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Crazy Dave
14th February 2019, 12:25 PM
We seem to go through a lot of radios that only last a few years. Roberts are the main culprits, we've had four I think that have had a very limited life. My wife bought me a Ruark a few years ago, nice set with good sound until the volume control had - well no control. So, I was bought a new set for Christmas from John Lewis, well written up by Which! and almost certainly made by Ruark. It's kind of OK but only just.

The only radio in the house that I really enjoy is one bought in the 1970's made by Hacker when I thought I was moving to Italy. FM, Long and Medium waves with two short wave bands. It's a dream and with a wooden frame, the sound quality is superb.

The Psion Organiser (mid-1980's) is still going strong despite being a museum piece. What's your old-time favourite?

David

TimP
14th February 2019, 12:33 PM
the wife..........

Otto
14th February 2019, 01:36 PM
Roberts sell badged versions of other brands, as well as making their own. I had an R283 portable AM/FM radio with an LCD display that went flaky after a year or two and was unusable by the time I binned it after around five years. That was in fact made by Sangean, and the interwebs are full of complaints about the display failing. I also have a Roberts Colourstream internet radio which has been fine over the several years I've owned it, although the software does occasionally freeze.

I remember those Hacker radios, a friend still has one as well as a big collection of vintage Roberts radios, many of which also have wooden cases. I have a couple of pre-WW2 HMV valve radios and one of those Ecko ones in a circular Bakelite case, but none of them work properly! The problem with most modern stuff is the miniature push-button switches they use that fail in fairly short order. The Colourstream uses a touch screen so shouldn't suffer from that problem!

My Psion Organiser still works too but I prefer my iPhone, though I miss the programmability of the Psion.

And I really really like my OM-2n!

Naughty Nigel
14th February 2019, 02:25 PM
I am still using a pair of Quad II power amplifiers built back in the 1950's!

Better still, Quad service and repair them at the works in Huntingdon where they were built.

Parts are not cheap, but they do last. To be fair I had a transformer fail sometime in the early 1970's. I wrote to Quad, as one did in those days, and was surprised to receive a parcel a few days later with a letter saying 'Dear Sir, our transformers do not fail.'

I have some more recent Quad equipment from the 1990's which is solid state but otherwise just as good.

TimP
14th February 2019, 02:33 PM
I remember getting transformers rewound at a then local company.
I also remember building a bench PSU and winding my own transformer having first unwound a donor transformer. Still got it, built mostly out of RadioSpares (as was) components and housed in a welded up piece of probably 9” grey industrial trunking.
Happy days.

OM USer
14th February 2019, 06:04 PM
Some years ago I purchased an alarm clock radio cd player from Currys. A few years later I wanted another one for someone else so I bought the same thing from the same shop but it had a different brand name on it.

shenstone
14th February 2019, 07:05 PM
My Favourite old bits of kit have to be the Land Rover, Mini (classic not MW), and Morris 8

In terms of tech... I still have a 30YO casio calculator on my desk because sometimes its faster than kicking excel up and using that

Regards
Andy

Naughty Nigel
14th February 2019, 07:23 PM
Actually, I have an EMI oscilloscope, model WM8 that was built in 1959. It is quite a big and heavy beast and is all hand made with 4BA nuts, bolts and locking washers holding all of the components in place. I used to use it to keep my workshop warm in the winter but have not fired it up for a while.

I have a much newer (1988) Tektronix which is a much more advanced machine so I am hoping someone might be interested in the old EMI. It would be ideal as a stage prop for a period drama.

Otto
14th February 2019, 10:11 PM
I'd forgotten about my old alarm clock radio which I got from a local petrol station with Esso Tiger Tokens, probably in the mid-1970s. It's badged Bush but I doubt very much it was made by them, but it's still going strong and managing to wake me up in the mornings despite all the Rioja!

TimP
15th February 2019, 07:41 AM
Didn’t all those names / manufacturers from the past get bought up by Curry’s, Dixon’s etc, names like Garrard, Wharfedale, Bush, Murphy, BSR etc?? Only to reappear as rebadged tat from the cheapest manufacturer.

