CORRESPONDENCE PAGE

 

 

 

 

 

On this page, I am printing a selection of emails concerning hi-fi repairs and other matters of interest, in the hope that you will find it of amusing and maybe useful. In all cases, I am removing the customer's name and contact details, to protect confidentiality.

Whenever I receive an interesting email, I copy, with minor editing, key parts of the correspondence, so that readers can see answers to problems they may have also encountered. The style of the enquiry letters and layout changes, as the letters have been copy/pasted from actual emails received and with personal details removed as a courtesy.

The order is as received - so you may find some entries of no interest - but persevere - quite modest enquiries are intermingled with seriously complex, expensive, new and old units!

Some are just funny!

I cannot dictate who writes what, and when - so below also gives a guide to the 'ebb and flow' of everyday enquiries.

Note the way I respond to all - advice is not dependent on the cost of the equipment, or the nature of the enquiry - I like to help everyone!

Then there's the issue of the Patent Office and Capital Radio, (see the Capital Radio link).

 

Re: Gratitude from Ireland / Bush Arena Unit

Hi Mike

Many Thanks again for taking the time to look after my Unit, thus as I said on our phonecall earlier today, (Thursday 4th ), I am indeed looking forward to having the Unit back home and adding a new Turntable and perhaps a CD Player to it. I have recommended you to a friend of mine here in County Meath who has a working collection of valve Amplifiers and who, is perhaps even more of a purist than me.

A very Happy New Year to you too and if you feel I may be of assistance in the future in relation to any other Irish potential Customer of yours, who perhaps is not sure of the excellent Service you provide, I would be glad to assist in recommending London Sound.

Happy New Year and Talk soon.

Kindest Regards

 

Good for a chuckle!

Subject: Sony Radio/Cassette model CFS-205L

Attn: Mike Solomons

Hi,

Please can you supply, or advise a source for, drive belts for the above unit?

Regards,

 

Hi,

Start by asking Sony. If they cannot help, I can supply belts, but only if you can supply samples, (eg bringing the old belts here, for my to assume they've stretched a bit, and so supply new slightly smaller belts).

Email again if this presents a problem, (eg if you cannot visit, or the belts have failed completely).

Mike Solomons

 

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your reply.

If I get my hands on the unit (belongs to girlfriend) and strip it (not the girlfriend), I might take up your suggestion.

Regards

 

This following letter needs no explanation!

I've delayed writing for fear of tempting fate, but I think sufficient time has elapsed to prove that the amplifier is bug-free. The improvement of sound quality is clearly discernible and it is like having a piano - or even an orchestra - in the room. I am very pleased indeed - so pleased, in fact, that I'm really glad the Armstrong 626 stopped working in the first place thus obliging me to have it repaired. How else would I have got a new amplifier at that price?

Thank you very much indeed, Mike.

Best wishes

 

Subject:- Capital Radio and The Patent Office

Mike,

Have just spent a pleasant half hour looking through your website and for which you ask for comment in your newsletter.

Overall it is very good.

One slight inconvenience is that there seems to be no link from the website to your email address so I had to come out of it in order to write this.

A hot link would make this much easier.

I see the patent office have progressed to the age old trick of when bluster and obstruction don't work, fail to reply to communications instead. Definitely a David and Goliath situation and we both know who won the original battle!

Can't wait for the latest news on this.

Has the ombudsman responded to your complaint yet? They usually are expected to respond within a fairly tight time limit.

If you need any witness statements, I am quite willing to confirm I first visited you when at West Street, (we were there from 1972 until 1980), for a repair to our youth club's amplifier which must have been in the mid 1970's. (An old HMV amp crammed in a metal casing. The odd feature was a 'reverse' switch where left and right channels would be swapped). You were in the phone book then as well.

Strangely, I don't ever recall going to Eastcote, (London Sound was in Eastcote from 1980 until 1990), although I did telephone you there.

As an aside, I gave up listening to Capital once Kenny Everett died and prefer Heart when in London now.

All the best

(from a customer dating back to the 1970's - we have quite a few!)

 

Hi,

Thank's for the comments.

Regarding emailing - quite right - but I am still learning!

And I am aware that the simpler methods of doing this can be rather clumsy. That's why I haven't set that up yet.

The whole website is DIY, and I'm strangely not good with computers!

Still, the main purpose was to put information in the open - and it has worked - it does generate interest.

