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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 27th Jun 2022, 5:51 pm   #1
DMcMahon
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Default Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

Late 1960's 5 transistor, 2 speed, battery powered very basic recorder.

Manufactured in Japan, supplied by Mayfair Electronics of Chicago. Have previoulsy seen this model a few times in films and TV documentaries and took a shine to it. Once I have had a play with it, it will be good for my grandson to play with.

Extremely basic unit which many people would call a toy, I like the term "primitive" that Restoration73 recently used about similar recorders. It does have a capstan and pinch wheel so is not rim drive.

Somewhere I read that it is 2 speed, it does appear to have a speed sleeve on the capstan and a stowage for the sleeve at top of unit, cannot currently get the sleeve to come off the capstan.

Generally in very good condition, the battery contacts look hardly touched. Runs off 3 x 1.5V D dry cells and a standard PP9 9V battery. Only input provided is for microphone and no external output provided (apart from earphones), internally it has amplifier + small speaker for playback sound.

Only 3 tape transport controls, Play, Stop and Rewind (no fast forward wind). It does automatic recording only with no indications of record/play signal. The brown case looks quite like leather but must be some sort of faux leather.

The recorder is surprisingly heavy for its small size, it also gives the impression of being well made. A quick look inside shows that the capstan drive belt is intact but maybe a bit slack, will see how it behaves when I find some batteries to try it out.

Apart from the limited information shown on radiomuseum.org I have been unable to find any technical documentation for this model.

David
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Old 28th Jun 2022, 4:00 am   #2
TonyDuell
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

You may well find the capstan sleeve is a left hand thread (so it tightens in use), most were. Try turning the knurled part clockwise.

Being a capstan-drive machine it is rather better than the rim drive models that don't keep the tape speed constant,
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Old 28th Jun 2022, 7:45 am   #3
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

Thankyou Tony I had thought of that and had tried turning it in both directions.

Also I am not sure if it is threaded because the storage post is not threaded.

David
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Old 28th Jun 2022, 9:57 am   #4
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

Nice looking unit. I'd think that would be DC bias though, which might negate any improvement in quality the capstan drive gave!
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Old 28th Jun 2022, 10:41 am   #5
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

I think you are most likely correct Ben, it only has 1 combined Play/Record/Play head, no erase head just a little erase magnet, i know that DC bias and magnet erase do not always go hand in hand.

David
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Old 28th Jun 2022, 3:21 pm   #6
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

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Originally Posted by DMcMahon View Post
I think you are most likely correct Ben, it only has 1 combined Play/Record/Play head, no erase head just a little erase magnet, i know that DC bias and magnet erase do not always go hand in hand.

David
Should have read :-

I think you are most likely correct Ben, it only has 1 combined Play/Record head, no erase head just a little erase magnet, i know that DC bias and magnet erase do not always go hand in hand.

David
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Old 29th Jun 2022, 1:30 pm   #7
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

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Originally Posted by ben View Post
Nice looking unit. I'd think that would be DC bias though, which might negate any improvement in quality the capstan drive gave!
At least the capstan drive should give more uniform and standard tape speeds as opposed to rim drive.

David
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Old 30th Jun 2022, 7:48 pm   #8
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

Fitted batteries but very disappointing the recorder appears dead, does nothing at all.

Will have to get inside and start some fault finding, a real shame there is no schematic.

David
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Old 30th Jun 2022, 8:34 pm   #9
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

Interestingly I watched a YouTube clip on the Mayfair FT-303 which looks identical to the 305 (obviously must be something different).

The clip indicates that the 2 speeds of the 303 are 3 and 7 i.p.s. which is surprising, hopefully I can get my 305 working and verify its speeds.

David
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Old 30th Jun 2022, 10:08 pm   #10
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

By holding the flywheel stationary and trying to firmly rotate the speed change sleeve ACW & CCW was able to remove the sleeve, it was not threaded just a very tight fit onto the capstan shaft, maybe due to > 50 years being stuck on. Now after freeing it, it slides on and off quite easily.

Been trying to work out why it will not power up. Looks like the power is switched by a rotary switch which looks to be mechanically actuated by 2 wings/vanes at the end of the switch assembly, one vane looks to be actuated by the blue Forward push button and the other vanes actuated by the white Rewind push button.

However pressing the respective push button only results in the button mechanism very slightly making contact with the respective operating vane, i.e. not enough to move the switch electrical position.

