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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 30th Jan 2024, 5:21 pm   #21
HaddockLB
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

And also as we were testing valves gramps also pointed out the possibility that the ECC81's metal sleeve may not be making good contact with chassis ground. If this valve swap doesn't fix it then I guess the next culprit would be the (presumably) EM87 magic eye tube. But we both believe this is unlikeley as the noises are linked to vibrations and he believes that the EM87 won't be in the amplification circuit. All in all though I feel I've made good progress on restoring this machine although I kind of feel that the replacement valves were a bit pricey but I don't really know the value of valves as components. I currently don't have plans to sell the machine since I enjoy using it and considering I only picked this up for a fiver originally.

I've been doing repairs and restorations for a while on various items ranging from railway oil lanterns all the way to ex-council Sodium street lights but this machine is my first step in more complex repairs and I am grateful that there are forums like this full of fellow restorers with much more experience than me willing to give good advice to youngsters like me.
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Old 30th Jan 2024, 5:46 pm   #22
Edward Huggins
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

It's highly unlikely that the EM87 circuit is casing the problem. This valve is used as the recording level indicator. As to the manufacturer, my first thought was that this was a version of a Dansette R2R. They used the name CHALLENGE exactly as in the OP's photo. This was their brand for the Mail Order market. But the speaker does not look right. It is very small and Dansette usually always used an (ELAC)4 7" x 4" unit in their recorders.
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Old 1st Feb 2024, 5:28 pm   #23
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

Amazing news. Back at Gramps today with the replacement ECC81, swapped it, powered up and no noise! It was that valve all along. Just making some final adjustments and cleaning before I take it back home.
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Old 1st Feb 2024, 7:13 pm   #24
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Old 2nd Feb 2024, 12:56 pm   #25
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

Still chuffed I fixed the main issue and managed to iron out other problems along the way. But today I find that oddly there is a lack of torque on the rewind again. It worked yesterday after fully cleaning the contact point between reel and rubber idler with a cotton bud of IPA. FF still works fine though. I don't know if it is due to some leftover contamination or if the springs that are in the linkages have gone loose assuming they are repsponsible for holding the reels in contact with their respective idlers.
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Old 2nd Feb 2024, 11:06 pm   #26
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

Try it in rewind without a tape. Is there plenty of torque when you grab the left hand spindle? Is the right hand (takeup) one stiff at all? If there is a take up belt it could be a bit tight, giving excess backtension.
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Old 3rd Feb 2024, 10:10 am   #27
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Smile Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

Hi,
When I was a lad, our neighbour used to run a mail order catalogue, and
'Challenge' was a brand applied to all sorts of appliances therein.
That badge appeared on many things including vacuum cleaners, washing machines, radio sets and, of course, tape recorders.
I think (but can't be sure) some of the electronic stuff was manufactured by Plessey.
Cheers, Pete.
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Old 3rd Feb 2024, 5:36 pm   #28
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Thanks for the advice. I had it open again yesterday and gave the idlers another clean there are no more RW issues. I’d like some general advice now for recording/playback in regards to what inputs/outputs to use. I recorded a bunch of random songs yesterday to a blank 5” reel audio path went from PC line out on back to my PC speaker set (that has a sub + each speaker output via RCA) then I took off one of the speakers and ran a double male RCA from there to the mic input of the recorder. From there I managed to set the levels making sure the lines on the magic eye bounce but do not meet (since I take that if they meet it means level too high/distortion). The recording actually sounds pretty good for 3.75ips although my setup introduced a tad bit of background hum. Again sorry if I sound like someone who has no clue since this is my first ever reel to reel tape recorder I have ever had a chance to use in my life.

Machine has 2 ins and 2 outs labelled up as MIC, RADIO, MONITOR and EXT LS
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Old 3rd Feb 2024, 7:48 pm   #29
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

Also I just noticed now that the EXT LS socket is somehow switched i.e. If you shove a plug into it, the internal speakers get disabled. Could anyone enlighten me on how this is done at a circuitry level? Initially I thought it would be detecting continuity between the pin and ground of the socket but even if I just plug in a double ended male RCA cable with nothing connected to the other end the speaker is still disabled. Also a google for "switched RCA socket" didn't return any relevant results. I would edit my last post but I can't seem to find an edit button.
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Old 3rd Feb 2024, 8:05 pm   #30
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

Quote:
Originally Posted by HaddockLB View Post
I would edit my last post but I can't seem to find an edit button.
The edit feature is limited to around 15-30 minutes after you post after that the ability is removed to prevent posts being altered retrospectively.

