Peter Lundbergs Thorens TD124
Peter's comments: - Here are a few pictures of my restored TD124 - serial 20250. It is my first project and was a real mess when I bought it. Cleaned, Lubricated and adjusted to my best ability. New main bearing and polished motor- and stepped pulleys. Idler wheel from Audiosilente, Motor conversion kit from Hanze. Tonearm ABIS TA-1 fitted with a Hana SL. Chassis and armboard have been repainted. The plinth is massive high quality Birch plywood framed with solid Birch. It's built to my specs by a carpenter (guitar builder). And the feet? Well - very cheep Chinese stuff…. : D"
Over the last couple of years a range of different turntables have passed through my living room. TD318, TD165, TD125, Lenco L75 and a VPI Scout. Of those it was the Lenco that inspired me to my first project. It was stripped, and repainted. I made a big plinth in plywood which I veneered with walnut. An SME3012 in great condition was mounted and it played really well with its SPU pick up. However I was not entirely happy with the finish. Even if the casual observer couldn’t see it, the blemishes screamed in my eyes. So when I stumbled on a NOS Thorens TD 320 mk2, I had to buy yet another TT. I mean, how often do you get to un-box a brand new TT from the late 80/early 90-ties? Still beautiful, the brand new TD320 didn’t fulfill my needs for that vintage look or my need to fiddle around with the TT occasionally. So, in March 2020, a really worn TD124 mk1 with a SME 3012 was bought on a local auction site. Obviously in desperate need for restoration it still attracted quite some attention and before the dust settled 155 bids where made. I don’t remember the number of bidders but obviously I was the most stubborn. When it finally arrived at my home it was in a beaten up cardboard box. The seller had packed it fairly well with bubble wrap in different sizes (obviously used before), old pieces of wrinkled newspaper pieces, a sweater and a pair of ladies nylon stockings...... Imagine!
The serial of the unit is 20250. Its E50 motor has no oiling hole in its lover cover. The stepped pulley rides on top of a pin together with a ball bearing. I think this was changed later in the production of the MK1.
Both the TT and the arm were very dirty. The TT had all the parts needed to run, but the SME 3012 was, among other things, missing its bigger rear weight. Both were very dirty. Switches on TD124 were stiff from old hardened grease. After an initial cleaning, to get the parts moving at all, the TT was up and running. Although running very slow I judged it to be possible to restore. I dismantled everything, cleaned the parts up and changed bushings and felt rings in the E50 motor. Some other new parts was installed:
Motor pulley and stepped pulley showed some marks. First I thought it was dirt but cleaning with Isopropyl-alcohol didn’t remove everything. Mounting the pulleys in the bench drilling machine gently polishing the surfaces almost removed the oxidation marks. The chassis was masked and matted with 1200 grit paper. After that the chassis was, together with the tone arm board, sprayed (first by me, then by a professional) with a color similar to the original. Restoring the SME is a project on its own, so a brand new ABIS TA-1 tone arm was ordered from Stefan at Akkelis Audio, The arm was intended for one of Akkelis' own TD124 projects and was chosen by them, and then by me, because of the combination of looks, price and performance. The Hana SL was moved from my previous TT to the TD124.
Listening to the assembled TT was a very rewarding experience. Its something special to hear a TT that you have rebuilt yourself finally come to life! But some work still remained. The doctors stethoscope revealed some noise from the main bearing and the tonearm could not be lowered enough in its base. After installing a Swissonor bearing it went silent. If one now leans forward over the TT and listens carefully, one might -just might- hear something from the pulley-stepped pulley-idler chain. Finally a friend machine-turned the base of the tonearm so the arm could be lowered a couple of millimeters. Another thing needing attention was the main platter. For some reason it was ever so slightly tilted on the main bearing. I had a mechanical workshop measure it and they did some shimming on the interface between the platter and the bearing. That improved the wow & flutter measurements.
I must confess that I did not play the TT very much in its original plinth. I had already been seduced by all the pictures of TD124's in big massive plinths and decided to go that route. My cousin, a skilled carpenter who builds acoustic guitars, was trusted to do the woodwork. I downloaded some drawings to which we did some slight modifications. Material was decided to a core of Birch plywood of furniture quality glued inside a frame of solid Nordic birch. It ended up 115 mm high and with a weight of 7kg. A double sided IEC-contact was mounted in the plinth to allow for easy disconnection of TT from plinth and the whole player from the mains outlet. The plinth was stained to match the wooden cabinet of the amplifier. We also chose not to varnish the plinth, instead keeping some of the liveliness and structure of the birch.
So what remains to do? I will try another E50 motor to see if that improves startup time and the wow & flutter measurements further. I will also try some decoupling feet. But most important - I will play a lot of music on it!