Telefunken Lido: Repair (Day 1)

I recently bought a well-used Telefunken Lido portable gramophone. It’s in reasonable shape, but it certainly needs quite a lot of repair and/or restoration. For starters, it doesn’t work – probably because the drive spring is either broken or disonnected inside the barrel.

The plan is to get as much fixed on it this weekend… however, that plan may change as the work progresses.

I’ve already made use of this page, this page, and this video to get ready for the project (including learning from the mistakes of others…) My documentation might be of similar use to others – in addition to providing some info on how gramophones worked…

The lido, as-is before I start…

The platter just lifts off.

The diagonal arm is the speed control that adjusts a clutch mechanism that can be seen in photos below. The needle and membrane are locked in the “travel” position, which sits them down into the mouth of the horn (the dark rectangular area at the “back”).

The first step was to unscrew the locking lid stay on the left side of the horn opening. The next step is to unscrew the lid hinges from the main case. Both the lid stay and the hinges are riveted to the lid, so they stay on.

The next step was to remove the three screws that hold the pipe + membrane + needle assembly onto the wooden top plate in the top right corner. After these have been removed, it all just lifts off.

Next is to remove the 5 small screws around the outer edge of the wood top plate. These hold the entire assembly into the bottom part of the case.

The next step is to disassemble the mechanism from the wooden top plate. In order to do this, the speed regulation arm has to be disconnected from the pin that connects it to the clutch underneath. This is done by loosening at least one of the two set screws that grab the pin.

The photo above shows the control arm after separating it from the pin that goes down into the mechanism.

Once this is done, there are four large screws the have to come out. Those are the four holes near the right-hand yellow “Fona” sticker.

In order to remote the drive mechanism, it has to be gently angled to slide it out without the spindle hitting the wood, and snaking it out around the horn.

The mechanism after removal.

The underside of the wooden plate, showing the entire horn. This is probably made of lead by the looks of things…

The two vertical rods are the main spindle (on the left) and the clutch control (on the left). Turning the clutch control pushes a soft pad against the vertical clutch wheel that can be seen on the same axle as the centrifugal speed regulator weights.

There are four 11 mm hex nuts holding the top plate of the mechanism to the four posts. First, the rubber washers needed to be removed using a knife to separate them from the top plate. Then the four nuts are loosened and the top plate can be lifted off. This will take the clutch rod and the main spindle with it.

The photo above shows the bottom plate with the speed regulator and the spring barrel.

The two last photos, above, show the underside of the top plate, holding the main spindle on the left, the clutch rod in the middle, and the screw entry for the winding handle.

That’s it so far. Tomorrow will probably be spent disassembling the spring barrel and seeing whether it’s fixable. Then de-greasing and cleanup of the drive mechanism, re-greasing and re-assembly.

Forward to Part 2

Dear Government of Canada…

Dear Government of Canada,

I know these are strange times. And I know that you have your hands very full right now. And, personally, it seems to me that you’re doing a damned fine job of dealing with the hand that was dealt – certainly as good as anyone’s government. And I know that, when you make a decision or a recommendation, you can’t consider all exceptions and examples … but here’s the thing…

Lately you’ve made one or two recommendations that, in my opinion, aren’t necessarily the smartest – but let me explain.

My mom, who’ll turn 80 later this year, lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. She’s in great shape, so she spends a lot of her time visiting her children and grandchildren. I live in Denmark, and my two sisters live on opposite ends of the United States.

Back before the COVID-19 pandemic even had a name of its own (we still non-specifically called it “the Corona virus” in those days…), Mom flew to the States to visit my sisters. Then, the world exploded.

Fast-forward to now and you’re telling her that she should get on a plane and fly from Los Angeles to St. John’s just in case she contracts the virus. That way, if she does, she’ll be in Canada.

However, right now, she’s self-isolating in a house in Los Angeles with my sister and her family, where she’s probably in a much better position to avoid getting sick than if she sits in airplanes and traipses through airports for a day, trying to get across the continent.

So, basically you’re recommending that she should increase her risk of getting sick, just in case she gets sick…

Now, I’m no epidemiological expert, but it seems to me that this is neither logical nor just plain common sense… except if you’re only thinking financially…

Luckily, she happened to buy her travel insurance with a company who is honourable enough to cover her to the end of the contract (thanks again, Desjardins!), instead of weaselling out on the deal like a lot of other insurance companies…

However, this will only get her to the end of April. And, based on how things are looking right now in Italy, that won’t be long enough to improve the odds much.

She could extend her policy, but her coverage will exclude any COVID-19 related illness. Similarly, no insurance company will cover her for COVID-19 if she takes out an insurance policy now…

So, it seems to me that the smartest thing for her to do is to stay where she is – to avoid getting sick.

However, if you say she must come home, she’s trapped between a rock and a hard place – stay safe without insurance, or go home to get the pre-paid health care? Decisions, decisions.

Not only that, but I read on the news that she’s not the only one…

… So apparently, there are lots of Canadian senior citizens outside of Canada who are in exactly the same situation, faced with exactly the same dilemma.

So, I’d like to make a suggestion:

Instead of recommending to Canadian citizens abroad that they should (or, seeing not very far into the future, must) come home, why not tell them to stay safe by staying-put – and tell the insurance companies that they have to extend the policies until the dust has settled? Maybe you could offer to cover the insurance companies with an insurance policy of your own…My guess is that, in the end, if the people out there are as scared as the rest of us, they’ll protect themselves, stay healthier, and wind up saving everyone money – and keeping more hospital beds free for the people that will need them.

-geoff martin

Leon Theremin and RFID

There was an article in the BBC News webpage this week, telling the story of how Leon Theremin (inventor of one of the first electronic musical instruments) invented the technology underneath what we now call RFID…

Of course, this means that every time I swipe my card to buy something at the store, I’m going to start humming the hook from”Good Vibrations”… Maybe knowledge is not always a good thing… Or maybe I should get out my Clara Rockmore album and have another listen.