MJ224
15th February 2019, 08:12 AM
I bought an bog standard alarm clock (Casio) from Dixon's in Aberystwyth maybe 30 years ago. Nothing fancy about it, but it keeps time PRECISELY. Never looses a second...……….*chr

Compared with my car clock which gains several minutes a month...…..:(

Naughty Nigel
15th February 2019, 08:20 AM
Didn’t all those names / manufacturers from the past get bought up by Curry’s, Dixon’s etc, names like Garrard, Wharfedale, Bush, Murphy, BSR etc?? Only to reappear as rebadged tat from the cheapest manufacturer.

Interesting question. Most of the big names in high-end audio such as Mission, Quad, Wharfedale, Audiolab and Castle Acoustics were bought up and in many cases rescued by the Chinese owned IAG. Most production has moved to China but R&D and service is still UK based.

As for Garrard, I thought they had disappeared when CD's came along but as usual Wiki provides some useful information.

As you say Tim, "Only to reappear as rebadged tat from the cheapest manufacturer." :rolleyes:

Isn't it interesting how things always seem to go downhill when the USA becomes involved? :(

The Garrard Engineering and Manufacturing Company of Swindon, Wiltshire, was a British company that was famous for producing high-quality gramophone turntables. It was formed by the jewellers Garrard & Co in 1915. The company was sold to Plessey, an electronics conglomerate, in 1960. During the period 1976-1978, Garrard developed demonstrators of the novel video disc technology. Although the team recognised the future potential of this data storage technology, Plessey chose not to invest. After several years in decline, Garrard was sold by Plessey to Gradiente Electronics of Brazil in 1979 and series production was moved to Brazil (Manaus). The remaining Garrard research and development operation in Swindon was reduced to a skeleton operation until completely shut down in 1992. Then, Gradiente licensed the Garrard name to Terence O'Sullivan, now doing business as Garrard and Loricraft Audio, since 1997.

In the interim, the Garrard brand name was licensed to other companies in the USA, which imported many electronic items built by many different and unrelated Far Eastern manufacturers. Thus, one can find "Garrard" cassette decks, CD players, stereo receivers, boom-box radio/cassette machines, portable "Walkman" type cassette players, serial-port printer cables, universal TV/audio remote controls, and other miscellany, including turntables that had nothing to do with any original Garrard design.

Naughty Nigel
15th February 2019, 08:23 AM
I bought an bog standard alarm clock from Dixon's in Aberystwyth maybe 30 years ago. Nothing fancy about it, but it keeps time PRECISELY. Never looses a second...……….*chr

Compared with my car clock which gains several minutes a month...…..:(

Most car clocks now should be synchronised with RDS data, but as our daughter has found, this only works if you tune in to main BBC radio stations once in a while. ;)

Otto
15th February 2019, 09:11 AM
Not sure I'd class Garrard as "high quality". I saved up my pocket money and bought an SP25 turntable around 1969 when they were perceived as being good quality; however there was considerable play in the main bearing. Garrard used an idler wheel to transmit the drive from the motor to the turntable rim and I guess there was a mid-alignment somewhere which together with the play caused the turntable to rock from side to side as it rotated. This in turn caused a slight but noticeable "thud" in the speakers at a steady 33 1/3 beats per minute.

A few years later I upgraded to a Transcriptors Saturn which, guess what, had play in the main bearing. This time though I took it back and got a replacement under guarantee.

Apparently (Wiki) the Bush brand is now owned by Sainsbury's and sold exclusively at Argos!

Naughty Nigel
15th February 2019, 09:40 AM
Garrard's 'Transcription' decks such as the 301 and 401 were of very high quality, and were standard equipment in BBC studios and suchlike, but their consumer decks such as the SP25 were crap.

I didn't have problems with bearing play but the hum transmitted by the idler wheel from the motor and rumble from the bearings was no joke at all.

Interesting about Bush, which at one time was part of the Rank organisation.

MJ224
15th February 2019, 09:45 AM
Most car clocks now should be synchronised with RDS data, but as our daughter has found, this only works if you tune in to main BBC radio stations once in a while. ;)

The thought of listening to Radio 2 for some time would drive (sic) me crazy. But do listen to radio 4 quite a lot. The car is now nearly 13 years old (Mazda RX8) so would that have been suitably equipped then??:confused:

Otto
15th February 2019, 09:57 AM
Does the radio display the station name on FM? Can you get traffic info? If so then yes.

