When this arrived, something about the accumulated neglect wasn't very impressive, though nothing was damaged in transit. No doubt about it, this was definitely a fifty year old chunk of machinery, and looked it. But easily the most brickhouse construction I’ve ever seen, and from the innocent era; that is, before broad beams of acrylic and thick plates of aluminum were added to convey “intent” or “seriousness” or something….. And even before Garrard itself found the need to please the missus by going to the more parlor-appropriate ivory enamel a few years later.
There was a lot here that was redolent of all things Fifties Brittania, leading you down the path of Ealing Studio films, Austin-Healey motorcars, Cunard liners, Kingsley Amis novels, and the Cold War.
As opposed to the 401, which tended more toward velvet-collared suitcoats, Jaguars, and wining-and-dining Julie Christie ... Maybe with one of those George Martin produced recordings.
As per the Garrard manual, a beautifully illustrated little book, it took both gentle / insistent lifting from both edges of the platter and then a sharp knock from a woodblock on the spindle from above to remove the platter. This is an operation that requires two sets of hands. ( Once clean you can apply a thin coat of paraffin wax to the lower spindle to allow a smoother de-plattering procedure in future… )
This is probably the right time for the short warnings list….. Don’t score, scratch, or handle with coarse tools---- any of the motor or spindle bearing parts. Don’t try this if you’ve got well-reasoned doubts about wrecking one of the last of an endangered species of handmade analog transcription transports. When it’s not going, don’t force. If you haven’t got the exact tool that’s necessary don’t improvise, get the right one. Fixed-jaw wrenches, please, not some raggedy pliers to gnarl things up. Relax into this whole thing… it can’t be rocket science if I was able to do it.
Oh, and what’s coming is the turntable equivalent of an oil change, so be prepared with lots of cleanup materials.
With the platter off, I was pleased to find that the motor suspension is functional, the motor itself seems very smooth and true when twirled by hand, and exhibits not a hint of side-to-side play…. I think I may just get away with some discreet injection-oiling of the upper and lower motor bearings and therefore won’t have to disassemble the drive-pulley, the eddy current brake, the shockmount, or motor. That will be the initial approach, anyway. My idler condition was fair, but round, and though it will eventually be a candidate for replacement it’s going to make it thru the trial runs.
The grease-bearing assembly itself is thick-as-a-brick with half a century’s accumulated lube samplings. This is similar to the kind of automobile maintenance where you may often conscientiously add a little oil, so you can tell yourself you really never get to the point of needing an oil change. On a quick look into the greasejet, turning the spindle around by hand, I can see there’s some basic black petro-base grease, some white-lithium grease, and sometime back there was someone who actually thought they’d mix in a little oil as well. This would be the big hurdle…. The spindle in this condition turned like it was stuck in molasses, and, though it was too early to say for certain, even as such the spindle bearing was showing no side-to-side play or any eccentricity whatsoever. This was the first and central test for this 301 project, and so far, so good.
Much of the initial work --- for me, across ten days or so—has to do with acquainting yourself with the mechanism and managing to free-up all the levers and linkages without forcing or grinding anything. I used lots of strips of clean white cloth and various popsicle sticks, chopsticks and toothpicks. Nothing should leave fibers behind, and nothing should be able to scratch. Lighter-fluid / naptha makes a good solvent for old hardened-up lube points, and for a start I went with the sewing-machine oil to get things moving again.
It was a good week of this tentative flexing till even getting close to plugging in. The motor is powerful and thus it’s important that nothing will bind. Site along the edge of the eddy-current brake and hand rotate the motor-shaft to check. Shift the pitch control to both extremes and check all along the way. Everything needs to line up.
But before plug in it makes sense to do the spindle bearing.