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Vintage Califone Motor Noise
Vintage Califone Motor Noise
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Old 26th June 2020, 05:52 PM   #1
typecrazy789 is offline typecrazy789  United States
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Default Vintage Califone Motor Noise

I have a very old Califone, probably from the 60s, which is made from metal parts and has a heavier metal arm. I say all this since invariably when I say Califone I get, "it's junk, get a better blah blah blah..." I know what it is and understand its limitations.

Years ago I ripped the internal amp and tonearm wiring out and ran two silver leads out of the tonearm, connected to a Stanton 500 cartridge with the coils wired in series. This setup works really well for 78s, transcriptions, old mono LPs, etc.

But the table has a lot of motor hum that transmits through the tonearm when playing. I want to be clear, this isn't cartridge hum, which is not a problem, but a transferred constant hmmmmmmmmm that is only there when the needle is in the groove. It's definitely mechanical.

The idler is soft and pliable, as are the motor mounts, so I'm a bit stuck as to where to look to try to reduce or eliminate the noise. It has a very small idler - about 1.5" round - so I wonder if it's just going to be noisy whatever I do due to the size. I have not been able to open the motor to lubricate it, so am wondering if that is the likely culprit.

Any thoughts are appreciated.
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Old 26th June 2020, 07:26 PM   #2
duncan2 is offline duncan2  United Kingdom
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Having owned many idler driven UK record players including the famous Garrard 301 the first thing I would look at would be the rubber mountings for the motor BUT a good way (but simple ) way of checking if the bearings are dodgy is to use the old "engineers stethoscope" .


Place a screwdriver to ear --handle end .
Place the metal end to motor --listen


The idler is more likely to cause changes in speed if faulty not so much transmission of loud motor noise unless the rubber is as hard as a brick.



Why have you been unable to open the motor --is it non consumer repairable as is usually the case nowadays ?
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Old 26th June 2020, 08:42 PM   #3
indianajo is offline indianajo  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by typecrazy789 View Post
I have a very old Califone, probably from the 60s, which is made from metal parts and has a heavier metal arm. I say all this since invariably when I say Califone I get, "it's junk, get a better blah blah blah..." I know what it is and understand its limitations.


Any thoughts are appreciated.
These were sold to school districts for the language lab on low bid. Nobody else bought them. Nobody stocked them for retail sale. There were reasons, like low fidelity. Also fairly indestructable from mis-handling due to heavy metal construction. I took 7 years of public school Spanish, and no teacher ever suggested we use these things. Probably the records didn't survive long enough to be intelligible.
If you intend your source to have more signal to noise ratio than 10 db, junk it and buy something else. Records aren't free anymore, new LPs are going $15 apiece.
You want something indestructable that plays mono & 78's, look for an old Stanton sold to the radio station market.
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Last edited by indianajo; 26th June 2020 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 26th June 2020, 11:00 PM   #4
typecrazy789 is offline typecrazy789  United States
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Good grief...it's really not all that. With a MM cartridge, a decent stylus, run through an actual preamp, you think I'm getting a 10db S/N ratio and yet I'm here asking how to defeat a slight motor noise? Not sure what to say.
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Old 27th June 2020, 12:36 AM   #5
PRR is offline PRR  United States
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Vintage Califone Motor Noise
Use the screwdriver/ear.

Take the motor right out. Examine everything!

The soft bushings may be tight/hard inside. Rust, burrs, sloppy assembly.

The bearings may be tight. Does it spin long by finger? May be dry, or may be misaligned in shipping (smack it with a heavy plastic screwdriver handle). It may be unbalanced. Once very free-spinning, mark the rotor, hold it shaft horizontal, spin repeatedly. Does it tend to stop in the same place every time

Run the motor, ear it, eye it. (Don't get shocked.)

I have a feeling this hum is "normal". The same motor was sold for desk fans and for barbecue spits, where hum was not a big fault. In the Califone (and a million low-price phonos) the hum was moot because the speaker cut-off at 140Hz. But maybe there IS some fault you can fix.
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Old 27th June 2020, 12:44 AM   #6
typecrazy789 is offline typecrazy789  United States
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Originally Posted by PRR View Post
But maybe there IS some fault you can fix.
Thatís what Iím thinking - I donít expect a miracle but it plays REALLY well on mono discs other than the motor noise, which Iím hoping to minimize. Will do all the above and report back - thanks a million!
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Old 27th June 2020, 06:44 AM   #7
duncan2 is offline duncan2  United Kingdom
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If it is possible mount the motor on ---well it used to be a type of rubber but nowadays its synthetic nylon .


It must be pliable enough to absorb the mechanical vibrations but at the same time firm enough to keep the idler firmly pressed on the inside rim of the turntable.



While this is aimed at the engineering industry it gives you an idea of what I am talking about -


Anti Vibration Mounts & Rubber Stop AV Mounts | WDS


This one is nearer home to you-


rubber mounts | McMaster-Carr
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Old 27th June 2020, 01:32 PM   #8
typecrazy789 is offline typecrazy789  United States
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Thank you - that might work to help mitigate it if nothing else. According to the screwdriver test it’s definitely the motor itself, so I’m going to try later to get inside it again, and we’ll see what happens.
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Old 27th June 2020, 07:10 PM   #9
PRR is offline PRR  United States
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Vintage Califone Motor Noise
Take the idler out or disengaged. Does the platter spin *Very* freely? Roughness here could be a hum/rumble. (But not 60Hz, which could have been a clue.)
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Old 28th June 2020, 03:00 AM   #10
typecrazy789 is offline typecrazy789  United States
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Well I was able to get the motor lubricated today, to no avail - noise is still there. The spindle seems fine as if I spin a record with my fingertip with no motor on I don’t hear the noise.

All that said, this table uses some kind of (I think) magnetic system as a speed control, with a large disc attached to the motor that is enveloped between two pieces of metal that move in and out as you turn a knob on the face of the table...the more you turn it the slower the table turns. The motor will not spin freely with this engaged, but does when it is removed. I’ve not yet attempted playback with it removed as I wanted to see if the motor lubing fixed it, so this will be next.
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