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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Restoring a Pioneer PL-12D Turntable

 I got back into vinyl records about 18 months ago, and have collected a few hundred albums, mostly second hand. I have a number of turntables (NAD 5120, Ariston QDeck, Pioneer PL12D ) which I got also second hand. I keep a few, some end up passed onto friends, some that are too far gone are kept for spares. In most cases they have required a little work to get them running again.

Last week I was lucky enough to get a Pioneer PL-12D turntable from freecycle. The lady who offered it, said that she in turn had received it from freecycle , and had replaced the belt but couldn't get on with the springiness of it, and had got a modern USB turntable. I have previously worked on one of these decks, and know what she means about the suspension system used. While this blog is specifically about this particular model of deck, many of the concepts are similar to others from this vintage. Many Japanese belt drive decks throughout the  1970's shared very similar construction, so this may be of interest even if your deck is not a PL-12D.

The deck in question was  in great condition, and very complete. Both the 45 RPM adapter and the additional screw-in balance weight (for heavier cartridges) were both included, and it came with a classic Shure M75HE Mk 2 cartridge.

I thought I'd do a short service on it. While the platter rotated, removing the platter and then turning the spindle by hand was hard, indicating maybe the grease had dried up. Also the motor made a bit of a knocking sound, again, possibly a lubrication issue, so a simple service seemed a good idea.

 Here it is as received. First thing I did was remove the headshell which uses a standard SME-style collar fitting. Just unscrew the collar and the headshell and cartridge pulls off. I placed these safely elsewhere. I decided to get a new stylus as you can't tell how much service the old one has given. Clip the arm back in its rest. If this is loose just tape it in place so it doesn't flop around. These arms are pretty good, robust and you can see if the arm bearings are OK by checking there is smooth side to side and up and down movement. Also see if by very gently twisting the arm between finger and thumb is it has any rotational movement indication loose bearings. Don't force it, just the gentlest of twists is enough. Neither PL12's I've seen have had a problem here.

I then removed the lid. if you open the lid, then hold the back either side of the hinges. You will find a slight pressure to the right disengages the lid from the hinges which use a rather clever lug system.
 I then carefully lifted off the mat which should come away from the spindle in the middle. It has a decorative metal hoop which sits in a trough in the mat,

Now you can see the platter, and a couple of holes either side , if you rotate the platter you will see where the motor spindle has the belt looped around it beneath the platter. If you slip the belt off the motor through the hole you should be able to lift the platter off, a gentle vertical lift.
If its a bit stiff some gentle pressure on the spindle with your thumb while your fingers grip the edge of the platter. Put the platter, matt and belt safely to one side.
 Here you can see the deck minus the platter. Top left you can see the motor pulley, and in front of that the speed selector mechanism which raises or lowers the belt of the motor sondle to sections with different diameters for 33 and 45. Next to the motor pulley is a little sticker, which indicates where the oil point is for the motor. This is a small rivet through the top plate to which you can apply a few drops of oil. These drop down into a trough on the top of the motor below and find there way to lubrication points inside the motor.

Gaining access to the underneath of the deck is very easy. Two screws on the top are slackened and you can then slide the screws and the brackets they connect with toward the centre of the deck. You are sliding two clamps from the wooden internal ledges they normally engage with.
 Once these are slid to the centre the deck top should be able to be tipped up. Some care is needed as the cables are captive at the back and the 4 springs are still engaged in their 4 circular recesses, but I find holding the speed selector and on/off switches on the top , I can lift the front. There may be a certain amount of "twanging" as the 4 springs  are bent and flip out of their recesses. Below we see the tidy inside.


You will notice the mains cable enters via a plate at the back, and the red& white signal cables exit nearby. An additional wire joins the EMI screen on the base to the grounding point. You could remove the rear plate, unclip the black screen wire and have full access to the top, but here for simplicity I left it as is. I found I could use a wooden hammer as a prop, with the head  inside the plinth at the front and the handle supporting the top by the front metal catch, rather like propping up the bonnet/hood of  car.





 As music is extracted from a record by transforming microscopic vibrations back into electrical signals, errant vibrations are hence the enemy of good vinyl replay. All turntables include some degree of decoupling i.e springiness,  to isolate sources of vibration from the arm and platter. The motor is one source of vibration, the surrounding environment is another. Technically there are 5 systems used in the PL-12D:

1) The metal top plate is decoupled from the wooden plinth via 4 springs, which have foam rubber dampers, rather like the suspension and shock absorbers in a car

2) The motor is decoupled from the top plate  by sitting on 3 rubber bushes via 3 retaining rods

3) The motor is decoupled from the platter via the drive belt

4) The deck sits of 4 rubber feet, though these are minimal in effect and are primary for grip and to allow air flow beneath the deck. You will see that beneath the motor is a mesh vent to allow some air circulation as the motor can get hot.

5) the record is decoupled from the platter by the rubber mat.

In the picture above you can see one of the 4 springs described in 1) with the foam plug still present. On inspection these were crumbling as can happen to foam rubber over time, and I discarded these to be replaced with new pieces of foam later. This was probably the cause of the problem the previous owner described where the deck would bounce around at the slightest nudge. This appears to be a very common problem with the PL-12D.

 Of the 4 wooden recesses in the base for the springs, two had rubber washers in. On closer inspection one had two such rubber washers in, so I had 3 washers in total. These may be to provide further decoupling, but I think it more likely they are to balance the top plate i.e act as tiny shims. I removed these and put them carefully to one side.


In the inverted picture above you can see the motor. Note the black rubber bushes, which the motor sits on via the three threaded rods.

These rubber bushes can become hardened over time and this diminishes their ability to absorb the mechanical vibration from the motor, which gets picked up by the cartridge as a background hum.

Its easy to unscrew the threes rods and detach the the motor from the top plate. You need a free hand to hold the motor as its still connected by wires, and quite heavy - its well built.
I wanted to lubricate the motor. Its possible to dismantle the motor to really clean and lubricate thoroughly, but that is a more complex process. I wanted to see if I could avoid that step if possible.


Here you can see the motor with one rod removed, free from the top of the plinth

Once all the three rods are removed you can see the entire motor top plate with the three rubber bushes . The grey hole at about 10 O'clock to the central spindle is the well that the oil point drips into. I removed the 3 rubber bushes and put them to one side. I carefully applied a few drops of sewing machine oil into the oil hole. The sticker on the top plate says 2-3, but as this deck had not been used for some time I put in 6 assuming some may pass through in a flushing process. I then sat the motor carefully in the base of the plinth below where it usually hangs from the top plate.


 Here you can see the underside of the top plate. The next job while the motor is getting oiled, is to look at the main bearing. The spindle is the piece of steel rod which supports the platter and forms the rod you stick the record on. On the PL-12D the spindle is captive i.e you cannot remove it from above without first loosening a screw beneath. In the picture above you can see the brass well which the spindle sits in. The screw in the side engages with a recessed waist on the spindle preventing it from being removed from above.

 This inverted picture shows me loosening the screw. It doesn't need to be completely extracted. Eventually it will be out sufficient to allow the spindle to be extracted. Once I had removed the spindle , on inspection there was a lot of brown hardened grease on the shaft. I placed the spindle in some hot soapy water to gently remove the worst.

Inside the brass well should be two things. Some more grease, probably hardened too, and a ball bearing. It's always possible that the bearing comes out with the spindle, stuck to the end, or that a previous owner has lost it. If it is still at the bottom of the well, you either have to very carefully invert the deck, or use a soft , non-metallic implement like a small drinking straw, to extract it from the bottom of the well without scratching the sides. Once out you can clean it , again in soapy water. If you loose it or it appears to be absent its a 1/8" steel ball. I previously lost the bearing on another PL12 and got a pack of 30 from a cycling shop, they are not difficult to find cheaply.  As these ball bearings can become pitted or worn, its worth checking the old one (see Update May 2014 below). Once the ball bearing is cleaned it should be shiny and if you roll it around on a very flat surface i.e a mirror or sheet of glass, it should roll freely and quietly in any direction as you tilt it. a Worn bearing will be noisier and roll erratically, and may have a dulled colour. if in doubt replace as they are cheap for a bag of 20 from a good cycle shop or from on-line source. 1/8" steel ball bearing.


While warm soapy water got rid of some of the grease, it didn't get rid of all of it. I used Servisol Switch cleaning and some rubbing with a soft cloth to clean the spindle shaft to shining. I used the same liquid and a dozen cotton wool buds to clean the inside of the brass well until the buds were coming out clean and not yellow from grease or grey from steel filings.
 Now all the rubber bits I extracted, I put together including : the matt, the belt, the 3 washers at the base of the springs, the three bushes that support the motor. I should have included the 4 feet which screw into the base, but they looked OK and do not really need the next process.
 In a separate blog I restored a turntable mat from dull grey and hard to black and supple using Platanclene Printer Roller restorer. Again here I put all the smaller pieces in a plastic sandwich bag along with a few squirts of Platanclene , then worked the fluid into all the rubber parts, especially the bushes around where they slot into the motor top plate.
 I also sprayed Platanclene on the mat and gave it a good wipe, repeating on the other side

 While the platanclene was doing its magic, I  dropped the ball bearing back into the well and dipped the lower half of the spindle into some fresh oil, then reinserted it back into the brass bearing well.
 I use Chain saw oil, which is a little thicker, but most synthetic oils will work. Some favour  sewing machine oil. Once the spindle is back in and settled, I tightened the retaining screw on the side. The spindle now turns smoothly and easily.
  I replaced the rubber parts I'd removed from the motor, they just press and pop back into place. I reattached the motor with its 3 screw in rods. I also replaced the 3 spring washers. I don't yet have any foam rubber for the springs, I'll cover that later. I gave the plinth and top plate a wipe with a damp cloth.

Don't forget the two retaining sliding screws, then the top plate is unable to fall out of the plinth. I then replaced the platter with the belt looped over the spindle via the two access holes in the top of the platter. last of all the mat goes on with its silver ring .

 I have not yet re-attached the headshell as I am awaiting a replacement stylus and intend the final set-up of the deck as a second blog, including the foam rubber damping inserts in the four springs. This was just about the restoration of the parts


With everything back together, I left the deck running for a few hours in order that the motor and bearing lubrication could work  its way into the various parts. The motor  can get warm, which helps get the oil worked into all the dry parts.

After a couple of hours I listened close to the deck and could hear little sound from the running motor or the bearing, which indicated to me that they were running very well

Next , replacing the foam inserts, fitting a new stylus and setting the arm geometry and settings .


I found some dark grey foam rubber which had be used in the packaging of a watch. It seemed reasonably springy, some foam used for camping mattresses can be rather dense.


I cut 4 wads of foam, roughly the size and shape of the space inside the springs, and stuffed these into each of the four main springs as you see. Once this is done and the top lowered back into place, the deck looses the unmanageable springiness. The suspension is stiffer and slower, with less bounciness.

I had ordered a new replacement stylus for the M75ED cartridge. Shure no longer make this cartridge and replacement cartridges are made by various 3rd parties. In the end , on the advice of CliveUK from the vinyl engine forum, I elected for an N75EJ stylus from the German ebay seller elec64 which cost £18 and arrived within a few days - excellent service. The old stylus slid out , you can see it above. The new stylus plus into the cartridge. The colour is different , the new cartridge has a light green front.



 I fitted the headshell carefully back in the arm. Next thing to be tested was pitch i.e does the platter turn correctly at 33 1/3 or 45. if the pitch is out , then notes will sound too high or low in pitch. Basically everything will sound wrong. Pitch problems can be an issue with belt drive tables where the belt can slip a little if old. The motor spins at a common speed determined by the mains frequency which is 50Hz in the UK and Europe but 60Hz in the US. As the motor spins at slightly different speeds in the two countries the deck came originally with different motor spindles for different mains frequencies to achieve the correct speeds in different parts of the world. This deck was a 50Hz unit , so if there was a pitch problem, I was a bit perplexed what I could do about it.

The easiest way to measure pitch with this deck is to print off and cut out the vinyl engine pitch disc on a piece of A4. You cave to prick out the centre hole with a pin.

Next put the disc on the platter , over the spindle and start the deck. If you shine a filament light on the disc while turning , the dashed lines will appear to either move slightly one way or the other , or , ideally remain still. This is because the filament lamp is pulsing at the mains frequency creating a stroboscopic effect with the marks on the spinning disk. At the right pitch the lines will appear to remain fixed.

On this deck, when set to 45, the inner set of lines , remained still which is right, however on 33 they did not , appearing to advance clockwise. I also noticed two background noises. One a "motor boat " style gentle knocking noise from the motor, the other was a scraping sound. I wondered first if the deck lubrication was insufficient



 Two more drops into the motor. I then removed the spindle again, cleaned off the oil and tried a thicker Castrol Moly Grease , in case the noise was some scraping in the main bearing. I've used this grease before where I appeared to have some play in a bearing and it seemed to work well. It contains Molybdenum Disulphide .

Niether addressed the problem. Then it occurred to me that if the 45 speed was correct, then it wasn't an issue with the performance of the platter and spindle as they were fine at that speed.

On closer inspection through the platter I could see that the speed selector was not pushing the belt far enough u the spindle to obtain 33 1/3 speed. The belt was partially on the conical section between the different diameter sections of 45 and 33 1/3. hence the pitch issue. In addition i could see that the belt was fouling on the alloy speed selector arm that pushes the belt up and down on the pulley, but only in the 33 position. Mystery solved.


I tried tightening the screws supporting the speed selector arm. The correct thing to do would be to slacken the tiny screw in the side of the spindle/capstan and lower it a tiny amount on the motor shaft. In the end though I gently widened the  C  end of the selector arm , until it neither rubbed the belt , not left the belt half way between 33 1/3 and 45 as had been happening. The deck now spun at the correct speed as checked with the strobe disc and the rubbing noise I had heard was gone. There was still some very quiet "motor boating" noise from the motor i.e a bu-bu-bu-bu-bu, but I decided to leave that for now.

The next thing was to set the arm geometry correctly. There is a lot written about this subject, and I will not go into a great amount of detail here. Basically if you consider a record to be made of a single circular spiral from start to finish. the spiral is almost perfectly circular, and for the stylus to sit correctly in the groove, it has to be at a tangent to that circle, ideally from start to end. That would mean that the cartridge should be at 90 degrees to the radius of the LP.  If you look at the arm on the Pioneer (and about 99% of all other turntables) you will see that the arm  can only move in an arc.  It cannot be at a perfect tangent to the radius of the record from start to end as I have just described. This is a fundamental and well understood problem with LP reproduction and various ways have been devised to try and address this. One is tangentially tracking arms which slide along a rail at the back and attempt to always hold the stylus at a tangent. The other is an arm (the Garrard Zero Deck) which moves the headshell continuously. However both have had different issues and the turntable arm as found in the pioneer has been the best compromise in sound quality, whether it is S shaped as here or straight as you will see in other models.

In reality its not so much of a problem. It has long been understood that setting the arm and cartridge can be achieved  using  two points i.e two places on the record where we can achieve a reasonable equivalence to a tangent. there are several geometries that are used, but I use the simple Baerwald geometry, and like the strobe disk, Vinyl Engine has a print-out and use protractor which you can get here  . You print it off, prick out the spindle hole with a pin and lay it over the platter mat surface with the power to the deck turned off. You can see this in the picture above. Baerwald assumes that the best arrangement is that the stylus is in as best position at the start and end of the LP side. Others geometries favour 2 positions closer to the middle.


If I lower the arm I should be able to land the stylus (very carefully) on the cross lines of each position. Note having aligned the outer position I have to rotate the protractor further around to coincide with the second position. Doing this is fairly easy, however in each position the sides of the cartridge should be parallel with the grid lines on the protractor, which hopefully you can see is the case above. If they are not parallel when the stylus is over the cross, you have to make some adjustment. This is done by gently loosening the cartridge screws, not too much, just enough to be able to slide it backward and forward. You then have to experiment with different positions of the cartridge in the head shell i.e further forward or backward until you find a position where both the stylus and parallel lines are correct with the protractor.

It can be fiddly and frustrating, and may require glasses or even a magnifying glass to see, the Shure cartridge has a nice large square body, and is easier to see. Some of the Ortofon OM range have a narrow body which is even harder to see. It  might also be that for a given arm, and cartridge the cartridge has to be slightly slewed in the headshell i.e the bolts through the headshell slots are not the same distance front to back.

I have done it many times and it gets easier, and it may only need to be done once. Once you have the cartridge correctly aligned in the headshell, tighten the bolts but not too much, or you may deform the headshell .


The next thing to set is the tracking weight. This is the  weight of the stylus on the record and is measured in grams. Too low and the sound will be thin and distorted, to high and  it will sound thick and worse you will damage the stylus and your records. The manufacturers typically give a range for a given stylus. , and I tend to play safe and choose the middle , which for the Shure is 1.75 grams.

How you set and measure the weight is , again, a subject of debate. the approach described in the Pioneer user Guide (also available from Vinyl Engine) , is to adjust the balance weight - the large round silver barrel at the end of the arm. This can push on, but then should move in and out using a screw action.  You should slide that back until pressed against the balance weight and with the Zero digit aligned at the mark on the arm tube.

So rotating the arm Balance balance weight screws the weight in or out. First you find a position where the arm floats if out of the cradle and the Lower switch in the down position (and power off at the mains). Its should float parallel with the record surface, neither pointing up or down. This is the balance point. Once you have found this, and with the black adjustment collar set to Zero,you have found your zero point. Now you can turn the numbered collar until you set it to the designated tracking weight, in my case 1.75grams. Once this is set the arm will no longer balance but  tip downward with a  gentle force.

Now I find this approach rather to fiddly and probably inaccurate, so I use a set of digital scales which I got from Maplin for £15. They display the weight of the stylus and I adjust the balance weight assembly until I achieve the target weight, or as close as I can get it.





