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Old 17th Mar 2023, 2:14 pm   #1
tangoromeo
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Default Simon SP5 Hybrid Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

I have recently acquired this machine almost as a side issue as part of a package of vintage tapes but now having looked at it I would like at least to get it working again if not do a full restoration.

I am looking for any advice from anyone who has knowledge of the machine and ideally a circuit diagram or schematic. I have located on the internet a circuit diagram for this machines predecessor the SP4 which with further studying might give some clues as to layout and components.

Also, as the machine is much older than anything I have previously worked on and there are components I don't recognise I would appreciate advice on replacement components.

I have attached some photos. For orientation purposes the wide view of the internals is with the machine on its left side.

I propose dealing first with the capacitors. There appear to be 3 dual capacitors, a Daly 16 - 16F 300VDC marked Red Outer W3 39/25 on the incoming power board, an identical Daly on the audio board and a CCL 32 + 32F 275V also on the audio board. The Daly has a red dot (assume positive) and 2 solder lugs on one end and a solder connection on the other end. I can't see the terminals on the CCL due to location. I am guessing these are associated with different mains supply voltages so wonder if I can replace these with single combined vale components for 240V operation only?

The large gold Plessey electrolytic cans I assume should be replaced. The modern equivalents are around a quarter of the size so I am wondering if it is ok to use these as replacements?

The yellow and red Plessey electrolytics will also be replaced and I assume the white Hunts also?

There are 3 TCC wax coated capacitors rated 0.1F 1000V which I propose to replace with metallized polypropylene axial capacitors.

That's about as far as I have gone at the moment but if anyone has any advice regarding any of the components or even better a circuit diagram or schematic these would be gratefully received.
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Last edited by Cobaltblue; 21st Mar 2023 at 7:26 am. Reason: Established rhis is a hybrid design
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Old 19th Mar 2023, 9:09 am   #2
tangoromeo
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Valve Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

Further to my previous post, I have now purchased the ERT Service Data for the SP5 from this website but I would still like to hear from anyone who has experience of working on this machine and also advice as to the appropriate
replacement components.
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Old 20th Mar 2023, 12:28 am   #3
Uncle Bulgaria
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Valve Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

I haven't got specific model information, but some general points I hope won't be too contentious. In my experience it's very easy to fix something until it's broken in the first flush of restoration madness, when it was probably basically OK to start with!

Yes to replacement of waxies with the PP axials, but you may find more of the others to be OK than you expect. I've been taught by the greybeards of this forum to only fix what's broken to avoid increasing the fault probability by poking around before properly working out what the fault is.

As you haven't turned it on yet, I would ensure the grid coupling capacitors (usually where waxies turn up, known on here as 'that capacitor') are kosher to avoid frying things. After that, turn it on with a lamp-limiter and, if the lamp doesn't light, measure the DC conditions (B+ and bias voltages etc.) to ensure no excessive current draw.

Alternatively, turn it on with no valves installed first to check the mains transformer is not suffering from an internal fault.

Cans can be very robust, and more 1950s cans than replacements are running and testing OK in my ancient objects.

Even just seeing what the valves are without a circuit diagram could give you useful information as to whether their DC conditions are within expected bounds from the valve datasheets.

If something is 'off' after all that, get out the 'scope and narrow down which other components might be faulty. New dual and even triple cans are available. If the voltage rating is sufficient they'll be OK, especially if purchased from a valve specialist place. If desperate, there are some expert re-stuffers on here who will give you their top tips on best practice for putting new production capacitors in old casings.
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Old 20th Mar 2023, 12:45 am   #4
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Valve Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

A curiosity of this machine is that it was offered in both mono and stereo form, with an upgrade available by changing heads and retro-fitting a second amplifier. Whether this was ever done is debatable - the SP5 came and went in pretty short order.
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Old 20th Mar 2023, 1:13 am   #5
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Valve Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

The ERT Service Sheet shows the SP5 as a Hybrid machine with just 2 valves verses 16 transistors, grid coupling capacitors is not such a potential issue as an all valve machine.

