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 16rpm records - rare as unicorns?
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 Return to top of page · Post #: 1 · Written at 10:44:37 PM on 22 May 2014.
Maven's avatar
 Location: Canberra, ACT
 Member since 23 August 2012
 Member #: 1208
 Postcount: 584

I'm cleaning up a BSR turntable HF8 from a Pye radiogram R17-1A. The turntable has not serial identification that I have found yet.

It has a four-speed turntable - speed changed by just pushing the rubber idler wheel up and down a stepped drive shaft. Fastest is 78rpm (handy) and slowest is 16rpm.

I remember seeing these when I was young, but I don't remember ever seeing a disc to play at 16rpm.

Did they ever exist? Do collectors have any?


 Return to top of page · Post #: 2 · Written at 11:49:27 PM on 22 May 2014.
GTC's avatar
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 6338

 Return to top of page · Post #: 3 · Written at 7:19:01 AM on 23 May 2014.
Brad's avatar
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
 Member #: 1
 Postcount: 6758

I know they exist though I've never seen one. I was told once that they were mainly used for recording news broadcasts and other voice-only programming due to the low bandwidth offered by the slow speed.

A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 Return to top of page · Post #: 4 · Written at 8:59:20 AM on 23 May 2014.
Maven's avatar
 Location: Canberra, ACT
 Member since 23 August 2012
 Member #: 1208
 Postcount: 584

Thanks for the research.

Talking books make sense, music less so as that slow RPM would increase the relative affect of any flutter in the drive system - like we got to experience with slow-speed tape and cassette systems.

The Youtube example sounds like a transcription from an earlier shellac 78 disc. And being up-tempo, there are no long notes to expose wow or flutter.


 Return to top of page · Post #: 5 · Written at 12:28:06 PM on 23 May 2014.
Damien T's Gravatar
 Location: Perth, WA
 Member since 24 February 2014
 Member #: 1515
 Postcount: 23

16rpm discs were reserved for specialist applications which makes them somewhat scarce. I believe the addition of the 16 speed was enforced at a government level for some time due to it's use by the blind.

My personal encounters with this speed it through my collection of Seeburg 1000 Background Music System records. They are 9 inch 16rpm records with a 2 inch centre hole. A very proprietary system. They are muzak, but quite pleasing light music. There were several libraries tailored to specialist locations like fancy restaurants, grocery stores or factories.

The jukebox that played these was quite impressive and looked somewhat like a microwave. It played both sides of the discs in a large stack.

You can see a video of one of the (Christmas) discs playing on my Garrard 4HF here:

The sound quality is a little lacking as I was using the original Ronette at this point, whilst these discs really need a .5mil stylus

You can read more about the system here.
And listen to an old advertisement record here (This is cool)

Here is the original Seeburg jukebox for these records.

If anyone runs across one of these I am still trying to locate one in Australia, as shipping from the US is prohibitively expensive.

 Return to top of page · Post #: 6 · Written at 10:08:33 PM on 23 May 2014.
Maven's avatar
 Location: Canberra, ACT
 Member since 23 August 2012
 Member #: 1208
 Postcount: 584

Wow! What a great system in that Seeburg jukebox.
I like the Detroit chromed styling too - reminds me of the 60s.

 Return to top of page · Post #: 7 · Written at 9:59:10 PM on 24 May 2014.
Maven's avatar
 Location: Canberra, ACT
 Member since 23 August 2012
 Member #: 1208
 Postcount: 584

The BSR turntable (RP4 in the service data) is a dead simple machine, but for a simple machine it has multiple points of mechanical failure.

I checked and lubricated the synchronous motor and it spins fine, no sign of bad bearings. The motor shaft extends directly with a brass bush stepped to four diameters for the four speeds. A single rubber idler is held against the shaft and the other side of that idler is supposed to contact the outside rim of the turntable with enough pressure to turn it.

On first tests it worked fine on 78rpm but less well on 45 or 33 and not at all on 16. On the 16rpm setting, the idler is sitting at least 1mm clear of the turntable.

A tension spring holds it firm against the motor shaft, but the whole motor assembly is either slightly displaced or out of orientation so that the top of the shaft (also the narrowest diameter) is too far from the turntable.

I added another tension spring pulling the motor assembly towards the turntable spindle and it was enough to keep workable friction for the 33rpm, but not the 16.

The motor and shaft are bolted in position via three rubber bushes. I think at least one of these may have gone soft, though all are still apparently complete.

Any suggestions on replacement for such rubber bushes? Possibly cable grommets padded with slices of bicycle tube or other narrow rubber tube?

Also found the main turntable spindle was about 3 degrees off vertical - this thing has been thrown around at some time in its history. I have been able to correct that, but I think the motor mountings are the main problem.


