Wednesday, September 17, 2014

BSR Turntable Maintenance!

Ahhhh, nothing like a good ole BSR turntable. Pretty much everybody (at least anyone in their 30's or older) can remember at least knowing somebody who had one of these. They were one of the most popular turntables in the 60's and 70's, found in console units, amplifier/turntable combos, or even just on their own to be plugged into an existing system. 

Audiophiles can put the hate on these turntables all they want, they may complain about the "rumble" sounds from the mechanics, or how their needles "eat records", but I buy none of it! When these tables are properly set up and greased and oiled, then they work very well. These things are built like tanks and I have yet to find one that I could not bring back to life. Sure BSR's with the moving magnetic needles are better than the ones with the ceramic needles, but there is something about the 60's sound that the ceramic needles give that is welcoming. I don't believe these ceramic needles are as bad as many think. Sure, they require more tracking pressure than the magnetic needles, but the needles are shaped to handle this pressure without damaging the vinyl. I use these all the time and have yet to have them cause any damage to my records. I guarantee that a large percentage of used vinyl from the 70's have been played on one of these tables at least once.

All this being said, most of these turntables have been sitting in storage for the past 20+ years. This long storage period has caused most tables (I'd say 4 out of every 5 I come across) to become seized and no longer work. 

The good news is that with a little 'know-how' and some patience, you can bring these turntables back to life with ease, and this post is here to guide you through this procedure!

I recommend doing this to any BSR turntable that has been sitting for more than a few years, even if they do still spin. Cleaning and replacing the old grease will have these tables working better than new!

So here we have a BSR turntable that I found at a yard sale this past weekend. This one is part of a Sony turntable/amplifier combo. The turntable does not spin. 

 The first thing required is to remove the metal plate in the middle of the turntable. 

Gently pry this up using a screw driver or butter knife. Take your time with this and try not to bend the thin metal plate. When they are bent they do not look as nice when you have you turntable all cleaned up. 

Now that the plate is removed you can see a large c-clamp around the turntable spindle hole. Use a screw driver to remove this clamp. Be careful not to lose these clamps, when you pry them off they have a tendency to shoot across the room. 

Now the turntable technically can be lifted off of the spindle; however, most times it won't budge. This is because the old grease has turned very sticky and gluey. The easiest way to loosen this grease is to heat it up! I always set my soldering iron in the spindle hole and let it heat up for about 5 minutes. Once warm, the platter will easily lift off. 

Now that the platter is removed you can see the large cycling gear (top right of the above picture). This has a c-clamp which is holding it in place. 

This gear is usually glued in with old grease and will also require heating to loosen it up. This usually takes a bit of time. Be patient with this and DO NOT pry the gear off. By prying it you will bend the shaft that the gear sits on which could ruin your turntable. Let it heat up as long as required (sometimes up to 20 minutes), it WILL come off.

Now that you have the gear off you will see all the dried up grease. You will need to clean all of this grease out and also off of the spindle. Clean it all well with an old rag and some soap, it's steel and you won't damage it.

The dried up grease around the spindle can often be very hard, sometimes you will need to scrape it off with a screwdriver. When you are cleaning be careful not to lose that little steel bead under the triangle shaped metal. If it does fall out, gently lift the metal up and put it back.

Next you will need to remove the bearing assembly around the spindle hole. There are 4 parts to this: metal washer, bearing, metal washer, rubber washer. Clean all 4 of these as well as all of the old grease around the spindle shaft. 

I use a Q-tip to get the grease out of the bearing. Be careful not to lose the metal beads, they can come out!

Once I get most of the old grease out with the Q-tip I cut the end of the Q-tip off to have a smaller end and get the harder to reach areas. 

Clean it well so it looks nice and clean like the picture above. 

it's a good idea to add one small drop of sewing machine oil to the motor when you have the platter removed. Just put the drop (only one) beside the motor spindle which is the part that the rubber idler wheel hits when the unit is turned on. 

Now is a great time to give the top of the turntable a good cleaning. These shine up very nicely with a little elbow grease. 

Now that everything is removed from the top of the turntable it's time to get to the bottom parts. On this turntable there's 4 screws from the top that need to be removed to get access to the underneath, this can vary depending on where the table is installed. 

Once you get access to underneath you will see two metal clips that hold the table in place. These simply flip from horizontal to vertical, allowing the table to be removed from the top of the unit. 

You will see as plastic wire plug that can be unplugged from the bottom of the table. Unplug it!

Unplug the two audio cables. Take note of which color is plugged into which side. I often mark it on the table with a marker so I don't forget (okay, I never do that.... but I should!)

Now your turntable is free! It can now be flipped over to clean the bottom. 

Be sure to never set the turntable on the tonearm. I always lean it over like the photo above to ensure I don't damage anything. 

It may look complicated underneath, but lets keep it very very simple. Just remove any old grease you see and replace with new grease. 

I use wheel bearing grease. There are many different opinions on what should be use but this always works best for me. 

Apply grease to all moving parts that had old grease removed.

Now flip the table back over and reapply grease to all of the parts on the top where you removed it prior. 

Now you are basically finished! All you have to do is re-install the cycling gear and platter. Be sure to re-install all of the c-clips. 

Once I re-install the platter, and before I screw in the top of the unit again, I flick all of the switches a few times and manually rotate the platter. Check underneath to ensure everything is moving freely. If you see any parts jammed up just remove any clips holding it together, clean it up and re-install. Before you take anything apart it is a good idea to snap a photo so you can remember how to re-install. 

So there you have it, your BSR turntable should now rotate freely! With this maintenance guide followed, your table should be ready for many more decades of spinning. 

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