Otto
15th February 2019, 10:03 AM
Garrard's 'Transcription' decks such as the 301 and 401 were of very high quality, and were standard equipment in BBC studios and suchlike, but their consumer decks such as the SP25 were crap.

I didn't have problems with bearing play but the hum transmitted by the idler wheel from the motor and rumble from the bearings was no joke at all.

Agreed about the 401 at least, I've no experience of the 301. The SP25 was advertised as being of high quality (as it was for single records only, no autochanger) but as you rightly say, it was crap. The rumble was dreadful but as a 17yo who'd just left school it was all I could afford at the time.

At school there was a Connoisseur belt-drive turntable which had a synchronous motor that could start up in either direction at random, so as a result the on-off switch incorporated a rubber buffer which kicked the rim of the turntable so it started in the right direction!

MJ224
15th February 2019, 10:05 AM
Yes does all that...….But in the 9 years I have owned it, the dashboard clock has always gained a few mins each month.

Now, my little electric car (Citroen Zero) does not have a clock. I thought every gadget had a clock these days. I have had to stick an Ebay Chinese clock to the dashboard with Blu Tac………….:confused:

Sign of the (ha ha) times...………...*chr

Naughty Nigel
15th February 2019, 10:20 AM
Yes does all that...….But in the 9 years I have owned it, the dashboard clock has always gained a few mins each month.



There might be a setting somewhere...

Otto
15th February 2019, 10:24 AM
Yes, if I remember correctly my Saab had a setting to update the car clock from the RDS data and it defaulted to "off".

Naughty Nigel
15th February 2019, 10:28 AM
Agreed about the 401 at least, I've no experience of the 301. The SP25 was advertised as being of high quality (as it was for single records only, no autochanger) but as you rightly say, it was crap. The rumble was dreadful but as a 17yo who'd just left school it was all I could afford at the time.


I had the same problem at about the same age.

When I started work I spent most of my first month's pay on a second-hand Philips GA212 Electronic which I still have, and which still works perfectly some 45 years later!

I have been tempted by high-end Linn's and the like but I could never bring myself to part with the Philips. Interestingly, reading some online reviews recently it seems the deck is more highly regarded than I thought despite the brand name.

I currently have a Linn K9 in the headshell but have previously used a Shure V15 III.



https://vintagetycoon.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/20-768x576.jpg

Naughty Nigel
15th February 2019, 10:31 AM
Yes, if I remember correctly my Saab had a setting to update the car clock from the RDS data and it defaulted to "off".

I don't know about the current JLR models but the clock in my 2015 XF does not update itself, and there is no option for it to do so. JLR's explanation is that many of their vehicles regularly travel across international time zones that that most drivers would rather keep the same time. It is at least accurate.

Otto
15th February 2019, 10:47 AM
Philips have made some very good stuff over the years, I vaguely remember that turntable. A lot of CD players, especially Marantz, use Philips transports. They along with Sony of course developed the Compact Disc system originally.

I remember reading somewhere that the majority of people who say they prefer the "warmth" of vinyl records to CDs have Linn Sondek turntables, so it's actually the turntable they like the sound of, not the record itself!

My current turntable (which doesn't get a lot of use) is a Michell Focus One with a Linn Basik arm and an A&R P77 cartridge. I'm currently ripping my CD collection to .flac files so the whole lot will fit on a 1TB Seagate USB hard drive which, volume-wise, is probably no bigger than a single CD case! Played on a Raspberry Pi computer with a HifiBerry DAC+ Pro the sound is virtually indistinguishable from my Cambridge Audio CD player.

TimP
15th February 2019, 11:38 AM
I think my first ‘proper’ record deck was possibly a BSR MacDonald - seem to think it was a competitor of the Garrard SP25, forget the model, I might then have had an SP25 Mk 2 (if such a beast was sold). Moved onto a Goldring Lenco somethingorother, finally getting a Technics parallel tracking thing, which I’ve still got but no amp / pre-amp to connect it to....oh! And no vinyl that I could or would dare to lay my hands on.

Bikie John
15th February 2019, 11:43 AM
I guess we must be of similar vintage as I started with a Garrard SP25 as well. Got fed up with it pretty quickly, I think it got replaced with another Garrard with a rather odd name like Module 86SB. That served well for several years but was belt drive and the belt stretched and I got fed up replacing it. Then about 30 years ago I replaced everything with Technics stuff which also served well for a long time, and now I have a Rega Planar 2.

