Fixing A Silvertone Record Player(circa 40's?) W/ Speaker//Help Me Through

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by canteenboy, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    If it were me, I would replace all the electronics - use the cabinet as a shell - modern turntable, modern receiver, external speakers. Won't be "vintage", but better sound.

    Just a thought.
    spaz21387 and Al Kraft like this.
  2. Turntables can sound great but not turntables from the 40's, they were all 78's and lo fi. The arms are heavy and the frequency response is limited at best. It will need to have all the old paper capacitors changed out as well as the electrolytics, check the tubes etc. The turntable will probably need a new drive wheel, will need to be greased and any bad parts changed and it would be very difficult to find parts for that. That is a big job, i would look for someone who can restore it for you, it would be worth it if you really like the thing, would be a conversation piece. You could buy old Chuck Berry, Everyly Brothers and Fat's Domino 78's on ebay and those would sound good. It would probably not be something you would use everyday except for the FM tuner maybe. The speaker is most likely an electromagnetic speaker which has an electro magnet rather than a permanent magnet. I collect antique radios including old shortwave receivers. The big problem with radios like you have is finding the parts but they are simple and not too hard to diagnose usually.
  3. canteenboy


    Jan 30, 2007
    Thanks for taking the time to respond. The speaker situation sounds tough. I thought it over and I think I want to go the route of using the original turntable and speaker. I'm getting an electrohome TT system in a month. Probably why I ended up jumping into this project. Since I'm getting something with decent sound, I want to use the TT and speaker on the Silvertone.

    This sounds like it's going to be a long while till this thing plays again. I'm into putting in the time though.

    I'm about to polish the metal. The polish I bought has some restrictions on antique finishes and certain metals. I don't want to put it on till I know it won't damage it. I'm hoping one of you guys know if this polish is a no go with this metal. Let me take some pics.
  4. canteenboy


    Jan 30, 2007
    20161025_205114.jpg 20161025_205326.jpg 20161025_205350.jpg
  5. First things first - get it working. Have an RIAA preamp between the turntable and amplifier. Once you hear it, that's when you can start improving. As it sits whatever vintage speaker is in there is pretty likely to sound as good as it can with older recordings - but changes in recording past the 60's will bring in more bass which might not be well reproduced by the speaker. Another potential problem is that you may have a mono catridge in your turntable - stereo records didn't become really commonplace until the late 50's/early 60's.

    Let me say it again - you won't know exactly what you've got in terms of sound quality until you get it working. Start there.

    If you want a vinyl-rig-of-the-gods, a 1940s platform is not the perfect start, but what you can do:
    - Swap the vintage speaker out. Sticky'd threads in Amps and Cabs will have guides on choosing speakers and doing enclosure modelling in WinISD for best bass response. As an aside, you can also hook up your TT to an exterior amp (if it's not a built-in amp) and run that to a set of speakers.
    - If you can find a cheap cartridge or new needle for the turntable, swap that as well.
    - Normally amplifiers affect sound the least in the signal chain in home audio, if you've already got one in there and it's not noisy as all hell, you might not have to do anything with it except maybe a retube. If the turntable has a built in amp you won't need another amp, of course. If it has an integrated amp, it's more than likely got an RIAA preamp too.

    After all those steps you'll have invested a chunk of change that you can't get back though.

    Another option is a budget setup for vinyl, from scratch - here's how I would do it if I was just starting out:
    - Modern turntable with built-in preamp, such as newer Audio Technica, Sony, Crosley (NOT the built-in speaker ones...).
    - Pair of powered studio monitors, or higher-end desktop computer combo (left+right speakers and small subwoofer). All you have to make sure is the speakers you pick have the right inputs or get adapters for RCA connectors. Listen before you buy, of course.