Looking at the schematic it looks like there is only 1 true grid coupling capacitor C38 (0.01uF) coupling the anode output of V1a (EF86) microphone pre-amp first stage through (via potentiometers) to the control grid input of V2a (ECC83) pre-amp second stage.

However your photos shows more than 2 valves so that is confusing, maybe there was a early build SP5 with more valves/all valves ?

David
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Old 20th Mar 2023, 5:27 pm   #6
tangoromeo
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Valve Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

Uncle Bulgaria, David and Ted - many thanks for all your advice and comments.

Up to now I have not found any further published information about the stereo conversion kit so whether it ever did come to fruition I'm not sure but anyway that's some way down the road!

There are indeed only 2 valves - apologies if the photos were confusing. I haven't yet physically inspected the valves but according to the circuit diagram they are EF86 and ECC83 as David says.

A friend did mention to me about removing the valves before turning on as an initial test.

As you advise I will replace the wax coated capacitors and then proceed with caution.

Many thanks again for all your replies.

Thanks again for all your replies.
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Old 20th Mar 2023, 8:46 pm   #7
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Valve Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

Alec Tutchings reviewed the machine in Tape Recorder in May 1962. He was delighted by the electronics but less enthusiastic about the EMI deck, which was poorly engineered and never was a commercial success. It appears that the machine as supplied was stereo-ready to the extent of having 2/2 track heads, ganged controls and duplicated sockets, the stereo conversion being completed by plug-in modules and an additional meter. Never heard of this actually being done, although I think a full stereo example surfaced on eBay a while ago.
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Old 20th Mar 2023, 9:13 pm   #8
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Valve Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

Note that when all the valves are removed on an all valve machine, there will be little if any load on the HT supply (s) and the HT voltage supply will go to its maximum value, this sometimes can mean that the HT voltage goes above the working voltage of the connected electrolytics (depending upon the actual working voltage values), so it may not be good to leave the machine running for an extended period with no valves fitted.

On the SP5 it looks like 2 transistors TR12 & TR13 (and possibly others) have their emitters fed (via resistors) from the HT line so this may provide some loading when the 2 valves are removed.

The main HT is shown as +260V, if you have a test meter (to measure DC voltage) I would recommend monitoring (safely) the main HT supply during any initial tests.

When you replace components I would recommend to only replace a small number at a time, then if practical power up and retest to see if any new problems exist.

If you for example were to replace 10 capacitors and 5 resistors all at the same time then find there are new problems, it can then be very difficult (for anybody) to work out whether the new problem (s) has been induced/created by the repair work.

David
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Old 20th Mar 2023, 11:27 pm   #9
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Valve Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

Quote:
a Daly 16 - 16F 300VDC marked Red Outer W3 39/25 on the incoming power board, an identical Daly on the audio board and a CCL 32 + 32F 275V .....The large gold Plessey electrolytic cans I assume should be replaced.
These are all reasonably reliable types that I don't often find the need to replace. If they are not leaking physically, reform and presume good unless giving symptoms of a fault.

Quote:
I am guessing these are associated with different mains supply voltages so wonder if I can replace these with single combined vale components for 240V operation only?
Not usually. I don't have the circuit in front of me but duals are often used for CRC or CLC smoothing where one section is the reservoir and the other the smoother / decoupler.

Quote:
The Daly has a red dot (assume positive)
On a dual cap, red usually denotes the outer section (reservoir), the other positive is the inner (smoother) with less ripple capability.
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Old 21st Mar 2023, 12:59 am   #10
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Valve Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

Quote:
Originally Posted by tangoromeo View Post

There are indeed only 2 valves - apologies if the photos were confusing. I haven't yet physically inspected the valves but according to the circuit diagram they are EF86 and ECC83 as David says.
Maybe with your permission the Mods could remove "Valve from the Thread title and replace with "Hybrid".