It does the job but hardly gets any use these days. Being a peasant I think CDs sound just as good as vinyl and are a damn sight more convenient, and most of the stuff I like has been reissued on CD as the record companies mined the wrinkly rockers' back catalogue.

My first monthly pay - all of £70 of it - went on an Akai 4000DS reel-to-reel tape deck. I tried it a little while back on an old tape and my goodness, it sounded awful!

John

TimP
15th February 2019, 11:58 AM
I guess we must be of similar vintage as I started with a Garrard SP25 as well. Got fed up with it pretty quickly, I think it got replaced with another Garrard with a rather odd name like Module 86SB. That served well for several years but was belt drive and the belt stretched and I got fed up replacing it. Then about 30 years ago I replaced everything with Technics stuff which also served well for a long time, and now I have a Rega Planar 2.

It does the job but hardly gets any use these days. Being a peasant I think CDs sound just as good as vinyl and are a damn sight more convenient, and most of the stuff I like has been reissued on CD as the record companies mined the wrinkly rockers' back catalogue.

My first monthly pay - all of £70 of it - went on an Akai 4000DS reel-to-reel tape deck. I tried it a little while back on an old tape and my goodness, it sounded awful!

John

I guess.

I always craved a Revox tape machine but it was far too expensive, despite having American family friends who has access to PX prices. Had a succession of cassette decks, starting with, I think, an Akai and next it was various Sonys.
They earned their keep, recording John Peel most nights for years. Wish I still had those tapes!

OM USer
15th February 2019, 12:23 PM
I'm pretty certain the family home had a Garrard Sp25 Mk IV. When the head unit went I upgrade it to a better one with saphire needles. I don't recall any sound issues with it. My early pay packets bought me a Sansui Radio/Amp and a matching Cassette player both of which I still have, although the radio now has a serious hissing noise on the audio. If I want decent Hi-Fi I use our stackable Sony system from 20 years ago.

My car has integrated touch screen RDS/Traffic & SatNav but I still have to set the clock manually.

Jim Ford
15th February 2019, 09:46 PM
I've still got a portable Sony TC-800 reel-to-reel I bought in 1968:

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/sony_sony_tc800.html

Jim

Naughty Nigel
16th February 2019, 09:15 PM
I see it runs on batteries too. I bet that would cost!

Jim Ford
16th February 2019, 10:17 PM
I see it runs on batteries too. I bet that would cost!

Yes, it takes 8 'D' cells, but also runs on mains, which I usually did.

Jim

Otto
17th February 2019, 09:48 AM
I see it runs on batteries too. I bet that would cost!


A friend has a few old portable valve radios which need a long-obsolete 90v high tension battery. He gets round the problem by connecting ten PP3s in series!

Jim Ford
17th February 2019, 11:29 AM
A friend has a few old portable valve radios which need a long-obsolete 90v high tension battery. He gets round the problem by connecting ten PP3s in series!

I guess that a Cockroft-Walton multiplier would also do it as the drain won't be much.

Jim

Keith-369
17th February 2019, 11:30 AM
A friend has a few old portable valve radios which need a long-obsolete 90v high tension battery. He gets round the problem by connecting ten PP3s in series!

Ooohhh I remember those batteries. Used to lug portable valve radios to the park to impress the girls back in the day ... worked at times too :D.

It was certainly not recommended to test them with your tongue :eek: (The batteries, I mean, not the girls ;)) ...edit ... then again :D

MikeOxon
17th February 2019, 12:12 PM
In my teens, I had a Philips EL3585 portable tape recorder - see Philips EL 3585 - YouTube
It was a remarkable design with two small (3" diameter) reels on top and was powered by 6 D-cells at the bottom. Unfortunately this was before the development of Dolby noise reduction, so sound quality was never great.

On a different subject, Jim mentioned the Cockroft-Walton multiplier. This needs AC or pulsed power to operate. Some portable equipment generated the pulsed power by means of a vibrator :eek:

Otto
17th February 2019, 01:00 PM
I think ten PP3s, some wire and some sticky tape would be rather simpler than the Cockroft-Walton solution! Back in the 60s my dad had a car radio (Smiths I think, but badged HMV) which used a vibratory converter to generate the HT voltage for the valves. It buzzed all the time which didn't matter much if the car was moving, but became annoying when parked with the engine off. No such things as transistors back then :).