    You won't have to spend top dollar to get good sound if you go that route - you could probably get away with something really quite satisfying for under 400$.
  6. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass Inactive

    Sep 14, 2010
    probably want a schematic and start replacing wires and power caps. I had a large shortwave console that sat around for years would have took me forever to fix it. bought it for 50bucks. sold it to a guy on craigslist. he said " it will probably take me awhile to fix this" then he said yeah probably take me 6hrs to get it working. lol wow that's not a very long time. he said are you kidding I usually fix these in less than a hour. ok buddy ;) I said you get this thing fixed in 6hrs you can call me late and I wanna hear it on the phone. well 11o'clock at night my phone rings and he had it working. so yeah in the right hands some people can do months of work in 6hrs lol
    canteenboy likes this.
  7. canteenboy


    Jan 30, 2007
    Here's a pic of the back. 20161025_221926.jpg
    Old Garage-Bander and Spectrum like this.
  8. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    Cool, it's got a power transformer so no potential shock hazard (assuming it gets converted to a three wire power cord during restoration).
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
    canteenboy likes this.
  9. canteenboy


    Jan 30, 2007

    Extremely informative. Thanks for posting.
    I'm thinking of going the difficult route. I want to save as much of the TT as possible. I'm ok with replacing the speaker and pre amp. I really feel like changing the TT is like gutting the piece. I feel like if I keep the TT, I keep the soul of the console. Do you think old jazz records would sound great on this particular piece?

    Thanks again for all your info. Very helpful and informative. I'm going to get somebody local that has skills with this stuff to see what shape everything is in.

    Ha. Love this story. I can imagine him calling you.
    BioWeapon likes this.
  10. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass Inactive

    Sep 14, 2010
    for all you know it just needs new wires here and there and work fine.

    I had a old victrola that played 78s
    and enjoyed buying a lot of old jazz and big band records. so yes it's rather fun listening and collecting
    old records
    canteenboy likes this.
  11. canteenboy


    Jan 30, 2007
    After the final shine... Now to get it in working condition(obviously the hard part). 20161025_235855.jpg
    Spectrum likes this.
  12. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Fortunately, sears catalogs from 1948 can be found online. If you have a model number, you will be able to find a schematic. Good to have for anyone repairing it.

    Your unit sold for around $200 in 1948. That was a lot of money back then. Interesting, the doors on the sides were for books.

    Silvertone Order= 57DM 8118 Ch= 101.825-3F Radio Sears, Roeb

    FM back then was very rare. Many console radios were AM and Short Wave. After WWII, technology took off, everything was new and improved.
    Howlin' Hanson and Spectrum like this.
  13. canteenboy


    Jan 30, 2007

    Wow. Thanks for posting that link. I just fell deeper in love.
    beans-on-toast likes this.
  14. oldNewbie

    oldNewbie Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    A beautiful project , and lots of great advice so far but please consider leaving the TT alone , at least until you decide whether or not to take up another hobby , namely 78 record collecting. I'd suggest finding record collectors in your area, talk to them and get invited to listen to old records on old record players. You may be in for a shock, and might not really enjoy the sound quality .When they start explaining "listening through the imperfections" , you might take a minute to decide if you like the old setup more than modern digital restorations. OTOH if you just want a few records to play for guests, and enjoy the history of the engineering.
    Also, if you proceed with the TT when you meet this group, you'll find the really important bits : who has rollers, belts and cartridges, who knows how to put a better cartridge in the arm and get rid of some of the resonances in the that particular arm , etc.
    How about clean up the TT as nicely as the cabinet, leave it and put a nice digital source for your totally rebuilt tube amp. Bet the transformers are worth building a nice set around.For that matter, the open-back speaker looks like the baffle length is like 15" or so, max, so it'll roll off below about 200Hz. HF will be aimed at your shins. Sure you don't want to improve the loudspeaker too ?

