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Restoring the Rek-o-Kut

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This thread will hopefully document  my restoration of the big idler table (and make me stick to it and do it right).  I posted here

 

about my Rek-o-Kut B16H opshop find.   I kept my expectations low because it was a US table, unknown condition,  potential voltage and frequency problems etc, I didn't know if was going to be the table I hoped.  But things just kept looking my promising, and today I played my first record on it through my main system (a cheap Aldi record :) ) 

 

 

IMG_20200327_115716.jpg.1a17ad97d9b8c41881ff0adbbdbec436.jpg

 

A quick summary.  It was found in an op-shop by a friend for less than a Margarita, so I snapped it up.   Turns out it must have been used in Australia fairly recently because it was lubricated and everything worked.  It was even branded 50 cycles, so I suspect this is one of the Rek-o-Kuts manufactured for use on 50 cycles.   They did offer alternate voltage and frequencies in their sales literature back in 1952.  It is still 115V so I am running it on a stepdown auto-transformer.  Rubber is good, even the engine mounts are good. The 33/45 idler looks newer, so it may have been replaced.   Only faults are the power switch and the rubber oil pipes for the motor.

 

It had no tone arm, and ultimately I want to get a 12" arm for it, but it had been drilled for shorter arms as well, so I have installed the tonearm pictured for now.  It is a Skandinavisk arm - I think they were connected to B&O, and seen on Labcraft as well?  Anyway, I think it really suits the table.  I put a Shure cart on it for now.  I think it's an M75 or M91.

 

So it starts...

 

 

 

 

Edited by aussievintage

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I should have taken more shots showing it as I got it.

 

Here's one of the wiring and huge motor.  I have by-passed the power switch (the thing with the little cap across it top left of the motor - bit out of focus).  The little metal tabs that held it together just gave out  and the little springs and contacts inside fell out.  Even though I had all the bits, I could not get it back together safely.  It tended to short out internally and that makes the whole chassis live - quite dangerous. 

 

You can see the broken oil pipes (one of the at nearly 3 oclock on the end of the motor).

 

IMG_20200325_164655.jpg.7a7bb8125bac74f5e836bbf92c878042.jpg

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and here are the idlers.  I think the 33/45 one looks newer than the 78.  It seems nice and soft and works perfectly  Original specs say up to speed in 1/4 turn,  and it it still does exactly that. Amazing torque.

 

See the 50 stamped on the motor chassis.  The motor is labelled 50 cy with a sticker over the top of the original, and the Rek-o-Kut badge on the top front of the turntable also has a neat 50 cy stamped into it.  I guess I was very lucky to get an original 50 cycle (Hz) unit.

 

IMG_20200327_124440.jpg.0fdd49f62f4ea5a53b8d503cc425100b.jpg

 

and lastly the huge heavy platter and big main bearing

 

IMG_20200327_124446.jpg.9fe719853b9d3a29b80a477848f8e26d.jpg

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1 hour ago, The Blues said:

What a find! 

Good luck with the restoration. 

How was the rumble? 

 

It is there.  Not audible during the music, about level with surface noise on a good record.  I plan to reduce it further with a big solid plinth.

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That's good news, motor must be running smoothly.

A layered plinth (not hardwood internally) with hardwood veneer or cheeks for aesthetic value. 

I'd look at applying sound proofing under the topplate and some at the perimeter of the underside of the platter. 

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21 minutes ago, The Blues said:

That's good news, motor must be running smoothly.

A layered plinth (not hardwood internally) with hardwood veneer or cheeks for aesthetic value. 

I'd look at applying sound proofing under the topplate and some at the perimeter of the underside of the platter. 

 

Layered is how I normally go.  The top plate is very solid cast with ribbing on the underside.  I could fill the ribbing with something before I clamp it down to the plinth.  At the moment it is sitting on a large resonant box, so anything will be an improvement.

 

The platter does ring a bit.  Likewise something might be applied to it's underside, yes. Not too near the perimeter though because of the 2 large idlers that run there.

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The topplate looks made for cutting some shapes with dynamat to insert into the rebates. 

Is there clearance to apply dampening to the underside of the platter at the perimeter to avoid the idlers scraping? 

