of an RCA record player is a time-consuming methodical process.
The information in this section emphasizes the many steps involved
in transforming a run-down, neglected RCA record player of the early
50s into a shiny, well-oiled instrument of nostalgic sound, worthy
of display in your home.
inform you of my restoration process, I’ve chosen the RCA Model
45 EY2 player, which I consider to be the most popular instrument
of all the many models offered by RCA during 1949 through 1956.
Figure 1 shows a typical player in need of restoration. Most neglected
players like this one have a number of problems, making the player
unusable in its present condition and not worth a second glance.
Figure 1. Unrestored 45 EY2 Record Player
percent of the time the electric cord to the player is dry and
brittle with the rubber insulation cracked, exposing the dangerous
copper wiring. If the player can be plugged in, usually a very
load hum is heard from the speaker, indicating problems with the
built-in amplifier. The cartridge that holds the needle will always
require replacement. The original cartridge in the player has
a crystal element which most assuredly has dried up over its 50
plus years of life. Once the crystal cartridge has dried up, no
sound is produced.
changer mechanism which sequentially drops and plays your 45s
will be in need of cleaning, repair, lubricating and adjustment
as it too has not withered the many years it has endured in a
hot attic or damp cellar. Two rubber wheels inside your player,
called the idler and the cycling cam, have probably dried up and
become brittle and do not function or no longer provide the smooth,
no stick, record changing action we expect to see with a restored
player. And finally, the grease used in these players has hardened
and thickened over the years to the point that it resembles very
thick, heavy axle grease. Grease in this form does not provide
for smooth, no stick operation for your record changer. So you
see there are a number of electrical and mechanical problem areas
in your player that require attention during the restoration process.
Neglecting any of these will assuredly increase the possibility
of additional problems in the near future.
start the restoration process by removing the two main assemblies
of the RCA Module 45 EY2 record player from the Bakelite case.
These assemblies are the record changer and the amplifier. See Figure 2.
Figure 2. The Record Changer (top) and the Amplifier
main components of the amplifier are three tubes, a speaker, a
volume control and several resistor and capacitors. During the
restoration, the electric line cord and the amplifier filter capacitors
are always replaced. Changing the amplifier filter capacitors
eliminates the hum that is often heard when the player is turned
on. The tube sockets are sprayed with contact cleaner to ensure
positive contact between the tube pins and tube socket. The three
tubes are tested in a tube tester and are replaced, if necessary.
The speaker may also require replacement if the speaker cone is
torn, dry or brittle. All
soldered connections are checked and repaired if necessary. The
remaining components in the amplifier are not changed, unless
required. My experience has shown that changing capacitors unnecessarily
can alter the sound quality produced by the amplifier. The amplifier
is tested to ensure it still produces the RCA “Golden Throat”
quality of sound.
record changer is completely disassembled during the restoration.
Disassembly involves removing the motor assembly, the cycling
slide mechanism used for changing records, the turntable and the
tone arm that houses the cartridge and needle. The cycling slide
mechanism is completely disassembled. All metal parts of the cycling
slide mechanism are cleaned in solvent to remove old grease, rust
or and dirt that would hinder the speed of the turntable or the
smooth, no-stick operation of the record changer. The rubber cycling
cam wheel is part of the slide mechanism and is cleaned, sanded
and revitalized to ensure smooth operation. Sometimes the rubber
on this cam is very hard and brittle and the cam must be rebuilt.
After cleaning, the cycling slide mechanism is reassembled to
the bottom of the changer where it is lubricated and adjusted
for smooth cycling operation. Also, the gold top plate of the
changer is washed and cleaned with a tarnish remover and waxed.
I do not repaint the gold top plate. Needle blemishes and wear
around the OFF/ON slide switch are buffed out, but some evidence
of this wear may remain.
motor assembly includes a small ac motor and the idler wheel.
The combination of the motor and the idler wheel govern the operation
of the changer including turntable speed (45RPM) and the record
changing operation. The motor is disassembled and the motor bearings
are lubricated. The idler wheel, like the cycling cam wheel mentioned
above is cleaned, sanded and revitalized to ensure smooth operation.
Sometimes the rubber on this wheel is very hard and brittle and
the wheel has to be rebuilt. The rubber motor mounts (3) that
secure the motor assembly to the changer are always replaced during
turntable includes a small trust bearing that is removed, cleaned
and lubricated. The turntable shaft is also cleaned of old grease
and lubricated. The intent is for the turntable to experience the
least amount of resistance as possible and to rotate smoothly at
the desired speed of 45RPMs. The turntable spindle onto which you
load your 45s has several small delicate parts within that are not
touched unless absolutely necessary during the restore. Proper operation
of the spindle mechanism ensures your 45s drop one at a time, on
cue, during the record changing cycle.
restoration includes a new ceramic cartridge and diamond needle.
I have tried several different brands/models of cartridges and
have located a GE cartridge that produces excellent sound through
the built-in amplifier and speaker. Installing the cartridge is
a very time consuming job as the cartridge must be adapted to
the tone arm to ensure a proper fit. Also, the replacement cartridge
is much lighter than the original metal crystal cartridge so that
the tonearm must be adjusted for proper balance, weight and tracking
characteristics. The pivotal arm onto which the tonearm is mounted
is completely disassembled cleaned and polished to ensure the
tonearm encounters minimal resistance as it plays your valuable
Bakelite case that houses your player is washed and waxed. I have
tried several types of waxes and have found one that provides
the ultimate shine. Cracks, scratches and blemishes cannot be
removed from Bakelite, so the condition of the case before restoration
should be very good to excellent to ensure good results with the
cleaning and waxing.
all the above procedures are completed, the player is re-assembled.
The changer and amplifier are installed into the Bakelite case.
The player is turned on and now begins the process of adjustment
and fine-tuning. Your player has no less than six changer adjustments.
They include pickup landing adjustments, pickup height adjustments,
tripping adjustments, mounting bracket adjustment, muting switch
adjustment and an adjustment to ensure the records do not hit
the tonearm when they drop to the turntable. I won’t detail these adjustments, but as you
probably expect these adjustments define the actions that take
place when your records automatically are dropped and played.
One must remember your player was a mechanical marvel in its day.
Proper adjustment is critical to ensure the player continual plays
your records without malfunctioning. During this stage of restoration I also ensure
the speed of the turntable is 45RPM and I check to ensure the
tonearm is balanced and not putting excessive weight onto your
valuable 45s. A complete restoration takes me approximately
8 to 10 hours. Figure
3 shows a restored RCA 45 EY2 player.
3. Restored 45 EY2 Record Player