Tonearm for TD124

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Hoping for some advice on a problem with my Thorens TD124 turntable.

I got the turntable restored and a nice birch ply plinth made, and mounted a used Audiocraft AC3000 tonearm on it. It sounded great at first, but the turntable had a problem with a nasty noise due to a problem with its motor. I got that fixed, but since then I haven't been able to get it working to my satisfaction. The tonearm is mounted on a non-original (SME-style) base, and I have a nagging suspicion it's not working correctly. None of the cartridges I have seem to sound all that great in it. They all sound like they're mistracking, even though I've aligned them carefully using a Denneson Soundtraktor. (I've tried an old Grado Signature 4(?), Shure M35X, and Denon DL-160.)

I have a Velvet Touch (Gray 108 knock-off) tonearm in really great shape which I can rewire for stereo. Has anyone used this, Gray 108, or similar tonearm with a medium-compliance cartridge with elliptical stylus like a Denon DL-110? Does that have a chance of working? Or is a massive old tonearm like this only usable with old-style low-compliance cartridges with spherical styli, like Shure SC35C or Denon DL-103?

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kevinkr

Administrator
Paid Member
The AC-3000 is a pretty good arm, are you sure it's mounted in the right place though?

I have run across a few Grays, I think the only stereo cartridge with a prayer of working (well - maybe) in this arm would be something like the Shure M3D which is not as bad as it sounds. I've been pleasantly surprised by one I heard not too long ago, but I cannot remember the arm other than that it was heavy.
 
M3D looks hard to find in good shape. Maybe if I find one without a stylus for cheap and buy a Jico stylus for it.

I'm sure the AC-3000 is mounted in the right place (222 mm pivot to spindle).

It might be that the DL-160 I had in there has a damaged stylus.

At one point, I'd made the mistake of turning the 'table on its side with the tonearm still on it, and not draining the damping fluid beforehand. The 600,000 wt fluid got into the sides of the casing over the pivot, which caused the tonearm to 'stick' to its sides. The DL-160 was on it when that happened. I tried to clean out the damping fluid but may not have done a good enough job. I tried playing a record and I think the tonearm movement still was binding up from sticky sides. I think that may have done bad things to the cartridge. It never played right after that.

I later gave that part of the tonearm a good cleaning with Ronsonol. That seemed to get the sticky stuff out of there. I let it dry and cleaned out the residue as well as I could. Then re-applied the damping fluid to the bearing well. It seems to be working better now.

I'm using a Shure M35X in there now, tracking at 2.5 grams. It sounds to me like it's working right. I like it OK, but not as much as the Denon DL-160. Maybe I need to goose up the VTF to 3 grams (the cartridge's rated max). I'll also try a Stevenson alignment (it's now set to Baerwald).
 

kevinkr

Administrator
Paid Member
Yeah, the damping fluid is pretty sticky stuff. I wonder if you damaged the cantilever on the Denon or perhaps the suspension.

Geometry is always a big deal, particularly with shorter pivoted arms. I finally gave up even on my 12 inch arms when I got my first Souther linear tracking tone arm and got it working somewhat correctly. I now have two, one on each of my 124s. When everything works correctly the reduction in colorations and distortion is pretty close to astonishing, when it doesn't it's hair pulling time. lol
 
I think I did damage the DL-160. The cantilever looks perfectly straight, so I suspect I damaged the suspension. Bummer. I'm not sure it's worth the money to have Soundsmith rebuild it. I really liked the sound of that cart, but it was never considered a 'high end' one.

I have an always trustworthy SL1200mkII that I bought new about 7 years ago. It still has a working DL-110 on it, which I'm not going to mess with(!!!). I have found that getting the cartridge alignment juuuust right makes a YOOGE difference in sound quality. Everything snaps into focus. I was hoping the exact alignment wouldn't be quite so critical with a spherical tip (and I just prefer the sound of the TD124 to the SL1200).

