to improve on after the previous decks,
like the Original Byer 66 which was already very good. 
The 77MKIII was the last model built. Rola was taken over by Plessey soon after and eventually disappeared as a Co.
My design was well accepted by the broadcast studios, so many were sold, including overseas.
I went on to found 5 companies including 2 factories building automatic packaging machines, which were also exported to Asia and Europe.
Now at 89 years old, retired in Switzerland, these are great memories.
Thought I would upload some pics of my restored 77 mk3. My favorite machine with simply the best tape lacing system. The Rola name is alive and well with an ex ABC audio engineer who builds some great audio, guitar amps and products here at Blackwood in South Australia. 0947fb9943ede983a003e54d1864fe33.jpg112d98512f43ea1dea311d012e4f98a0.jpg9f2faf28fbc3c10a565f24b0e9a26955.jpga8ad676d6906f42a1ac22f436b3f1934.jpg

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Guest Simonon

Here is a picture of the solid diecast chassis which is very heavy.
This was considered to be a "portable machine" in its day.
Currently listening to Freddie King is a Bluesmaster in full track mono.dfa1a6284f74da7aa532a3c85546d02d.jpg

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Simonon you are fortunate to have a later production model of the 77 Mk III, as it is fitted with the Papst outer rotor,  two speed capstan motor.

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Guest Simonon
Simonon you are fortunate to have a later production model of the 77 Mk III, as it is fitted with the Papst outer rotor,  two speed capstan motor.
I saw a date stamp inside from 1971. Unbelievable production run as they were just so good. Just revised play/ rec azimuth and bias with new heads. The sound quality is very good indeed. The new old stock heads and pinch roller were a great find. Gotta be the easiest machine to align. If I find another Byer or Rola I will definately grab it.

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Guest Simonon

My unit must be one of the last 77 mk3 units produced and is an ex ABC machine.eee19c62e28dec11f94a85b14ebd6208.jpg

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On ‎30‎/‎03‎/‎2019 at 8:27 AM, Simonon said:

Here is a picture of the solid diecast chassis which is very heavy.
This was considered to be a "portable machine" in its day.
Currently listening to Freddie King is a Bluesmaster in full track mono.dfa1a6284f74da7aa532a3c85546d02d.jpg

 

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Posted (edited)

Yes, a really solid chassis, thanks to Max Byer. For this 77MKIII, I personally designed the rectangular/rounded corner push buttons, which were a signifiant departure from the conventional round ones. The only staff member who criticised them was Graham Thirkell from The Boulevard head office. He was not liked by us at Dorcas St., (Tape Recorder Division) as he interfered a lot with our endeavours. Luckily we succeeded.  

One of the most important improvements we made was to change the design from 1 to a 2 head capping system so that the heads were capped simultaneously and completely with no noise. After many tries, and with the limited space available, we succeeded in doing this, thus reducing hysteresis, noise, hiss etc. The caps of course were made of monel metal.

Below is a cutting of a Melbourne Herald advert from Jan 9, 1964 promoting the MKIII with Qantas Air Cargo.

RolaAdvQuantas.JPG

Edited by Ozisounds
Head capping added. Max.1 to 2.Qantas Adv.

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Guest Simonon
Yes, a really solid chassis, thanks to Mr. Byer. For this 77MKIII, I personally designed the rectangular/rounded corner push buttons, which were a signifiant departure from the conventional round ones. The only staff member who criticised them was Graham Thirkell from The Boulevard head office. He was not liked by us at Dorcas St., (Tape Recorder Division) as he interfered a lot with our endeavours. Luckily we succeeded.  
One of the most important improvements we made was to design the 2 head capping system so that the heads were capped simultaneously and completely with no noise. After many tries, and with the limited space available, we succeeded in doing this, thus reducing hysteresis, noise, hiss etc. The caps of course were made of monel metal.
The tape lacing and head capping system is absolutely brilliant on the mk3 and I can see why many machines remained in service way into the 1980s at many radio stations. I also have a very early mk3 (1963) in need of a lot of attention and parts which is my next challenge. I also restored a set of ABC wharfedale broadcast monitors which contain a set of Centre Industries type 3 tube amps and Rola mid range speakers from 1963. You may remember them as they were built by the Postmaster General department for the ABC and were pretty standard at a number of broadcast sites. A good full track mono recording on a mk3 played through these ABC monitors is something to behold and I feel honoured to be the custodian of these pieces of Aussie ingenuity. The build quality and sound of this early aussie designed broadcast equipment was world class. It really is special to be talking to you as I love the history of Australian broadcasting having worked in the field for many years.d9fe3e30dc34e3b5140cc84ec6879c5e.jpga4e965c2bfb44ff461a6b064b111b4bb.jpgfc25e914c15df95b49aaf204751557f2.jpg321b85736134b26c10806712bc9d5ccf.jpg

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My grandfather had a manual for a Rola 77 of some description in his collection.  Sadly. I believe he moved the tape machine on (he had a Realistic tape machine at the time of his passing). He had the Plessey service centre details handwritten on the manual.

 

He was a film editor at the ABC so perhaps he acquired it from the station.

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The ONeill&Assoc site is the go-to reference site for Australian audio broadcast equipment.

They have manuals and other relevant info. 

 

By the limited info available on the site it is evident that a lot of this history has not been preserved, I would encourage anyone with info not on this site or hifi/vinylengine to send scans so our audio history is not lost.

 

Here is the link to the page on the Rola77MkIII:

http://www.oneillassociates.com.au/~poneill/Rola_77_Mk_III.shtml

 

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On 26/03/2019 at 12:14 AM, Ozisounds said:

Hello all,

As Chief Draftsman and designer at Rola Tape Recorder Division, South Melbourne 1959-1962, I started just after Rola bought it from Byer.

I developed the 77 MKIII deck which was quite a challenge to improve on after the previous decks,

like the Original Byer 66 which was already very good. 

The 77MKIII was the last model built. Rola was taken over by Plessey soon after and eventually disappeared as a Co.

My design was well accepted by the broadcast studios, so many were sold, including overseas.

I went on to found 5 companies including 2 factories building automatic packaging machines, which were also exported to Asia and Europe.

Now at 89 years old, retired in Switzerland, these are great memories.

Hello John, Good to hear  your involvement with the Byer/Rolas back then.  I remember when they were very common in Australian radio and TV stations. I've been a service tech so have worked on Byers/Rolas over the years. Solidly built, compact, with very good performance. 

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