Repair of Victor Exhibition Reproducers
by Donald Woodrow
I believe that I have rebuilt/repaired more Victor
Exhibition reproducers than any other make.
Most likely the reason for this is that there were
so many of these made. Robert Baumbach's "Look
for the Dog" (ISBN 0-9606466-0-4) shows that
there were over 600,000 VV-IVs and almost 700,00
VV-VIs manufactured by the Victor Talking
Machine Co. And these are only two of the many
models which had these reproducers installed.
If the sound quality of your Exhibition reproducer
is poor and you are changing your needles
frequently, the most likely cause is:
- the rubber gaskets have deteriorated.
These gaskets must be soft and pliable.
Frequently, I have encountered gaskets that have become so
brittle that they break when bent.
- damaged diaphragm
Inspect the diaphragm at the centre. If damaged,it
should be replaced.
- broken dog bone
There are two spring clips in the shape of a dog
bone which holds the needle holder securely to the
bottom of the nickel plated cap. If one of these is
broken, the needle holder will not be firmly
- incorrect alignment of diaphragm
The needle bar should just touch the diaphragm.
It must not push in or pull out.
- deteriorated flange
The rubber flange must be firmly attached to the
back of the reproducer. Over the years, these have
a tendency to dry out. I have sometimes added
small washers over the two screws that hold the
flange to the back of the reproducer.
However, if the flange is buckled or split it really should be
replaced as it will not provide a tight seal.
All of these parts are readily available from antique
phonograph dealers, some of which I have listed
Dennis and Patti Valente
Antique Phonograph Supply
P.O. Box 123, Route 23
Davenport Center, New York 13751
26 Tekakwitha Ct.
Clifton Park, New York 12065
Wyatt's Musical Americana
Talking Machine Co.
P.O. Box 601
Lakeport, California 95453
Remove the three screws on the back of the
reproducer. The back should lift off.
Remove the outer rubber gasket.
Using a jeweler's screwdriver,
scrape off excess bees' wax and remove the small
machine screw at the centre of the mica diaphragm.
Be careful that you don't lose it, as it is very small.
Placing this screw in a small container is a good
Inspect the diaphragm for damage.
If damaged, replace with a diaphragm of identical size.
Remove the inner gasket. If the inside of the cap has
residue, clean using steel wool.
If the gaskets are still soft and pliable, then they
don't need to be replaced. Install new gaskets if the
old ones are cracked, dry or brittle.
(1/8" diameter, preferably hollow) are available from antique suppliers by the
foot. Cut to length. An X-acto knife with #11
blade works well. Make the join in the bottom of
the cap, with the front gasket about 1/4" from the
join of the back gasket. The ends of the gaskets
must meet without buckling or a gap. Do not align
the joins so that they are in exactly the same
If your dog bone is broken, remove the needle
holder. Using a slotted screwdriver, remove the
small screw close to the needle bar shaft.
Install new dog bone.
Reassemble the reproducer but don't attach the
stylus bar screw to the mica diaphragm.
When adding the back of the reproducer,it is best to insert
all three screws and tighten a few turns at a time.
Alternate opposite screws until back is firmly
attached to nickel plated cap.
Note the position of the tip of the needle bar in
relationship to the diaphragm. If the needle bar
pulls out or pushes in on the diaphragm, then you
will need to loosen the two lock nuts and adjusting
screws at the bottom of the nickel cap. By
adjusting these screws you can move the needle bar
closer or further away from the diaphragm.
When the needle holder just touches the centre of the
diaphragm, then re-tighten the locking nuts.
Remove back of reproducer once again.
Reinstall small machine screw joining mica diaphragm to the
needle holder. If you look carefully, you should
notice a small paper washer added by the factory so
that the diaphragm is not damaged when this screw
is tightened. The diaphragm should be centered
inside the cap and should not touch any of the
sides. If the needle bar is bent, straighten.
Use a soldering iron to melt a small amount of bees' wax
to both sides of needle holder at the centre of the
diaphragm. This seals the area where it is joined.
Bees' wax is readily available from hobby/craft
stores. Reassemble back as described above.
Information on the repair and overhaul of this and
other reproducers (including Edison) are described
in The Complete Talking Machine, by Eric Reiss,
ISBN # 1-886606-12-9.
Last year, I sent a copy of the article which I wrote
on Reproduction Outside Horn Gramophones
(reference CAPS newsletter November/December
1997) to Mr. Reiss. I asked if he would consider
adding a section on these phonographs so that new
collectors would not be misled by them.
I was very pleased to receive a copy (Third Edition) of his
book along with a very nice thank you note. The
four pages that he has added have numerous
photographs that accurately depict these fake
machines. I highly recommend this book.