1. Thread galleries are live! Please let us know what you think of them in the thread in the Observation Bar.

1930's Record Player for the Blind

Discussion in 'Radio' started by PrismaticQueen, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. PrismaticQueen

    PrismaticQueen New in Town

    Hi guys! I"ve been lurking around the forum for months but have inherited something I just had to post.


    This is my great-grandfather's Warwick mfg. Record Player. From what I can gather, they are pretty rare, considering they were made for the Library of Congress to give out to legally blind citizens, like my grandfather. They were made in the 1930's as part of Roosevelt's social programs. Each week the LOC would send my grandfather a record ( with the label in Braille) that had that week's news, points of interest, music, etc. basically anything that would normally be found in your average newspaper. He received these records well into the 60's.
    I would LOVE to be able to listen to the records, but unfortunately, the player does not work. I can hear the speaker come on, but the turntable does not turn, nor do I have a needle for it. It is Warwick MFG model AD (5) 06058. the label inside says it requires an ASTATIC 85D or 83-7D. but I can not find any information on those types of needles.
    So, a few questions for all of you. Does anyone know how I can obtain the needles required, or how to fix the turntable? I think it might just need cleaning or some minor repair I could probably fix, but I'm afraid to mess with it for fear of ruining it. I live in North Mississippi, and there aren't any record repair places around here. Also, if I get my player fixed, would anyone (besides myself) be interested in the contents of the records? Thanks!
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    There could be a lot of issues with the turntable -- does the motor run at all? If you lift the platter part of the turntable off the spindle, you should see a motor drive shaft and a rubber-tired idler wheel. Does the motor shaft spin but not make contact with the wheel, even after the speed control is moved from position to position? Or does the motor not spin at all?

    The needle situation is not insurmountable -- these players used a crystal cartridge, and the crystal will likely be dead if the unit's ever been stored in a damp environment. West Tech Services rebuilds crystal cartridges to the original specifications, even if your cartridge is a discontinued type.

    The amplifier would likely need a new filter capacitor -- it hums loudly when you turn it on, right?
  3. PrismaticQueen

    PrismaticQueen New in Town

    It doesn't hum loudly, I can just hear it click and know it's on because I can hear the interference from my cell phone. I can't lift the turntable off to see underneath it, it had a collar that went around the peg, and I took it off, but still couldn't lift up the turntable to see underneath.
  4. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    If you put your ear to the turntable platter, do you hear any humming from the motor?
  5. Mid-fogey

    Mid-fogey Practically Family

    The Virginia Peninsula
    Record Player for the Blind...

    ...sounds like an album title.
  6. radiotvnut

    radiotvnut New in Town

    I just stumbled upon this forum and this thread and I think I can be of some help if you happen to see this.

    I am legally blind, collect and repair old record players, TV's, and radios. I am also very familiar with these "talking book" record players and am a user of the Library of Congress talking book program.

    Your machine is from the early '60's and was originally a two speed (16 2/3 rpm and 33 1/3 rpm) model. When the 8 1/3 rpm talking book record came out in the mid-to-late '60's, many existing two speed machines were modified to play the additional speed of 8 1/3 rpm.

    The platter not turning can be caused by several things. First, you will need to remove the clip around the turntable spindle. If the platter still will not lift off, lightly tap the top of the spindle with a rubber mallet a few times. The platter should now easily lift off. If it still does not come off, apply a few drops of 3 in 1 oil around the spindle and let the oil soak in overnight. Above all, don't force anything as damage will result.

    Once you get the platter off, you should see the drive mechanism at the rear of the machine. You will see a rubber drive wheel, which is designed to transfer power from the motor shaft to the platter. Over time, these wheels become hard and slick. When this happens, they lose the ability to grip the rim of the platter. The result is erratic speed, slow speed, or no platter rotation at all. Unfortunately, these wheels are NLA; but, they can be rebuilt for around $30. I use Ed Crockett of www.vintagelectronics.com in Hattiesburg, MS. He can also likely supply you with a needle for this player.