 Return to top of page · Post #: 8 · Written at 7:40:54 PM on 25 May 2014.
Simplex's Gravatar
 Location: Bathurst, NSW
 Member since 7 August 2008
 Member #: 336
 Postcount: 349

Try Terry over in the states, he makes new rollers and such for tape recorders mainly.

A few years ago I sent over the idler wheel for a Garrard turntable and Terry made a new one.

Absolutely perfect and will last for many years.

Link: http://www.terrysrubberrollers.com/.

 Return to top of page · Post #: 9 · Written at 8:25:29 PM on 26 May 2014.
Maven's avatar
 Location: Canberra, ACT
 Member since 23 August 2012
 Member #: 1208
 Postcount: 584

Try Terry over in the states, he makes new rollers and such

Had a look - I'm sure he's a real pro, but it's a bit expensive for my budget. He has a funny collection of examples of DIY attempts at roller repair, sent to him after they failed.

Of course not many people would send him examples of DIY repair that were successful.

After more poking and prodding I realised that the basic problem probably was that the idler had shrunk or worn down to too small diameter to function properly.

I decided to give the idler a re-cap, like you used to be able to buy for car tyres until they were made illegal.

For my recap, I used a couple of 6mm slices from a thin bicycle tyre tube. I seldom throw anything away. It took a bit of effort to stretch these over the circumference of the idler, one at a time. They seem to be holding tight and have given the wheel an extra 2mm diameter of vulcanised rubber.

All speeds are now working.


 Return to top of page · Post #: 10 · Written at 6:34:26 PM on 27 May 2014.
Redxm's avatar
 Location: Tamworth, NSW
 Member since 6 April 2012
 Member #: 1126
 Postcount: 454

That is a really clever idea you have there. I'll have to file it in the old memory bank for later


 Return to top of page · Post #: 11 · Written at 2:30:37 AM on 7 June 2014.
NewVista's avatar
 Location: MilwWI, US
 Member since 10 May 2013
 Member #: 1340
 Postcount: 833

If anyone runs across one of these I am still trying to locate one in Australia

A place I worked in the mid sixties used to be agents for Seeburg Background and placed these around locations in Brisbane when a landline could not be rented, They would usually drop records on top of disc playing! And still be rotating when you arrived for service call! With stack of heavy records on tonearm turning slowly gouging disc! You would just restack the disks, very rugged vertical-motion mono stylus.

 Return to top of page · Post #: 12 · Written at 10:20:01 PM on 7 June 2014.
Maven's avatar
 Location: Canberra, ACT
 Member since 23 August 2012
 Member #: 1208
 Postcount: 584

I see you can still buy a packet of 25 steel phonograph needles online for less than a cappucino.


 Return to top of page · Post #: 13 · Written at 6:02:11 PM on 5 July 2014.
Gandhn's Gravatar
 Location: Cameron Park, NSW
 Member since 5 November 2010
 Member #: 770
 Postcount: 358

I have just fitted a bicycle tube band around a hard as rock idler wheel in a Garrard changer with great success. Thanks Maven. (Shame about daughter's bike!)
The drive was slipping at the lower speeds, 78 was OK, as the idler was so smooth and not gripping. It does make the turntable speed a little slower than original and my next test is to see how far out it really is.

 Return to top of page · Post #: 14 · Written at 9:36:01 PM on 5 July 2014.
Marcc's avatar
 Location: Wangaratta, VIC
 Member since 21 February 2009
 Member #: 438
 Postcount: 4701

Make sure that the roller bearing that most turntables have at the base of the platter is clean & free it is often forgotten & some BSR turntables have a bad habit of seizing the platter bearing, and there is no non destructive way of getting it to move.

If the idler is working properly the thrust should drag it into the platter. Make sure there is no oil on the driven surfaces, that happens easily when lubricating. If you used grease in the thrust bearing and did not clean it of the old soap, it may solidify.

I love turntables (like rat poison). I have one here where some cheapskate idiot has made the gearbox out of Die cast (Pot metal). It is, like a lot of that crap: Disintegrating.

Just to help my disposition, I have another 1940's gram coming in and I hope its not the same turntable.


 Return to top of page · Post #: 15 · Written at 10:28:17 PM on 8 November 2015.
Airzone's Gravatar
 Location: Maclean, NSW
 Member since 30 May 2008
 Member #: 291
 Postcount: 341

I have a number of 16 rpm records, they were used mainly as talking books and many are religious passages, teachings etc or children's books.
I have a hand crank gramophone that was sent with missionaries to spread the gospel, with the player is religious teachings on 16 rpm disc. There were basically disposable.

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