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Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
2/25/24 7:42 p.m.

My wife and I are smack dab in the middle of a full home renovation, and part of that renovation includes getting a bunch of new (to us) stuff for the house. SWMBO has wanted an antique/vintage console stereo/record player for one of the rooms, and so did I, because that frees up my current stereo rig for my future game/rec room. We've been on the hunt for the right one for months. These things typically come in two flavors: 

-Ones that have the Mid-Century Modern vibe and look tasteful

-Ones that look like they belong in a brothel's bedroom somewhere in Madrid circa 1976

The MCM ones are more sought after for obvious reasons, and typically sell for a lot more than the later ones. Setting a budget of $100-less for one, we searched and searched, and kept missing good ones or getting shot down on offers. 

Last night, minutes after the thing got posted, we secured a deal on one, and we grabbed it early this morning. 



It's a Westinghouse H-M1711 from 1961. All-tube electronics, with an AM-FM receiver and a stereo turntable. Seller couldn't get the turntable to function, but he tested the power section and everything else works. While it doesn't have the crazy MCM designs we really wanted, it looks tasteful, and it's in incredible shape for the age. Westinghouse made a bunch of them in this style out of different woods, and this one is made of mahogany. It even came with all the original paperwork, warranty card, and manual. 



And it's on the smaller side, and perfect for where it's going! 

Check out the details:



The controls all work, and the pots aren't even scratchy! 



See the triangles between 60 and 70 and 110 and 140? This is old enough to comply with the old CONELRAD broadcasts that would happen if the Cold War ever escalated into Global Thermonuclear War. I've seen these on cars, but never on a home stereo. Cool!



Not sure what brand turntable this is, but it's interesting. It has RPM speeds of 16, 33, 45, and 78. I've never seen anything with 16 before, and apparently, 16 RPM records were indeed a thing for a very short period of time in the late 50's. People also would play spoken word LPs at that speed to slow it down as well. Interesting. That said, the seller sold it cheap because it didn't function as it should. 


At this price point, the stylus and/or cartridge are usually MIA, but both are present. The stylus is either reversible for 33/45 and 78RPM records, or at least hot-swappable. They desparately need a deep clean, as you can see, but touching the needle makes sound, so that's a great sign. 



I wanted to see if the turntable belt was smoked, and to my surprise, there is no belt! I have only ever seen direct drive and belt-driven tables, and this was new to me. This has a friction disc that sits against the motor spindle and the platter. Adjusting the RPM drops the disc down to a different part of the motor spindle, multiplying the speed. Definitely an interesting way of doing things. 



Problem was, the friction disc wasn't making proper contact with the motor spindle. I messed with it for a bit and the return system for the automatic record changer setup seemed to be the culprit. I popped the platter back on, and all speeds were present and accounted for! 

And here's some pics from the seller:










As you can see, the tube chassis is super clean, and after messing with things, everything works. The one curious thing is that these had an optional FM "Multiplex" unit that this doesn't have. FM wasn't as prevalent as it is now, but if you had this unit, you could get broadcast stereo sound. It only gets mono sound over the radio. I think the only way to get one of those units (which plugs into the plug you see in the top of the pic above) is a time machine, but at least the turntable plays in stereo. 

And where the LERN ME comes in: This is my first piece of electronics with vacuum tubes. It's also a "hot chassis" unit, and has a non-polarized plug. I want to be safe when working on it if I have to, and I know these things can severely hurt someone if you touch the wrong thing. I'd like to add Bluetooth to it somehow, but also don't want to mess with it too much, so I may explore just getting a FM modulator and broadcast it to the unit. Looking forward to learning more about this thing; it's cool!

NermalSnert (Forum Supporter)
NermalSnert (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
2/25/24 7:46 p.m.

Wow! It's looks like it's in really good shape.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
2/25/24 8:15 p.m.

Doing some more research:

Apparently, this has a Voice of Music record changer, likely Model 1235. This is a solid unit judging by what I am seeing, and highly sought after. They switched to some cheaper turntable units a few years later, so I feel lucky. They still make service parts for them, too. People like to rob these tables from old consoles and build cases for them as standalone players. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
2/25/24 8:28 p.m.

Wow, to think what this radio has broadcast/endured!  Aside from The Bay of Pigs and two Kennedy assassinations along with MLK it also played that new group, The Beetles, a landing on the moon, and much much more.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
2/25/24 8:30 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

I never thought of it that way. It's remarkable when you think about it! 

Russian Warship, Go Berkeley Yourself
Russian Warship, Go Berkeley Yourself PowerDork
2/25/24 9:31 p.m.