The Ombudsman, (or rather a case worker), telephoned to say he had started on my dispute with The Patent Office - but there's no substantive news yet, (for those yet to catch up on this - see the Capital Radio page).

Thank you for the support - but facts like this do not seem to have helped. I mentioned the problem in newsletters for a year, with a request to customers to contact the Patent office, and as far as I can tell, some 10 - 20 actually went to the bother of writing to the Patent Office, or Capital Radio - or both, every month.

I think, however, that the bottom line is "money". Capital Radio paid more in fees than I did.

I have complained that the Patent Office have breached my copyright to the name, a rather more important facet of the dispute.

The crucial test of whether I am right, (concerning the law on copyright), hinges on whether they have acted correctly. As a result, to avoid action for breach of copyright, it is essential for the Patent Office to arrange for Capital Radio to win. Yet despite this, they claim the right to judge the merits of Capital Radio's application!

Anyway - thank's for the email. I hope you don't mind, but in view of its content, I am putting it, with this reply, but with names removed, onto the Correspondence page!

With best regards

 

Mike Solomons

 

Dynatron repairs

 

Subject: Estimate on Dynatron repair >Date: Sat, 11 Jun 2005

Dear Mr.Solomons

I have a Dynatron gramaphone that at the moment suffers from a severe case of 'dry switch' on the volume/tone controls.

The deck is a beautiful Garrard 4hf but this does not operate on the 78rpm setting.

I would be grateful of an estimate as to the cost of repairing these faults.

Many thanks

 

Hi,

I am delighted to be able to help.

The Dynatron range of gramophones, including the one that you own, are very well built units that are a delight to work with, even though they are now considered very old.

A full overhaul is not cheap, but is most definitely worthwhile.

The electronics will, by now, have deteriorated considerably - not just as you have noticed, and so will require considerable attention.

The Garrard 4HF is a unit I know well - dating back to the mid 1960s, when I remember a friend purchasing one - which gave trouble, leading us to ride on my motorscooter to the Garrard factory in Swindon, (we did such things in our teens!) - and having a minor accident on the way back, (I hit the kerb! Not quite sure how - it was not exactly invisible)! Whilst at the factory, we were shown around the repairs workshop - where we learned a lot about turntables!

How much? A difficult question, but certainly not less than 150.00. If there is more wrong than you advise, the cost may rise to possibly 300.00. - but I think this is most unlikely.

The work will carry a full 12 month guarantee - in writing.

The next stage is for you to bring the unit here, for a more realistic estimate.

For full details, please look at our website - http://www.londonsound.org particularly at the Repairs and Basic information pages, the latter providing opening hours, address, and other - well, basic information.

However, the main details are:

London Sound

389 (B) Alexandra Avenue

Harrow

HA2 9EF

Alternatively, if you would like to discuss this with me, and are in the UK, please telephone me on the technical helpline number below during our normal working hours. It is a premium rate line, with the charge helping to pay for my time.

The wording below is as required by the telephone line service provider.

For technical help and advice, please ring Mike Solomons on 020 8868 9222.

I look forward to seeing your Dynatron gramophone, though if you have any further queries before coming here, please ring, write or email, and I'll be happy to help.

Mike Solomons

 

Subject - Armstrong Receiver

 

Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2005

Hi

I have an Armstrong 600 series receiver from the mid 70s.

It has developed a fault which I can only describe as a loud hum/buzz. This is heard through either speakers or headphones although the music can still be heard in the background. The level of noise is altered by the volume control but is distinctly audible even when the volume is at it's minimum setting. The unit was unused for a few years but was recommisioned and had been fine for about 4years but has been out of action now for about 18 months.

Do you think it may be repairable and are there any improvements that can be made to the receiver.

The volume control had also become noisy - dirt probably - my cleaning attempts met with some limited success but the problem returned.

Any advice gratefully received - some idea of your estimate for repair would be good although I appreciate that this is difficult without seeing the receiver.

Thanks

Hi,

The Armstrong 600 series - the 621 amplifier, the 623 and 624 tuners, the 625 and 626 receivers, (tuner - amplifiers), are very much favourites of mine, as are the rest of the Armstrong range, (see our Armstrong page)!

The noisy volume control fault is the result of a design defect, for which I found a good long term remedy many years ago. Although cleaning helps a little, my modification will almost completely silence a noisy control - even if it is left dirty!