In addition to the Velvet Touch, I also have an AT-1501mkIII (a friend sold it to me) but it will require drilling a large hole all the way through my plinth to mount it. I have a blank armboard to play with, which is why I was asking about the Velvet Touch. Do you find that it's easier to get the alignment exactly right using a 12" arm, as compared to a 9" or 10" arm?
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I changed the M35X to a Stevenson alignment last night (using the free PDF protractor from VE). Also set the VTF to 3g (the max). Hopefully that will help too. I've liked the sound of the Stevenson alignment every time I've tried it.
 
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That's a good question. I'm following the advice of the guy from the Retro Cool Tonearms website and used 600,000 cs fluid, because that's what he found worked best with a Gray 108 style arm. But I now see that the original Audiocraft AC3000 manual calls for 300,000 cs fluid. That's still very thick stuff!

Audiocraft - Ultracraft AC-3000 Manual - Oil-Damped One-Point Support Stereo Tone Arm - Vinyl Engine

Maybe I'm hurting things by using 600,000 cs fluid. I think I'll clean the old fluid out and try some of the 300,000 cs.

My latest debacle is that my TD124 won't go into 45 rpm speed when I select it. 33 and 78 work fine, 16 and 45 don't work. Another thing to troubleshoot and fix (sigh).

So I'm back to using the SL1200. It always works, no matter what, and sounds pretty good. Oh yeah, and the Denon DL-160 is working fine in the SL1200. So maybe I shouldn't be using 600,000 cs fluid in the AC3000 arm.

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jls001

Member
2012-01-09 4:59 am
Mumbai
My latest debacle is that my TD124 won't go into 45 rpm speed when I select it. 33 and 78 work fine, 16 and 45 don't work. Another thing to troubleshoot and fix (sigh).

It took me years too to resolve various niggles on my 124/I, including the problem you mentioned. There's a shaft connecting the speed selector (cum on-off) switch below the top plate to a sort of slider, which in turn connects to the on-off switch. Try adjusting the position where the shaft connects to the "slider" (sorry for this vague term - I simply don't know what it is called:)). After multiple adjustments, mine works well on 16, 33, 45 but refuses to engage 78. This is OK as I don't play 78s.
 
Hey all -- Sorry to bring this thread back from the dead, but there have been some happy developments.

1) The reason the speed selector was not engaging at 45 rpm speed was because the plinth didn't have enough clearance for the switch assembly. I finally figured this out when I removed the turntable from the plinth and tried the speed selector, finding that it was working perfectly. Put it back in the plinth, it stopped working. Back and forth a couple of times until the little light bulb above my head lit up. Duh. I took a little wood off the inside of the plinth underneath the speed selector switch, and problem gone. Phew!

2) I cleaned the goop out of the Audiocraft AC-3000 tonearm. It was a bear of a job. Had to soak the whole thing in lighter fluid (no plastic parts, all metal -- I checked beforehand). It took several passes before the silicone goop got flushed off the insides of the pivot housing. I think there was silicone damping fluid causing the arm to bind and stick ever so slightly on its path across the record, which was destroying the ability of the needle to track the grooves. I went to a lighter viscosity damping fluid, as recommended in the AC-3000 docs (300,000 ct). Now the AC-3000-TD124 combo is singing with a cheapo Shure M35X, because I need to be able to quickly switch over to play 78 rpm records now and then. (Remove LP stylus, insert 78 stylus, play 78 record. Easy peezy.)

A really, really good friend of mine had some of the new replacement parts, which he so kindly installed on my 'table. New clear silicone motor mount bushings, black rubber mushrooms, rubber belts, idler wheel (the metal one with the replaceable O-rings!). Those made a really nice difference in sound quality! Now the TD124 really does sound very good. More exciting than my SL1200mkII, maybe not as 'detailed' as my friend's Garrard 401, but maybe it's as good. I dunno. But now...

I'd like to try that Velvet Touch tonearm (Gray Research clone) with a DL103 cartridge. I'm told that should be a very good combination on the TD124. Thoughts on this? Is there anyone who has used this combo of tonearm + cartridge + turntable?

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