Most sockets just disconnect the internal speaker with a simple switch built into or onto the socket.

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Old 3rd Feb 2024, 8:16 pm   #31
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

Once again I'd like to thank everyone for their help and advice in my journey of repairing this little machine back to full working order, here is a video I shot just now of it playing back a little tape I recorded as a test tape.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDNikHuDGj8
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Old 3rd Feb 2024, 10:20 pm   #32
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

Quote:
Originally Posted by HaddockLB View Post

Machine has 2 ins and 2 outs labelled up as MIC, RADIO, MONITOR and EXT LS
The recording quality sounds pretty good. Depending upon the signal level being fed in, theoretically you shoud get a better recording by using the Radio input as opposed to the microphone input.

The microphone input is much more sensitive and can more easily be overloaded and give a distorted recording.

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Old 4th Feb 2024, 12:26 am   #33
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Thanks. And from what I mentioned earlier with the dodgy rewind. The idler on the motor spindle is slipping/not gripping the reel enough I checked it tonight. Also can anyone here confirm if it is really necessary for me to go out and buy a head "demagnetiser" tool and degauss the heads? Or is this some myth made and spread by the R2R audiophiles who would probably pick a thousand holes and laugh at my little vintage gem due to it only being capable of the "poor" 3.75ips tape speed? I ask since I was watching some videos of tape deck repairs and the person on one of them carried out that procedure after cleaning the guides and heads with IPA.
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Old 4th Feb 2024, 2:22 am   #34
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

I would press some fine sandpaper onto the rotating motor rubber sleeve, that ought to take the harder outer layer off and restore some grip. It's clear from your experiences that just cleaning it is not enough. What tape are you using? Some of them can go sticky or sluggish with age, and that might be the reason for the slow winding.

As for degaussing, usually having the machine recording every so often is enough to de-magnetize the head. If you think a metal screwdriver that's magnetized may have come near the heads or guides then you might want to pick up a demagnetizer. You could even make your own using an old CRT TV degauss coil if you're feeling brave!
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Old 4th Feb 2024, 2:45 am   #35
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The reason for routine degaussing is that playing a tape on a magnetised head causes partial erasure of high frequencies and increased noise. True, on a machine such as yours with a combined record/play head, decaying bias provides some demagnetising effect, and you may very well get away with it. You may be able to pick up a Wal-De-Mag or Ferrograph Defluxer second hand and it is a useful tool to have.
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Old 4th Feb 2024, 1:41 pm   #36
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

Thanks Ben, I'll try that when I get time later in the week to open it up again.
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Old 7th Feb 2024, 6:06 pm   #37
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

Had it open again and followed Ben's suggestion of roughing up the rewind idler I also noticed the rim of the supply spool was slippy with some sort of stray oil/grease so I got a tissue and rubbed it down until no more black was appearing on the tissue. Pleased to say that seems to have done the trick. I enjoyed working on this especially as it was pretty easy to strip down and service, makes me wonder if I should go and pick up more TD2 based machines, fix them up and try to flip them. But as it currently stands I just do my restorations as a hobby for my own use and fun.
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Old 7th Feb 2024, 10:39 pm   #38
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Default Re: Help diagnosing issues with a BSR portable

I expect many of us here 'cut our teeth' on such machines, I certainly did. They are excellent to start with because they're robust and simple.

I had one TD2 that was in the family already and before long another I picked up at a jumble sale. Then a Thorn, then a TD10....gets addictive!! Back in the 1980s these BSRs were available for pence everywhere. Even now, there are still plenty of them about!
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Old 8th Feb 2024, 3:38 pm   #39
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Grr. Right when you think everything is fixed, another fault appears/rears it's ugly head. When I made my test recording last week the EM87 level meter was working flawlessly. Now going to make a new recording to find that the meter refuses to move no matter how much I adjust the volumes. I even plugged in the Acos crystal mic that came with it and blew into it since I know that does register on the meter as it did do before but now there is no movement. Haven't openned it up yet as I'm waiting for it to cool plus doing other things but what can I expect to be wrong based on the symptoms I described? On initial startup/warmup the entire magic eye lights up before the bars move apart into the sides and just stays there.
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Old 8th Feb 2024, 3:41 pm   #40
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Do you get sound on the tape? If so, this is likely just a wire come loose on the valve holder during reassembly
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