Once the tracking weight is set you are almost done. There are three remaining settings. First bias aka Anti-skate . On the Pioneer and many other decks this is set via a small wheel and is set to the same value as the tracking weight i.e 1.75 for me. This function compensates for the effect that inertia has on the arm, where the stylus will have greater pressure on the outside groove wall than the inside.

The last two settings are VTA and Azimuth . There are no formal means of setting these on the PL-12D, but worth checking. VTA is the angle at which the tonearm is when playing a record. Ideally the arm should be parallel with the surface of the LP when viewed from the side. Some arms allow you to set this by adjusting the height at the base of the arm, for example SME. On a deck with integral arm there may not be an adjustment for this. It may never be perfect as vinyl thickness varies.I mention it for completeness, but there is not much you can do and it should be right on the pioneer with the pioneer mat. Different mats may have a different thickness which will in turn change the height of the LP surface and hence the VTA. However , vinyl comes in different thickness's also, so it will never be perfect. On the Pioneer it was good enough

Finally Azimuth is checking the arm from the front to see that the cartridge is not leaning to either side. Some people advocate turning off the power and lowering the cartridge on a small mirror so you can see the reflection . It makes it pretty obvious if the headshell  has become twisted on the end of the arm. It may be possible to loosen and tighten a screw holding the headshell collar fastener if its out. Its shouldn't be but its always possible that a previous owner might have done something odd to the headshell and warped it. The advantage of the Pioneer is it takes SME-standard universal headshells, so a replacement can be obtained pretty easily. A few headshells (Ortofon and Sumiko) have an azithmuth adjustable collar, but these are very expensive and if the azithmuth is that far out, something else must be badly wrong. On this PL12 it was fine.



With everything set and checked , time to play some music.

The Sound is  good, the Shure cartridges have a reputation for a warm lush sound and this does not disappoint. Still a little motor noise, but this is physical rather than electrical, and the deck has less hum than any other I've tried. With no music playing if I turn the volume I need to go to around 90% till I hear any hum through the speakers.

I might at some point investigate striping down the motor , cleaning and re-lubricating, but for now I'll just enjoy

Update August 29th 2013


the deck has been sounding great, but I still believed it was playing slightly fast. I'd fixed the major speed problem earlier with the speed adjuster leaving the belt halfway between 45 and 33 on the spindle. It was running with the belt fully on the 33 part of the spindle yet it was slightly fast. I confirmed this with the strobe disc and it was audible on familiar tracks.

The previous owner  had replaced the belt, and I'd measured its circumference (lay the belt in a single line, measure and double) and it looked to be the right size. I figured I had nothing to loose by ordering a new belt and again William Thakker has specific belts for the PL-12D. I got his through his main German site as he doesn't list all his stock on his ebay site, service as good as always, about 5 days to the UK.

Comparing the new belt there were two significant differences. The Thakker belt was slightly looser, the original belt had been very tight around the inner platter surface. Also the belt was thinner. I mean thinner not narrower, so I refer to the thickness of the rubber. This was probably it, the slightly thicker belt was changing the geometry of the system of pulleys that make the deck turn at precisely 33 1/3.

it now plays at precisely the right speed confirmed by both the strobe and the ear.

Im really enjoying this combination. The Pioneer/Shure combinationis not the last word in detail and has a very warm lush sound, but I like it and its very forgiving of albums which have had a tough life. I've a few charity shop albums which I paid little for, have surface noise and scratches but I still love, and this deck really makes them sound as good as they can be.

Update November 2013


The deck has really been sounding lovely. I've been using it with both the original Shure M75 cartridge (new stylus) and a similar vintage M95, again with a replacement stylus. The M95 is a very different beast than the M75 and is much more revealing. Like the Ortofon OM20 it seems to dig deeper for bass. Its more revealing , which can be very good for great recordings. I'll keep both cartridges in headshells so I can swap between them.

I had two minor issues with the deck I wanted to  resolve . the first was some moderate play in the tone arm bearing. Side to side and up and down movement was excellent, but when replacing headshells I'd noticed some "play" if I applied a gentle in-and-out force. gently hold the arm at the bend near the headshell and apply a very gentle movement in the direction of the arm main bearing. For example if the arm is close to its  clip, this would equate to a gentle, gentle force toward the back of the deck.

This seemed to me to be perhaps some looseness in the horizontal arm bearings which often used a ball-race system .

I opened the deck up, following the  dismantle sequence steps I details above.


In the picture above you can see where the arm wiring emerges through a brass tube. These wires are very fine and delicate so great care is needed. If I carefully applied the in- and-out force on the arm above, I could see some corresponding  tiny movement in the brass tube. It has a larger brass collar, and on inspection the brass collar is threaded i.e screwed onto the brass tube like a round nut. I believe that the wider brass collar holds tiny ball bearings in place above it and forms the lower part of the horizontal bearing .

On the side of the collar is a tiny screw, the function of which is to lock the collar in place . I wondered if age, wear, loss of lubricant  and gradual slackening was the cause of the play here ?


I gently slackened the side screw with a very small jewellers screw drive (cross head). I found that I could then very gently tighten the brass collar with my finger tips, as one would tighten a nut.  I did this only just finger tight as too tight would create too much pressure and friction on the bearing. Using the side screw position as a reference I found that if the screw pointed to  9 on an imaginary clock face, then I could tighten it to 10 or 11, without applying any undue force.

re-tightening the side locking screw again, I  gently moved the arm. It still moved freely  side to side but the in and out play was gone . Excellent.



I then decided that these bearings might benefit from a drop of lubricant, so I inserted a precision oiler in the gap which I believe leads to the  captive bearings. Practice with one of these first and judge the amount of "squeeze" needed to achieve a single drop on the end. If you can insert the fine nozzle , probe and make contact, then give a tiny squeeze, surface tension will carry the oild droplet onto the contact surface, hopefully a bearing BUT don't force the nozzle in, you could damage. Again gently does it, surface tension will allow oil to seep into the parts that need it.

The other thing I wanted to explore was slight noise from the motor. This is very quiet but its a rythmic knocking noise I assume with each rotation i.e at a 50Hz frequency. Its barely audible, and then only with my ear close to the motor spindle, but I have had AC motors which were silent before, so wanted to try to achieve this.

My theory was that while the top motor bearing was getting oil, the lower bearing might have dried. Here is a picture of the motor.

PLEASE NOTE The mains lead and plug has been disconnected from the wall throughout this operation. NEVER rely on the switch on the deck as the internals will still carry live voltages .


 here you can see  a side view of the motor. While I'm sure that striping the motor and re-lubricating is probably the right thing to do, I'm not sure I could get it back together to an equivalent or better tolerance. Those bolts go right through the motor, holding together the top and bottom bearing frames and the laminates around the core. They all have to be aligned. In the picture above you can see an aluminium tooth close to the red wire inside the motor. There is a toothed gear on the base of the motor, the function of which I suspect is to act as a fan to promote air flow.


 Again here you can see the the fan from the side. My thinking was that beneath the fan there may be access to the main motor spindle. If I could get a drop of oil on that it would gravitate down into the lower well.

This requires care as squirting oil indiscriminately inside a motor will certainly damage it

Again I used my precision oiler. Gently probing with the nozzle while lifting  the motor pulley from above to create a gap where the oiler might find the lower part of the motor spindle.

Once found a single gentle squeeze, remember we are trying to get a single droplet in the right place, not flood the thing.


Putting the top back in place I plugged the deck in and ran the motor , minus the platter. The noise seems quieter, but its still present. Maybe its not a lubrication issue but one of oscillation i.e if the armature is not held firmly in place perhaps its wobbling as it rotates ?.

Its not really a problem, I can live with it. Maybe I need to find a dead PL-12D motor to practice on, which might be something to look out for on ebay.


Update December 2013

Well I couldn't resist. Spurred on by comments on my blog and from vs_music over at the vinyl engine forum, I decided to strip and clean the AC motor. This was to try and resolve some mild "knocking" sound from the motor. However it took a few goes and is still not perfect, so  this is not as simple as replacing the foam or servicing the rubber supports, and only recommended for users with nosy motors as a last resort. However I thought I'd share what I did, not every fix goes perfectly . Perhaps my motor is a little  noisy and there is nothing I can do. Your mileage may vary.

WARNING : The following procedure is only to be undertaken if you are competent with a soldering iron and understand and undertake all necessary electrical safety precautions. These decks contain Live AC mains , so all procedures are undertaken with the deck disconnected and unplugged from the AC electrical supply. If in doubt use a competent electrician or repair facility.

First of all, as above remove the mat, platter and belt and the cartridge and store safely.

Slacken and slide the two screws which secure the top plate.  Also with this process I found it useful to remove the two small bolts which hold the rear signal and power plate on. At the rear of the deck is a small metal plate through which both the signal, ground and mains wires pass. Remove the two bolts either side such that the plate can fall inside the deck..

Carefully lift off the upper plate assembly. You will find a grounding wire which connects to a tag on the base board of the deck. This pulls off, so disconnect this also and taking great care flip it over and lay it upside down such that the arm is inside the wooden plinth . Take great care to ensure the arm doesn't foul on the inside of the plinth. This seems drastic but there is not really enough room to work on the motor using the propped car bonnet/hood approach as earlier.


You can see the motor on its 3 rubber mounts. From the motor are 4 coloured wires which connect to a small circuit board.  This board has a switch which is secured in position by a metal plate. This is to select between two voltages 120v and 240 v AC.

To access the motor its easier if you can remove the motor from completely from the deck. Each wire is soldered onto a tab, which is soldered in place on the circuit board. Its probably hard to remove the wire from the tab, but I found it not too hard to remove the tabs from the circuit board by de-soldering them . I used a vacuum de-solder pump, but solder braid or wick should work.

First you need to get the circuit board off of the 4 plastic compression clips which hold it to the upper plate. these can be squeezed and the circuit board carefully prised off.


Here its useful to use a craft stand / clamp to hold the board as you need to operate both a soldering iron and de-solder device applied to each of the 4 solder pads. in the picture above you can see a number of tabs removed. This is a gentle slow process, removing as much of the solder from each tab base as possible , then gently working loose while applying heat with the iron. Eventually I got all 4 loose and disconnected the motor from the top plate  via the 3 bolts.


Then remove the top mounting plate from the motor. This is held on by two nuts and split washers. I also remove the brass 45/33 RPM spindle which is held on by a small grub screw. Keep these and all other parts safe, I tend to use a plastic tea tray to store stuff on.

 The motor frame is held together with two bolts. These are secured by two bolts and two further nuts (now removed) held the mounting plate to the motor.

carefully remove the bolts using a good quality Philips Screw driver. These bolts are quite soft so I would not use a motorised screw driver, as it would be too easy to deform the screw head. The nut on the other side site in a recess and none of my box spanners were slender enough to be able to grip but I found the bolts came loose anyway.
 On the upper side of the motor spindle a small clear plastic washer fits tightly on the motor spindle. I slid this off and stored safely.


 Once the bolts are removed you can access the central rotor (pictured below) and remove the upper and lower bearing mounts, leaving the outer stator (pictured above)
 Here is the central rotor part. Both the rotor and stator were clean and the only treatment I gave the rotor was to wipe the two steel rod ends with a clean cloth.
Above you can see the two bolts , their nuts and split washers, the brass 45/33 motor spindle AND the upper and lower bearing frames. These last two were the focus of my work.

 Here you can see the inside of the lower bearing. There is a bronze internal bearing into which the motor spindle sits . In the very centre you can see a mark which a wipe with a cotton bud removed. It appeared to be some black dirt in the bearing well, possibly original grease mixed with worn metal.
 Here you can see the underside of the lower bearing frame (top) and the upper bearing below with its distinctive oil trough, through which you can oil the motor. The trough sits below the oil hole on the turntable top plate. At the right end of the trough you can see a tiny lighter grey section. This is the edge of a felt collar around the bronze bearing. When you oil the deck the lubricant soaks into this felt collar which ensures that the oil stays in the bearing and does not drip down into the motor.
Here is the underside of the upper bearing frame with the bronze collar bearing clearly visible .


I wiped out any obvious dirt from the bearings with cotton buds. I then gave each bearing a good long spray with servisol contact cleaner to try to dissolve any existing lubricant in each bearing. I left the bearings to dry out on some kitchen roll, then repeated again, and again. I worked the bearings by wiggle the rotors spindle back, forward and round and round in each copper bearing, again to try to dislodge any grime.

I then left the two frames to dry out on some more clean paper kitchen roll.

Once completely dry I soaked the interiors of each with light sewing machine oil. actually filling the lower closed bearing well to the brim. I left this to soak in for 10 minutes then tipped out the excess, soaking it away with cotton buds and tapping the frames on kitchen roll. My hope was that the internal felt collars would have been cleansed and re-soaked in oil. I also decided to put a small blob (Size of a small grain of rice) of silicone grease in the lower well, as this is inaccessible when the motor is reassembled, and oil from the top trough never makes the lower bearing. I figured a tiny blob of silicone grease should keep the lower bearing reasonably well lubricated

Now reassemble the motor with the rotor in the middle and the top and bottom bearing frames, the bolts and split washers and the clear plastic washer on the spindle as before. Tighten the bolts to just tight, not  too tight.

Now care must be taken to align the end bearings in such a way that the rotor spins freely. There is some play in the precise position of the bolts and the end frames, which in turn allows the rotor to be off centre. If way off the rotor will actually rub against the inside wall of the stator. twisting the motor  enables you to judge if its freely moving.

There has to be an even gap between the rotor and to stator wall. . Its possible to have no rubbing yet still have the rotor slightly off centre. I did this, put the deck back together and had a loud knocking sound from the motor.

The best way to avoid this is to look at the motor from both ends and judge the size of the air gap around the rotor. It should be even  when viewed from both ends. This is easiest done when shining a torch from behind the motor.


In this blurred picture (sorry !) above you can see a thin but even halo around the rotor which is even on both sidesin the centre of the stator. Check this from both ends. Once its seems even, its time to tighten up the bolts.

Again check the rotor spindle turns freely.

I then reversed the above process, attaching the motor to its decoupling plate then re-soldering the 4 tabs  to the circuit board and reattaching it to the top plate via the 4 plastic push clips. The colour coding is written on the circuit board so hard to get wrong. You are looking for a good clean dome of solder on the base of each tab on the lower side of the board.

Now flip the top plate and reattach the internal lower shield on the base board, the top plate secure bolts and the plate at the back. The deck should now be as before but without the platter and cartridge.

At this point I plugged the deck in and flipped the front switch to ON-UP

The first time I did this I was disappointed to hear even louder knocking sound from the motor. However this was due to me not centring  the rotor rigorously enough (as I later did with the torch as above).

I pulled out the mains plug, then revisited the motor and loosened, re-aligned and re-tightened it without de-soldering the motor, i.e I did this with the motor detached from the bolts but still wired in place. I couldn't really face de-soldering again and I don't think the tags will take a lot of de-solder/resolder. So you see t is technically possible to strip the motor with the stator wiring still in place, but its not as accessible. Possibly if you are uncomfortable with soldering you could consider this approach.



After carefully re-centering the motor, I fitted it back and plugged the deck in and flipped the switch  to "ON-UP".

Motor turned and  was almost silent, just the faintest whisper. Excellent, this was what I'd hoped for. I left it running for about 30 minutes, then suddenly it was noisy again !? Not a knocking sound, just louder.

Disconnected from the mains and revisited the motor again. I tightened the bolts a bit more and also the three bolts securing the motor beneath the top plate holding the rubber mounts. These were looser from before.

Re-connect, "ON-UP" and again silent.

Left running for about 40 minutes then knocking sound again. This time quiet and similar to my original motor-boat style sound. This was just with the motor running, no platter or belt in place.

So ....I'm sort of back to square 1. I have stripped, cleaned, re-lubed and reassembled the motor. At one point I had total success, but it has reverted to as before. I don't know if further alignment tweaking might help. This motor gets hot and I wonder if the problem is temperature related. I'll leave it for tonight and see if its quiet from cold in the morning. Its no worse than it was before I started this, so I'm no worse.

In the morning with the deck cool I tried again and there was still some slight knocking sound present so my thermal expansion idea seems to not be true. I find it odd that the motor was silent for about 30 minutes , and YES it was switched on (I have made that mistake before :)

I decided to fit the platter, mat and belt and this reduced the sound to very quiet indeed. Not silent as before but quieter than it had been, so this is progress as before. Perhaps the belt tension pulls the rotor into a better alignment or prevents the oscillation which creates the knocking sound ? I think its also possible that the revolving platter improves the motors cooling. The underside of the platter has some features which perhaps  help to carry hot air away from above the motor. Running the motor for a while with the platter removed perhaps does not allow sufficiently rapid cooling ?  Not sure, but its possible .

Its not perfect, but its pretty good. I'll leave it running for a few hours to see how it behaves when hot, and these motors do get hot

Update May 2014: "I hear you knocking ..."

I'd started to notice a knocking sound coming from inside the deck. It was random, maybe one knock every 10 minutes or so. Not rhythmic. It shook the whole platter and at first I wondered if the motor spindle was somehow catching on the bottom of the plinth. On investigation it wasn't. I removed the matt and took the belt off the motor. Even spinning the platter by hand , I was able to hear the knocking on at least one occaision.

After scratching my head, I decided it must be the main bearing, so I removed the platter, and loosened the side screw on the brass bearing well. I removed the spindle and fished the ball bearing out carefully, using a magnetized screw driver.

Even after cleaning the bearing looked dull and grey compared to a new bearing. I got a sheet of glass and rolled the old bearing around on it. The ball appeared to roll erratically if I tipped the glass and was quite noisy compared to a new bearing which rolled smoothly in any direction. Examining the bearing with a magnifying glass I could see that while still round, some surfaced were pitted.

