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Old 20th Aug 2018, 8:29 pm   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Ilkeston, Derbyshire, UK.
Posts: 1,291
Default Ferguson 'Stereomaster' - 98% success!

The range of HMV 'Stereomaster' transistorised consolette record players of the late 60s/early 70s is fairly well known- and fairly large too: There seem to be a huge number of variations on a theme. The common factors are a 4-speaker system with the tweeters facing forward and the mid/bass speakers firing sideways.

Despite being a BRC product, I've never seen these players badged as anything but HMV, so was intrigued to see a Ferguson version pop up on ebay. It looked a bit grubby, but a low 15 bid bagged it. I had to drive to a farm in the middle of nowhere to collect it. It was festering in an impressively damp barn with other forlorn house clearance detritus. Manhandling it into the car wasn't easy as a previous owner had boxed in the legs with chipboard (presumably to provide record storage) and mounted it on a wheeled base, all of which just about trebled the weight.

Driving home I quickly became aware that the Ferguson absolutely stank! I knew that it was grubby, but didn't appreciate that it was well steeped in stale nicotine, which combined with the damp atmosphere provided a rich bouquet with strong overtones of cat pee. So it was windows down all the way home....

Once wrestled from the car, I anticipated that freeing the Ferguson of it's ill-conceived home-brew chipboard cladding would be the work of minutes. Wrong! The rusty woodscrews were absolutely not for budging, so an unseemly battle raged, involving all manner of instruments from the back catalogue of Messrs Black & Decker, concluding with persuasive force of a lump hammer. Finally I found myself stood amidst a satisfying pile of splintered wood and ruptured castors, with the Fergy finally freed from it's chipboard prison and looking as BRC had intended.

So vile was the state of the cabinet that there was nothing for it but to sand it lightly back, being careful not to go through the veneer. A large plant pot ring stain was deeply ingrained, but it was possible to reduce it's appearance considerably. The cabinet was then treated to several coats of Danish oil, which provided a lovely rich colour with a classy sheen. The legs still bear screw holes (a legacy of the cabinet cladding) so will need filling. I'm toying with the idea of spraying them and the plinth they attach to with a black semi-matt finish.

The knobs with their perspex skirts came up beautifully in soapy water, as did the filthy control panel and the black vinyl interior of the record deck compartment and black inserts on the cabinet front. Even the original MK mains plug was given a bath and re-instated.

All these players feature a 6-knob amp configuration, with on/off, volume, bass, treble, stereo/mono and finally a gram/tape/radio selector for connection of an external source through a DIN plug (stereo tape) or 3.5mm jack (mono radio). Having recently serviced an HMV 2400 with this layout, I was surprised to find the Ferguson was quite different internally, with a simplified power supply and different amp pcb. The Ferguson is an early design, certainly pre 1970, with the red/black/green mains lead colouring. I reckon 1967/8 would be about right. The model number is 3018, incidentally.

The amp featured a mouldering selection of electrolytics and some change-on-sight black Callins, so this was fully re-capped before any power was applied. Happily it worked perfectly from the initial post re-cap application of mains.

The record deck is the expected BSR of the period and needed no more than the usual free-ing up and re-greasing (plus thorough soapy water treatment for the cosmetics) to restore it to health.

The finishing line was well in sight now, but casual investigation of the speaker enclosures revealed that one of the main drivers had a rubbing cone. Following advice on the forum, I was able to attempt to blow/vac out any magnetized debris particles from the coil below the dust cap. This stopped the rubbing, but not completely, so I am on the lookout for an 8x5 15 ohm speaker if anyone has one knocking around.

That niggle aside, I'm very pleased with the Ferguson. It's transformation from a festering box with B.O. to a fragrant addition to the room has been very satisfying and I really like the styling, perhaps more so than the HMV stablemates. It performs very well too, with more than enough volume to rattle the wndows without breaking sweat. I'm sure it's all of about 3w per channel- thus proving that it's not what you've got it's how you use it.

Some before, during and after pics to follow....

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Last edited by Colourstar; 20th Aug 2018 at 8:47 pm.
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