Watching the FT-305 & FT-303 YouTube clips show that when the Forward and Rewind buttons are switched down, they switch power on and the button stays latched down until the red Stop button is pressed.

As far as I can see the Forward & Rewind buttons are just spring loaded, i.e. no latching mechanism, so the latching must somehow be done by the rotary switch mechanism.

Unless I have got the wrong end of the stick, I can see no way it will switch on or latch the appropriate button down with the present mechanical set-up, I think there must be a mechanical misalignment but it looks like it will take quite some working out what is incorrect.

David
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Old 1st Jul 2022, 9:03 am   #11
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

check the link wire at the top of the photo is not bent. Also the grease on the sliding plate visible near the bottom is not hard.
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Old 1st Jul 2022, 9:46 am   #12
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

The wire link looks OK, it moves the erase magnet into position when the Play/Record slider switch is moved to the Record position.

The sliding plate grease is dry but not hard. I can move the plate a very small amount left/right, but a pin (just visible in the photo above) in the vee cutout in the plate looks to be stopping the plate moving any further.

Need to remove the top plate cover to try and see what drives the pin but at the moment I have only been able to remove 1 of the 4 securing screws, the other 3 being rock solid. Just given the screws area a spray of Plus Gas.

David
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Old 1st Jul 2022, 1:09 pm   #13
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

Despite trying various screwdrivers/bits including JIS I could not loosen the 3 remaining screws from the top panel, only ended up starting to chew the screw heads up, so gave that up as a bad job. There were an additional 3 screws (so 7 in total) securing the panel, these additional 3 I could undo.

Then found that by removing the Supply reel table I could then see the pin in question (where the instrument screwdriver is pointing in the second photo), I should have realised that earlier.

The pin is mounted to/part of a spring loaded lever that pivots around a screw, so nothing drives the pin/lever, it is the movement of the slider plate above that just pushes the pin out of the way against the spring tension of the lever.

The problem was that the lever (with the pin) would not move, it was stuck to the chassis by some black hard substance which initially I thought was some sort of Araldite. It looked like the small vertical piece of the lever had been repaired with Araldite (which I thought was strange) and the glue also having stuck the lever to the chassis.

After some firm persuasion managed to get the lever moving.

When I went to clean up the black residue that was stuck on the chassis, I discovered that the outside face of the vertical piece was sticky goo, then realised that it was a rubber brake pad that was decomposed with outside section being sticky and inside hard.

So need to find some small rubber pad to replace the brake pad.

With the lever freed up, now the Forward and Rewind push buttons push down a lot further, mechanically switching the rotary power switch and they also latch down. The latching mechanism is in the push buttons themselves.

Removed the sliding plate to clean off the old grease and relubricate. To remove it had to lift up the motor plate assembly, now can see that the drive belt is very slack so will need to be replaced. To lift up the motor plate had to unsolder a black wire (battery +ve output from the 3 x D cells assembly). When I went to unsolder the wire, the wire fell off before I touched it with the soldering iron, looks like it was very poorly soldered originally.

With the Take Up reel table removed can just see its brake pad that looks to be in better condition, cannot see it properly or its actuating lever without getting the top panel off.

So hopefully now can start making some progress.

David
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Old 3rd Jul 2022, 11:09 am   #14
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

Replaced drive belt and refitted the sliding plate (which actuates 6 different things).

Mechanically Play and Rewind are now working, Play is somewhat mechanically noisy (YouTube example sound very noisy), Rewind speed is not overly fast but works end to end OK.

As per attached photos it runs OK on 5" spools, all examples I have seen online either show 2", 3" or 4" spools.

The 2 tape speeds (with and without capstan speed sleeve fitted) visually do like they could be 3 and 7 i.p.s.

Very disappointingly there is zero sound on playback even with volume at max. Trying to find an old little microphone that has a mini mono jack to do a test recording as a double check that there is no playback sound.

First need to check that the 9V battery supply is being switched through to the PCB, if it is will have to start drawing the PCB circuit to help trace the problem.

Speaker tests OK.

Dave
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Last edited by DMcMahon; 3rd Jul 2022 at 11:17 am.
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Old 3rd Jul 2022, 7:49 pm   #15
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

9V battery supply (-ve) being switched though to the PCB when Play (Forward) is selected.

0V (battery +ve) permanently connected to the PCB, this also somehow connects to chassis/ground.

Visual inspection of PCB shows nothing untoward.