I decided to replace the bearing with a new one and re-lubricate  the spindle. However the end of the spindle that sits on the bearing had a tiny dimple in it. My belief is that this was caused by wear against the worn bearing. I got this deck for free and have no idea what its history is you see. Possibly if the deck had been stored un-lubricated or run in that state it could cause wear ? Over at the vinyl engine forum, the authority on the PL12, user vs_music believes that the dimple was machined onto the bearing to better sit on the ball. I'm not so sure, as I don't see whay the designer would want to increase the contact area between spindle and bearing. The point is to have the minimum point of contact.

After pondering this I asked a favour of a neighbour, who is an engineer and has access to precision lathes. He polished the end on a lather to a smooth mirror for me.

I put the new bearing and spindle back together with a few drops of sewing machine oil. At first there was some grind, but once the oil had eased around all surfaces it span smoothly. With the platter in place but no belt, if I spin the platter it will turn for several minutes from just a gentle  spin.

The knocking sound has stopped, and the deck is sounding very good indeed with a Shure M95 cartridge and Jico replacement stylus. I have just taken delivery of a Denon DL-11- to try in the deck.

181 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you're using a digital scale to measure the VTF you should make a step-down platform so it's measuring a couple of mm above the mat. Otherwise you'll get an incorrect reading.
Also for the PL-12 and similar induction motor turntables it's worth oiling the lower bearings - the access point on the top doesn't reach them and it quietens the motor further.

Mr Ives said...

Thanks, yes - its tricky using scales as you rightly point out. I used the scales on the platter without either a mat or LP, so the mat thickness and LP thickness is just a bit slimmer than the scales, though not much.

Good point about the motor bearing. I've been searching the web for PL12D motor strip down, but failing that I'll try that soon and take some pictures. I still get some knocking sound from the motor, though its not noticeable above the music. There is also some in/out play in the arm bearings which can be lubed and tightened from beneath. Plenty to keep me busy - thanks for dropping by and the feedback

Kamm said...

Thanks for this informative breakdown. I recently purchased a pl-112d online and it's running slow, so I suspect it will need a belt replacement. Being able to see how you did it will be an enormous help.

exdc said...

Hello!

We replaced the main ball-bea brushes we have scoured the netring unit (by hand, with some mechanical trickery and no special tools) on an AEG ÖKO-LAVAMAT 72620 about 3 years ago, and it worked! And it was going strong until error code C9 showed up a few days ago.

Assuming this means carbon brushes (makes sense, the unit is >14 years old) we have scoured the net but come up with more or less nothing. Cannot find them here in Sweden at all.

Then I found your great post at http://mr-ives.blogspot.se/2009/01/replaing-brushes-in-aeg-lavamat-72620.html and am trying to do the same. Would you happen to have saved the exact part number you needed for these brushes? And as importantly, any suggestions for where to find them, say in England?

Looking forward to hearing from you!
Michael Bransome

Mr Ives said...

Hi exdc,

thanks for your comment, which somehow ended up on my turntable entry (and neither was an ariston either). I too had a lot of problems in getting the right brushes as there were several types across the production run of that washing machine. I've looked back through my email and cannot find any help. I think I telephoned AEG in the UK and had to provide not only the model number but the serial number of my machine which was engraved near the door. Sorry to be vague. Would it be worth contacting AEG in Germany perhaps ? ( I know Sweden is a different country :) , but you would assume the home of AEG might have more stock .

Mista D said...

Hi Mr Ives,

Just wanted to say i really enjoyed your excellent write up of restoring the PL-12D. I just purchase one for my girlfriend as part of a vintage setup I'm getting her for christmas and found your blog extremely useful when doing it up. Wouldn't of known about the foam damping spring inserts or the rubber washers - i used some old bike inner tube and made some rubber pads, double up on the arm side to level out the platter. Also the calibration sheets and rubber conditioner was a massive help to and the rubber motor dampers came up really nice and springy! I've re-wired the RCA cables so now they terminate to RCA sockets on the back and I'm just waiting on a new stylus and a new 1/8 inch bearing for the spindle. I measured it with a Vernier so if you want to replace yours it is 1/8 inch (3.18mm) - simplybearings.co.uk is a great site, grade 10 is the way to go!

Anyways thanks again, I've bookmark your blog as I'd love to see more of your work,

All the best,

Jayson

Mista D said...

Hi Mr Ives,

Just wanted to say i really enjoyed your excellent write up of restoring the PL-12D. I just purchase one for my girlfriend as part of a vintage setup I'm getting her for christmas and found your blog extremely useful when doing it up. Wouldn't of known about the foam damping spring inserts or the rubber washers - i used some old bike inner tube and made some rubber pads, double up on the arm side to level out the platter. Also the calibration sheets and rubber conditioner was a massive help to and the rubber motor dampers came up really nice and springy! I've re-wired the RCA cables so now they terminate to RCA sockets on the back and I'm just waiting on a new stylus and a new 1/8 inch bearing for the spindle. I measured it with a Vernier so if you want to replace yours it is 1/8 inch (3.18mm) - simplybearings.co.uk is a great site, grade 10 is the way to go!

Anyways thanks again, I've bookmark your blog as I'd love to see more of your work,

All the best,

Jayson

Mr Ives said...

Many thanks Jayson for your kind feedback, sounds like your Girlfriend will be getting a great Christmas present. The pioneer is a great deck, well made, good sound and looks the part too. Im sure she will be delighted..

Thanks for the inner tube tip, thats a great idea and i think i have an old inner tube with a puncture so thats on my list to try next time. Fitting your own RCA sockets is a good idea.

I still need to get round to writing a blog about the NAD 5120, of which i have 3 working examples and a half of one in spares. You might find the blogs on speakers of interest if you are getting a similar vintage pair to partner with the Pioneer.

Thanks again

Jonathan

Mista D said...

Part of me kinda wants to keep it for myself but she is the one with the vinyl collection so I'd really have no use for it apart from having another device to clean and admire!

I'll look out for the NAD write ups, trying to find your speaker ones but keep getting directed to the TT and rubber restoration threads. I didn't go too vintage with the speakers - Morduant Short MS20is, fairly cheap and a nice sound and then wired to a A&R A60.

Out of interest is your motor still knocking a little bit? I took mine apart in the end (anal like that) i probably shouldn't have as it wasn't giving me any problems in the first place. Anyways when i put it back together and started turning it i got a bit of fiction every full turn and realised i hadn't centred the motor properly within the Stator. I can imagine at speed this might give you a knocking sound. Anyways there's 2 clamps one on the top and bottom of the motor held together by 2 screws and these clamps have a slight bit of play. I held the motor up to a light whilst looking at the air gap between the motor and stator and adjusted the clamps/screws until it spun freely as possible whilst maintaining an equal air gap. Taking it apart will also give you better access to the bottom part of the motor spindle if you want to lubricate it. Anyways thought i'd give you the heads up as it might solve any motor problems your having.

Apologise if i sent the previous comment a thousand times - this is the first blog i deemed worthy enough to comment on.

Keep it up!

Jayson

Mista D said...

Just noticed the last update on the blog - dunno how i missed that and didn't mean to come across like i was teaching your Grandma to suck eggs etc.

When you manually spin the motor with your fingers do you feel any resistance or friction?

Mr Ives said...

Hi Jayson, thanks for the nice comments. No you're not teaching your grandmother to suck eggs at all. You have gone a stage further than me in totally stripping the motor. I suspect this route is the only way I'll get rid of my knocking sound.

I'll come back on a few points :

1) My other blog postings are accessible via the tag cloud at the top , for example http://mr-ives.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Audio

I think because the Pioneer entry is so long, it forces the other tagged articles to another page, so at the bottom click 'Older Posts' and you'll find them. I'm also a regular contributor over at the vinylyengine.com forum, so if you like this kind of technology that's a great forum, and people are really friendly and helpful.

2) My motor does appear spin freely, but I think you are right. maybe there is a tiny mismatch in alignment or perhaps some hardened lubricant on the motor spindle off centre.

That's a nice system you are presenting . I too use an A&R A60 which is a great amp. Its been working fine since 1980 when my Dad bought it. The pots get a bit noisy (crackle) but just squirt some servvisol into the top notch via the supplied "drinking strawer" and work in and they are fine.

Anonymous said...

I found one of these locally off Craigslist. Seems to be in pretty minty condition though missing the dustcover (any thoughts on where to locate one or find a suitable substitute?) Anyway this post was excellent for helping me setup the TT. I removed and cleaned the spindle and used Phil Woods Waterproof Grease to lube the shaft and spindle, which is something I did before with success to an old Rega Planar 3 I owned. After scouring the web and reading a bunch of rubber restoration articles on vintage car restoration sites I ended up soaking the motor isolators in Glycerin for a couple of hours. Well that worked out beautifully as I retrieved very new looking, supple motor mounts. I also made the tonearm adjustment to get rid of the push-pull play. New foam inserts on the springs, new belt, popped on and aligned an AT95E cartridge and darn... playback was awesome! Strobe disc shows speed(s) dead on to boot. My TT stand is a wood platform mounted on sand filled 3/4" copper tubes that go down through the wood floor to the concrete basement. I stole that idea from Stan Warren (the S in PS Audio). I can jump up and down next to the table and... nothing. I know I'll be enjoying this table for quite a while.

Mr Ives said...

Thanks for the nice coment anonymous, the deck is a bargain and capable of sounding good with a range of cartridges. The one final thing i want to do is remove and completely strip the motor, which i still plan as mine is not silent as yours. Ill post pictures and a description when i get round to that. Im intrigued by your copper pipe stand, do you have any pictures or a discription you could link to ? Thanks

Valkie Falkmann said...

Hey! THNX Great Job! Excelent post!
Question: can i lower the arm lift easily or is it from inside? Now its starting at 1,3 cm obove "contact".
Too much to let it make a quiet/nice/smooth contact.
Greetings from Henk Holland!

Mr Ives said...

Thanks Valkie,

You just have to purchase thicker records ;)

Yes you can adjust it from above, no need to get inside. If you look at the arm lift, there is thehorizontal black rubberised bar. This is raised. Y two metal posts. One is the raiser and the other. Is in fact the damper to provide a slow decent to the arm. I have to wear my spectacles but you will see a tiny screw head on the side, which allows you to adjust the height of the arm lift and hence how far the arm descends.

Andy said...

Brilliant, thanks very much. I just picked up a PL-12D cheaply, needs some work but that's fine. One thing though, the sub weight is missing, I think I can go without it or maybe use a small bolt or something similar if required.

Mr Ives said...

Hi Andy, the sub weight is only needed for the heaviest of cartridges. If you can balance the arm with your cartridge you dont need it .

Redtelephone66 said...

For operation in the U.S. should the voltage switch be set at 120? or can it be left at 240 with a 60hz motor pulley?

Mr Ives said...

Hi redtelephone66,

Yes , there is a voltage selector switch inside the deck, but as you point out, you also have to use the correct motor spindle for the mains frequency in your country. The deck came with two spindles, one fitted for the local country and a spare should the deck ever be needed to work in the other frequency. I suspect many a spare got lost as its a small part, and if not needed may have gone the way of similar left over bits. If you have set the switch and use the correct spindle it should spin at the right speed, though other factors can cause issues as identified in the blog

Anonymous said...

Hi Sir,

I am on the process of restoring one of this and need help. Please can you put me through converting mine from 120V to 220/230V, I can't see a switch board and the wires are directly soldered to for 120V. Thanks.

normanPhils said...

Hello again, regarding conversion to 220/240V all is ok now thanks to your pictures I figured it out how to connect them wires. So now my pl12d-mlii is working without step-down transformers.

Mr Ives said...

Hi Norman, glad to be of help. I would have expected you just had to move the internal switch , are you saying on yours that there was no switchx or that the switch had been bypassed ?

There is another important thing which is the mains frequency.. In the USAi its 60hz while innEurope its 50hz and around the world there are variations. The motor sets its speed from the the mains frequency. The problem is it will run at slightly different speeds beased on the different mains frequency. When the deck originally was packaged it came with two brass motor spindles. One fitted for that region and one in case the deck needed to be used in the other mains frequency region. Often this second spindle got lost as its need was not immediate.

I dont know where in the world you are and you seem to have it working ok, but if the speed sounds wrong , check what frequency the mains was where the deck came from and where you are now, then ,possibly, seek out that second spindle

Geo said...

Hello Mr Ives and thank you for this excellent post.
I just get a PL 12-D Turntable and I want to restore it.

I'm sure your post will help me if I face some spin issue.
For now, i face a sound issue, sound is saturated in the trebles.

I tried differents styluses which work well on other turntable but nothing change.... so I really think the problem comes from the turntable.

I'm not really aware to diagnostic and repair the electronics parts, do you have any idea or ressources I can use to solve this ?

Thank you,
Geoffrey

Mr Ives said...

Hi Geoffrey,

Hmm, well i would suggest you examine the cartride and arm alignment and the tracking weight. You mentioned you tried different styli, or do you mean different cartridges ? The stylus is just the tuny small part at the front of the cartridge. You can swap these but only with the right models of cartridge.

It could be the tracking weight is too low or that the alignment is not right. I cover this in the blog. Not everything in there requires opening the deck up and i include a complete setup for a cartridge , a shure m75 in my case where i use the scales and an alignment protractor.

Setting the alignment can be done in 2 ways, either using a protractor as i did or by measuring the overhang. This is the distance from the stylus to the edge of the headshell connector.

Perhaps it would be good to download the user guide from here http://www.vinylengine.com/ve_downloads/index.php?pioneer/pioneer_pl-12d.pdf. It covers the same setup that i cover in the blog,but using the overhand technique. Youll need to register but its a free forum and full of helpful people trying to do the same sort of thing.

To get high quality sound, the alignment, tracking weight and anti-skate need to be setup exacly right. Inprefer to always get a new stylus for my cartridge , that way i know its not worn.

normanPhils said...

Hi Ives,
Norman here again, from the Philippines. My PL12D MKII is originally from the USA so it is set to 120V with 60Hz pulley, we have here 220-230V 60Hz mains thus no problem on the speed and no need to change the pulley. It came without the PCB with the switch on it just directly connected with the capacitors and all. Everything is working fine now but am looking for what cart can be best for this type of tone arm. It came with a pickering e-99. Thanks so much...

Mr Ives said...

Hi Norman, well I have had very good results with my PL12 with both a Shure M75 , for which I got a replacement stylus from William Thakker in Germany OR with a new Audio Technica AT95. The Shure has a bigger warmer sound, which I like a lot.

Anonymous said...

I bookmarked this excellent post! Just scored a Pl-12D, one of my fave vintage cheap TT. Refurbing the rubber bushes of the motor mount is a good tip, i might do that. I removed the bottom plate and put the TT on rubber pucks. Replaced the old foam in the springs and put some extra foam under the springs because they tend to drop a little after 40 years. The belt is a little on the long side which helps also IMHO. Spinning much more quiet now!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic article. Many thanks indeed.
I am having a bit of a problem with inner groove distortion when tracking to within about 30mm of the label. The sound becomes dull, & the styles sounds rough against the record up close.

I wonder if that could be because I have used a Rega Baerwald Arc Protractor. Apparently Regas have an effective ARM length of 222mm, as opposed to 221mm on the pl-12d. Do you have any advice on this please?

Other than that, both platter & arm are level. I'm tracking a m75ej type 2, with 1.5g, & 1.5 on the anti-skate. Stylus is new, & all others have suffered with the same problem.
Am I missing something? I'm out of ideas!

Mr Ives said...

Thanks for the kind word words Anonymous,

Hmm, well you have a lovely combination of turntable and cartridge there. I guess you have two possible alternatives :

1) use the baerwald alignment using the vinyl engine protractor. Basically its a pdf file you print on your computer, cut out and prick the cenitral hole using a pin.

2) worth trying setting the alignment the old school way i.e cartridge paralell with the headshell and 49mm from stylus to the back of the collar i.e the place where the rubber washer on the headshell connector touches the headshell end. This is roughly what the inbuilt overhang pop up sets. However i think the pioneer overhage gauge is a bit loose and can be anything from 47-49mm. Setting it 49mm using a ruler is probably best,mthen check the cartridge bolts are both equidistance in their grooves.

Alignment is like a stopped watch i.e only right in two places, so trying a few variations might help. It couldi also be the album, i.e played with too heavy a tracking weight and damaged the grooves to give this IGD.

Mr Ives said...

Id also add , is the stylus new old stock shure (NOS) or an OEM replacement ? Most OEM Shure stylus replacements are less compliant than the originals and may require additional tracking weight

Anonymous said...

Thanks again.

I took your advice, and adjusted the cartridge so that the stylus is 49mm from the (far side of the) rubber washer; then used the Baerwald idiot protractor. Now, I'm sure the sound is less dull towards the label; which is great.

The stylus was indeed positioned 1mm too long. I'll put that down to the Rega Baerwald Arc Protractor being designed for a 222mm arm length.

There is still some very slight distortion toward the label, which I can hopefully cure by fiddling more with the alignment.

Best wishes

PS, I'm using a Dreher & Kauf stylus which I am impressed with given the price.

Mr Ives said...

Hi Anonymous, glad things have improved. I actually think i set the 49mm.to the side of the rubber washer closer to the stylus, but its a fraction of a mm difference and the important thing is the protractor. Actually with the idiot protractor you are supposed to be able to align the cartridge not only on the two meridians but also on all of the grind lines either side of each , if you see what i mean. I dont go that far, as , to be honest, im having trouble seeing that well. Its always going to be a compromise, and some inner groove distortion maybe be as a result of a previous owner of an album playing it misaligned with a worn stylus.

You might want to experiment with tracking force, as I said , the Jico styluses seem to need greater weight than the shures they replace i.e use 1.5 where the shure might have been 1. Within reason, i.e 1 gram either way, you might want to experiment .

Ive been listening to the Pl12 this evening with that Shure M75ED with a Jicoo standard replacement stylus circa $25. Its sounding wonderful.