    The other problem that often keeps the turntable from turning are the three cone shaped rubber motor mounts. These are made of rubber and when they fall apart, the motor will hang down and the motor shaft will not be able to make contact with the idler wheel. You can get these mounts from www.tubesandmore.com.

    While you have the turntable off, power up the machine and see if the motor turns. The pointed knob to the right will be the master power and volume control. The round knob to the left will be the motor on/off switch and tone control. Make sure this control is turned to the "on" position. Even if the motor turns, it would probably be a good idea to take the motor apart, clean out the old lubricant, and re-lubricate it with a good lightweight machine oil.

    In order to get the motor out and to replace the motor mounts, you will need to remove the motorboard. To do this, you'll need to remove all of the larger head screws around the perimeter of the top of the motorboard, the two screws that hold the lid support to the motorboard, and two screws that are located on the bottom of the player. You should now be able to lift out the motorboard, which will expose you to the amplifier chassis and the drive mechanism.

    Just take your time when working on the drive mechanism. There are many small clips and washers that are easily lost. So, take note of where everything goes and take care not to lose any of the small parts.

    As far as the needle, I think an Astatic 83D will work in this player. If you can't find an 83D, an Astatic 89T will also work. These are known as power-point cartridges that contain an integrated cartridge and needle in a single plug-in assembly. If a correct needle can't be found, the entire cartridge can be replaced with something more modern. Just make sure the new cartridge has an output of 1 volt. Anything less will not be able to drive the amplifier to it's full potential.

    You'll probably also want to replace the rubber mat on the turntable platter. This is especially true if you have any of the 9" flexible disc records because these records will slip on the turntable if there is not a good rubber pad for them to grip. I've used those rubber mats that were designed to go in a kitchen cabinet to keep dishes from sliding around. Of course, I had to cut it to fit the platter; but, it worked fine.

    If the volume and tone controls make static as you turn them, you can spray a good control cleaner, such as Deoxit, in the controls and work them through their range a few times. This will eliminate the static as you turn the controls. Other than static in the controls and an occasional bad tube, the amplifiers didn't give much trouble in these models.

    I'll tell you that those old tube type talking book players in the "AD" and "AE" series were, IMHO, the best machines that were ever issued by the Library of Congress. Starting in '68, the first transistorized plastic cased models began to be used and the quality just kept getting cheaper and cheaper until the end of talking books on record. I have one of the last plastic cased Library of Congress record players from the mid '90's and it does not sound nearly as good, nor is it built as well, as my mid '60's model that is similar to yours.

    As far as history goes, the first talking book records from the mid '30's were recorded at 33 1/3 rpm. This was the standard speed until the 16 2/3 rpm books came out in the late '50's-early '60's. In '65, the first machines with 8 1/3 rpm speed came out (AE series) and by the early '70's, the 8 1/3 rpm talking book became standard and was used until the last magazines on flexible disc were discontinued in January, 2001.

    4-track cassettes, recorded at 15/16 IPS, is what phased out the talking book record. Now, digital cartridges are taking over and cassettes are almost a thing of the past.

    Good luck on getting it going and please let me know if I can be of further help.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
  7. doctorjhandy

    doctorjhandy New in Town

    Radiotvnut - do you still exist? I have this exact same radio and need some help getting the motor to work.
  8. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    A few years ago some website put up 4 hours worth of .mp3 files of the bestselling detective novel The Bat, read by radio announcer Jimmy Wallington in 1932 on a series of RCA Program Transcriptions - those 33 1/3rpm plastic records that were made basically to sell new phonographs and, as such, were a terrific flop.

    The website has since been pulled down and the files marked 403 (forbidden access), but I suspect it was some sort of field test for the Talking Book program. In other words, the idea probably pre-dated the New Deal.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.