Another design defect would seem to have been the result, (I am unofficially advised!), of a corner cutting exercise when the amplifier sections were first put into production. As a result of this problem, thermal instability results from attempts at adjusting the amplifier to give its best possible performance. By copying "best practise" with other contemporary and newer designs by other manufacturers, I have found a way, with minimum intervention, to resolve this problem. The result is improved reliability, combined with often a quite significant sound quality improvement!

Cost is easy to estimate - to restore your unit to work virtually "as new", with the further benefit of the above mentioned modifications, is unlikely to cost less than 150.00, and most unlikely to exceed 220.00. Please also allow 25 for packing and return carriage, (UK mainland only), if you live a long way away, and intend to send the unit here by post.

The work will carry a full written 12 month guarantee. Not as good as buying a new one - but quite close - and with some quite considerable advantages!

Having been both an Armstrong retailer in the 1970s, and also a factory recommended repairer, over the years my enthusiasm for these units has been developed by seeing a lot for repair - with some followed through from new to now, (my parent's 626 receiver was purchased in about 1973, and has broken down only once - and I can be certain of that wonderful record!).

Many others are seen at, typically, 10 year intervals - an astonishing testament to the quality of the units.

So, yes - I would be delighted to see your unit here for repair!

Contact details are to be found at Basic Information.

Also, please look generally at the website, where you will be able to learn much more about London Sound.

Mike Solomons

 

 

Subject - Thank you

Hi Mike,

Just to thank you for the excellent work you did on my Sony PS 5520 deck.

I am now all organised and about to start transcribing my LPs (1958 onwards) onto CD. If any of your clients are interested, I'm using "audio cleaning lab" produced by MAGIX, as the processing software, it really is first class. It's available at www.fastrack.co.uk.

If you wish to use this email on your website, that's fine.

Again, Many thanks

 

 

>Date: Fri, 13 May (It had to be Friday 13th!)

Hello there,

I recently purchased an acoustimass 6 series 3 BOSE system but of U.S spec.

The other day I tested it out using a continental converter, then finding out the hard way that it only requires 110v. I replaced the fuse and bought a new plug adapter that downgrades the power from 240v to 110v and it still doesn't work.

Could you offer any advice what the problem could be.

 

Thanks for your time

 

Hi,

Sorry to be the bearer of sad tidings, but it is my experience that connecting 110v equipment to 230 volt mains, is a bit like driving a car quite fast into a brick wall, (imagine your stopping distance is 300 feet, and the wall is 150 feet from you - - - ).

Although you may find a repairer prepared to carry out the required work, I will not, as I find, in such circumstances, the overload causes damage in an unpredictable way, so although the equipment is repaired and works - it is likely to fail again!

Safe enough for repairers giving short guarantees of one to three months, but impractical with our twelve month guarantee!

You could try asking the manufacturers for help, and also look at your home insurance - are you covered for "accidental damage"?

Otherwise, I regret that all I can do is offer sympathy.

 

Mike Solomons

 

 

Subject: Garrard 404

Dear Sir,

Do you know of anywhere where I can purchase an IDLE WHEEL for a Garrard 404. I purchased this from the States and now find that when playing the records sound is extremely slow.

Any help would be appreciated.

Yours

 

Hi,

Firstly, I presume that you mean a Garrard 401, not a 404, (unless, maybe, this is a version that I have never seen or heard of).

Assuming that I am right, I think it safe to say that original idler wheels are no longer available, but I have heard that there are various suppliers claiming to be able supply substitutes, though I have no personal experience of these.

However, I do not think that a replacement idler wheel will help you. The clue is in the purchase having been made from the United States. In the United States, the mains supply is at a higher frequency than here, so as a result, the motor runs 20% faster, (these motors have their basic operating speed set by mains frequency). In order that the deck may play at the right speed, the motor pulley is smaller in diameter for decks used in the U.S.

If you bring a deck with such a motor here, or to most other countries of the world, as the motor runs slower, so does the deck, until the motor pulley is changed for the standard larger diameter version, or a higher frequency power source is located.

As a complication, when these decks were new, to cover manufacturing tolerances, the factory offered a range of pulleys all differing very slightly in size, and a pulley would be selected by trial for correct operation.

You might be able to find a spare 50Hz pulley in someone's stockroom, but as you would not be able to try a number of different options, it would require considerable good fortune for the pulley you locate to happen to be correct for your deck.