Two things ive done but not yet added to the blog.
1) i cleaned the main bearing of the thick moly grease i had used and reverted to sewing machine oil. The platter spins for many minutes with the belt unhooked from the spindle and a quick push.

2) i have been using another mat. I had an old Ariston Q deck which had a solid mat , just a slab of rubber with a slight recess for the label,motherwise solid. Those Japanese decks with their concentric mouldings and rings are more for effect it seems. This seems to be an improvement

Adrian Crouch said...

Hi Mr Ives - I just bought the 12D and am grateful for your clear advice. I cant wait to get started restoring my deck but I'm a little worried about the arm. You mentioned play in the bearings - namely when slightly twisting the arm. I have about 2-3 mm of play when I do this - loose would be a good description. Its fine up and down and left to right.

help - what can I do?

A huge fan.

Mr Ives said...

Hi adrian,

So is the play in your bearings exhibited if you push the arm in and out gently too ?

I think i would advise first looking at the horizontal bearings underneath. Tightening these is quite easy, all you need is a very small flat headed screw driver, the sort that comes with a Jewlers set. If you scroll down through the blog to where it says Update November 2013 i describe the process i went through. Slacken the grub screw in the side of the circular nut and gentle tighten til just finger tight. Also check the tightness of the screws that hold the arm to the top plate, in fact check them first as tightening them will inevitably slacken the bearing a fraction. The trick here is to tighten just enough, finger tight, not too much. Possibly add a single drop of oil into that ball race too.

If the play is in the vertical bearings, they appear to be adjustable at either side of the arm pillar using a system of locking nuts. You need a special tool which looks like a flat head screw driver with a notch missing in the centre. Now i did not have to adjust these, and they should be set fine from the factory. The trick again is tiny amounts of tightening and it should be applied evenly on both sides, and i think you have to slacken the outer nut in order to fractionally tighten the inner, then tighten the outer to lock. is it likely that a previous owner has messed with them ? If its unlikely i would be reluctant to change these. Ive not done it with this deck, though have with others.

Now there is the possibility that either vertical or horizontal bearing is damaged. The horizontal bearing might be so loose that some of the tiny ball race bearings have come out. Im not sure how many there should be but they potentially could be replaced.

Im not sure what type of systemi the vertical bearings use, often its a needle bearing using a pointed grub screw into a cupped recess. On some decks i have read that if subjected to a violent drop, the point of the grub can sheer off . Hoever this would be exceptional.

Sorry to raise some doubts. Try the simple adjust of the arm screws that hold the arm on and tighten the bearings underneath and see if that fixes things, i have a hunch it might, and thats quite an eay job, and again id emphasise that gentleness and finger-tight pressure is all you need. Bearings require some minimal play in order to work.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Ives,

I hope you can help me with this. The sub weight of my PL-12D is missing. Is it still possible to replace the stock headshell with a heavier one, say an Ortofon SH-4 which I believe weighs about 9 grams and mate it with an Audio Technica AT-120E cartridge?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

All the best.

Eric

Mr Ives said...

Hi Eric, excellent question, ill need some time to try balancing my arm without the extra weight. Do you know what the AT120 weighs ? Im currently using a Shure M95 in a generic black headshell i got off ebay, but with the extra weight. Ill get back to you on that one in a day or so, got to fly Rory Gallagher is playing on the PL12 :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Ives,

Thanks for replying. The AT-120E weighs 6.5 g. while the Ortofon headhsell is 9.4 g.

I've tried the new plug and play Ortofon 2M Red which weighs 23 g. It's too heavy and the tonearm won't balance.

All the best.

Eric

Mr Ives said...

Hi Eric, bit of an update,

I removed the sub weight, and could still balance my Shure M95 in its generic headshell, combined weight of 17.53 grams. The vinyl engine cartridge ref lists the M95ED as 6.3g.

The sub-weight weighs 11.72 grams. I cant tell by eye what thread it uses, id guess imperial but not sure. I have a very helpful hardware shop which might be able to help. Im wondering if a bolt of the correct thread might work as a substitute, possibly adding nuts to it to achieve a ball park equivalent weight ?

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Ives,

Thank you very much for taking the time to test yourself. I really appreciate it. The combined weight of the Ortofon headshell plus the AT cart is 15.9 grams so based on the test you did, I should be OK in ordering this combo. I was a bit hesitant because I don't have the sub weight.

Thanks again and all the best to you!

Eric

Mr Ives said...

No problem Eric, there is a record fair this weekend in Reading, or i would have investigated the bolt idea. Dont forget that the headshell screws and wires will add a little bit too though, but it sounds like you are sorted. The Pioneer balance weight can got quite a long way back without becoming loose, not true of all decks.

Come back if it doesnt work out and lets investigate an alternative to the sub weight.

Mr Ives said...

Hi Eric, well the member vsmusic over at vinyl engine forum says the thread on the subweight is an m8. So in theory you could use an m8 bolt inserted in the back of the arm, probably after you have refitted the main weight. The diameter of the sub weight at its widest is 10.5 mm. If you look at Aalen bolts you might find a stubby one with a circular head which is 10.5mm, in which case you would have something close to the original

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Ives,

Thank you very much for the info. I'll try to look for that bolt and I'll let you know if I find one.

By the way, I apologize for replying only now. I actually just came back from a trip to Tokyo. I could tell you that that place is a music lover's paradise, specially for people who are into vinyl. I brought home with me quite a handful of Japanese-pressed pre-owned records all in near mint quality. You can find music in almost all genres and the prices are quite reasonable, in fact I found a lot of bargains.

Anyway, thanks again for the help.

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

I have a question as to where to put the dampening fluid on the PL 12. My arm drops and lifts without dampening. I have included a link to a picture of the PL12 arm lift mechanism. I notice a piston and spring (the blue arrows) and also a small post and hole (the red arrows). Is dampening fluid supposed to go on both areas? I don't want to muck it all up but would like to slow down the tone arm both dropping and lifting.
http://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/download/file.php?id=7889&mode=view

Anonymous said...

Hello everybody, recently i bought my first turntable a pioneer pl 12 d in a second hand market and it has 2 problems. I'm not an expert so i don't know if these problems are mechanical or due to adjusts.

1- When the turntable starts to run it works OK, but then it arrives to a position where the disc stays locked and i heard the same part of the song, so the disc rotates but it doesn't advance. It happens with all my discs, even with the new ones. I checked carefully the tracking force and the anti-skating. It is annoying because i can't listen a disc from the beginning to the end.

2- The on-up button doesn't work. The arm doesn't float down to the disc from the on-up position to the down position. Maybe i don't adjusting well the arm. I try to find something about this subject in internet but i find nothing.

Thanks in advance.

Mr Ives said...

Hi, sorry to hear you have a few issues but im sure they can be fixed.

For information i would suggest the vinyl engine forum, just google vinyl engine . They have a wonderful forum and also a library from which you can obtain the pioneer user guide.

So regarding your problems, i think they are the same problem. If the arm cannot fully descend then the arm is not exerting the correct tracking weight and this may be why its skipping. Near the base of the arm is a curved rubber bar which supports the arm while it descends. When the arm is completely dropped i.e. Playing a record, this bar should have a gap between it and the arm, it should not be touching it. You can adjust its height , there is a small screw in the side of the arm raising mechanism. Perhaps this needs adjustment ?

Skipping is usually an arm issue and the PL12 arm is very good. However when i buy a second hand deck i always get a new stylus for the cartridge, if the stylus is worn it can cause problems. I don't know what cartridge you have but often a shure m75 was fitted to these decks and its possible to obtain new styluses for these great cartridges. Or its not that expensive to get a new cartridge like the audio technica AT95

Anonymous said...

Hi Yves, thanks for your fast answer.

As the motor worked good i thought that the problem was mechanical and no electrical, so i dismounted most parts and i cleaned them. I saw that one of the arm's balance was mounted in the opposite direction, the part where the arm rests also was badly mounted.

Also i saw that there is a spring that at the interior part of the turntable which controls the on-up, down function. It was blocked.

I have mounted all the parts and now it works and the music sounds quite good, i checked it during the whole morning. I started to enjoy my old LPs without problem.

Thanks again for your help and brilliant post.

Anonymous said...

Hi again;

As yesterday i told you i fixed the problem with the on-up, down function and the turntable worked perfectly during the whole day.

But today i don't know why it doesn't work, when it is turned on it vibrates a lot and the plate rotates without a good velocity. I disassembled the plate and the motor seems to work ok, maybe is a problem with the belt? It is new.

Is annoying cause when i thought i fixed all the problems again the turntable doesn't work.

Thanks.

Mr Ives said...

sorry you have had a relapse after your success yesterday. Yes perhaps its the belt. not all Belts are quite right. I used ones I got from William Thakker in Germany and they are the correct dimensions including the correct thickness, which is important.

it could be oil or grease on any surfaces the belt touches, so clean with alcohol. Does the platter turn easily with no belt attached. if you spin it it should rotate for maybe 5 minutes. if not perhaps clean and lubricate the main bearings also

Anonymous said...

Hi.
Today i bought in ebay a new belt, this one

http://www.ebay.es/itm/CORREA-TOCADISCOS-PARA-EL-PIONEER-PL-12D-/231048163519?ssPageName=ADME:L:OU:ES:1120

so now i have to wait until i receive it. The strange thing is that yesterday the turntable works perfectly and today not.

About the spin of the plate. When the belt is out and i give a kick the plate doesn't make even a complete round. Which part should i lubricate? the central main stick where the plate fits? Which lubrican do you recommend me? It is also valid for the engine?

Lot of questions... thanks for everything.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the previous info. With the belt the plate doesn't complete a round, without it, the plate rotates during a minute approximately.

Mr Ives said...

Its probably a good idea to replubricate the central spindle ("Stick") and this is covered in this blog. Its quite easy to do.
I don't know what your judder/shaking problem is. It could be that the ball bearing on which the spindle sits is damaged. Its easy to replace. It could also be the belt is slipping then sticking, then slipping. Maybe the belt of loose of perhaps so oil or grease is on the two places the belt contacts i.e the main platter edge inside and the tiny brass spindle on top of the motor.

Also check that the brass spindle on top of the motor is clean and tight. It is fixed onto the motor shaft with a small screw.

its also good to oil the motor, there is a small hole on the top panel (with the platter removed) and you drop a few drops of oil on a hole. There are pictures in the blog.

Anonymous said...

I restored one of these recently and decided to listen to all my vinyl from A-Z. When I cam across Bob Dylan's "Together Through Life" I remembered I had a CD as well. So in this folder https://www.dropbox.com/sh/35xpuz4nulv2si5/AAB_4x-S6T0ImXwwnJ5KBoX2a?dl=0
is about a minute of the first track taken from the CD and from the PL-12D. Can you tell which is which? PL-12D sports a vintage ADC XLM Mk III cartridge.

Matt Chavez said...

Great breakdown. I have an opportunity to pick up a PL-12 for $80 at my local shop in decent working order. Not being as mechanically inclined as you, is this TT worth that price tag? Thanks and I'm sure I'll be visiting this frequently if I do purchase it!

Mr Ives said...

Hi Matt,mthanks for your nice words. Wether the deck is worth $80 really depends on what shape its in. Certainly the PL12D is a very well made deck from a time when vinyl was the premier format and large Japanese firms could make well made equipment at a good price. I have seen PL12Ds go for more than that on ebay.
Are you able to listen to the deck before buying ? Maybe take some vinyl, though the stylus in the deck might need a replacement. Speed issues can be a problem, though can be addressed . Maybe take a few familiar records to try in the shop. Piano music can be a good test of pitch and pitch stability.

john waddington said...

great blog, i recently got a PL12d and its ok but the motor sits loose in the rubber bushes causing a bit of play in the thing that drives the belt. i was wondering if i should get some washers on the nuts to stop the loosenes or is it normal? john

Mr Ives said...

Hi John, thanks for the compliment, glad it's of use.

I have play as you describe, so I think that’s normal. Its worth restoring the rubber mounts if you can, as they become hard and some mechanical hum can get transferred from motor to chasis to arm to cartridge. The platanclene method is described in the blog.

If you have no hum or noise and the speed is good and stable. its fine.

Anonymous said...

Hello I just bought this belt from UK :
http://www.ebay.it/itm/291158346063?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

is not Right for my PL-10 ?

Mr Ives said...

Ciao anonymous,

That looks like the correct belt. All I can say is try it and see. If the speed is good on 33 or 45 than its correct. If not it might be that the belt is a little too thick, which while very small does have an effect . I found that the seller William Thakker on ebay has belts which were correct for the PL12, so perhaps they have a PL10 belt too. William Thakker did have a web shop but they also sell on ebay

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Ives
speed does not seem to adjust, there are small and fast variations or rather fluctuations. I hope to solve with a new belt

Anonymous said...

You mention a 1/8 sized ball bearing for the spindel. A different model Pioneer service manuel has a exploded viwed of the spindal and gives 5/32 as the size of the ball bearing. I beleive the 1/8 ball is to small and used the 5/32 with good results.

Mr Ives said...

Thanks anonymous. The service guide for the PL12D definitely indicates that for that model its a 1/8" ball bearing, but it may well be different for different models of deck. Which model of deck was your service guide for ?

Anonymous said...

The Pioneer PL512 service guide shows 5/32 ball size for that model and I believe that the PL 117D also. Your right on the 1/8 for the PL12D, I checked mine. Just a heads up that they may have changed the ball size for different models.

Rainer said...

Sewing-machine oil is really NOT suitable for platter-bearings, except for those with micron-clearances (which is only a few SERIOUSLY expensive ones).

Most decks (including the PL12D) have bearings with MUCH larger clearances, in the order of a few 'thou'.

Sure, the platter will spin freely, but in use it has a lateral load on it exerted by the belt, and will tend to wobble or 'precess'. A reasonably viscous oil is needed to damp this.

And also, the entire weight of the platter spins on a tiny, pin-head sized thrust face (the surface of a ball-bearing). I would guess this equates to several tons per square-inch.

My recommendation (and that of many others) is SAE 30 synthetic automotive engine oil.

Rega go even more extreme, and use thick automotive gear-box oil.

(Then check out the "viscous bearing" used on the original Systemdek IIX).

I am, BTW, about to overhaul a PL12D, the latest of many TT's.

Rainer said...

Remiss of me not to thank you for this blog/resource - it will surely be a great help with the PL12D I'm about to overhaul.

The deck will essentially be a test-bed for cartridges (the detachable SME-type headshell and built in overhang checker make it ideal), but if all goes well it might replace the Dual 505 I currently use for quick 'needle drops' to digital.

You might be interested in the method I've used to isolate TT's for the last 10 years.

It's simply a 36mm slab of ply (2 x18mm screwed together into a single piece) on 3 or more squash balls. It is extraordinarily effective in stopping structure-borne LF breakthrough - feedback, traffic or footfall disturbance (which can even be from neighbours if you don't live in a detached property), and is intrinsically self-damping.

Any reasonably rigid material can be used for the support, such as MDF, but reasonably massive/heavy is good. The heavier the combined mass of the deck and slab, the more squash balls are needed.

The slab can be easily and precisely levelled by positioning of the squash balls. Level the shelf, place the squash balls on it in a way that will load them more-or-less evenly , place the slab and deck on them, and then level the deck itself(i.e. the platter) by re-positioning them.

For example, if the deck is up at the right-rear corner, move one or more of the balls toward the front-left.

BTW, this might sound precarious but it most definitely isn't - the squash balls compress and firmly resist any sideways force on the slab, and once they've settled (check after a few days) they never go out of 'adjustment'. You'll be surprised - it is actually nigh-on impossible to accidentally push the deck off the shelf.

Mr Ives said...

Thanks Rainer for your detailed comments and ideas. Yes , a slab of plywood, MDF or a granite chopping board makes for a great platform. I have used squash balls before and agree they work well. I even use a set in the gap above my washing machine and the work surface above. This stops the machine from vibrating so much.

A massive plinth , made of ply is what I use on my current project, a Lenco GL75. It weighs around 10kg and is made of 6 sheets with cutouts. It's definitely inert. Are you a member of the Vinyl Engine forum, it's a great place to share ideas relating to all aspects of turntable design and repair .

Rainer said...

You and I are clearly on the same wave-length!

The PL12D will be with me soon.

Although I've ascertained that its mechanically perfect (motor, platter-bearing and arm bearings)I have a suspicion that the motor suspension grommets have hardened.

I'm going to look into replacing them with ...... something.

salut, Mr Ives.

Rainer said...

Mr Ives;

I forgot to say;

yes, I have an account with Vinyengine - I often read but I've never contributed/commented (as far as I can recall).

Mr Ives said...

Hi Rainer, the motor mount grommets can be restored as per the blog, using platanclene or glycerine

Rainer said...

Hi again, Mr Ives,

I'm sorry, but I'm not convinced that this really works.

How can a solid lump of rubber be "restored" to it's original elasticity/compliance?

My belief is that such items are 'volatile' and they age (harden) inexorably and irreversibly.

Printer-roller restorer, glycerine etc' will re-plasticise the surface. It almost certainly doesn't penetrate more than a fraction of a mm into the surface.

These suspension grommets were (and need to be) "springy" throughout.

Can you can confirm that you've heard, or better still measured a reduction in motor-noise breakthrough after such treatment?

Rainer said...

Just to add;

of course some rubber components, rather than hardening (and eventually crumbling), soften and turn to 'chewing gum'.

Whichever happens - these rubber components are simply not going to last for decades (let alone forever!).

It occurs to me that someone with a CNC mill could actually make batches of new PL12D motor grommets out of blocks of a suitable polymer, and make it worth their while selling them.

How many of these venerable decks are now hobbled only by motor noise?

My Dual 505/1 is perfect in everyway EXCEPT that there is more motor noise than there should be, also thanks to hardening motor-suspension grommets.

Mr Ives said...