I have about 15 MCM consoles presently.  Mostly Grundigs, but also several Maggies and RCA, etc.  I have yet to see a belt on any of them.    The lube in the changer mechanism tends to dry out and turn into a tar after 40-50 years, and the rubber wheels will wear and flat spot.  A complete disassembly and cleaning with fresh lube on reassembly usually will bring them back to life.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
2/25/24 10:09 p.m.

In reply to Russian Warship, Go Berkeley Yourself :

I am so used to later stuff that I had no idea they made ones like this! I have two other vintage turntables; one belt drive and one direct drive. Never really messed with anything from this era before today. I have much to learn. 

I am glad that they still make parts for this one. The idler wheel looks to be in great shape with not much wear. I'll have to test it out after cleaning it all. If it needs parts, I'll be able to get them. 

Trent
Trent PowerDork
2/25/24 10:40 p.m.

Woah! Transformerless. 

 

The danger factors are clearly different than guitar amps with that design and tube set but still shouldn't be overlooked. An isolation transformer is the route to safety.

In the circuit, every electrolytic capacitor will be bad and a lot of the carbon composition resistors will have drifted.  If it makes a solid hum when turned on the filter caps are your first stop. 

03Panther
03Panther PowerDork
2/25/24 10:42 p.m.

I haven't worked on a console like that since trade school electronics in '79-'81 laugh

I tell folks, when I teach a little ohms law and basics, I might be one of the last classes to be taught electronic theory on tube theory! 
Problem is, I went mechanical right after, and did not continue working around any tube chassis, and, well I've slept since then! Plus, if you remember the '70s...

I would highly recommend putting a polarized plug on it. Other than that (and pointing out it's AWESOME) I got nothing. 

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/25/24 11:25 p.m.

Nice score. I've heard that the best tubes are made by the Russkies, not sure how hard they are to get nowadays what with the Ukraine war and all. Here's a nice history lesson on The Voice of Music.com: V-M Corporation Brief History

Have fun with your new hobby. smiley

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
2/26/24 8:14 a.m.

Some more notes:

-I've heard that old electrolytic capacitors can be an issue on older tube radios like this. I've never swapped capacitors, but I'm handy with a soldering iron from working on guitars/old video game consoles. Not sure where to even buy stuff like that these days. We do have a store called You Do It Electronics in the Boston area, but they lean more toward newer tech at this point. Maybe they still have that stuff? 

-I've also read in some places that if things are still working and don't look leaky, leave them alone. Not sure if that's accurate, but this doesn't exhibit any humming/smoke/etc from use. It was tested by the seller, and I had the thing running for a few hours with no issues. In fact, it seemed to sound better and work better as time went on. 

-I would definitely like to replace the current plug with a polarized one, but don't know what I need to do there, either. 

DrBoost
DrBoost MegaDork
2/26/24 10:09 a.m.
John Welsh said:

Wow, to think what this radio has broadcast/endured!  Aside from The Bay of Pigs and two Kennedy assassinations along with MLK it also played that new group, The Beetles, a landing on the moon, and much much more.

When I picked up my first antique radio, built in 1941 or 1942 I think, I thought that same thing. WWII victory, 'nam, moon landing, Kennedy, etc, etc, etc. On that vein, I turned it on to listen to some of the 9/11 coverage just to continue the lineage. That sounds more dorky now that I type it out, but it felt right at the time. 

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/26/24 10:16 a.m.

In reply to Tony Sestito :

Parts-Express.com: Capacitors

And then join this forum, these guys know everything.

AudioKarma.org: Tube Audio

And then watch out during extreme solar storm activity, you just might receive time warped broadcasts from the 60's. smiley IMDb.com: Frequency the Movie

akylekoz
akylekoz UltraDork
2/26/24 3:03 p.m.

Looks like this turn table.

akylekoz
akylekoz UltraDork
2/26/24 3:04 p.m.

Local FBM is full of console HiFi's for $50-$400.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
2/26/24 3:12 p.m.

In reply to akylekoz :

From what I've learned so far, Voice of Music made a lot of turntables for many different manufacturers. The one in your pics is a variation on the one I have for sure. It looks like they made a small platter and a large platter version of the 4-speed model (mine is the small platter), and they used different changer and tone arm shapes and colors to match customer specs. 

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
2/26/24 4:07 p.m.

If you had told me 40 years ago that one day Dad's old Sears Silvertone console stereo would be "cool," I'd have laughed at you. 

03Panther
03Panther PowerDork
2/27/24 2:29 a.m.
Tony Sestito said:

-I would definitely like to replace the current plug with a polarized one, but don't know what I need to do there, either. 

Basic AC thoughts:

look at a modern receptacle back. There will be a gold color screw, a silver screw, and a green screw. 
Always remember " white to bright"

The white wire goes to the silver (bright) screw. The ground wire (either bare copper or green insulation) goes to the green screw. And the black wire, goes to the screw that's leftover. Will be goldish color, if you've got it right!