My advice to you is to try either to return the deck, or sell it to someone else in the United States, or another country with 60 Hz mains power.

If you cannot do this, try to find a motor pulley, though I admit I would not know even where to start to look.

The only other option that I can think of, would be to try to find a 60Hz power supply of some sort. I could manufacture such an item, but on a "one-off" basis, it would be a very expensive option, possibly matching the price of abandoning your present unit, and purchasing a 50Hz version of the deck!

I am sorry to have to give you this bad news, and would be happy to expand further on this either by email or telephone, if you want further clarification.

Alternatively, if you would like to discuss this with me, and are in the UK, please telephone me on the technical helpline number below during our normal working hours.

 

HELPLINE  020 8868 9222

 

Mike Solomons

 

 

Subject: Naim NAP120

Got one here in Portugal with what I THINK is a duff transformer, (if I'm wrong and it turns out to be dead common component, I'll fix it myself).

If the transformer needs rewinding, and I give you the transformer, removed and ready to roll, on my next trip to the UK, roughly how much and how long?

Cheers,

 

Hi,

Transformer failure seems unlikely, but possible. Rewinding is very much a last resort. Start by asking Naim if they can supply, and if not, seek a substitute.

I regret that I have never needed to replace a Naim transformer - in any model - so cannot advise from practical experience. It's quite straightforward - transformer failure on Naim equipment is, in my experience, extremely rare.

As to transformer rewinding, we do not do this - try to find a transformer rewinding specialist.

However, with a small item like this, I am reasonably confident that Naim will probably be able to help, and if not, a substitute can be obtained, at a much lower cost than rewinding the original.

If it does prove necessary, you could get the whole amp here, and I will try to carry out repairs within 48 hours - but note the word "try" - something quite simple like further faults becoming evident after the unit is made to switch on can be enough to add to the time taken. However, if you are in England for only a short while, I will try hard to complete the work before you leave.

But first, look at the other suggestions that I have made, then let me know what you find, and ask further when you've looked at the simple options first!

Mike Solomons

 

Thanks Mike,

This is an old amp and not worth spending large sums on, (the 120 is pretty much Naim's first effort).

It failed years ago, and the only reason I have asked for it to be dug out is some clown paid 100 for one on ebay, so a cheap repair and a flog seems the way to go.

The failure mode strongly suggests transformer trouble - I haven't collected it to put it on the bench yet, but I'm fairly confident that is what I will find. Anything else I can probably fix myself. Unlike later amps, the transformer is a major structural part of the assembly - substitution is not possible: a direct replacement from Naim would be uneconomic, (ahem), even if available, and the identical physical transformer from 1972 seems unlikely. Hence it will need to be fixed, and cheaply.

It was while googling for someone who could rewind it that I found you!

If you happen to know of anyone who specialises in rewinding transformers of this size it would be most useful. All I can find is people who fix power stations...

Cheers,

 

Hi,

Regrettably, you will find a common problem here - just because it cannot be sold for much, it doesn't mean that the parts are cheap! Remember, when it was new, this was an expensive amplifier. The selling price may have fallen, but the parts haven't changed!

I cannot see any way for you to repair the amp for under 100 - unless you find something very silly, like a blown fuse!

And, no, I do not think that rewinding the transformer would be worthwhile. Firstly, I suspect that it would cost some hundreds of pounds to do, (regrettably I do not know who to approach), and secondly, until you have the repaired transformer in place, you cannot easily find out if a fault in the amplifier was responsible for the transformer failure, and has also to be dealt with!

Either have the amplifier repaired properly and use it, regardless of cost, or if you want to dispose, why not advertise it on Ebay as "faulty". This way you will receive less money, but less hassle as well! Also, of course, repair becomes the responsibility of the new owner.

Just as long as you advertise it truthfully, this would seem the best approach.

Hope this helps

Mike Solomons

 

Thanks Mike.

Actually I bought the thing with one blown channel as scrap in 1982 and fixed it for way less than 100 in about twenty minutes, but I've never needed to get a transformer rewound: I hadn't twigged it was an expensive job.

Hmm.

When it turns up I'll just check it IS the transformer then either bin it or recycle the boards to drive something.

Thanks again for the info

 

Hi,

Do consider selling it whole as "faulty" - probably the best option.