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You can actually see where the rubber meets the inner wall leaving a mark

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9 hours ago, The Blues said:

Is there clearance to apply dampening to the underside of the platter at the perimeter to avoid the idlers scraping? 

 

9 hours ago, The Blues said:

You can actually see where the rubber meets the inner wall leaving a mark

 

Yes, I will have to do some measuring.

 

This morning's job is to extend the fingerlift on the headshell.  It's much harder to reach in and get a finger under it when you have a 16" platter :)    With a 9" arm, there's absolutely no room to fit a lift mechanism.  When I get a 12" arm, then I will look at fitting something like a Q-up.

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A breakthrough :) this morning.  The table was running a tad fast (33.7 rpm).  I was  reading some stuff on the more common 12" ROK tables and they all have speed adjustment.  So I looked closely.  I remembered little grub screws at each end of the travel of the main speed lever, but assumed they were just end-of-travel stops, but there are two little slots on the sides of the gear change control metalwork, that allow access to a long grub screws (that are locked by those little grub screws).  Light dawned.  I loosened the little ones, then adjusted the long ones while a record is playing.   The speed adjustment is very fine and  now I have it set spot-on.  I will reset it again after some hours of use.

 

Info on this table is really hard to find, so if anyone knows of a manual or other good resources, please tell me :) 

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In case someone else ever needs to find out how to do this, I thought a couple of pictures would make it clearer.

 

This picture shows the locking screw accessible from the top right beside the "78"  label.

 

IMG_20200328_105453.jpg.13c230d919eb127e7c22daa2a737b142.jpg

 

and  this one shows the actual adjustment screw.    The 33/45 equivalents are just around the corner on the other edge on the control block and speed change slot.

 

IMG_20200328_105459.jpg.c04c00de1f35c60e6c5bd67d1764c08d.jpg

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On 27/03/2020 at 1:23 PM, aussievintage said:

... I have installed the tonearm pictured for now.  It is a Skandinavisk arm - I think they were connected to B&O, and seen on Labcraft as well? ...

The tonearm is an "All Balance", hence the A and B on the headshell.  They are Dutch, sometimes sold under the Jobo name in Europe.  In Australia they were common on the Labcraft turntable (a rebadged early B&O) and on the local Orpheus Silex turntables.  You have the latter version, with the flat-top headshell.  I have read that they were used on the pirate radio boats off the UK in the 60's, because of the underlying spring.  The spring can be rotated for anti-skate.  Headshells won't fit on any other arm.

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A layered plywood plinth is what usually works best with old idlers - lots of mass.

 

I would be cautious applying Dynamat.  It can be helpful at times, but putting too much can suck the life from a turntable.  I'd make the plinth and get it mounted, and see how it sounds, I think you will be impressed.  Then experiment with Dyanamat if you want, it can be peeled off if needed. 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

The tonearm is an "All Balance", hence the A and B on the headshell.  They are Dutch, sometimes sold under the Jobo name in Europe.  In Australia they were common on the Labcraft turntable (a rebadged early B&O) and on the local Orpheus Silex turntables.  You have the latter version, with the flat-top headshell.  I have read that they were used on the pirate radio boats off the UK in the 60's, because of the underlying spring.  The spring can be rotated for anti-skate.  Headshells won't fit on any other arm.

Yes, a very unique headshell system.   I put up a WTB here for a spare headshell, especially one of the fancy looking ones with the fin on the back.  Don't know if I will get lucky or not yet.

 

The Labcraft, and B&O tables all carry the Skandinavisk Radio and Television badge, so I am guessing they made the tables, fitted the OEM all-balance arm, and supplied them to Labcraft and B&O.  I have the table that the arm came on, but the drive setup is very finicky and frail and prone to wear (felt clutch speed system) that I decided not to fix it up.

 

My arm is missing the spring, and while I could easily fit one,  I found it easy enough to set the tracking force (to 1.5g in this case) using the sliding weight and set screw directly.  It will do until I source or make a 12" arm. 

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21 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

A layered plywood plinth is what usually works best with old idlers - lots of mass.