Hi Rainer,

I cannot confirm that I have measured an improve,ent, but I will say that I get zero mechnical hum through the audio chain. Also these are not solid lumps of rubber,they are really tubes,. After being left in a bag with platanclene which i work in with my fingers I notice that the grommets are definitely more supple.they are also fractionally larger.

Maybe it's cosmetic and doesn't have any beneficial effect, I agree that's possible, but I couldn't find a manufacturer of replacements so this was the best I could do

Anonymous said...

Great blog ! All very well and shows more detail . Done a great job for vinyl fans ! Thank you . With respect . VS MUSIC .

Mr Ives said...

Здравствуйте VS MUSIC

Большое спасибо

David coates said...

My motor spindle on the Pl12D I have had a rubber washer 20mm which is split and rotten, does the belt go around this washer or directly on to spindle

Regards

Dave

Mr Ives said...

Hi David, the belt goes round the small brass spindle that is attached to the motor. It looks a bit like a brass chess piece, and has two sections of different diameters for the two speeds with a taper between them.Not sure what the washer is round your motor spindle

Paul C said...

I have a Pioneer 12D and have set up the tone arm as in the manual . It has an Ortofon 510 cartridge. Everything seems to work except the up/down mechanism.I can't get the stylus to a level above the rotating record so I have to manually lift and drop the arm otherwise the stylus would hit the side of the vinyl. Any suggestions please?

john waddington said...

paul c - have you set up the weights correctly? i found i had to make sure all the screws around the tone arm were not too tight but also not too loose. took the small counter weight off for a while and this helped then had to reposition it and now it works fine.

Tony said...

Great blog and comments Mr Ives. I have started to restore a Pioneer pl-12d. The spindle has seized and the screw on the bottom of the spindle seems to be immovable without mashing the screw head. Any thoughts on how to free it?

Mr Ives said...

Hi Tony,

Triky. I think I would undo the nut that surrounds the base of the spindle and remove the whole assembly from the deck top plate. So you have the spindle and brass bearing well which has the side screw which is seized. Then you either try soaking the whole thing in penetrating oil or immersing the whole thing in boiling water to see if thermal expansion helps to free things up. Transfer from boiling heat to cold water. getting the old screw out is perhaps more important than preserving it as its possible to get a replacement and you can run the deck with no screw, just some tape to stop oil escaping and a grease plug in the hole to stop the tape adhesive mixing with the oil.

Rainer said...

Hi Mr Ives,

my PL12D II overhaul is still in progress, and I regularly refer to this blog - a mine of info, and much appreciated!


Just to confirm your findings about the belt and its effect on speed accuracy - I bought a UK-sourced one, the right length but fairly thick compared to what I usually see in Japanese decks, and the PL12D runs a little over 1.0% fast at 33.3 (33.7RPM) with it.


Not disastrous, but personally I like to see < 0.5% error. I've now ordered a Thakker item (should have heeded your words and done so in the first place).

Also bought a can of Platenclene!

Otherwise, things are looking good - the arm bearings are absolutely perfect (no play or stiction whatsoever), as is the platter bearing, and once I've re-polished the cover it will look (and hopefully sound)almost like new.


I'll report back in due course,


regards,
Rainer.

Mr Ives said...

Greetings Rainer, it sounds like a belt issue and I hope that the William Thakker belt solves the slightly fast speed. Many thanks for the compliments about the blog.

Cheers
J

Anonymous said...

Your article is wonderful and I followed it to restore my own Pioneer TT too. I put a Grado Black cartridge on it and did a new belt, new foam, etc.

Overall it is good but have two problems.

I'm always only getting a left channel. I have checked the wiring diagram several times for the Grado and even tried flipping things around. I verified its not the amp but testing another TT.

In addition the table seems to stop playing completely after 4 records (8 sides) or so. It continues to rotate, but not sounds.

Maybe a little finnicky of a unit, but it sounds quite nice for $30.

Mr Ives said...

Thanks for the kind words. loosing a channel or both channels as you describe must be something in the wiring from the cartridge to the amplifier. the signals from the cartridge are tiny , millivolts, and any poor connection will cause a problem. It sounds like you have discounted the wired from the cartridge to the back of the headshell. Basically you have to check the wiring back from there. I have sometimes had problems with the pins in the headshell coupling collar. There are 4 spring loaded pins in the back of the cartridge which contact with 4 more spring loaded pins in the arm collar. Spray a little contact cleaner on both sets of pins and work them in and out. I found a piece of wooden dowel which I could gently insert into the collar and work the pins in and out a little, being gentle. Then another spray of contact cleaner, then work the pins a bit more. On some headshells I found removing the ruber washer that fits round the back of the headshell connector provided a little extra contact and restored channels. After the headshell your into the arm wiring, which I hope is fine. Wires from the internal pins trace down and emerge at the base of the arm inside the deck. These wires solder to a junction point with the arm interconnects. If the interconnects have been abused then it may require replacing these. The originals are pretty good, but its possible that a wire is broken inside. First though its worth cleaning the RCA connectors on the end with some contact cleaner, and possibly crimp in the petals of the outer screen of the plug so you get a good tight connection.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your informative blog. I just revived a PL-10 that was non operational and is now running great. Frozen spindle was the issue. Your photos and description helped me removed the old grease and get it running again. Many Thanks!

Alan in Oregon

Mr Ives said...

You are very welcome Alan, and its good to know the blog is useful for other models of deck

Thanks again

Ianlinux said...

Thank you Mr Ives for publishing this excellent and very helpful article. I've just bought one of these from my local charity shop for GBP10. It has its counterweight missing, whilst employing a black SME tonearm head with Ortofon VMS20E MkII cartridge. Whilst it has some white emulsion paint splashes over the cover (sacrilege), everything seems to run smoothly for now and it plays with a rambling but very pleasing reproduction without the tight/harsh treble tones I dislike. Connections is through my early 80s Mordaunt Short MS100s (which will tighten the sound a bit) and an old Luxman R-1040 receiver which I recently picked up from the same charity shop for GBP30.

Much prefer the sound to any MP3 or CD output. Lovely playback which seems okay without the counterbalance weight although needle does sit a little heavily on the vinyl, so if I can't get a replacement, it would be nice to get one machined to the exact weight of the original. I might try it with some temporarily and strategically applied "Blu-tack" just to see how it behaves with some extra weight at the rear.

Once I've cleaned up the acrylic top and serviced it as per your article, I think I'll have a lovely early to mid-70s machine. Just need to wipe the dust off my old vinyl that I luckily saved from the late 70s/early 80s and play on!

Can't wait!

Mr Ives said...

Thanks Ianlinux for your kind remarks.

That's a lovely deck and a special cartridge you have. However Id not risk any records until I'd replaced the stylus and got some kind of counter weight sorted out as you may damage records playing with a worn stylus at a very high unbalanced tracking weight. new styluses are fairly easy to come by. I have had good experience from William Thakker in Germany . They do a replacement for yours here and their prices and shipping are competitive to the UK.

https://www.thakker.eu/en/needles/d-20-e-mkii-stylus-for-ortofon-vms-20-e-mkii-generic-stylus/a-5447/


Replacing the counter weight may be simpler than getting one machined. Ideally you not only need a weight with a hole in it but it also has a spring loaded ball bearing which engages in the groove on the arm stub. I have found that many 70'sjapanese arms used similar components and I think it probable that most arm balance weights are interchangeable. They may weight different amounts but they are interchangeable.

So you might find a donor deck, not necessarily a PL12D OR you could contact HiFi Hangar at Bordon, Hampshire
https://www.hifihangar.co.uk/

Stev and Sara who run the business are good friends of mine, they sell and restore old HiFi Components and I have a recollection that Steve may have a box of assorted old counter weights in. He may also have a PL12D , and while he wouldn't want to sell just the weight, he might be able to see if any he had fit his PL12D. he also has a collection of headshells and you might get a good swap for your SME , assuming you mean SME brand rather than SME connection, if you see what i mean

You'd probably need a stylus balance to check the correct tracking weight, as the calibration ring on the donor part may not have the correct intervals I use a Maplin digital scales which didnt cost too much. God luck

john waddington said...

has anyone tried the 'ed saunders' stylus? can't get hold of a shure.

Mr Ives said...

I have not though I have had good results with the standard (to SAS) jico replacements sold by William Thakker in Germany. The Ed Saunders ones look like these, but his web page indicates they are made in Switzerland not Japan as would Jico's

john waddington said...

if anyone is in any doubt about finding a good quality replacement stylus (shure) i highly recommend ED SAUNDERS. very impressed i is.

Anonymous said...

I've owned my PL-12D since the early 70's. This article is a good experiment on maintenance and a few minor mods, but the main issue that no one has tackled and implemented is:

- It doesn't matter what kind of stylus you use just as long as it it calibrated correctly. You can find new styluses anywhere. The tone arm is it's major weakness, not the cheap, thin, light Japanese plywood base.

- The extremely hard thin brittle wiring in the tone arm was bad to begin with. It needs to be replaced with as thick and new as will fit, but no one has tackled trying to completely disassemble the cheap tone arm to replace the 4 wires to the four stylus head contacts.

- As mentioned I believe, the power cord needs to be replaced with 14 or 16 awg 2 wire insulated power cord. The RCA cable and ground wire needs to be replaced with insulated 14~16 awg wire also (NOT speaker wire).

So for this article and any other next step re-builders out there, the tone arm wire replacement needs to be done.

Mr Ives said...

Greetings Anonymous, I'm happy to receive feedback but I cannot really agree with anything you say :

I've owned my PL-12D since the early 70's. This article is a good experiment on maintenance and a few minor mods

I wouldn't really describe it as an experiment. Its the process I went through to get the deck working to a reasonable standard again. I very deliberately didn't modify the deck

- It doesn't matter what kind of stylus you use just as long as it it calibrated correctly. You can find new styluses anywhere. The tone arm is it's major weakness, not the cheap, thin, light Japanese plywood base.

Well I agree that the calibration of the arm is very important but on your other point I disagree. Different cartridges do sound very different , and replacement styli also sound different across different brands. Also I consider the PL12 to have a very good arm, capable of working well with a wide range of cartridges.

- The extremely hard thin brittle wiring in the tone arm was bad to begin with. It needs to be replaced with as thick and new as will fit, but no one has tackled trying to completely disassemble the cheap tone arm to replace the 4 wires to the four stylus head contacts.

The arm wiring is thin for a reason, primarily so it does not restrict the movement of the horizontal or vertical arm bearings. I have replaced tone arm wiring and it can be a very fiddly job, but I only did it when the wire was broken. I agree that if a wire is damaged you should replace it, but replacing the arm wiring for its own sake is pointless. These wires carry tiny signals (mV), thicker wire will not help and will also restrict the movement of the arm

- As mentioned I believe, the power cord needs to be replaced with 14 or 16 awg 2 wire insulated power cord. The RCA cable and ground wire needs to be replaced with insulated 14~16 awg wire also (NOT speaker wire).

Again, I would only replace the power cable if the original was damaged. The motor draws not very much current, and replacing it with thicker makes little sense. The shielding in the PL12D is exceptional with the whole of the base board screened with an aluminium foil layer. I'd only replace the cable if the original was damaged. Ditto the interconnects. These might be worth replacing , especially of the original captive RCA plugs were damaged, but the co-axial cable that pioneer used is of reasonable quality. I am not a believer in the mystical powers of special cables. I only replace wires if they are damaged.

So for this article and any other next step re-builders out there, the tone arm wire replacement needs to be done.

Well, you could do that, but it would be a very hard job, and if the original arm wiring was intact , I would argue, a pointless exercise. My approach is to try to get them running as near to spec as I can ,then enjoy the music, and not fret over issues of audiophilia.

Indie Vinyl said...

My dad left me his when he died and I worked on it this spring. This mending things article is good for getting one running again and maintenance but you need to change the name cause it's not a restoration. The definition of restoration is to return something back to it's original state and fix things that were wrong at first or make them better.

Pioneer obviously didn't foresee the future when they use the thin zip cord for the power and the input plugs. That wire is b-a-d. I replaced mine with shielded power cord and a set of shielded rca cable and plugs because there is so much rf and other noise and airwave interference everywhere now. Ive got a small ferrite doughnut glued to the plate below the arm too and it cured alot of problems. This is old school magnetic head for the needle and stylus and it picks up interference from everywhere.

I used to use his expensive Stanton stylus with the horsehair ball on the front to pick up dust and other stuff before it hit the needle. But using a new cheap Shure did not really change anything for the better. This was Pioneer's bottom end arm and turntable when I looked it up.

If you go to all the trouble of having to tear it apart just to put a few drops of old school oil in a few beings you might as well at least try and restore it. I had mine down to the wood base and man it's light and thin. I sanded down the old veneer with 220 grit sandpaper, cleaned it up, and put a couple coats of Polyurethane on the veneer and it looks great. Re-glued some of the inside braces too cause everything falls apart when it is that old on thin wood. Just used some small squares of dense foam to replace the spring padding's, and did not have to take the motor apart. Just clipped the 4 wires from the circuit board and soaked the whole thing assembled in light lube oil, not corrosive WD-40 for three days. Took the rust off and lubed everything on the inside and it purrs like a kitten now. Re soldered the motor wires back cause those are just terminal posts and old solder joints like that go cold when it's that old. Got a new belt for the aluminum platter. Soaked the dust cover metal spring units in the same oil same time as the motor and it took any rust off and conditioned the spring and metal. Re sanded the ply on the bottom and repainted it black then a few coats of clear ploy.

It looks and sounds alot better than when I was little as a kid listening to it. Not picking up any rf noise or interference like before. And I play mostly new school Indie vinyl where the grooves are a lot closer and more dense than old school pressed vinyl so I know the inexpensive Shure stylus and needle don't matter a whole lot on this model turntable.

I have to agree though on the wiring in the arm. Mine almost crumbled off but can't figure out a way to put better wires in. Way too hard as wires go and delicate and it isn't shielded either. Should be something thicker and more playable.

I can see where Pioneer mass produced this thing cheaply and it needs alot of things to make it more stable so if you're going to do the maintenance stuff you might as well do the restore things while you have it torn apart. Doing mine I think the worst parts are the base with cheap wood, and veneer, the plastic or cheap metal arm, and the wires that are in the arm. The belt wears out and stretches too fast too.

Jack V. said...

Ah summer projects! I appreciated this article and did mine in my spare time. Got rid of the zip cords for power and RCA connects. Used 14 gauge round shielded for the power cord with an new groundless plug, and mounted gold RCA females on the back. So only have to have one cord dangling out the back now. Took the advice of some others and removed the motor. You really don't have to dissemble the motor, just soaked the whole thing in Breakfree CLP for a couple days. It ran smoothly before even after all these years but now it runs so much better and is conditioned and better. Found a new belt on Amazon, and re soldered the joints on the the posts. There's no electronics in it only a film capacitor where Pioneer mounted a switch blocker. Pretty easy to do. I hate those micro wires for the arm but looks like it's all one piece and don't know how to get the arm apart. I did my outer veneered case too. Some 400 grit to get the bumps and dirt out and off and some gloss Poly. Looks better than when it was new ha. I'm using my original stylus and haven't had any problems. Don't think this model was made for anything expensive or better. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Hello
Recently I received a new original arm for the PL 12 D which is in a better condition that the one I have. Yesterday I opened the turntable to see how the electrical part is connected and I observed that it is throug 4 wires ( blue, green, red, and white) that are connected from the arm to a board. Someone knows how is the connection between these two parts? Do I need to weld the wires or they are connected in a different way? The 4 wires are very very narrow and I don't know if is just a simple connection or maybe I need someone proffesional to do it. If someone has replaced the arm and knows how complicate the operation is please contact me.
Best and thanks in advance
Erik

Mr Ives said...

Hi, I'm pretty sure these wires are soldered, so you would need to desolder the old wires and solder the new. Quite fiddly as the wires are very fine and can break

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Yves;

Thanks a lot for your fast answer, I was on vacations so I saw it today, effectively I checked that the wires are soldered. Just another question or recommendation. I read a lot of opinions about how to proceed when you want to change a vinyl. My question is, do you stop the motor or do you change the vinyl when the turntable is spinning?. People says that switching on and off the motor can deteriorate it but I think that the motor of the turntables are designed for it. What is your opinion or recommendation?

Erik

Mr Ives said...

Hi Erik, I do both :)

I think the motor is designed to stop/start , so its OK to stop and start with each side change. However sometimes I do a flip with the motor still turning , which is fine so long as you don’t allow the lower surface to be ground by the mat, as some dirt or dust might be between the two surfaces. I think this is why the DJ's have slip mats which make this easier to do safely.

Anonymous said...

Great, thanks a lot for the recommendation.

Erik

cdias said...

EExcellent article
I have the PL-10 that is very similar to this one. But I noticed a small issue. The platter has a slight wobble, that seems that doesn't affect the sound, but I trying to figured out what's the problem.

Any tip on this?

Mr Ives said...

Hi cdias, thank you for your kind words.

When you say platter wobble, is this when its turning or if you apply alternate pressure to the edges of the platter ? In the latter case you are applying quite a large lever to a small point, so not typical of the deck in normal use.

It could be a few things, and I have had a different deck which wobbled, and which I screwed up in trying to fix !

1) First check the bearing sleeve is held tightly by its nut. Its bolted to the top plate, but should be nice and firm. if its loose then you'll have wobble.

2) If you remove the platter check the conical hole in the centre is clean and smooth and the same on the conical neck of the spindle which goes into it. The deck I had a problem had a poor fit here, and my attempts to correct it just made it worse. I would not expect this to be the case with a Pioneer where the QA was very good. I guess with age some corrosion might occur in this contact between the steel spindle and the alloy platter . However I would only wipe clean, dont use anything abrasive on that spindle and hole as it could get worse.