However, remember to adjust for inflation - 100 on repairs in 1982 is probably equivalent to 500 today! But we also have to consider the effect on its value of an amateur repair - however good and however long ago.

Nevertheless, if you do not have a use for it, and cannot sell for the price of a repair, I agree - it isn't worth your while to repair it. But remember others - to an enthusiast, it may be worth more than you think - so rather than scrap it, why not explore selling it as it stands first?

Mike Solomons

 

 

Vintage radiogram repair

Hi Mike,

I acquired a Kolster Brandes (KB) FG50TL radiogram recently from a friend.

His father was quite a collector and had purchased new valves for the set, all but a couple, a 6SL7GT and a 7R7. I replaced the others and whilst the radiogram comes on and there is a low hum, there is no output from the turntable or the radio. I understand that the radio was a very powerful set and the model top of its range at the time, but I guess it is beyond replacing just the valves to get it working again.

Can you suggest what might be the problem (maybe the two valves not replaced), or alternately, would it be possible to have it restored by yourselves?

Any idea of cost?

I would appreciate if you could suggest what I should do. I would love to get it working again and would be heppy to find someone who can restore the electrics. I hope you can help

Regards

 

Hi,

Repair or restoration of such a radiogram will be likely to involve major repair work, and be very costly. I will start with the "how much" - then get down to the "why" and "What you get"!

I think, from your description, that the work will be unlikely to cost less than 300.00 - and could cost up to 600. I do not think it would be likely to cost more, but if I have to revise the estimate upwards at any time, if you refuse, there is no charge at all. In that event, your only cost would be return carriage. I may change my mind on these figures on seeing the unit, but the above figures are very cautious - you could well get a pleasant surprise!

The "why" relates to the age of the unit. I am guessing only that it is around or more than 50 years old - and at that age no components can be taken on trust - resistors, capacitors, the loudspeaker(s), transformers - all are suspect, all have to be checked, some replaced, and it is likely to be quite time consuming work.

It is not unusual in such a repair to find twenty or thirty failed parts - which can, in a sense, be likened to being twenty or thirty repairs!

Then there's the record deck. A year or so ago, repairing a mid nineteen thirties Philips radiogram, I even found myself stripping and repairing the record deck pick up cartridge! More usually, record decks of this era usually need to be part stripped, bearings cleaned, and re-lubricated. Sometimes parts required for replacement actually have to be 'manufactured'!

The problem is that if the work is bodged, the results are unsatisfactory, and if carried out to a high standard, a very great deal of work is required.

If the work is to be carried out by me, I will need the radiogram brought here. I will on receipt, either confirm, or if necessary, revise my estimate.

The repairs will be carried out to a standard which will allow me safely to issue our normal twelve month guarantee, despite the age of the equipment.

I will also check very carefully for electrical safety issues, and carry out any necessary work, to ensure that it is safe. I will then issue a PAT safety test pass, and attach a safety check label.

I regret that I cannot assist with "cosmetic" work, so I will be unable to assist with defects in the external appearance.

I am sorry if I have "put you off" - but I always find it is best to be realistic at the outset, rather than, as others do, start with a low estimate, and allow it to creep up once you are committed!

As you will have seen above, I do reserve the right to increase the estimate - but if I do, you always have the option to "back out" without paying for any work carried out up to that point - i.e. you will never find yourself having to pay me anything, unless the unit is repaired and it works well, and the figure you pay has already been agreed. If you decide to go ahead, please telephone me in advance - 020 8868 9222 - and we can discuss the final details. For further information, please look at the "repairs", "Basic Information", and "Correspondence" pages. Also please look elsewhere on the site - it should tell you more about me, and London Sound. As a reminder, it is found at <<< http://www.londonsound.org >>>

 

Mike Solomons

 

Subject: Studio Standard by Fisher

Hi there,

Judging by your website you must be pleased with the effect it is having.

I have a Fisher TAC-M22 combined tuner and twin cassette unit (plus a linear tracking deck).

The problem is there is no sound. I've taken the cover off and has a look and am satisfied that the slider volume control is the problem. It seem to be a loose connection/solder. I'm quite happy to look but would probably solder the whole lot!

Can you give me a quote for that problem and general look over?

I purchased the kit in 1986 and this is the first time it's gone wrong.

Regards

 

Hi,

Yes. As you may probably gather, I'm no computer expert - so setting the site up has caused a few nervous breakdowns - but I do like the result - people seem pleased! And thank you for the comments - most appreciated.