 

I would be cautious applying Dynamat.  It can be helpful at times, but putting too much can suck the life from a turntable.  I'd make the plinth and get it mounted, and see how it sounds, I think you will be impressed.  Then experiment with Dyanamat if you want, it can be peeled off if needed. 

 

 

I am pondering how to couple the ribbed underside of the table to the plinth.  It really is meant to be only mounted around the edges.  Some sort of stepped top on the plinth that is dimensioned to allow it to be clamped down applying pressure to the wood by the ribs I suppose.

 

As for Dynamat - well a little may help.  As I said,  the platter does ring a little bit, and there is a metallic "thonk" sound when you tap the top while it is playing.   Unfortunately the damn thing is so heavy, it is a little hard to keep lifting it up to experiment.  :) 

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Another step forward.    I read how the oil bearing is supposed to work.  You fill the bearing housing to just above the height of the ball bearing.  Seems those grooves in the shaft then pick up the oil and distribute it over the bearing surface.

 

IMG_20200327_124446_01.jpg.f6276c63ba6c4e76d282ad4da25fc883.jpg

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57 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

I am pondering how to couple the ribbed underside of the table to the plinth.  It really is meant to be only mounted around the edges.  Some sort of stepped top on the plinth that is dimensioned to allow it to be clamped down applying pressure to the wood by the ribs I suppose.

 

For extra coupling I would drill through the topplate (only under the platter - so it is not visable) and screw into the plinth. 

 

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

Yes, a very unique headshell system.   I put up a WTB here for a spare headshell, especially one of the fancy looking ones with the fin on the back.  Don't know if I will get lucky or not yet....

You're talking about the Rocketeer headshell - from the days when turntables had character!  The problem with them is that the bakelite became brittle where it joins the coupler, and they become loose.  My father in law saved the rocketeer from his tonearm, but it didn't have the coupler.  I guess the bakelite was also brittle and tended to break.  I've seen some ab arms advertised with the headshell coupler attached but no headshell.  The only way to get a spare headshell would be to buy a labcraft turntable with the ab arm, there is one on ebay now for $150, the general asking price that I've observed.  And if anyone finds a spare, I'm also looking. 

 

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

I am pondering how to couple the ribbed underside of the table to the plinth.  It really is meant to be only mounted around the edges.  Some sort of stepped top on the plinth that is dimensioned to allow it to be clamped down applying pressure to the wood by the ribs I suppose...

Rek-O-Kut turntables are reasonably common (for their age) in the US, and have a following.  It might be good looking on VE or posting for some advice on a US audio forum where there are probably people who have restored these before. 

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1 hour ago, audiofeline said:

Rek-O-Kut turntables are reasonably common (for their age) in the US, and have a following.  It might be good looking on VE or posting for some advice on a US audio forum where there are probably people who have restored these before. 

I have found a few great threads already and read through them.  It is where I have picked up what little info I have so far.    When I have exhausted reading existing stuff, I might have a better idea where to post any questions - i.e. where the ROK enthusiasts hang out 

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13 minutes ago, t_mike said:

Why not just put the proper arm on it?

 

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/193333700154

 

Very tempted, it's lovely, but it's only mono.  That means it actually isn't the right tonearm - my table is labelled "Stereo Table" in the centre of the platter.   Anyway I need stereo.

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1 hour ago, audiofeline said:

You're talking about the Rocketeer headshell - from the days when turntables had character!  The problem with them is that the bakelite became brittle where it joins the coupler, and they become loose.  My father in law saved the rocketeer from his tonearm, but it didn't have the coupler.  I guess the bakelite was also brittle and tended to break.  I've seen some ab arms advertised with the headshell coupler attached but no headshell.  The only way to get a spare headshell would be to buy a labcraft turntable with the ab arm, there is one on ebay now for $150, the general asking price that I've observed.  And if anyone finds a spare, I'm also looking. 

 

 

Yes it is brittle.  The headshell I have has had the fingerlift glued back on.  Agree they had real character.

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1 hour ago, The Blues said:

For extra coupling I would drill through the topplate (only under the platter - so it is not visable) and screw into the plinth. 

 

 

I would prefer the max area of contact, so I would make sure the wood contacts all the ribs with some pressure if I could.

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