The "iPod"

January 12, 2010

I have my grandpa’s old turntable setup, which is what I’m using to record these discs. Well, kind of. I’m using the turntable but putting it through a digital phono pre-amp.  I have his complete amplification system (except for speakers), but it’s not currently working. But here’s what I have.

Presto 64-A turntable:

I actually still have the original hang tag for it, although it’s so oil-soaked that it’s barely legible:

Here’s what I can make out with a magnifying glass:

  • Office Order A137 (I think)
  • Model 64-A
  • Serial No. S11-46
  • Inspected by Gil (?)
  • Date: 11-2-48
  • Remarks: Gear Dr Assembly

Here’s the gear drive assembly that I assume the remarks are referring to:

The motor on the right is for 33.3 rpm, the one on the left is for 78.  There are no hard attachments between the motor and the cabinet, or the motor and the turntable; everything is isolated so there’s no vibration or rumble from the turntable.

The tonearm is a Gray Research 12″ viscous-damped transcription tonearm. I also have a 12″ Rek-o-kut Micropoise that my mom thinks was never used; my grandpa had it as a backup.

So that’s the functioning part. Here’s the rest of the system.

  • Gray research phono eq unit. It has no identifying marks on it that I can find. It has settings for LP/Other, and Flat/Transcriptions & Quiet Records/Good Records/Poor Records
  • The Daven Company volume control, no identifying marks.
  • GE 4-watt phono preamp, catalog #UPX-003A
  • Altec A323-B amplifier

There’s a breakdown somewhere in all of that. My husband was able to get the Altec to work, or at least get the tubes glowing. But we haven’t been able to get any sound out of it in years. We’d love to get it all working again someday, but really don’t have any idea where to begin.

My mom tells me that the record player was on a bookshelf in their home from her earliest childhood memories until my grandpa moved in 1957. It was sometime shortly thereafter that he got the cabinet from a neighbor and mounted the turntable and everything else in it.

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