But to your problem - I do not think your fault diagnosis is correct. Although you see a volume control as one item, it actually is two - one for each channel. It is unlikely that the connections to both channels broke simultaneously, so if the unit failed on both channels, it is more likely that a fault common to both channels exists - maybe power supply or output protection device.

Regrettably I cannot easily give an estimate, as there would seem to be too many variables to be considered - especially as a cassette deck is incorporated, which itself may require expensive servicing.

So to do the job properly, you are unlikely to be looking at much less than 150.00. - and a 'worst case scenario' could easily raise the estimate to 250.00. - at which point you may feel tempted either to give up, or go elsewhere!

Unfortunately, unless you get a twelve month repair guarantee, whatever the repair cost, it will not be worth doing.

If I am to help, the next stage is to bring the unit here, where I will be happy to take a close look, and give you a clearer free estimate.

The contact details are on the website - please either come over or 'phone to arrange to come over for me to offer a view on whether to repair - and how much.

I hope that the above helps, and look forward to hearing from you

 

 

Hello Mike

 

Just a quick message as you asked - The Hacker Radio with dead batteries I brought along to you last Saturday Morning.

Your suspicions were right about the batteries being dead - the shop where I bought them from changed them and until now the Radio is working perfectly.

Thanks for your advice and time that you spent looking at it, was well appreciated.

I think your website is excellent would never have found you unless it was for that. Anything else I may need looking at or repairing in the future I will ask your advice and bring it along.

Again Thank you very much for help.

 

What can I say?

 

The lady who wrote the above came to me with a Hacker portable radio for repair. My suspicions were aroused, so rather than book the radio in for repair, I checked the batteries, (a couple of PP9 - large and quite pricey 9v batteries). Both were completely flat. A brief check with new batteries showed the radio was not at fault, (yes, I did check the on/off switch with a testmeter!), so I advised my customer to return to the shop where she had very recently purchased the batteries. The rest of the tale is above!

 

Subject: Turntable setup

Hello,

I have recently tried - and failed - to recomission a Heybrook TT2 turntable with a Rega arm (not sure of the model) and Ortofon VMS10E cartridge. It's been in storage for some time and the setup is all wrong: can't get things right for the stylus to track properly without distortion.

It could use some TLC from an expert (and possibly a new cartridge).

I wondered

(a) whether you could give it an overhaul and setup, and if so for an estimate,

(b) whether this is kit you might be interested in purchasing. I'd be tempted to play all the vinyl just once more on a revitalised TT2 and record to minidisc as I go, then sell the kit on to someone who would it appreciate it more than my DVD / iPOD obsessed kids!

Regards,

 

 

Hi,

First thing to consider - how old is the stylus? If you don't know the answer, or it's over a year, then stylus replacement must come first - your distortion may only be due to a faulty stylus and nothing more! If a new stylus provides the answer, please let me know, (we can supply if required), but if you've already tried this, or if you try a stylus and it's not the answer, the next stage is for the unit to come here. Let me know if you need a stylus, and I'll advise price, (sorry not being very helpful - this is Sunday morning, and I just dropped in to collect something for myself!). Email again if you want to order a stylus, or seek any other help, and I'll write back Monday.

 

Subject: RE: Turntable service enquiry

Wow, that was unexpectedly quick service! (the original email, my reply, and his further email all took place on a Sunday - my second email was about 7.30 am Monday morning!)

Good point. I'm sure it's antique. The cartidge itself appears to be fine: could you quote for a replacement stylus?

Thanks

 

Hi,

Sunday morning emails are not a normal part of the service!

I had some work to do at home - and called in to collect some tools kept here at the shop - and checked the emails whilst I was here!

I also put your letter, (without your name), onto the correspondence page of the website, as I will this, and your reply - could well help others! I hope you don't mind, (if you do, I'll remove the whole correspondence).

I can offer two versions of the stylus - original Ortofon, and a very good substitute. Including postage, the substitute costs 29.00, and the Ortofon version costs 54.00. I am sure you can obtain them cheaper somewhere - but the supplier which I use is very good - good quality products - no 'elderly' boxes!

I am in the process of arranging a safe secure credit card internet payment system, but for now, I think it wiser to ask you to telephone, (during our normal hours!), and I can take your card by 'phone. Alternatively, of course, I would welcome a cheque in the post, (though card payment would be quicker).