3) It could be that the main bearings are just a little worn so a gap is present between the bearing well and the spindle/bearing shaft.. A little more oil or possibly consider using something thicker, either chainsaw oil, gearbox oil or grease, moly or lithium grease. The extra thickness might keep the spindle more centred. You could put a ring of grease around the top part of the bearing shaft with oil at the bottom, as a kind of grease seal ?

4) Can you see the wobble when watching the deck from the side when its running ? best to remove the album and the mat to check you are looking at a true flat line, and not a warped record or mat. I suspect when running the deck is probably spinning true due to the "spinning top" effect where the centrifugal effect of the spinning platter will tend to centre the whole thing. As you say, its not audible, so maybe something you just accept as part of owning a wonderful vintage deck ?

Rainer said...

hi Mr ives,
I (finally) got my PL12D II finished a week ago (well - nearly finshed), thought I'd drop you line.

A few discoveries along the way.

First off, how's it sound? Quite amazing, exceeded all expectations.

The detail and slam is far better than I expected. The detail in particular took me aback. I believe the platter bearing mostly accounts for this (more later).

The Jico M75 ED II stylus took a few hours to settle and down and track properly, but it's now a demon. I discovered that the anti-skate for 1.75g needs to be at 2 or even a little more.

The cartridge and headshell tags looked a little oxidised so I cleaned them with contact cleaner, which I'm positive sharpened up the sound considerably (RCA plugs are now nice Nutrik items with a clever self-clamping strain-relief arrangement).

The horizontal arm bearings are 'cup and cone' ball-races. Like yours, there was some play. This develops not because of wear but because there is a rubber or fibre washer under the gland-nut at the bottom which compresses over time. I believe it's only there to aid factory assembly (it does effectively make initial adjustment easier), but could in fact be dispensed with altogether, as long as subsequent adjustment is done extremely carefully.

If you completely undo that gland nut, there's enough arm wire to allow raising the arm up through the pillar enough to give clear access to the top bearing, i took advantage of this to add a couple of drops of oil (the ball-races are caged, so there is no danger of loose balls dropping out).

(continues ....)

Rainer said...

(... continued)
I ran into a problem with the platter bearing - it's too good! It's the closest tolerance item I have *ever* come across (Regas? not even in the same ball-park). Bone dry, once the spindle is even 1/3 of the way in there is *zero* detectable play.

Why is this a problem? Even the slightest film of oil and it's simply impossible to insert the end of the spindle past the lock-screw hole, which means it can't be done up. Hence I was unable to add enough oil to fill all the voids, which I'm not happy with, still wondering how to accomplish it. Possibly the weight of the platter over many hours (or even days) would finally settle it. However, that would necessarily be without the screw in place, and hence the top half of the bearing would be have only residual lubrication rather than a 'sump'.

I found the deck was slightly fast at 33.3, about 33.75 with a Thakker belt (dead-on at 45). I used strips of 1200 and then 2000 wet/dry (with my spit to do the wetting!)looped around the pulley to reduce the diameter slightly.

Very easy to do, no dismantling involved, but I would advise care to avoid over-doing it. I gave it no more than 10-15 seconds with each grade, pulling the loops of wet'n'dry with moderate force, assuming I would take 2 or 3 goes, but starting her up - 33.34 RPM (100 timed revs) - close enough for me! I suspect that the sanding took a bit off the slight peak in the profile of the pulley, which is why removing such a tiny amount of metal made such a large difference (I did try to preserve it as best I could, and the belt still centres itself perfectly).

Suspension damping foam - I cut pieces over 1.5 x the diameter and 1.3 x the length of the springs to be effective. This was using dish sponges (the kind with a scrouring surface), which I believe is polyurethane. If they're made the size of the springs they have practically no effect. I think the size and density of the inserts, and hence the stiffness of the suspension overall, could be adjusted dependent on the positioning and method of support used.

I have new rubber feet on the way (two have started to split) and my final tweak will be to set the deck up so that when it's put on a dead-level surface both the plinth and platter will also be level, using shims under the necessary suspension springs.

BTW, I used your idea of treating the motor suspension with Platenclene - I actually immersed them in a ziploc and left them to soak for about 3 hours. Combined with all the other work there is only trace of motor noise, audible only during silences or very quiet passages at high volume through my bassy HD580's - in room it's un-noticeable, even at neighbour-bating levels.

Thanks again for your incredibly useful blog, it gave me the impetus to take the venerable old machine on in the first place,

regards,
Rainer.

Mr Ives said...

Hi Rainer, thank you for your kind words and detailed reply, much appreciated. You sound like you have gone further than me regarding arm bearings and motor spindle grinding, so congratulations for taking this one step further.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for most helpful information - enabled me to save a deck
Philip Taylor
Scotland

Rainer said...

update on platter bearing lubrication;

What I should have mentioned is that I've used Audio Origami 'booster oil' - the thicker option available - which is the reason even a trace of the stuff prevented inserting the spindle into the bearing.

I was going to use some SAE 30 synthetic racing motor oil ('Redline') I also have kicking around, which would doubtlessly work very well, but I felt inclined to use something thicker to add some damping and drag to the bearing.

I added a few drops to the bottom of the bearing by inserting a precision oiler (a thin tube on a syringe), enough to cover the ball, as far as I could tell shining an LED torch down it, trying to keep the walls of the bearing dry.

Then inserted the spindle so that the top of the retaining groove was still showing and used the precision oiler to fill the rest of it with oil.

I was then able to slide the spindle almost, but not quite all the way in to the bearing, then insert and tighten the retaining screw.

It's not perfect, but the bearing is now mostly full, and effectively running in a 'sump'.

It feels odd - very smooth, but with quite a bit of viscous drag when twisting it with my fingers, almost as if it's greased (the platter stills takes a loooong time to stop when spinning freely though), but I've heard that a slight torque load substantially smooths out AC motors.

Whatever - the deck sounds far, far better "than it has any right to"!

Mr Ives said...

Thanks again Rainer for the update. I can see how thicker oil might dampen any small variations in speed (flutter from cogging) while also providing a better support for the spindle in the sleeve. I have experimented with gear grease (lithium) which seems to work fine . Some decks have open bearings (NAD 5120, lenco GL75 , Some models of Ariston Q Deck) and oil will leak out over time so grease is useful for these. Good to know you have had a good experience with it.

Sounds like you are all set. I eventually settled on the Shure M95 in my PL12D, with a basic Jico replacement stylus from William Thakker, the one thats around €25 not the Shiabata SAS styls which is a lot more expensive. The M95 is a wonderful cartridge and seemed to me to combine the best of the warm Shure sound with the detail of, say, an Ortofon. The M95 shares some technology with the much more expensive V15.

However I also love the M75 and its very well suited for Rock music, and albums that have had a good life and are maybe not in perfect condition anymore.

Rainer said...

Hi Mr Ives,

re. bearing oil;

the guy who is Audio Origami is convinced that thick oil is the way to go with almost all platter bearings, and on the evidence so far he's right.

The detail I'm hearing off records from the PL12D II is as good as I've ever heard, and this is obviously NOT via a high-end cartridge, arm and wire/cable.

In future, if the AO oil isn't to hand I might try a thick, synthetic gear oil. The problem is that this stuff isn't cheap by the litre, and it's actually probably cheaper to buy a couple of vials of the AO stuff.

It's supplied as a kit, with cleaning cloths, pipettes etc'. I've liaised with him several times over the years, and the guy is an absolute dude - he's just earning an honest living, not trying to fleece anyone.

I think getting the Pioneer's arm bearings perfectly adjusted also helps a lot. Without the horizontal bearings tweaked 'tight', the arm is basically 'teetering' on the top ball-race with the bottom end of its shaft rattling/wandering around un-located.

Those Jico Styli are good, the M75 EDII I have with one fitted works REALLY well - very punchy, wide stereo, lot's of detail, flawless tracking ....... it's now simply a very good cartridge by **any** standards, as I guess it always was.

Your M95 might well be even better, but if you haven't already done so, experiment with anti-skate. I found that it **definitely** needed to be at over 2 with 1.75g VTF to stop mis-tracking on the right channel on my deck.

ciao for now!


Rainer said...

Hi Mr Ives,

sorry if seem to be harping on, but;

another quick word about anti-skate - I don't have a test record so I used several classical piano recordings to set it.

On each of them, but in particular a Deutsche Grammophon LP of Emil Gilels playing the Beethoven Hammerklavier concerto, I was able to hear occasional slight mistracking on the right channel with the anti-skate dial set to the same value as VTF (1.75g).

This was listening carefully at quite high volume via Senn HD580's - on less critical material and in-room it might well have gone unnoticed but ..... mistracking is mistracking, and it does eventually harm records.

Anyway, increasing the antiskate dial to over 2 remedied it (note that this was with the platter perfectly levelled).

regards,
Rainer.

Rainer said...

More harping on (groan);

When trying to loosen some of the bolts and screws on the deck, it could be quite easy to ruin them.

I nearly did this with the grub-screw used to lock the gland-nut at the bottom of the arm before I managed to loosen it. Had I completely chewed it before managing to do so, I would have been in trouble.

The same applies to the grub-screw locking the motor pulley - I raised it on the motor shaft to get belt to clear the speed-change arm (rather than bending the tangs on said arm, as has been suggested) and again, very nearly chewed it before it yielded.

*** Make sure the tools you use are good quality and fit the screws/bolts properly ***
When re-tightening these lock screws, the threads need to be clean, and completely free of oil or grease.

Anonymous said...

Firstly an excellent article on how to repair the Pioneer PL-12D record deck. I have recently been given one of these in good condition. The deck has been in a loft for the best part of 30 years sadly the lid has been badly scratched though. The deck had very little use with original stylus Sure ME75II and missing drive belt. I've replaced the foam dampers with strips of foam from a car sponge, new drive belt and a repo stylus. The spindle shaft appeared dry so stripped right down, removed the ball bearing, cleaned, re oiled and reassembled. The platter rotates freely. The tone arm moves freely without any play. i do have some issues though, when playing records I notice sibilance. VTA is set correctly. The cartridge I have tried different alignments, first using the baerwald protractor and then measuring 49mm from head shell rubber ring to stylus tip and aligning the cartridge parallel to the head shell. I'm not convinced the anti skate is working correctly. When rotating the anti skate control from 0 to 1 I can hear a click. If I balance the tone arm to float and move towards the centre spindle, anti skate set to 0 the tone arm will creep back towards the edge of the platter. With the anti skate control rotated from 0 to 4 the tone will swing back to rest position. Doesn't appear to be any positive bias only negative, is this correct with this type of deck? Also the head shell appears not to be perfectly horizontal to the platter, when looking front on to the head shell right hand corner looks slightly lower. I cannot see any azimuth adjustment or any play in the SME connector.

Any help or suggestions most welcomed.

Regards,

Nick

Mr Ives said...

Hi Nick, thanks for the feedback, I'm glad if the article is of use.

I must confess that I have tended to leave dust lids as I find them but I have read on the vinyl engine forum (fantastic resource BTW) that car headlamp polishing kits which provide sets of progressively finer abrasive compounds can , with a lot of elbow grease, get a lid back to new condition. I guess Brasso or even toothpaste can act as a rubbing compound, then some furniture polish to get a bit of a shine ?

I think your anti skate sounds OK to me. I've not needed to dismantle this but I think its a spring loaded cam in this arm. Some earlier decks used two magnets to provide a gentle force, and others have used belts which perished internally. Its should provide varying amounts of outward force to compensate for the tendency for the arm to drift in. I have always set mine to the tracking weight, but test records exist where you can fine tune anti-skate. However you may need to set the tracking weight a tad heavier and hence the anti-skate as ......

Which replacement stylus did you get ? Quite a few online sellers sell JICO made replacements and often these need to track a tad heavier than the original Shure settings to give there best, I wonder if this might relate to your sibilance, which can be a sign of too low tracking weight ? I have read of people tracking these at 2.3grams, which is higher then the original 1.5. perhaps try in small increments. Some cartridges track at much heavier than these, and a mis tracking stylus can damage a record more than one that's a bit heavier than normal but behaving. ?

The azimuth problem could also be contributing. Is this the original headshell or a replacement ? Some of the cheap Technics-style replacement headshells I have had have had poor quality in this area i.e. the headshell is not true on the connector stub.

Sometimes there is a tiny amount of play in that collar connection, so applying a slight twist when tightening can help, also there is a screw beneath the collar, which perhaps could be loosened and re-tightened having twisted the collar . I don't think its an adjustment as such, but there might be a little slack there, these things are tiny tolerances

William Thakker do a cheap replacement headshell which is quite similar to the original Pioneer one and is available in silver. It might be worth looking at a new headshell. There are some expensive headshells that allow fine tuning of the azimuth with an Allen key , but these are quite expensive and only worth considering is all else fails.

Does the arm sit tight on its bearings i.e if you gently hold the arm tube between thumb and finger and first try to push it in and out (horizontal play) and then try and very gently twist the arm by rolling the tube between your fingers (vertical play). Some vertical play might account for poor azimuth but I'd expect this to be unlikely, those bearings were set at the factory and typically don't become excessively loose. The horizontal ones I have a section on it the blog. a tiny amount of play is fine, as too tight will cause other problems i.e skipping.

well done, good luck and keep us posted how things progress

Jonathan

Press2Talk said...

Dear Jonathan,

Thanks for your comments. Now replying on a pc rather than a mobile phone!

Anti Skate - Ok so the bias force is in one direction only? Pulling the tone arm towards the outer edge? This does save me the chore of stripping the deck down again.

Headshell - This is the original Pioneer silver type fitted with the Shure MED Type II 75 cartridge. I will check tonight for the tiny screw presumably on the tone arm near the collar and tweak the azimuth of the headshell. One thing I do notice is when the arm and stylus are sitting on the record the stylus is pulling towards the right when viewed above, I will take a picture, can I upload to your blog?

I have checked the tone arm for play in each direction, I did loosen off the grub screw and gently tighten the brass collar on the vertical tone arm shaft.

The cue lifter had dried out, is this a piston or merely spring action with grease acting as a damper? As a quick fix, I applied silicone grease between the the lifter shaft and the spring wrapping around it. Works well.

The replacement stylus I ended up buying off ebay, did take the seller over a month to ship. The stylus is purportedly to be a Dreher & Kauf Shure N75EDii N75ED 2, cost about £13 from UK seller.

I've set the tracking weight at 1.75g, have upped the weight but didn't make that much difference to the sound. A test record sounds ideal, can you recommend? I have a 100mhz scope at work so not a problem to scope the outputs and analyse for any distortion. Being a magnetic cartridge are these prone to ageing or introducing channel distortion?

The lid is the only let down, with deep scratches I'm not sure any amount of polishing will remove. I will give the headlight restorer a go, just hope I don't make the lid any worse!
I had to gently warm up a butter knife and smooth out a small piece of the vinyl covering where the lid rests on the front right hand side.

All in all I will persevere with this deck and keep it as original as possible.

Regards,

Nick

Mr Ives said...

Hi,

I have Moving magnet cartridges of that period which are fine so I dont think they age, but I could be wrong.

regarding test records, i think the HiFi News test record is widely considered the best and its been rereleased. a bit expensive at £23 but you can find it on amazon, or you may find second hand copies on ebay/discogs.

It could be the replacement stylus I guess ? there are quite a few different replacements out there ?

DEW 1 up said...

I am so sorry , and excuse my ignorance , for strobe you use a filament lamp, does this mean a in incandecant lamp? Or a neon type?
Your Write up here is wonderful , I refer to it often just to look , it's a great read and I am always learning something new each time I read it.
Cheers Mr Ives , you are an inspiration . Thank you for your kindness posting this with so much detail .
This is exactly why I love the PL12 series of Turntables , they are so simple and really do a great job. yEs there are many record players out there which are more advanced , there is a certain amount of pleasure getting a simple unit to sound great and play along with the big boys.
So many times am so tempted to buy an expensive and High regarded record player , but I am so attached to this unit as it was like the one I had in High school , my first HiFi. Consisted of this unit and an SX-434 pioneer. I wish I kept both . I was able t o find 2 PL-12 in great condition , yes they need many things , but am already able to play it. I don't seem to have any Motor Issues. But will do most of the suggested maintenance Mr Ives writes about.
Again a Thank you Kindly

Mr Ives said...

Thank you DEW 1 up for your kind words.

Yes an incandescent light bulb is what I mean, the kind that are being widely replaced with compact flourescent, and feature a metal wire inside. The bulb can be the kind with a clear glass or with a white frost coating. Basically this type of bulb will flash with the mains frequency, so fast we cannot perceive it. No apology neccesary, I should have been clearer and shown a picture of the kind of bulb

Kind regards

Jonathan

Anonymous said...

HEy amazing work !! i have an PL117D and i have an issue or two,maybe you could help me ,its generally a bit slow, last try was to oil it,it did some good but i have to go to 44 and then back to 33,1.3 to play normally ,yes i changed the belt and aligned the speed selector,though i don't which capstan i have ( 60 or 50 Hertz) is there any way of telling ? i also want to change the springs cause they are worn out,do you have any idea whta the colors means ? they have a little paint on,and i really need a reference for the spring if you happen to know any ,Greeting from an island far fara way ,Cyprus ,this is Marios ,thanks :)

Mr Ives said...

greetings Marios, thank you for your comments.

when you oiled the deck did you clean out the bearing first ? Old oil or lubricant can become sticky. Also there is a ball bearing in the bearing well, and sometimes its a good idea to replace this with new. It should all be clean and shiny before putting in some new oil.

I think if you had the wrong spindle it would not be even close to the correct speed at either 33 or 45. Have you tried printing a strobe disc, there is a free one at Vinyl engine but you must choose the correct one, which for Cyprus will be 50Hz . This will tell you how stable it is.

if changing the speed up and down gets the speed right , that suggests to me that the belt is not sitting on the spindle correctly or perhaps it is rubbing on the arm which moves the belt up and down. You can perhaps hear a quiet brushing sound if the belt is rubbing. You need to spend some time adjusting the height of the brass spindle, it has a side screw, until the belt does not rub against anything. If the rubber mounts that support the motor have squashed with age the motor may be sitting lower than normal. Some people have managed to fit neoprene washers (sometimes used to quieten PC computer fans) to raise the motor a little.