    good luck
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
  15. I would not use anything stronger than windex and even that, you may want to test in some not so apparent areas first. The coatings, and copper and chrome clad finishes of this era are very thin and easy to remove. Whatever you do, don't think that you will be able to simply wipe the dust off the inside of the glass that has the radio decals mounted. Even whipping with a dry cloth can wipe them off the glass, then they are gone and you have a blank pane of glass or some very faded outlines left behind.
    When restoring a piece like this we always focused on the electronics and mechanical sections first otherwise, all the cleaning and refinishing work will be wasted when the repair comes to a screeching halt because you can no longer source a part to make it functional.
    The priorities should always be to get the electronics and mechanical sections functional first.
    Both the TT and Tuner/amp are modular units and may need a bit of thought and patience to remove from the cabinet. In this manner the cabinet can then be refinished separately from everything else. Just try to think like the person who designed it for quick and easy building and servicing.
    TT.--Before attempting this try to source a replacement cartridge and needle first.The metals used in the TT are mostly "pot metals" cast and reformed from scrap and recycled metals. The parts are often made of soft metals so soak them up with plenty of PB blaster before you take it apart, Taking the TT apart will be the most intensive part of the process and depending on the condition (level of rust and dried lubricants) may have to be done very slowly as not to cause damage. I would suggest that if you try this yourself you take plenty of pictures of the process as you go. You will find that a total disassembly, lubrication, source replacement parts and replace, and reassembly process can sometimes take days or even weeks from beginning to end. If you are patient with doing this kind of work a full and successful restoration back to functionality can be achieved.
    Tuner/Amp--More than likely what others have said is true.60+ years of age have had there effect on the caps and it is the very construction of many caps that lead them to leak and fail over time. A full check of components after this is achieved will tend to reveal things like drifting resistors and leaking diodes. All tubes are subject to testing and/or replacing and all sockets are checked and cleaned. If the dial cord appears to be dry(dust rises off it as it is moved?) you should replace it now. I think you posted earlier that the tuner actually works. This is a good sign that both the Tuner cap. and amplifier are already in good shape. DO NOT SPRAY ANY "TUNER CLEANER" into the tuner cap. This will destroy the tuning cap, and these are not replaceable.
    I hope this is not overly long but I hope that you understand to get this back to functionality is not easy. Often times this work made me think that it was a lot like open heart surgery. Understanding this can lead some people to defer this kind of work to an experienced tech. as opposed to taking it upon yourself, with the best of intentions, but either do not have the time money or commitment required to take a project like this to full completion. I wish you Good luck and hope to hear that you have completed this project in time, and get the reward to enjoy hearing this piece play great music again.
  16. As a museum volunteer I see a lot of old hi-fi donations, which we've finally learned to decline. I have done a few restorations myself and I'm very satisfied I did them but I won't do another unless something EXCEPTIONALLY special comes along. Time and patience in large supply are essential.

    The hookup wire in yours will all need to be replaced, which is no small task but not at all a project stopper. The electronics shouldn't be difficult to find replacements for but mechanical parts for the turntable will be hard to find. Rubber parts like friction rollers and belts get hard or may have flat spots that interfere with operation. Lubricants (!) will have gummed up or solidified over the years and will need to be expurgated. The speaker in there is a field coil speaker (a.k.a. electrodynamic; google it) so you won't connect just anything to it.

    As noted above, you can get the schematic diagram and service info for that model from Sams Technical Publishing ( which has been the service tech's go-to for 70 years. Above all, join a vintage radio club. You can't do better than hook up with them wot's been there/done that.

    On a tangent, our museum has a cool old console hi-fi in the gift shop and rather than restore the electronics we've hidden an MP3 player (which replaced an old Walkman) inside to entertain visitors with period-correct music.
  17. dan1952

    dan1952 Commercial User

    Jun 27, 2012
    Anderson IN
    Artist Endorsement with Supro Huntington Basses / Owner, Dan's Music, Inc..
    Looks like it's been wet. Not something worth messing with, find something in better shape.
  18. nbsipics

    nbsipics Ours' is the only Reality of Consequence Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    When you get done with that ( cool project! ), you can do this one :)

    Spectrum and spaz21387 like this.
  19. My older brother had a silvertone guitar from Sears like this with the case that had a built in amplifier. Man, those were the days.
    nbsipics likes this.
  20. LowG


    Dec 8, 2006
    Milwaukee, WI
    Lots of the old TTs like that can not have the stylus replaced due to availability. And even if you did, the weights are such that it'll wear out any nice vinyl really quick. I have an older portable one that I won't play any nice records on- only the dollar bin ones!

    I am planning to replace the tonearm and cartridge with a modern one wired up for mono, that would be a good path for you too. Then you can safely play quality records yet save some tone of the original system (admittedly though the stylus - cartridge - tonearm is a significant chunk of that...)
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