Restoring and Improving A Thorens TD-124 MKII

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Having looked at a variety of very crusty Thorens TD-124 threads, none of which really related too directly to my project I have decided to open a new thread.

I have just acquired a fairly clean, and low hour TD-124 MKII with an SME 3009 Series II arm which I am going to restore.

I acquired this from a parent of a friend who lives in Manhattan so you imagine the day I had yesterday driving down and back as a consequence of this TT purchase.

The TT was a built in and does not have a plinth of its own. Every last bit of rubber with the exception of the belt and pulley has deteriorated to the point of needing replacement understandably..

The lubricant in the motor bearings has turned to glue so rather than just clean and reassemble I have decided to install a motor bearing upgrade kit which replaces the tinned bronze bearings with precision machined sintered bronze bearings, new felt pads and all of the hardware required to reinstall the bearing caps on the motor. (Should this prove not to be as good as claimed I will keep the old parts for that eventuality.)

I need to replace the motor mount bushings, the "gummi-muffins" which are the TT mounting bushings, the six pads on the platter, the belt.

I also plan to install a stiffer bearing cap on the main bearing but since this is a late model MKII I plan to retain the original sintered bronze bearings as they aren't worn at all..

I haven't quite decided on the plinth, but I am thinking to start it will be one of the moderately priced ($400 or so) CLD plinths available on eBay.

This unit has the later aluminum platter so I can use my Zu/Denon DL-103 without concern for the issues of magnetic attraction with the earlier iron platter - the down side is the aluminum platter is reputed not to perform quite as well due to somewhat lower overall mass.. The older iron platter apparently somewhat less resonant, not that this platter appears to have an issue.. The other significant difference is the strobe on the platter is 33 rpm only..

Parts in some cases will be sourced from Octave, and in others from a couple of well regarded eBay sellers of TD-124 parts and upgrades.

The arm has already been cleaned up and is complete and in very good condition except that the decoupler will have to be replaced. (They're readily available.) I also plan to install RCA jacks on this arm as I have done on my other.
 

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TD124 Restoration Parts

Kevin, it seems as though you got a great deal. I am contemplating some of the same things with a Thorens I have.

The motor bearings are said to be sintered brinze and tinned, depending on the articles one reads. Let us know what you find inside that motor. I think that the MkII has six rubber motor mounts that might be best upgraded with silicone gel bushings available on Ebay. They are said to better insulate vibration.

Why don't you build your own plinth or have it made locally, as there will also be some pretty expensive shipping charges, I assume? Do you plan to renew the rubbers for wounting to the plinth, or hard mount it as suggested by some to sink vibration to the plinth?

The last thing, why do you plan to upgrade the spindle bearing plate assembly? What improvements do you hope to obtain? Please keep us posted as this project moves along. Good luck!
 
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Yes, actually I am planning on a bearing plate upgrade as well, there are so many to choose from so I am going to do a little more research, none short of a full bearing replacement are more than about $70 or so, not exactly extremely expensive. (Stainless steel, gun metal, and bronze are all on offer.)

The motor grommets I ordered are silicone gel types ordered on eBay today in fact.

I also ordered silicone gel bushings for the chassis to plinth interface, and will try both with and without them to see what is preferable given the plinth in use.

Long term the plinth will be some sort of CLD type, I have some hope of finding a counter top fabricator that would be willing to make me a slate plinth. Mixed hardwoods are another more realizable option as I can either do that myself or my father in law may be interested in the project..
 
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This is very cool. Funny how we so often end up with similar equipment, you and I.

I ran a Thorens pinch roller TT for years. TD-124, IIRC. Earlier than what you have, I think. Bought it at the flea market in Paris. I liked it because it was 1) Cheap 2) a Thorens.
Always felt the idler wheel roller thing was goofy, but what did I know? Now they are highly sought after. Had an Ortophon MM cart on the stock arm. It made good music.
 
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Think you might have been a little further ahead of the curve than me - I'm actually way behind the curve, but very lucky. :D

Sounds like we are on the same path and looking for many of the same things sonically speaking, your encouragement along with Greg's was what gave me the confidence to tackle those Onkens now more than 4yrs ago.. :D
 
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With the Thorens and those Onkens, you'll be a happy camper!

I almost built a pair of Onkens recently, but then a pair of Altec A7s fell in my lap. What's a fellow to do?

I understand that quandary, although I have to admit I prefer my Onkens to any A-7 I have yet heard, that said it would still be very high on my list of second choices.. It was an option at one time, but I went the other route. Either way results will be quite good..

It's been a 2 weeks and I am still running that SEP, it's not perfect, but there is something I like about it, or perhaps its just the 2nd most tolerable amp I have heard in my set up.. The rest are sleeping or passed along to others..

I think I have a number of weeks of waiting before the parts all start to arrive, and I have decided to try building a longer arm - at least 12" which will consist of a carbon fiber tone arm on an SME 3009 yoke.. (The knife edge, stub and counterweight will all be stock 3009 with tweaks as necessary) Should be interesting getting it to work.. My parts arm will donate most of the key parts, the rest I'll either fabricate or purchase on eBay. If I am lucky it will be possible to make it compatible with a future SPU.. (or not)
 
My TD124 from a few years ago is still missing a good plinth. I never got round to getting it done. Now I want to do it soon.
Let us know how your plinth and assembly is shaping up. I haven't done anything to the basic turntable like changing the bearing etc.
 
Yes, actually I am planning on a bearing plate upgrade as well, there are so many to choose from so I am going to do a little more research, none short of a full bearing replacement are more than about $70 or so, not exactly extremely expensive. (Stainless steel, gun metal, and bronze are all on offer.)

The motor grommets I ordered are silicone gel types ordered on eBay today in fact.

