Repair of a Fisher 225-XA turntable

lathechuck's picture

My wife inherited her parents' record collection, but complained that our stereo system could not play records any more. When we tried to use it, we heard some signs of electromechanical struggle, but the table would turn only a few degrees, then stop. Since I had some free time on this New Year's Day, 2021, I took the turntable to the dining room table and started to look for trouble.

Four screws on the bottom secure a cardboard access panel. Nothing seemed obviously wrong, though the grease on some of the sliding parts was more like honey than butter: sticky, not slippery. The drive motor and some of the other mechanical parts were visible below the deck, but not the turntable drive mechanism. To access that, I had to go back to the top side and remove a large E-clip which held the table down on the spindle. (In prying the E-clip away from the spindle with a screwdriver, I let it fly across the room into the living room. Fortunately, I heard it hit the hardwood floor and easily found it.) Then I could lift the turntable away from the deck.

In this turntable, the motor drives a spindle which has three different diameters, for 33-1/3, 45, and 78 rpm. An idler wheel bears against one of these positions, and against a ring on the bottom of the turntable, to play the record. The spindle itself doesn't rotate, nor is the a drive-belt. The turntable has a gear around the sleeve that goes around the spindle, and this gear drives a much larger gear which controls the other mechanical functions of the turntable (e.g., automatically lifting the arm at the end of the record). I tried to rotate this Big Gear by hand, and found it to be excessively difficult.

I used a cotton swab with mineral spirits to soak the clotted grease on the shaft of the Big Gear, and it started to move a little, then a lot. I also wiped away whatever grease I could reach underneath the deck. After the Big Gear was moving better (though not as freely as I might prefer), I put a drop of sewing machine oil the shaft (and a couple of other plausible locations), and put it all back together. And then it worked.

(I have had no success repairing my cassette deck; something about the over-running clutch mechanism that prevents breaking tape at the end. It's gotten so weak that it won't even MOVE tape.)

bobmcc's picture

Ah, another victim of phono lube. Never have known what that stuff is but it turns to glue after a few years. Not exactly the best grease for the job. You have to haul it all out and replace it with decent grease - yes, pulling every part off is a beast. I've used white lithium grease and discovered it, too, turns to glue after some years. TriFlow has a Teflon grease now - a definite maybe...

Good save on the e-clip - I've launched a few of those into either another dimension or at least several hundred feet away...

The cassette clutch can be saved. It's basically like a car clutch, so you nurse the spring-loaded part back on the back of the take-up hub with a jeweler's driver to expose the white felt and spray with with a zero-residue (no lube!) electronic clean spray. No need to take the clutch apart. That's a felt piece used as a clutch disk and after years of use leaves felt dust that makes the surface of the felt that's supposed to have some friction smooth and unable to "grab". If that doesn't work 100%, I've lightly roughed the surface of the felt with a pin and sprayed again. Let the cleaner evaporate before use. Some of those clutches may still be on the market - try the manufacturer of the deck or just do a web search with the make/model and "clutch"...

lathechuck's picture

Thanks for the tip. I'll see if I still have some "tuner cleaner" (if that's the right stuff). Do you have a brand name cleaner to suggest?

bobmcc's picture

The important part of cleaning a cassette clutch is getting the "felt dust" off of the clutch felt proper. Compressed air or keyboard spray/"canned air" won't do the job but a pressurized spray liquid does work...

>Do you have a brand name cleaner to suggest?

I saw the end of consumer electronic chemicals coming to an end some time back and purchased a case (12) of a 13 oz. pressurized generic electronic cleaner called "Tronic Kleen" flying the flag of "House of Deals" - no nation of manufacture on the label, so would guess China. It specifies on the label; "ultimate purity, rapid dry, harmless to paints and plastics (back label, rubber added,) *leaves no residue*, no chlorinated solvents, contains no freon TF". The important part is "leaves no residue". I bought it at our remaining small local electronics distributor now that Radio Shack is gone. Actual content is not on the label but it smells like any freon-based non-lubricant cleaner. From the label, "House of Deals" phone is 1-800-726-3718 - good luck! There are any number of online consumer electronic supply outlets, the only one coming to mind is MCM...

bobmcc's picture

I didn't make myself clear - tuner spray contains a lubricant and lubricant is the last thing that you want on a clutch! Please don't do that...

Justin Patrick Moore's picture

Cassettes have so much potential now and in the future. From taping radio programs, to taping computer programs as broadcast on radio.

This article ( ) on the computers of 1970s and early 80s in socialist eastern europe was fascinating, in that they actually broadcast computer programs over the air and people could tape them to use on their DIY systems. It could be a useful format for the future.

I still have cassettes and vinyl myself. One thing cassettes may be useful for is passing on information / talks / lectures in a politically sensitive environment where censorship is rampant. This was also done in east Germany etc. where certain types of music were illegal during the communist reign. An official cassette could be taped over and something else put on their. Just looking at it wouldn't give it away. This is how the punks bands of the time often traded music when the government was really cracking down on these bands (in East Germany).

Tape is also super durable, and unless it gets eaten by a deck or wiped out with a magnet, really hard to break. Tape for reel to reels is even stronger. As a data storage system tape is also unparalleled really, especially for a lower tech future. Lots of possibiilities

[The Galaksija computer was a craze in 1980s Yugoslavia, inspiring thousands of people to build versions in their own homes. The idea behind them was simple – to make technology available to everyone. Free play was implicitly encouraged: the sharing, collaboration, manipulation, and proliferation of software was built into Galaksija’s very operation.

A computing enthusiast since 1979, Zoran Modli caught wind of Galaksija after the publication of Computers in Your Home. As host and DJ of Ventilator 202—a renowned New Wave radio show on Serbia’s Radio Beograd 202—Modli was something of a minor celebrity in Yugoslavia. Because all the day’s computers, including Galaksija, ran their programs on cassette, Regasek thought Modli might broadcast programs over the airwaves as audio during his show. The idea was that listeners could tape the programs off their receivers as they were broadcast, then load them into their personal machines.]

lathechuck's picture

... program and/or data storage. One day, I tried telling the computer to load a new program, but instead of a program, I gave it an Emerson, Lake, and Palmer concert tape. The screen went wild with gibberish, but it displayed the gibberish in fonts and video effects (reverse, blink) that I had no access to! Somehow, the video controller got some hidden bits set.

It's hard to imagine what sort of programs would be short enough to transmit over a radio broadcast. You'd be lucky to get 120 bytes per second, and lucky to get 1000 seconds of useful transmission (presumably, in the dead of night) in a day.