Then there were the ubiquitous ex-MOD "19 sets (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_Set_No._19)" beloved of radio hams, they used rotary converters which were effectively a combination of a motor and a dynamo. The transmitter half of the set needed a higher voltage than the receiver so when you pressed the transmit button a second much noisier converter sprang into life!

TimP
17th February 2019, 01:10 PM
You’ve all transported me back to the 70s and listening to the wise old men I worked with. They must have been 50-60 then (OK, so it felt they were old when I was late teens) so I suspect some of you must have lied on that age survey!

Naughty Nigel
17th February 2019, 03:51 PM
I think ten PP3s, some wire and some sticky tape would be rather simpler than the Cockroft-Walton solution! Back in the 60s my dad had a car radio (Smiths I think, but badged HMV) which used a vibratory converter to generate the HT voltage for the valves. It buzzed all the time which didn't matter much if the car was moving, but became annoying when parked with the engine off. No such things as transistors back then :).

Then there were the ubiquitous ex-MOD "19 sets (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_Set_No._19)" beloved of radio hams, they used rotary converters which were effectively a combination of a motor and a dynamo. The transmitter half of the set needed a higher voltage than the receiver so when you pressed the transmit button a second much noisier converter sprang into life!

Yes indeed. They had a mechanical multivibrator which drive a step-up transformer as a crude inverter generating the 200 volts or so needed for the valves' anodes.

Later designs used germanium transistors in the audio/output stages but used 'low voltage' valves in the RF and IF stages.

The early transistor car radios retained output transformers which meant the transients created by disconnecting the loudspeakers when the radio was on invariably bu99ered the output transistors! *yes

Jim Ford
17th February 2019, 07:31 PM
I think ten PP3s, some wire and some sticky tape would be rather simpler than the Cockroft-Walton solution!

I remember building a Cockroft-Walton multiplier from a Wireless World (or Practical Electronics) design using a couple of OC81s driving a tiny mains transformer (must have been backwards) and a 'ladder' of diodes and capacitors. It was all very small and produced sparks that would punch through paper.

Jim

Crazy Dave
4th March 2019, 12:48 PM
We seem to go through a lot of radios that only last a few years. Roberts are the main culprits, we've had four I think that have had a very limited life. My wife bought me a Ruark a few years ago, nice set with good sound until the volume control had - well no control. So, I was bought a new set for Christmas from John Lewis, well written up by Which! and almost certainly made by Ruark. It's kind of OK but only just.

The only radio in the house that I really enjoy is one bought in the 1970's made by Hacker when I thought I was moving to Italy. FM, Long and Medium waves with two short wave bands. It's a dream and with a wooden frame, the sound quality is superb.

The Psion Organiser (mid-1980's) is still going strong despite being a museum piece. What's your old-time favourite?

David

Apologies for resurrecting this thread. My Christmas radio present bought from John Lewis is officially 'dead'. Total cr*p.

David

DerekW
4th March 2019, 02:55 PM
We have found FM reception with portable radios very poor with lots of interference. We now use internet radio distributed round the house, all the speakers are synced and no audible interference.

Probems are that the signal is 35 seconds behind the pips on FM and if the internet fails then the radio drops out, that is when the FM tuner in the hifi system is used (it has a rooftop aerial) with the volume turned up.

So far so good.

Otto
4th March 2019, 03:19 PM
The trouble with analogue radio now is that there are so many services vying for bandwidth which can interfere with reception, especially on older sets that were never designed to cope with current levels of interference from mobile phones, wi-fi, wireless doorbells etc. I live in a fringe area for FM reception and some portables work and some don't; none will get noise-free stereo. DAB is a non-starter without a roof aerial although I have one spot on a bedroom windowsill where a DAB portable works. For high quality reception I use internet radio as DAB sounds so awful on anything other than a basic portable. The BBC's 320kb audio streams are at least to my ears as good as, if not better than, FM.

My local radio shop kindly offered to fit me a DAB roof aerial for free to "see if it worked". I wish I'd had them put up an FM one instead!

OM USer
5th March 2019, 11:50 AM
FM is fine where we are but DAB can only be picked up on the top floor. Radio controlled clocks are much the same, one needs to be on the bedroom window sill twice a year.