I can never remember If the black goes to the larger prong, or the smaller, but get that right and your set. I can go into more detail, if needed. Including which prong is black! (I'd have to look at a receptacle  I have laying around)
P. S. In house wiring black is the "hot" lead, white is neutral, and before the wires come into the house, ground is tied to the neutral (white). That's why the polarized plugs are safer. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
2/27/24 8:32 a.m.

In reply to 1988RedT2 :

My grandparents had an old Zenith console stereo. My dad and uncle bought it for them at a place called Building #19 in Hingham, MA. Anyone in the Boston area probably remembers Building #19; it was a wholesale closeout store that bought damaged and discontinued goods and resold them at dirt cheap prices. If you've ever been to an Ollie's, they basically stole the cartoons AND even the "Good Stuff Cheap" slogan from the old B-one-niner. At one point, my dad got word that they had a shipment of console stereos, so he went down there with my uncle and bought one (dad couldn't drive yet, and my uncle had a Rambler station wagon). When they got it home, he was surprised to find an early Rolling Stones album in there. He tossed it on and he was a fan ever since. 

By the time I was a kid, that stereo was basically relegated to being a plant stand. It was dorky and no one wanted it.  By that time, component stereo systems were the new hotness. 

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/27/24 9:54 a.m.
03Panther said:
Tony Sestito said:

-I would definitely like to replace the current plug with a polarized one, but don't know what I need to do there, either. 

Basic AC thoughts:

look at a modern receptacle back. There will be a gold color screw, a silver screw, and a green screw. 
Always remember " white to bright"

The white wire goes to the silver (bright) screw. The ground wire (either bare copper or green insulation) goes to the green screw. And the black wire, goes to the screw that's leftover. Will be goldish color, if you've got it right!

I can never remember If the black goes to the larger prong, or the smaller, but get that right and your set. I can go into more detail, if needed. Including which prong is black! (I'd have to look at a receptacle  I have laying around)
P. S. In house wiring black is the "hot" lead, white is neutral, and before the wires come into the house, ground is tied to the neutral (white). That's why the polarized plugs are safer. 

Not an electrician, but I'm sure the large prong is the neutral white wire.

03Panther
03Panther PowerDork
2/27/24 12:20 p.m.

In reply to VolvoHeretic :

Thanks! I was several hours past bed time, and not one of the things that has stuck in my head, over the years. Hey, polarized was relatively new stuff when I learned these things! 
that's a great picture

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito UltimaDork
2/27/24 12:30 p.m.

Next time I have a chance, I'll get some better pics of the insides of this unit. I've been reading conflicting info on whether I should bother messing with it at all, including adding a polarized plug. Some say that it will have zero effect on making it safer to use, especially if it's transformerless (and I think this one is). Of course, these could be the same people that say that everything older is better, and nothing built back in the day was failure-prone. 

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
2/27/24 5:15 p.m.
Russian Warship, Go Berkeley Yourself said:

I have about 15 MCM consoles presently.  Mostly Grundigs, but also several Maggies and RCA, etc. 

I picked up this Grundig Majestic console a year or two ago, but haven't gotten around to doing anything with it yet.  It did come with the original owner's manual and schematic which was nice.

To the original poster - does your console have an aux input, like for a tape recorder?  I believe you can buy a Bluetooth adapter that can be connected to it, although you may have to also include a DC power supply.

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/27/24 6:10 p.m.
Tony Sestito said:

Of course, these could be the same people that say that everything older is better, and nothing built back in the day was failure-prone. 

Not the 60's sound electronics but the the 70's for sure. smiley Of course no tubes to be found. Or records anymore for that matter because they don't play nice with subwoofers. (unless the turntable is placed in a back bedroom with its own line out preamp and you don't mind the exercise every 20 minutes to flip albums.) I'm actually just kidding, but not about the back bedroom turntable thing .

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
2/27/24 7:15 p.m.

Couple of suggestions -

See if you can locate a Sams Photofact service manual with schematics, or at least a schematic.  Makes working on it much easier.

If you're going to replace caps or other internal components, make sure it's unplugged (obviously), and give the caps a chance to discharge.  They can keep enough voltage to bite for a while.  I discharge them with a 100 ohm resistor and a jumper.

Pretty sure that's an old ceramic cartridge.  It won't do your records any favors.  There was a lot of progress made toward lighter tracking stylii in the 60's that are much nicer to the grooves.  If I were to stay original, I'd just get a few records that have already suffered some abuse.   Ceramic stylii (needles) should be cheap on ebay.

If this were mine, I'd look at replacing the electronics with a decent class D amp with bluetooth built in, and probably replacing the speakers and crossover with something modern.  (Parts Express)  I did this with an antique '20's radio and it looks cool and sounds great.

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