The deck was finally working, but one thing it couldn’t manage to do was hold a steady speed. When listening to an album it would speed up and slow down and regular tweaking of the pitch control was needed to keep it right. Also, the speed was inconsistent between 33 and 45 – if it was right on 33, it would be way off on 45.
Time to whip the back off and give it a good spray with contact cleaner. On the bottom there’s a hardboard back that comes off fairly easily, revealing the mechanism.
I sprayed the pitch control and 33-45 switch and worked the switches back and forth to get the spray into the contact area. I had to repeat this procedure several times before I could finally get a steady speed and a consistent 33-45 operation.
However, just when I thought I’d fixed it, the auto return mechanism went crazy. When putting the tonearm on the record, it would immediately think it had hit the end of the record and would stop the auto stop procedure. This time contact cleaner wouldn’t help me out.
This bit of the auto return mechanism looked like it had some very old grease, so I got as much as I could off with cotton buds dipped in alcohol, then sprayed the moving parts sparingly with a can of lithium grease on all the moving parts. There is also some moving parts in the tonearm that relate to the auto return, so I did the same – it was a bit fiddly but with the help of cotton buds, spray cans and bendy straws, I think I managed to get it sorted.
The next step was to work all the moving parts back and forward to get the new grease into them, spraying a tiny bit more grease on them to try and get it into all the parts it needs to go. Again, this didn’t work first time, but after persisting a few times it finally freed up and now the auto return works perfectly!
The next thing on the list was to add a record player. I found this Technics SL-B202 for sale at a cheap price. It was advertised as not working, needing a belt and a cartridge. Didn’t sound too bad – I decided to pick it up and have a go at getting it working.
First of all, I picked up a belt from a local electronics store. Luckily, they had the correct size I needed, so I didn’t have to order one online. I fitted the new belt, plugged it in and switched it on – the strobe light lit up and a ‘click’ could be heard when the tonearm was moved towards the turntable platter, but the motor didn’t spin. Spinning the platter by hand and working the speed control and 33-45 switch got it spinning eventually, if unreliably.
Next job was to look at the stylus – there was one attached to the cartridge, but the cantilever was completely bent. I tried to straighten it the best I could using some tweezers.
Next, I decided to find out if the cartridge was any good. I remounted the stylus and put on an old, scratched LP to try it out. The cartridge fitted was the original Technics EPC-U25 which came with the deck. A quick search online revealed that a lot of people are happy with it, so I thought I’d give it a try. The cartridge sounded fine in both channels and of decent quality, so I decided to order a new stylus instead of replacing the whole cartridge.
Now to find a stylus – Technics doesn’t sell them anymore, so I had to find a ‘compatible’ aftermarket stylus. None were available, so it was off to eBay to pick one up. There were plenty for sale. I didn’t pick the cheapest option – I looked for a highly rated seller, a well-reviewed brand and not shipped from overseas (I didn’t want to wait weeks for it!)
Time to spin a few discs to try it out!
Next was to get the CD player hooked up to an amplifier and speakers. While searching online for a used pair of speakers, I came across some Paradigm Titan V1 speakers for free on a local share group. Apart from a few scuffs on the cabinets, they seem to work well. Looking online, I noticed these speakers have foam surrounds which have a tendency to disintegrate. To check to see if the foam is intact, the front panels need to be removed, but they are fixed from the inside. A job for the future, but for now, I’ll leave them alone.
Plugging in the amplifier and hooking up the CD player and speakers was disappointing at first. I only got sound out of one channel and what sound was coming out of the speakers were breaking up. Luckily, I found a can of electrical contact cleaner in the car parts department of a local store. Taking the back off the amp, spraying the volume control and the switches, then working them back and forth restored perfect operation. Good as new again!
In 2004, most of my listening was done on my iPod. Parts of my hi-fi separates were sold on eBay or given to charity shops, but I kept the CD player and amplifier – they got packed up ready for a house move. For many years, they stayed in boxes. In 2018 I decided it was time to give them a spin once again.
First out of the box was my old Marantz CD-52 mk II. A quick clean with a damp cloth and it looked like new again. Power quickly brought it back to life, with one snag – the CD drawer was seized shut. Gently prying it open with and manually opening and closing the door a couple of times loosened it up enough to get it moving again. It now works great and I’ve had no further problems, but it might be worth re-greasing the gears to prevent it happening again.
It sounded fantastic with my headphones plugged in the front. Why did it stay in boxes so long, I wondered?
Next thing to do was hunt out the Marantz remote control, put a new set of batteries in and try it out. It’s not strictly necessary, as everything you need can be controlled from the front panel, but it’s nice to have anyway.