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Old 21st Mar 2023, 7:27 am   #11
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Hybrid Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

Sensible title change made.

Cheers

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Old 21st Mar 2023, 8:23 am   #12
tangoromeo
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Hybrid Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

That was my understanding Ted, that the heads were already to a stereo specification and the conversion kit was an additional amplifier and meter, an additional external speaker being required if you wanted to use the onboard speakers.

Thanks David for your advice on testing and replacing only a few components at a time..

Thanks Lucien for the advice re capacitors. I had only previously come across the dual type as motor start / run capacitors installed for easy supply voltage conversion so your clarification is useful.

I am more than happy for the Mods to amend the thread title as you suggest.

Many thanks again to you all.
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Old 21st Mar 2023, 9:45 am   #13
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Hybrid Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

The EMI deck is fairly clunky and not the nicest thing to use. I'd do minimum work, as others have outlined, and wake gently and see what you think.

I'm sure Simon got the decks for a good price, but they don't really fit with the market segment their earlier machines were aimed at. I strongly suspect this, and the slightly strange looks, hastened the end of Simon.

A curious thing about the EMI deck was that there was also a version where a turntable could be attached to the idler and it could be used as a record player! If you look carefully at the mouldings you'll see where the hole would be.

https://vintage-radio.net/forum/showthread.php?p=834649

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Old 21st Mar 2023, 10:11 am   #14
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Hybrid Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

I'm a bit of a hound for date codes because I often like to trace the history of pieces of equipment. Looking at the PCB pics I can't see the codes on some of the Hunts caps clearly, but a couple of them look odd. As you take them out, I'd be very grateful if you could note the 3 letter date codes at the bottom of the printing (e.g. W HH) with or without spaces, 2-letter code on the Dalys and the ordinary date printed on the Plesseys. I just have a curious hunch that given the date of this unit we might learn something about the code system.
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Old 21st Mar 2023, 10:13 am   #15
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Hybrid Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

Nice looking unit. I have a 'Simon' reel of tape in my collection, but it is 7", can this deck take those size spools?
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Old 21st Mar 2023, 10:46 am   #16
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Hybrid Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

The EMI deck takes 7" spools, as did the earlier SP4, which was a different and, to my mind, much better animal. Styled in the best continental fashion, with integrated electronics and an excellent in-house two way deck design, it was left behind by the advent of stereo. That said, sales of stereo tape machines in the UK were pretty sluggish throughout the 1960s - J.W. Merrick of Ferrograph stated in 1964 that the home market for their machines was 90% mono, whilst the US market was 90% stereo. Expense undoubtedly was a factor in this, as was the slow introduction of stereo broadcasting.

Simon were evidently caught in this double-bind - why else would they make a stereo machine and then omit a small proportion of the circuitry in the standard version? Hindsight knows no myopia, of course, but from this distance it seems nonsensical. Add in the questionable EMI deck and the fact that for close to the same money you could buy a Tandberg 6, offering integrated stereo and superb performance in a compact and elegant package, and the demise of the SP5 is easily understood.
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Old 21st Mar 2023, 11:43 am   #17
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Hybrid Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

Here is some data on the deck, also used on HMV Voicemaster 65.
I think they used Miniflux heads.
Note the clip in pick-up arm and rest, and the record player platform;
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Old 21st Mar 2023, 1:24 pm   #18
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Hybrid Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

I'm unfamiliar with this machine, but intrigued by the small PCB in the final picture. What does it do? It almsot looks like an afterthought.
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Old 21st Mar 2023, 1:45 pm   #19
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Hybrid Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

Supposedly Wyndsor and Sound were going to release machines based around the EMI deck, but I'm not sure they ever actually appeared.
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Old 21st Mar 2023, 2:21 pm   #20
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Default Re: Simon SP5 Hybrid Reel to Reel Tape Recorder Restoration

Looking at the ERT Service Chart I would say that the board in the last photo at Post 1 is the Power Amplifier.

David
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