Trying to work out the PB/Record Head wiring through the Play/Record switch to the PCB, also the loudspeaker wiring via earphone socket. Tried connecting earphone, still no sound on playback.

Erase of existing recording (by selecting record) works fine when tape played back on another machine but this is just due to the tiny erase magnet.

David
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Old 5th Jul 2022, 1:05 pm   #16
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

Checked out the Play/Record switch wiring, had to partially remove to gain better access, also checked out the Microphone and earhone wiring all OK.

Did tests recording using small Sony mic, as expected still no sound on playback. Playing back the recording on another machine gave no sound apart from some tape hiss, so looks like the problem on the Mayfair is common to Playback and Record.

Sketched out most of the circuitry, not as easy as it sounds for such a simple machine.

From a few quick measurements nothing obviously untoward with the transistor voltages.

Used scope to try and check playback and record signals, found that signals or even just background noise disappeared through certain capacitors, also generally found that when probing around could induce some low level crackles out of the speaker.

Checking the capacitors concerned was surprised to find 3 are totally open circuit and a 4th very high capacitance (4,500uF verses 100uF).

So based upon these 4 capacitor failures will check out the remaining 6 or 7, they are all Echo.

David
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Old 18th Jul 2022, 8:33 am   #17
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

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Runs off 3 x 1.5V D dry cells and a standard PP9 9V battery.

David
The PP9 supplies 9V to the electronics and the 3 D cells supplies 4.5V to the motor.

David
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Old 24th Jul 2022, 7:52 pm   #18
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

Replaced the remaining 7 electrolytic capacitors, all were high to very high capacitance, some with high ESR. Had to remove the PCB completely because the wires to it kept breaking off the soldered connections when board moved.

Now have sound after powering back up in Playback mode, at least hiss, the level of which is controllable with the volume control so at least now some life in the amplifier. The sound/hiss is very intermittent and just by lightly touching/tapping various areas of the unit can make the the sound to come and go, looks like a bad connection somewhere.

Have not yet been able to check playback with a tape because having trouble getting good battery contact with the 3 x 1.5V D cells that power the motor. This is because it is difficult to get good battery contact with the chassis out of its case. Also when good contact is obtained the motor drives but the Take Up reel table is no longer being driven by the rubber idler wheel that the motor drives.

It is impossible to see why the motor is no longer driving the idler wheel without removing the top panel but as mentioned in Post 12, three of the securing screws for the top panel will not budge, at the moment cannot see how to get the screws out.

The screws are small dome headed screws and just about impossible to get any sort of pliers on them, they are stainless steel and will be very hard to saw a slot across them (to fit a flat blade screwdriver) without damaging the nice top panel finish. Do not really want to try and drill the screws out, probably will damage the top panel and end up with the stubs of the screws still being difficult to remove once top panel is removed.

David
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Old 24th Jul 2022, 8:13 pm   #19
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

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So based upon these 4 capacitor failures will check out the remaining 6 or 7, they are all Echo.

David
Correction, some were actually Rubycon.

David
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Old 25th Jul 2022, 6:37 pm   #20
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Default Re: Mayfair FT-305 Small Reel to Reel Check Out

Tried various things but unable to loosen the 3 remaining top panel securing screws.

Using small needle files, filed slots across the screws and was able to unscrew 2 of them with a screwdriver, the third one was extra tight and required knocking loose using a pin hammer and small pointed drift.

With top panel removed could then not find a problem with the motor pulley driving the rubber tyred idler wheel that drives the Take Up spool carrier ? Removed the idler and cleaned its driving edge of dirt/grease, also cleaned the motor pulley of some rubber build up.

Was able to get a tape playing, quite a reasonable amount of volume but quality not great due to tape speed audibly varying.

Also had problem where the tape would get badly caught up in the lower slot in the take up spool due to the take up reel tape sitting too low down with respect to the tape.

No adjustment for spool height available, there were 2 thin white plastic washers at the bottom of the Take Up reel table mounting shaft. I added 3 washers, 1 metal + 2 fibre (1 of the fibre washers was relatively thick) to lift up the reel table height, this fixed the problem of the tape getting caught in the spool slot, but the tape is still too low and is now rubbing on the top of the lower spool flange.

It seems strange that the reel table height is so far out, it looks like a similar height issue on the Supply reel table, needs more looking at, something does not sound right to me ?

Still have the problem where any sound will go completely and then can be made to return by gently touching/tapping various areas, need next to sort this before doing anything else.

Dave
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