I think the 117D has a 4 point suspended sub chassis . You say the springs are worn, is that because there is no spring left , they are squashed ? I am not sure what springs you would replace them with, I am sceptical that the springs are worn, is it possible that the foam inside has crumbled and made the deck too bouncy ? Just add new foam . I don't know what the colours mean but I would suggest you take many pictures of the inside and as you dismantle to enure you know which spring goes where.


Good luck, that is a nice deck you have

Anonymous said...

Hi!
I also have this nice turntable.
But I have one problem. Hum noise from right channel.
I measured the ohm´s from the cartrige mount to the point where the tonearm wiring meets the RCA cables. There is connection between the gren (Right ground) and one of the ground cables from the tonearm. Is this correct?
If not, do you know how to replace these wires? How to open the tonearm.
//Martin

Mr Ives said...

Hi Martin. loud hum from this normally very quiet deck does soud like it could be tonearm wiring.

I'm not sure I understand your description though ?

If you remove the cartridge wires from the cartridge and the interconnects from the amp , and measure from each wire end to end with a meter, i.e right cartridge wire (signal) to right RCA plug centre, left, signal ground to RCA outer etc. Each should have a few Ohms resistance but between cables it should be open circuit.

Do you have an additional ground wire which connects to the amp , This should mearure low resistance to the arm tube

Takehashi said...

Hi,
Excellent article. I recently acquired my brother's unused PL12D for my daughter to have. The bearing was seized and it needed a new belt but both of these things have been sorted and it now runs smoothly and quietly. The problem is that one of the channels is out and I have traced this to the tonearm connections/wiring. I think I'm going to have to get inside the arm to check the wire connection at the heads hell end. Any ideas how to do this? Thanks in advance for any help.

Mr Ives said...

Many thanks Takehashi,

loosing a channel can be a poor connection somewhere from cartridge to receiver, including the headshell wires (need to be tight) , the coupling pins in the SME locking headshell connector, a break inside the interconnects and the RCA plugs out screen connectors "pettaling out".

Do you have a multimeter ? if so disconnect the wires at the back of the cartridge and test continuity from each one to the corresponding pin or screen of each RCA connector.

Sometimes the pins inside the headshell coupling can get dirty so worth spraying some contact cleaner into the socket and work the spring-loaded interior pins with something that will press inside , like the flat end of a pencil.

I have also had OEM headshells where I only got both channels when I removed the rubber washer from the headshell connector, allowing a dew extra microns of contact.

It could still be the interior wire, and thats a non-trivial job to replace. I think the headshel coupling is held on by a grub screw below, but its fiddly as the wires are cotton thin. I'd rule out everything above before attempting a full arm re-wire

Graham Upping said...

Hi,
I've been reading this as a guide to trying to remove a background hum that I get only when the needle is on the vinyl I can only really hear it between tracks, but it's annoying me.
I'm writing for a little advice.
There a a collection of very thin wires going up in to the arm through a brass collar on the underside of the black baseplate. There are two black wires as well as red, white, blue and green. One of the black wires is not attached to anything.
Could this be my issue, is it easy to fix or is it something else?
I hope you can help, but I appreciate the fact that you aren't here for me to pester

Mr Ives said...

Hi Graham,

Well a couple of things.

If you only hear the noise when the needle is o the vinyl, that implies its connected with the motor ? Do you hear it with the deck unplugged from the wall, but with the amplifier on and set to phono ?

if the motor mounts are hardened then vibration from the motor gets transmitted through the chassis to the bearing, spindle platter and picked up as noise by the arm.

the 4 coloured wires that enter the arm correspond to the 4 wires that attach to the cartridge. The two black wires connect to the arm at two points internally to provide an electrostatic shield. When you say one end is not connected, which end is not connected ? If its the end were the wires solder to the tag board coupling them to the interconnects, its an easy fix, just solder it to the other black wire, central tab.

However if you mean the wire is disconnected at the other end i.e somewhere inside the tonearm, its slack if you pull it, thats quite a job to fix. one black wire probably runs all the way to the headshell connector, the other is shorter inside the arm pillar.

Rainer said...

I have to report that, unfortunately, my PL12D II has become rather noisy recently.

I don't know if it's the motor itself wearing out or the suspension grommets hardening up, but it's getting very intrusive.

A shame, because otherwise it sounds so detailed and dynamic

I just listened through side 2 of Crime of the Century (1st press), and was by turns thrilled by the scale of the 'big stuff' and irritated by the drone from the Pioneer's motor on the quiet stuff.

Sigh.

Rainer said...

Hi Mr. Ives,

the PL-12D is in surgery again, but already something very interesting to report;

I soaked the motor grommets in Platenclene again, but this time I put them in a small tin (keeping them immersed) and then into a warm oven (c. 90-100C) for 20 minutes.

This time they swelled enough that the clearance of a couple of mm there used to be between them and top plate has gone, in fact they actually seem to be slightly in compression.

I'm cautiously optimistic, will let you know the results ASAP,

salut,
Rainer.

Rainer said...

PS - yep; can confirm the motor is sitting a couple of mm higher now, from the relative position of the speed-change arm. I can see I'll have to move the motor pulley again ( more or less back to where it was originally, I guess).

Rainer said...

Hi Mr. Ives,

success! Not just less motor noise but....... practically none AT ALL! Listening as I type through my Senn 580's, as loud as I dare without going into hearing-damage territory and there's the faintest trace (I think?), which will be inaudible in-room (too late for cranking it up).

Should say I've made a few other changes, though.

The platter bearing is now running in 30W motor oil. I wondered if the drag from the super-thick OA oil was partly the reason for the noise. I've also sealed the retaining screw to keep all the oil in so that it will always be running in a sump.

More drastically, I've almost entirely covered the underside of the top plate in 2mm foil-backed bituminous damping (intended for car body panels), which can't but help.
But whatever - a result.

ciao for now.

Mr Ives said...

Well done Rainer, thanks for sharing your efforts.

Lubricating the motor is also worth doing. The upper bearing has an oil point, but not the lower. Some Japanese motors have a removable lower bearing thrust pad. Stripping the motor is to be avoided if possible though.

Well done

Rainer said...

Forgot to say - yes, I agree about oiling the bottom motor bearing when the opportunity arises.

I put several drops of the same 30W as in the platter bearing on it with a precision oiler. Seems a good idea to used a fairly thick synthetic that will resist drying out/migrating/degrading too quickly, given it's not something you can do easily, unlike the top one.

I noticed that older Pioneers, with pretty-much the same motor, had a complex system of pipe-work to get oil to *both* bearings from the top plate!

musicyourway said...

Sorry to come into this thread so far along but, Wow, what an amazingly detailed and thorough account of your PL-12D thank you I will be referring to this as I set mine up, I am seeking some advice, I currently own a PL-15D II it has been the turntable I have owned forever and daily plays records besides a belt replacement has been a champ it has no dust cover and to date I have not found an original replacement for my PL-15D II , I very recently picked up a PL-12D I like the esthetic styling of it, I think a little better than my PL-15D, I think. From what I can figure out that the it seems the main differences between the PL-12D and the PL-15DII is that the 12D has no Auto Lift (or return ?) and from reading here and there the 12D has lower grade parts i.e. (tonal arm) I have not fired up the PL-12D yet so I am not sure. my question is would both of these players offer the same sound quality ? Is one "better" than the other they appear to be both manufactured around the same time early to mid 70s and both match my Pioneer Reciever also mud 70s which one would be your turntable of choice ?

Mr Ives said...

Thank you musicyourway,

I'm not sure about the specific difference between the PL12 and PL15, my PL12D is not automatic, and I have read that the 15 has slightly better spec. I think in the UK the 12 probably sold at an attractive price point , and they sold a lot of them, perhaps the 15 was a little more expensive. I'd expect them to sound similar and if your PL15 has served you well and runs well I'd stick with it. Is your quandary because the 12 has a dust cover ? I dont know if it could be transplanted , they must be very similar , but you never can tell until you try. I have several decks of different types, not always in use but it means that I can keep listening while servicing another and rotating them from time to time is fun. Let me know how you find them, you should be able to move your familiar cartridge and headshell across onto the PL12 for direct comparison. Hum and variations in speed are two things to watch for

Djordje Nedic said...

I cant find the original bet for the pl-12ac so can you tell me the lenght of the belt in mm?

Mr Ives said...

Greetings Djordje,

The deck has been lent to a friend and I don't have it to hand. However I found that the belt sold by William Thakker in Germany was the correct one. While many on the web claim to be correct, the thickness was wrong and the thickness of the belt - yes - thickness not width, is important too.

https://www.thakker.eu/en/belts/turntables/pioneer-pl-12-ac-original-thakker-belt/a-3536/

Ualafin said...

Hey Mr Ives,

I just acquired my dads pl12d and the tone arm does not move up or down with the switch. Any ideas?

Mr Ives said...

Greetings Ualafin,

With the problem you describe I think your only option is to disconnect the deck from the electricity and open up the top plate as I did in the blog, so you can see what is happening.. You should remove the lid, platter, mat and belt and place them carefully to one side. There are two screws in the pan which release the top plate, and you can ease it up at the front and prop it with a piece of wood or the handle of a hammer. The front lever moves aa metal lever beneath the deck which pushes a spring loaded rod up to the arm raise/lower mechanism. It could be that the mechanism is jammed up, but you will need to take a look internally as I describe to figure out what is happening.

In my blog where I discuss tightening the arm horizontal bearings there are some pictures which show the underside of the arm and the mechanism which is not working in your case

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5qPigND1G_g/UpCc7sV2jpI/AAAAAAAAB_Y/4mRf6th28Ag/s400/IMG_0915.JPG

breez said...

Brianna here in the states.
Thanks for a wonderful (and complete) blog on the Pioneer turntable.
I bought pl12d new in 1978 and always regretted giving it away.
This week I found another one on eBay (oddly enough, for sale locally so I could inspect before purchase) and I followed every step of your blog to get it back to perfect working order.

Thank you very much.

Ps, for all you Vintage TT shoppers, I downloaded a free rpm checker app to my phone. So I was able to set my phone on the platter before I made a purchase, confirming that it was running at 33.3-4 which is pretty darn close to 33-1/3.

Mr Ives said...

Hi breez, my pleasure, glad it was of use

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ives,

Thanks so much for the great post. I picked up one of these TTs a few weeks ago and have gone through it following your posts. The spindle needed cleaning, and I lubed the motor. Surprisingly the motor mounts were in fairly good shape considering we live in Nevada and old rubber tends to dry up quickly around here. I sprayed them with silicone and left in a plastic bag for a few days. Came out nicely.

Things are running smoothly and quietly, but I'm ordering a new belt from Thakker because the speed is a bit slow and I have no idea of the provenance of the belt that came on it. I lubed the motor and lower bearings with musical instrument key oil. It comes with a perfect fine applicator, and doesn't tend to gum up.

I also reversed the two front springs under the top. The thinner spring was closer to the tone arm and that front, right corner really dipped lower than the others. Reversing these and a little shim under the front right has resulted in a pretty level top.

Thanks again. Your post made this a mush smoother process!

Mike

Mr Ives said...

Hi Mike, many thanks for the nice comments, glad to found it useful.

if you spin the platter (a gentle flick with a finger) with the belt removed, does the platter spin for a good long time i.e more than a minute ? Most belts I found resulted in the deck running too fast and the thakker, which is thinner, slowed it down to the correct speed. Printing off a strobe disk (i include a link in the blog) from vinyl engine. You'll need the 60Hz version for USA/Canada, it might help to pin down any speed issues.

Were you able to remove the ball bearing from inside the main bearing well and degrease that too ? they are 1/8" diameter and very cheap to buy a replacement, so might be worth consider doing that. The other thing that might slow the deck down is the speed selector arm rubbing on the belt. The motor mounts often degrade and he motor drops a tad , and this can be an issue. Running the deck with the mat off can help hear, any rubbing is often audible and possibly visible as the two access holes rotate by

Good luck, keep us posted how things go

andrea said...

Thanks for your blog. I bought a PL-12D some months ago and everything was fine. After a new LP (180gr) played some times, it start a vertical vibration during the vinil rotation and the phono now is unusable.
Please you have some suggestion?
Ciao
Andrea

Mr Ives said...

Hi Andrea, possibly the foam in the springs should be replaced. The original foam has probably crumbled and shrunk with age. Follow the blog section where I replace the foam in the springs would be my suggestion

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ives-

I did go to a bike shop and get a replacement ball bearing. The new belt came from Thakker today and that fixed the speed issue. Platter spins really well, and no belt rubbing on the speed selector. It sounds great and I couldn't have done it without your blog.

The unit did not come with the original rubber feet. I found some interesting rubber bushings at the hardware store with one side larger than the other. They have some flexibility, so I attached those as feet using washers and new screws. They act as nice dampeners and look nice to boot. Thanks again for the blog and your reply.

Mike

Mr Ives said...

Many thanks for the update Mike, I really appreciate it . They are very nice decks, they just look 'right' to me. Your description of the replacement rubber feet sounds a lot like the originals, so that's good. If it came with a cartridge I tend to replace the stylus, not knowing how many hours were clocked up by the original owner. The arm will is pretty flexible, especially with the replaceable headshells, they often came with Shure M75's which do sound very nice, a big , warm and forgiving sound, but modern cartridges like the AT95 are good too .

well done

Alan said...

What an amazing and brilliant blog - never thought there would be this much enthusiasm! Have just dug my PL12d (an original, purchased new in its heyday) out of the loft and stored in its original box and discovered, sadly, that the part of the casting holding the tone arm has snapped. (The bottom of the tube into which the tone arm slides and where it is held by a small bracket with 2 grub screws.) Must have received an impact whilst in storage I suspect. No idea whether there are other problems yet but it was great when put away a lifetime ago and I hope to get it going again. Your blog has fueled my enthusiasm and I'd be grateful for advice - a mine of information already being here. So to start, any specific advice on disassembling and replacing the tone arm holding device would be welcome. Thanks for all the excellent info. already here.

Alan

Mr Ives said...

Thanks Alan, glad it's still of use. I wonder if you could share some pictures that show the problem ?

There is a circular central casting which has the front and back parts of the tonearm entering it at two point on the compass and another two points have the adjustable vertical bearings. These have two locking security nuts holding them tight. Is the problem that the vertical bearings are no longer holding the whole assembly in place ? I think they use a needle point from either side and these can sheer if the deck is dropped.

I assume it was put away with the lid off or presumably any impact would have cracked that too ?

Col said...

Hi Mr Ives; can't believe I found this; such a comprehensive insight to the PL12D. I've had mine for some time now, lucky enough to get it from Ebay. It has been redundant for a few years with the onset of CDs but now with the resurgence of vinyl I decided it was time to fire it up again. Unfortunately, one of the channels doesn't work. I switched phono connections on my amp and the fault moves with the phono lead. Thee is a crackling and very low hum from the suspect connection when it is plugged into the phono socket on my amp. As the phono leads and the power cord are wired to the unit, I'm not sure as to the next course of action. Any advice would be most helpful and welcome. Many thanks in advance

Col

Mr Ives said...

Hi Col, thank you for your kind feedback.

The signal from the cartridge is very low level and has to travel from the pins at the rear of the cartridge, via the short headshell wires to the rear of the headshell, then via the headshell screw connection to the wiring inside the arm, then to the junction in the deck where the very fine arm wires join the captive interconnects. Then these connect to your amplifier. I have lost channels and experienced mild hum from poor connections at ny of these points. Simplest to try is to clean with Isopropyl alcohol or switch cleaner (DE-OX in USA, Servisol in UK) the connector at the end of the interconnect wires. The supplied cables seem very good to me, so if there is no sign of wear or a poor repair, try slightly crimping the four 'petals' of each RCA plug so they make a nice tight connection at the amplifier/receiver end. Moving back up the deck, try removing the headshell and see if you can work a little switch cleaner in the socket on the arm tube. Sometimes the 4 spring-loaded pins get gunked up. I normally use a piece of wooden cane or dowel to press into the recess to work those spring contacts. Next check the thin wires from cartridge to rear of headshell. These, should also be clean and tight connections. This is fiddly as they are small. Finally one thing I have sometimes found worked was to remove the headshell and discard the rubber washer from the headshell plug. Its provided just enough of a gap before to break these connections.

Some people swap the captive cables or rewire the arm, but these are only worth exploring if there is a break in the cabling.

If you have a multi meter you can check continuity from the cable junction inside to the outer and inner pins on the RCA connections too. Hope this helps, keep us posted how you get on

Col said...

Many thanks for the quick reply; I have just replaced the needle so maybe removing the headshell to change the needle has done something untoward. I do have a multimeter so I'll trace the signal path through. Will let you know what happens. Thanks again

Shawn Stende said...

Hi Mr Ives,

Your post has served as a tremendous help with my recently acquired PL-12D. I currently have it apart for general maintenance and to try and address a couple of issues i was having. One is actually the same problem you encountered with speed fluctuations on the 33 setting. Now that i have had further time to inspect, i realize that the tabs on the end of the belt guide arm are both bent downward. For what reason they are like that i'm not sure, but it definitely doesn't look right. I have referred to loads of pictures of that part and they are always parallel to each other and the pulley. Not sure if it's worth trying to bend back or just purchase a replacement part. I believe the latter would be the better choice.

Thank you for your detailed post on the PL-12D

Cheers,
Shawn

Mr Ives said...

Hi Shawn, glad it has been useful. Minor speed fluctuations are a curse, once you hear it, your ears are always trying to find it I know.

