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Vintage Tape (Audio), Cassette, Wire and Magnetic Disc Recorders and Players Open-reel tape recorders, cassette recorders, 8-track players etc.

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Old 8th Aug 2018, 3:16 pm   #61
TonyDuell
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

Another heads-up...

I now have around a dozen Webster-type spools of wire here. I have compared them against the Agaphone spool and they look the same size, but I have not tried them on the machine yet. More news when I do.
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Old 8th Aug 2018, 9:02 pm   #62
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

Sounds good so far. Keep us posted!
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Old 9th Aug 2018, 5:14 am   #63
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

I've now looked at the spools I got. I knew that one was broken before it was sent, the alloy is shattered and thus the wire is probably a right tangle. Another seems to be an empty spool. But that leaves plenty to experiment with.

Most will fit on the Agaphone hub. A couple are too tight (manufacturing tolerances?). I could easily stick them on the lathe and take a light cut over the inside of the hole, but I am not sure spinning a reel of wire like that is a good idea. Probably OK if I (a) make sure the wire end is well taped down and (b) make sure it's turning in the right direction to wind up (rather than unwind) the wire.
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Old 9th Aug 2018, 7:43 am   #64
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

I always find it interesting to see what is recorded on old tapes and wire.
The spools or wire I got with one of my KB wire recorders had some very interesting recordings. One was of a short telephone call to the operator to complain about a fault on the line. The call seemed to be from the Home office.
Another spool had a recording of a radio play, and part of a Winifred Atwell recital.
So its fun to check whats on the wire before recording over it.

Mike
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Old 9th Aug 2018, 10:34 am   #65
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

I have a couple of spools that are too tight for my wire recorders, but they are labeled just like the ones that fit (i.e. they're not for another type of machine or something like that). On at least some of them the flanges also seem to have become angled (outwards). I'm wondering if due to manufacturing defects the spools have shrunk over time.

I think the idea of taping the wire down and spinning the spools in the right direction should be fine for cutting them down.
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Old 9th Aug 2018, 2:35 pm   #66
TonyDuell
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

My Agaphone seems to be able to play back (by which I mean I get crackles in the speaker if I move a screwdriver along the slot in the head, without touching the hard of course). I certainly intend to try playing the reels of wire before I record over them as Crackle suggests.

Ricard's observation seems to match mine. I have identical-looking spools, some of which go on easily, some are too tight. Given that one of my spools seems to have shattered at some point (the remains were not in the box, so it didn't happen when it was sent to me), I wonder if the metal alloy used for the spools is something akin to 'Monkey Metal. That can swell slightly with age, I believe.

I will try playing one of the spools that fits. And I will try enlarging the hole in one that is too tight.
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Old 14th Aug 2018, 2:07 pm   #67
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

I have now restored my Webster Chicago 288 which I picked up a couple of weeks ago. Plays and records fine with decent volume. The spools that are too tight I can try on mine if you want.

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Old 14th Aug 2018, 5:05 pm   #68
TonyDuell
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

I've not had a chance to do anything with this yet. I will first try one of the spools that fits, assuming I can get the machine to work I will then try to take a light cut over the hole of one of the 'tight' ones. I think that provided the lathe turns to wind up the wire it will be fine.
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Old 15th Aug 2018, 8:51 am   #69
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

It works. I had a bit of spare time so I put one of the Webster spools that would fit onto the Agaphone and threaded the wire to the takeup spool (not using the rest of the Agaphone cassette).

It plays the recording on the wire fine. I think that the head position needs adjusting (which I can trivially do) and of course I need to enlarge the holes on some of the spools. But it works, it did not tangle the wire.

I had to be careful when rewinding as I had not fixed the wire to the takeup spool (just looped the leader through a hole) and if it had come off at the end of rewinding the result would be a mess. So I did the last bit of the rewind by hand.

Nothing interesting on that spool by the way. Just somebody dictating a letter.
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Old 15th Aug 2018, 5:08 pm   #70
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

nice one
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Old 20th Aug 2018, 5:56 pm   #71
TonyDuell
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

Another brief update :

You can bore out the holes in the spools without problems if you are careful. I ran my lathe at the slowest non-backgeared speed (I think around 250rpm) and took very light cuts. The other thing to be sure of, of course is that the spool is turning in the direction to wind up the wire. I didn't try it the other way but I suspect that is a good way to get a tangle!. If your lathe turns the normal way (top of chuck comes towards the operator) then the spool goes in the chuck with the face that goes against the deck on the back in first (label side towards the tailstock -- this will make sense if you try it).

I've adjusted the head position. Firstly the angular position against the line on the cassette base so that that line is in the middle of the angle the head can swing through. Then the head height (there's a hole in the top of the machine that gives access to a screw for this) so that the wire winds between the flanges of the takeup spool and doesn't end up bunching against one of them.

I assume not all wire recorders ran at the same speed. One of the spools has some music recorded on it, and even to me it sounds totally out of tune (too low in pitch I think). Oh well.

I still have the original Agaphone spool with the wire tangled on it. I will try to get it free sometime but having got some other spools that work it is not urgent. Ditto the broken spool in the lot I bought.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 9:46 am   #72
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Default Re: Agaphone Wire Recorder

I think that in practice at least machines using the same type of spools would have used the same speed - heads and amplifier designs would have come out of a common source, and few manufacturers would bother optimizing their designs by using different wire speeds.

Using computer software such as Audacity can help you adjust the speed (pitch) of recordings. Granted, it's not the same experience as actually listening to the spools on the machine but can be immensely helpful for sorting out recordings made at the wrong speed.
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