However, if your travels bring you this way you would be welcome to call in - I have checked - both types are in stock. It's certainly worth a try - you'll need a new stylus anyway - but if that's all, you don't need to pay me for an overhaul!

 

(PS - no I do not wish to buy your turntable - although we occasionally have items for sale, London Sound is primarily a service not sales organisation)

 

Subject: Thorens TD 160 Turntable

Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2005 21:30:06 -0000

Hello

I have a Thorens TD160 Turntable in need of repair. An Engineer has looked at it and confirmed it needs a new motor. He is unable/unwilling to progress this any further.

Can you help?

The deck was serviced about three years ago and a new cartridge fitted. It was my Dad's deck origionally and so I would like to repair it if possible. Any ideas?

I look forward to your reply, hopefully soon.

Regards

 

Hi,

Will it help you to know that I have repaired a lot of Thorens turntables - and never replaced a motor!

The usual procedure is to strip and repair the existing motor, and then re-fit it. As far as I am aware, the originals are no longer in production, and no one holds old stock, which makes the above procedure the best option, (I suppose you could buy a second hand deck and transfer the motor from it - but as the motor is the same age, it will probably need attention soon, as well!).

The next stage is to bring the deck here, I will look at it, and give you an 'on the spot' free estimate.

For further details of our repair policy, procedures, and our twelve month guarantee, please explore the website - especially the "Repairs" page.

http://www.londonsound.org

Also, please look at the basic information page for opening hours, parking etc. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Mike Solomons

 

Subject: Grundig TK20

Date: Fri, 4 Mar 2005 17:06:07 +0000 (GMT Standard Time)

Dear Mike,

I was looking at another website when I was re-directed to your site.

I was interested in the range of repairs you offer and would like to have some idea what it might cost to bring my Grundig TK 20, (a well known 1950s open reel tape recorder (i.e. a real "vintage" item - ed), into good working order.

I purchase the recorder in November 1958, and to-date it has never had a major problem. After many years of languishing in the loft, I recently bought the recorder down - and lo and behold when I plugged it in it still sort of worked!

The problem is the spools don't wind too well without some manual help. I assume the drive belts have deteriorated and will need replacing and, no doubt, the whole recorder will require a safety check. Perhaps you could give me some guidance on the cost I am likely to incur.

Kind regards

PS: I hope you don't mind my using your first Name?

 

 

Hi,

Thank's for the enquiry.

The TK20 takes me back to my youth! In my teens, I started Radio Edgware, London's first hospital radio station - which was donated a TK20 in its first few month's of operation - so I have known of and used this machine from time to time over almost my whole life, (and still own one today)!

But to the detail of your machine. The fact that it works at all says an awful lot about the quality of manufacture, and that you have not abused it. But after about 47 years, I think it may just be due for servicing!

If you bring it here, I will replace or resurface all rubber parts as required. Belts will probably have failed, but usually thicker rubber items simply need to be thoroughly cleaned, and maybe very lightly abraded to remove a hardened surface.

Many moving parts will also require to be cleaned and relubricated, (not just lubricated alone, as the old lubricants if not cleaned out will contaminate the new, and soon cause further difficulties).

The electronic part of these units, despite being "old fashioned unreliable valves", (as the advertising in the 60s would have had us believe!), is superb. I doubt if I will find even half a dozen faulty parts! You are right to mention electrical safety. This can be a serious issue with older units such as this - and so I will be very careful to check for insulation that may have deteriorated in the mains and high voltage circuitry.

Another issue that has to be looked at is low voltage insulation, as failures here can be a fire risk.

So in answer to the two key questions - yes I am happy to look at your unit, and confident that reliable repairs can be carried out, to be given a twelve month guarantee.

And as to cost?

I would like to see the unit to be sure, but will probably say between 200 and 300. It is unlikely to be less, due to the time I will spend checking, even if to find little wrong, but it is extremely unlikely to be more (the upper figure has to assume a "worst case scenario").

I hope you are interested, and look forward to seeing you, in due course. If you haven't already looked at it, please visit the London Sound website. It is still only partly set up - I am doing this myself as a self education project, but it should tell you a little about London Sound - and about how we will handle your repair.