I think you have to try and use a strobe disk. The vinyl engine one I reference in the blog is great, you just print it out and prick out the centre hole with a pin. It will show if the deck is fast, slow or , worst of all variable in its speed.

I think what happens with these decks is the relative position of the motor (vertically) changes with age. Possibly due to the rubber mounts changing in their elasticity. This then causes the motor spindle to no longer allow the belt to pass through the C shaped speed changer arm without rubbing. One inelegant fix is to bend the clip, as , perhaps, yours has been done, but that is an ugly solution. I do think you should be able to gently bend it to normal without getting a replacement.

A better solution I think is to do two things :

1) remove and restore the 3 rubber mounts, using platanclene, as described. This will better decouple the motor, as mechanical hum can get passed across and picked up by the cartridge. Once restored the motor will sit at a slightly different height due to the better compliance of the mounts

2) having restored the mounts, you then need to reset the whole belt/spindle position anyway . This is best done by slackening the grub screw in the side of the spindle and adjusting its position up or down untill the 33 setting and the 45 setting no longer rub the belt. This may take a while of fettling , but its all reversible and ultimately its about getting the speed change working without the belt rubbing. Allow plenty of time and be patient there will be a sweet spot.

If the speed is too fast, it can be either the belt not sitting on the crown of the 33 section, but slightly sitting on the taper to 45 section. Running the deck with the mat off will give some insight, you should be able to see the selector through the hole in the platter as it passes. Also listen as a scraping belt adds a whisper sound, if you hold your ear close.

If its still too fast, its the wrong belt, and , I use Thakker Belts from William Thakker in Germany. Incredible as it may seem the belt thickness is actually important and the Thakker belts are thinner than some.

If its too slow, I'd suspect cleaning and relubricating the main bearing.

If the speed wobbles, it may be down to the bearings in the motor, but as I described, stripping the motor and reassembling it is not trivial and I would avoid unless you are absolutely certain. The strobe will confirm this as you want the bars to remain still. if they move slowly clockwise the deck it too fast, if they move anti- clockwise , too slow. if they wobble from side to side, you have unstable speed.

Good luck and please keep us posted on your results

col said...

Hi Mr Ives, sorry, I thought I'd posted a reply. Anyway, removing the rubber washer from the headshell connector did the trick. Of the four pins on the connector, the two lower ones don't protrude as far as those above. Not sure if that's how it's supposed to be but that would explain the loss of contact with the pins in the arm. Thanks again for your help.

Mr Ives said...

excellent col, , glad that sorted it. I found I always had to use this method with the Technics-cloned headshell's they sell cheaply on ebay. Some of them also had problems with azimuth where the headshell was skewed on the collar post slightly.

anyway glad its got you sorted

Anonymous said...

I'm restoring a PL-12D mk2.
Thanks for your Excelent Post.
Greetings from Italy
Gianni

Mr Ives said...

Thank you Gianni for your kind words, I'm pleased if the blog helps you with your restoration

Riccardo said...

Hello Mr. Ives,

what an illuminating post! I own a PL-12AC which was my father's and is quite similar in build and even though it plays beautifully I will check all those little things you are mentioning, such as lubrication, bearings and foam inserts. Main difference I can see between the "D" and the "AC" is the tonearm, which in my version is quite basic even though it retains the SME-type headshell connectors.

I have just one question, has anyone ever thought about changing the tonearm? From what i can see "mechanically" it is just a couple of screws from underneath, however the exact pivot-to-spindle distance is unknown (a rough measure can be taken-of course). The only data is the tonearm length which is mentioned in the instruction manual, i.e. 221 mm.

Any suggestions?

Mr Ives said...

Thank you Riccardo . The pictures of the AC model seem to have a different tonearm with a weight and line system of anti-skate, like on an SME or Thorens tonearm ?

I guess it is possible to mount a different arm so long as the length and overhang are correct but I'm not sure its a good idea unless the existing arm is damaged. Its possible to fine tune the vertical and horizontal bearings by adjustment if there is any looseness and otherwise I think the arms seem very well made to me ?

In absolute terms I dont think the arm is the weakness. The areas that were later improved in other designs are IMHO :

- The isolation is quite basic with 4 compressed springs and the motor rubber mounts, which can go hard with age.

- The wow & flutter figures can be improved upon using lower torque / low voltage motors and of course, later all Japanese decks went Direct Drive, often with Quartz lock for speed stability.


That said they can sound very good, it has a good quality cast alloy platter and bearing, good arm and a very well thought out grounding arrangement, so electrical hum if rarely a problem. So I think after a basic tune up, if you get no hum and good speed stability then I would recommend leaving the deck as it is and enjoy it.

Riccardo said...

Dear Mr. Ives,

indeed the antiskate on the tonearm of the PL12ac is provided by the hanging weight on the fishing line. The arm does not have any VTA adjustment, the only adjustment in that sense is either fitting a shim between the shell and the cartridge or using a thicker mat. I have ordered an acrylic mat from Cherry Audio and see how it behaves.

I have taken apart the top deck from the plynth and...oh my.... the foam inserts are completely gone, I'll have to source something for their replacement. Rubber o-rings (shims underneath are in the same conditions as you found them while center spindle bearing turns beautifully. The motor supports, however, do not have those black rubber mounts as in the PL12D but simple spring coils. Bottom of the plynth is 3mm plywood, maybe a 25mm MDF could enhance things a little bit. Maybe some foam inserts in the motor springs could also help, following the same philosophy as the main shocks.

Other things I need to work on are the supports, the turntable has none, it just sits perfectly balanced on four screws, the ones towards the back slightly unscrewed to give it balance. New supports (height adjustable) I believe are required to decouple the turntable from its resting wooden cabinet.

I'll follow your suggestion with regards to the tonearm, after all it does not look bad at all and wirings seem to be in pristine condition, so unless there is a major fail I'll just carry on playing it.

I'll work on the above fixes and improvements, and of course let you know. There is not so much literature around on these vintage turntables so I think any "experience" is worth sharing.

Regards

Mr Ives said...

Thanks Ricardo for the update,

The foam on the 4 main top plate springs provides some degree of shock absorption and without you may find the deck is vulnerable to skipping from any vibration, possibly unusable unless you have very solid floors i.e stone or concrete

I like the sound of your spring-decoupled motor, I think I would leave that as is as decoupling the motor is important and I dont think would benefit from damping, the much regarded Lenco decks used simple springs to decouple the motor and it works well. They key thing is that no motor vibration passed via the motor to the top pan and main bearing and arm, or it will get turned into audible hum via the cartridge.

Its probably worth cleaning the main bearing, inside is a 1/8" ball bearing and it may be worn, and is easy to replace . A clean and relube is a good idea for the main bearing.

Over at vinyl engine you can print off a strobe disk to check the speed. You need to pick the disk for your mains frequency , so 50Hz in Europe and Australia and 60 hz for USA. print it off, prick out the centre hole with a pin and run the deck shining an old filament bulb (not LED or CFL) on it. You can see if the deck is running at the correct speed by the pattern of dots. They should remain still.

too slow is probably the main bearing or motor could use some new oil. Motor has an oil point on the top plate. Too fast and either the belt is not sitting on the correct part of the motor bobbin or the belt is wrong. Surprisingly (to me) the thickness - not width, thickness of the belt is significant and I eventually got the correct thickness belt from William Thakker in Germany

Good luck

Riccardo said...

Dear Mr. Ives,

fitted the foam inserts in the springs, I had to adjust them as the top plate was now slightly to one side, now everything is leveled. I already can appreciate the difference, there is a lot more detail in the sound, you can listen to music at very low level and appreciate a new world. Stereophonic separation has also improved a lot in my opinion.

Can't wait for the AF Platenclene to come in to service the o-rings on the bottom (got the last can available on Amazon!) and fit the MDF board on the bottom together with the isolation feet.

Bearing maintenance is still pending, but the turntable is turning fine now and I oil the motor every two weeks or so (it plays about three records every night)

I'll keep you posted.

Mr Ives said...

Hi Ricardo, thanks for the update

Platanclene is a miracle product, you can restore any rubber with it, or at least clean it and restore its tactile qualities. Also good for the mat and the motor mounts on the other PL12D which you dont have to worry about.Good for rubber seals in plastic guttering or the tyres from slot cars too . Using a thicker mat to address the VTA is a good idea, I had a deck that needed 3 mats to achieve the correct VTA.


levelling these decks is a bit of a fiddle and on the PL12D I had , one of the springs was different to the other 3. I suspect to counter the weight of the motor end. Basically experiment with them and the rubber shims below to get the right level as you have done.

keep us posted

Martin Lintzgy said...

I bought this deck way back in the 70's, it sounded terrific, fitted with a sure M75. It sat in my ex-wife's attic for 30 years. It found its way back to me. It hummed terribly.
There is no motor noise I can hear, and the platter rotates smoothly.
The hum was only audible when the stylus is placed on the record. so I figured that vibration from the motor is being coupled into the deck, hence into the platter, and into the pickup.
It is easy to confirm this. Take a hard rubber pencil eraser, (about 1" high) and place near to the overhang checker. Run the motor. (No hum) Lower the stylus on to the rubber (loud hum).
So there you have it proof that mechanical vibration is escaping from the motor.
The 3 rubber motor bushes are there to prevent this. They should be very soft, to decouple vibration.
Over time, the rubber hardens, and the bushes lose their effectiveness.
I looked around to find if replacement buses could be found. No luck.
So, to cut a long story short, I cast 3 new bushes from 2-part silicon rubber, 30 shore. - not easy, but the hum is completely gone.
I read somewhere else that a rubber rejuvenating fluid is available, that after a soak, the rubber softens.
good luck. Martin

Mr Ives said...

Hi Martin, casting your own motor bushes is very impressive, I admire your ingenuity.

My method was to place the original hard rubber bushes in a sealable plastic bag, with a few squirts of platanclene printer roller restorer. Work the liquid all over the bushes inside the bag and leave for 1 hour. After this the mounts are more supple and spongy

Martin Lintzgy said...

I did read about platanclene. I also read that it is not a permanent solution. The platanclene eventually works its way out of the rubber, and the rubber hardens even more than before.
The design of the bushes is quite clever - as one commentator said, it is actually a tapering tube. The key thing is the rubber must be soft enough to decouple, and maintain the greatest mechanical path from the motor plate to the fixing bolts, but not so soft that the bush collapses.
I am fortunate enough to have a 3-d printer. To make the bushes, 3-d modeled the bush, then created a mold. I printed out 3 molds. The mold was thin walled, and printed slowly. Mix the silicon, pour into the molds and allow to set. Crack away the mold. The result not that pretty, but amazingly effective.
For anyone who has hum problems, try the "stylus on hard rubber" test to convince yourself!

Mr Ives said...

Thanks martin, very impressive. Do you plan to make any more, I'm sure there is a market for these rubber mounts recast in silicon rubber ?

Martin Lintzgy said...

I'll think about it, to see if there is a scalable economic solution.
m

Steve Gardner said...

Hi Mr Ives, I picked one of these up as I had one in 1972 and was feeling nostalgic. I didn't have to do much to it but I have tons of bearing play in the arm. Front to back, and rocking it side to side.

Do you have any advice on what to do? I don't want to unscrew something and have tiny bearings all over the place. Any idea how the bearings in these arms work?

Pics here BTW: https://imgur.com/gallery/EomJs

Mr Ives said...

Hi Steve, the bearing tightening I did in the blog should see you right. Jump down to the section titled Update November 2013 where you can see the underside or the arm where the wires emerge from the brass tube. I tightened the two screws fore and aft of this , that hold the arm to the top plate. Then I slackened the circular nut (side brug screw) and tightened it by hand a few degrees. Re-tightened the side screw. In the blog I lubricated the race bearing, but opinion is divided on this, and probably now I wouldn't bother. Oil in this location can act as a dust trap over time .

This addresses the horizontal bearing. The vertical bearings are factory set with security locking nuts, and I'd be very cautious about changing them.

Steve Gardner said...

After writing my post I discovered this and it did indeed fix the problem. I over-tightened at first and the arm would not travel properly so I slacked it off a bit and it works perfectly and firmed everything up.

Thanks very much.

John Holroyd said...

Hi Mr Ives, having done everything you have done to rescue a pl12d I had been given from
the dust bin, apart (from the motor rebuild), I ended up with a awful motor boating and vibration that transferred its self to my speakers . Just to cut a very long story short make sure when you close down the top plate the motor wires aren't touching anything, mine were very stiff and transferred the motor noise and vibration a you had described a treat. I can only say thank you Mr Ives as I followed the blog and the instructions my Uncle's pl12d is now running very sweet.
Regards John.

Mr Ives said...

Thank you John, I'm glad it was helpful and thank you for the insight that cables, especially old ones , vcan effectively couple the motor to the replay system and transfer vibration

Anonymous said...

WHAT DOES THE SCREW HEAD NEAR THE ANTI SKATE DIAL DO?

Mr Ives said...

Hi Anonymous. I don't exactly know but suspect it holds the access panel on the lower side of the anti-skate mech.

fullwindsorknot said...

Hi Mr Ives and thanks for this wonderful post. I'm so glad you did this. I'm having an issue with the speed on my PL-12D. It is way too fast! Belt is new, spindle is lunricated and clean (all though I do admit to using motor oil 😬), everything appears to be in ship shape. There is no noise, wobble, the belt is on the right track, it is just consistently too fast. 33 1/3 is closer to 45 and 45 is ridiculously fast. Any idea on what it could be?

Mr Ives said...

Thank you fullwindsorknot for your kind words.
I cannot account for a significant increase in speed across both speed settings. I can account for either 33 being fast or both 33 and 45 being slightly fast.

What region are you in and what motor frequency is indicated on the back of the unit or switch under the platter. ?
The motors in these decks spin at a fixed speed, based on the mains frequency, which is 50Hz in Europe & Asia and 60 Hz in USA. That means that the same deck will spin faster on 33 & 45 in the USA than in EU, Asia, so the decks originally shipped with two brass motor spindles for each area, you fitted the correct one or it was dealer fitted.

hence if you were in the USA with a 50Hz spindle it would be fast in both 33 or 45, and if you were in Europe or Asia with a 60 Hz spindle it would be too slow. I'd guess from your alias that you are probably in the UK, so assume in a 50Hz country, so if the wrong spindle was fitted for some reason OR it would run consistently slow not fast.

Next candidate is that the belt is not sitting on the correct part of the spindle. Sometimes when selecting between speeds, the belt doesn't sit fully on the 33 crown and partially sits on the taper to 45, which will cause it to run fast at 33. shifting to 45 should increase the speed to normal 45. The spindle and motor sit on rubber bushes which can harden and change the relative position of the motor. This can cause all sorts of problems with the speed change as the belt will try and find a horizontal plane level. Adjusting the height of the motor spindle by slackening the side grub screw, altering the height, tighten and retry.


Finally it could be the wrong belt. This would cause speed increase on both settings, though fast rather than way fast. Many replacement belts for these decks or not good reproductions of the original. every dimension must be exact including diameter, width and also thickness. The belt is under tension and a thicker belt will effectively increase the diameter of both the spindle and the sub-platter, changing the ratio enough to be audible. I found the belts sold by William Thakker (ebay, and direct website) are correct. Others were too fast and noticeably thicker.


You could have one or a number of these problems. I cannot account for 45 being significantly faster, i.e more than 10% but I can account for both speeds being perceptibly faster and 33 being a lot faster (Spindle taper)

Mr Ives said...

Hi Fullwindsorknot, could this be a UK/European/Asian PL12D that you have shipped to the USA ? Your alias suggested to me you were a Brit, but I see your blog is about NFL ?

If it is a European unit, and it has not previously been used correctly in the USA then you probably have the wrong motor spindle. ebay may provide a possible replacement if you dont have the 60Hz spindle. These guys are good too http://organdonorparts.com/

fullwindsorknot said...

Thanks so much. I am from the USA and I looked on the back of the turntable and it's says 50Hz! This just might be the problem. So you say there are two spindles for these models? A 50 Hz and a 60 Hz? By spindle you mean the post in the center of the platter, right?

Mr Ives said...

My apologies for not being clear, yes you are right that the spindle is the central rod that you put the record on, but in this case I mean the small brass spindle on the motor, but I should have called it a pulley. Its brass and look a bit like a Chess Pawn. It has a grub screw on the side and if you slacken that it comes off. These decks shipped with two spindles in the box and an extra weight that screws in the back of the tonearm for balancing very heavy cartridges. However these small pieces often got lost as they were irrelevant to 99% of owners once the deck was up and working

I found this online. I think this is correct and they are not asking a silly amount for it, so my advice is buy this http://organdonorparts.com/Pioneer-PL-12D-Turntable-Motor-Pulley-P376-10.htm

Mr Ives said...

Once you have the part, just swap it with the one currently on the deck and I think you should be good. The old one can, in turn, be sold, but its really only of use to someone living in a 50Hz country (Europe, Asia, Australia) who has shipped a US model over, or a completest who wants to have everything that came with the original deck in its polystyrene/styrofoam packaging . I'm sure you could sell it to cover your costs. Interesting how you ended up with such a deck. Most equipment is either dual voltage or at least can be used with a step-up transformer in the USA. However turntables that use an asynchronous motor , which was default in the 60's and early 70's need the frequency to be right too or at least have the correct spindle. I wonder if the deck was purchased by someone in the military who served in Europe or Asia , purchased it there and had it shipped back ? That's quite common.
Keep us posted how you get on

Brad Wolfe said...

Nice write up! One question, do you know how to fix the cue dampening? Mine tonearm drops way too fast and looks like it needs more oil but I can't figure out how to add it.

Mr Ives said...

Hi Brad, thank you. apologies for the delay , I've been on holiday. I didn't have to do this but there is a very good thread on this subject in the vinyl engine turntable forum here, which I think will get you sorted. Its free to join vinyl engine and there are some very knowledgeable people on there. Here is the thread :

https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_forum/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=67973