I also ordered silicone gel bushings for the chassis to plinth interface, and will try both with and without them to see what is preferable given the plinth in use.

Long term the plinth will be some sort of CLD type, I have some hope of finding a counter top fabricator that would be willing to make me a slate plinth. Mixed hardwoods are another more realizable option as I can either do that myself or my father in law may be interested in the project..

In the early 80's,Dr,Penfold,in England,made an interesting cast,for a speaker cabinet,by using 50% epoxy resins,40% quartz sand and 10% rubber chips.
There was a full presentation,in the then informative, Hi-Fi News mag
The results,according to the presented measurements,were fascinating.
If you have the means to make a cast,chances are that you 'll hit the spot,of making your plinth.You can dress it later,with anything you like it.

B.L
 
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Nice find! I've never seen a used Thorens during years of digging at yard sales and thrifts, but I keep looking.

Have fun with the project.

I've been waiting a long time for this one, and consider myself lucky to have it. There is always a certain amount of shipping risk with items purchased on eBay and shipped long distances. The going price on eBay these days is a lot higher than what most brokers pay for them. I paid considerably more than local brokers pay, but much less than what they often resell for on eBay.. Overall this thing is going to be quite expensive.. And they should be properly serviced/restored prior to being pressed back into use to avoid damage to expensive and difficult to replace parts like the motor and the spindle..
 
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In the early 80's,Dr,Penfold,in England,made an interesting cast,for a speaker cabinet,by using 50% epoxy resins,40% quartz sand and 10% rubber chips.
There was a full presentation,in the then informative, Hi-Fi News mag
The results,according to the presented measurements,were fascinating.
If you have the means to make a cast,chances are that you 'll hit the spot,of making your plinth.You can dress it later,with anything you like it.

B.L

I vaguely remember reading this article and being impressed with the results, unfortunately casting things of this nature and size is a bit beyond my resources at the moment.

I will probably end up iterating through a couple of progressively better plinths, the first will be similar to a typical Ortofon furnished plinth, the one I hope to build will be a combination of slate top with dense tropical hardwood base..
 
Have you noticed that many users of the 124 seem to skip using the isolating rubber "ball" under the levelling screws on the edges of the plinth. Will you be doing that or is a "modern ...spongy rubber spacer" good enough ? Or will it sit directly on the plinth surface .

I was considering using multiple layers of 19 mm MDF with either a veneered or painted surface finish. Not quite sure if that is good enough. I could get a granite/slate top surface if it's beneficial ! Wouldn't this have a poor performance compared to MDF with more internal losses ?
 
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Have you noticed that many users of the 124 seem to skip using the isolating rubber "ball" under the levelling screws on the edges of the plinth. Will you be doing that or is a "modern ...spongy rubber spacer" good enough ? Or will it sit directly on the plinth surface .

I was considering using multiple layers of 19 mm MDF with either a veneered or painted surface finish. Not quite sure if that is good enough. I could get a granite/slate top surface if it's beneficial ! Wouldn't this have a poor performance compared to MDF with more internal losses ?

Yes, and in fact I plan to try a number of different plinth approaches both with and without the "improved" bushings. So I will try it directly on a high mass plinth, and with the bushings, and also on a lighter weight plinth I will have shortly.

My understanding is that slate offers the highest loss to mass ratio of any commonly used plinth material, far better than MDF.. I am considering the purchase or construction of a CLD plinth if I cannot afford the slate one I have talked about. I have heard comparable slate and mdf plinths, and IMHO slate wins every time. Note that granite is not good - it rings! Slate or nothing natural IMHO..
 
Yes granite rings certainly. I have some granite slabs of about the right size. However when glued to MDF it should dampen the Q. Additionally if we use a suitable foam rubber between the metal chassis and the hard granite it might help even more . What say.......?
 
Slate and Wood Plinths

Yes, and in fact I plan to try a number of different plinth approaches both with and without the "improved" bushings. So I will try it directly on a high mass plinth, and with the bushings, and also on a lighter weight plinth I will have shortly.

My understanding is that slate offers the highest loss to mass ratio of any commonly used plinth material, far better than MDF.. I am considering the purchase or construction of a CLD plinth if I cannot afford the slate one I have talked about. I have heard comparable slate and mdf plinths, and IMHO slate wins every time. Note that granite is not good - it rings! Slate or nothing natural IMHO..
Funny you are going to use slate and hardwood, as that is exactly what I decided to do for plinths for the Thorens and Garrards I have cooking. Slate is definitely excellent for this and I have racks with slate shelves that are very dead.

As I am building such a plinth for my TD124, I can easily make one for you to your design, as slate and tropical hardwoods are inexpensive, as is the labor here. I have a good friend who is a Japan trained furniture maker that can make the plinths. Let me know what you would like to do.
 
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Yes granite rings certainly. I have some granite slabs of about the right size. However when glued to MDF it should dampen the Q. Additionally if we use a suitable foam rubber between the metal chassis and the hard granite it might help even more . What say.......?

I'm not sure as I have no direct experience, but know people who definitely do, and they have indicated that granite in their experience is not suitable even in a CLD construction. I have not heard the said combination, but very much respect the people who told me this as I know they are more knowledgeable in this area than I..

Given this I guess it depends on how handy you are, how risk adverse, and how much it costs to machine the granite to receive your TD-124 - for me this is the most expensive part so I will use the material I am told is most likely to lead to the results I am looking for - and I have heard several TT in various plinths, and the ones incorporating a lot of slate in their construction just seem to enhance a given units performance - much quieter, blacker background, more incisive and detailed sound, etc.. It didn't seem that subtle. I suspect spectrum analysis would reveal that the mechanical noise floor of the TT in a slate plinth is significantly improved, and that noise in the vicinity of the tone arm mounts is much lower..