Naughty Nigel
5th March 2019, 12:15 PM
FM is fine where we are but DAB can only be picked up on the top floor. Radio controlled clocks are much the same, one needs to be on the bedroom window sill twice a year.

I am not a fan of DAB. The audio quality of FM is better to my ears unless listening on a portable.

Some other EU countries have a more advanced DAB network (DAB+ ?) which I'm told offers better audio quality, but for some reason it has passed us by.

Otto
5th March 2019, 12:32 PM
The problem with DAB is it's old technology now. MP2 compression and low bit rates combine to offer very poor sound quality by modern standards. As usual, we pioneer a new technology and everywhere else takes the idea and does it properly! On a recent trip down souht via the A1 and M1 I was amazed at how frequently the DAB signal dropped out, even in well populated areas. Unless I want to listen to a station that's not available on FM (rare, unless Test Match Special is on!) I stick to FM.

DerekW
5th March 2019, 12:37 PM
because UK jumped on the DAB bandwagon too early with the result that there is an inventory of DAB sets in use that if the UK switched to DAB+ transmission would become useless. So for a period both DAB and DAB+ transmissions would have to take place which would cost money.

It is a repeat of the transfer from FM to DAB, the government wanted to switch everyone to DAB from FM by 2016 ish - we refused to go DAB so now we have a mongrel of a radio system that is bogged down with three incompatible systems (OK DAB will play on DAB+ sets)

To get out of this chaos we need a movement to DAB+ with a drop dead date for DAB that will be enforced.

Otto
5th March 2019, 01:23 PM
The problem with that is, like the move from FM to DAB, that it will render thousands of perfectly good radios obsolete and create a mountain of electronic waste. With television, it was an easy matter to buy a set-top box to allow an analogue TV to display digital transmissions; that approach doesn't work so well with portable and car radios. I bought a "hi-fi" DAB tuner in the early days of DAB (when bit rates were higher) which was supposed to be upgradeable if new standards appeared, but upgrades were never offered presumably because there weren't any DAB+ transmissions in the UK.

I suspect most people who want the highest quality sound via a hi-fi system will be using internet streaming both now and in the future so the present DAB system would be adequate for everyday listening on portables and in vehicles, however I think the coverage needs drastic improvement before FM can be switched off.

TimP
5th March 2019, 01:23 PM
Apologies for resurrecting this thread. My Christmas radio present bought from John Lewis is officially 'dead'. Total cr*p.

David

It’s not one of those tall and boxy and coloured ones is it? I bought my wife one a couple of years ago and so far it’s fine.

Naughty Nigel
5th March 2019, 06:26 PM
Apologies for resurrecting this thread. My Christmas radio present bought from John Lewis is officially 'dead'. Total cr*p.

David

Unusual for John Lewis. Their products are usually very good. Waitrose own brand foods are even better. *yes

Rocknroll59
6th March 2019, 01:20 PM
An interesting question....I have a Technics DD Turntable which is still in use and cost me an arm and leg way back in the early seventies, only recently did the auto end and return packed up which means a manual liftoff now, but it still sounds great especially connected to my new piece of kit which streams and has a phono stage, onboard DAC and other inputs, the best sounding system I have ever had to date and the streaming radio is extremely good but then the bit rate is higher than broadcast DAB. Our DAB system is aerial based whereas I believe the Europeans opted for a satellite system hence why it drops out when travelling...my only other piece of old equipment is ???? well lets just leave it there :D

Peter

Naughty Nigel
6th March 2019, 02:24 PM
An interesting question....I have a Technics DD Turntable which is still in use and cost me an arm and leg way back in the early seventies, only recently did the auto end and return packed up which means a manual liftoff now, but it still sounds great especially connected to my new piece of kit which streams and has a phono stage, onboard DAC and other inputs, the best sounding system I have ever had to date and the streaming radio is extremely good but then the bit rate is higher than broadcast DAB. Our DAB system is aerial based whereas I believe the Europeans opted for a satellite system hence why it drops out when travelling...my only other piece of old equipment is ???? well lets just leave it there :D

Peter

The Auto-lift off and auto-stop systems were usually triggered by a small low-voltage light bulb and a photo-diode. As the arm accelerated towards the centre of the record the light beam is interrupted, and the mechanism activated. My guess is that the light bulb has failed.