The address is http://www.londonsound.org

Please telephone or emal if you want to ask further questions - or just drop in during our working hours, (as detailed on the website - Basic Information page). Oh, and thank you for the courtesy of asking about use of my first name. It has become so widespread, that I now find it is almost an auxiliary trading name - please feel free!

 

Mike Solomons

 

 

2.3.05.

Hi Mike,

I have an Audionote Oto SE Integrated valve amp in need of repair.

The damage is to the power supply board. Can you give some kind of estimate of a turn around time if the repair is fairly straight forward?

thanx

Keith

PS I have another Audionote power amp currently in a repairers for 2 >months!!!! which if you can repair I will get back off them.

 

Hi,

Repairs to these amplifiers rarely fit into the "straightforward" category! However, they are repairable - and you may reasonably expect it to take a week or so - certainly not a month or more!

Having said that, power supply faults can sometimes prove difficult, if "special" parts are needed. However, apart from unique parts which involve either being dependant on just one manufacturer, or serious redesign to find a replacement, such repairs are generally relatively straightforward.

However, power supplies in well designed equipment rarely fail alone. Usually, and this is what I fear, amplifier power supplies fail due to a fault in the amplifier, overloading the power supply - so we have to consider the cost of at least checking the amplifier as well as its power supply.

So how much? I need to see the unit, but I think it unlikely to cost less than 150, but equally unlikely to cost more than 300. If you can bring it here, I will give you a better considered estimate "on the spot". If you refuse the estimate, there will be no charge at all. I hope you have found this useful - and look forward to hearing from you. Meanwhile, if you've not already visited it, please look at our website

 

Mike Solomons

 

 

 

 

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2005 18:41:42 -0000

Dear London Sound,

I live in Harrow and have seen your website. I have a Panasonic combined tuner/double cassette/CD/amplifier midi system which is about 6 years old, (maybe more). Everything works very well except for the two tape decks. I don't really want to throw it away and can't see anything equivalent on the market. Could you tell me whether this is a kind of repair you might be able to consider, and perhaps give me a rough estimate of what it might cost to repair the tape decks? If you can do this, then I would bring it to your shop for you to have a look.

Yours sincerely

Hi,

You may have a simple head/tape path cleaning problem - follow the manufacturers instructions on head and capstan/pinch roller cleaning, or 'phone me for advice.

 

However, I am sorry - but I would not advise professional repair - but this is not because it cannot be done - it should not be a particularly hard problem - the difficulty is the way it is combined with other equipment.

The first problem is that although the cassette deck fault should be relatively easy to resolve, we have to accept that a double cassette deck is two pieces of equipment - a sort of double repair!

Even that is not impossible - but then we have to take the rest into account. To repair the cassette decks, I will have to partially dismantle, therefore accept responsibility for, a cd player, radio tuner, and amplifier.

This all adds to the cost.

Finally - the main problem - the cd player! It is my experience, that cd players of this type tend to fail at this age. Even if it is apparently perfect at this time, there are two ways that I can deal with it. Either overhaul at a prohibitive cost, or carefully exclude responsibility in a skillfully worded restricted guarantee.

Neither make sense.

So what do I suggest?

You could go to a 'bodger' who may repair inexpensively, but with little by way of guarantee, or you could buy new.

Regretably, I cannot help with either option - except with general purchasing advice.

To buy a replacement, I suggest firstly that you go to a reputable dealer - not a scruffy risky place where you feel uncomfortable. Either buy another "all in one" system, which you can afford to throw away when it fails, or buy a "true" separates system.

The greatest problem seems to arrise when people purchase a "separates system" which is not really "separates". With many such systems, the items are interdependant, with the result that if one part fails, it cannot be repaired as a separate item, and cannot be replaced - and even though it costs more, it still has to be scrapped. Not always, but very high cost is often a resultant problem.

My advice, therefore, is either purchase a very simple "all in one" system for under 200, or buy a "true" separates system. The way you differentiate what I call a "true" separates system, is to see how it is sold. Is it all sold as one neat package, or do you wander around the shop picking up a tuner here, and a cassette deck on another shelf etc.

I hope the above helps - but also want, especially wish to thank you for an idea you triggered. I will be publishing this correspondence soon on the website, (with your details removed), so that others with a similar problem may read these notes, and also be helped. Meanwhile, if you wish to 'phone me for further advice, please do so - the number is 020 8868 9222.

Yours sincerely

 

Mike Solomons

 

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