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Victor — Victrola Motor Identification (and Repair Information)

Listed and illustrated in this article are most of the distinct variations of wind up motors used in front mount, rear mount, and enclosed-horn Victrolas. These are the types most commonly found by collectors. This may not be an exhaustive study but I hope it will be of interest to those who like to "tinker" with motors as I do.

Descriptions of "Portables" are lacking due to the difficulty of finding previously written descriptions and pictures of them. No one should use this as a "precise guide" as exceptions to the rule may abound; however, as a guide to comparison and repair, the collector should find this of some interest. Some dates and data have been retrieved from other sources and I cannot vouch for their correctness. Technical comparisons have been derived from personal experience, and photos were personally taken by the author.

I would appreciate contributions from other collectors who can provide pictures and information of other types of motors which may have been used by the Victor Talking Machine Co. in Canada and the United States. I have tried not to repeat in words what is obvious visually.

Fig. 1(A): Canadian Berliner Model A & D Motor (motor as shown from a Canadian version) U.S. Victor Model B (Trademark) Sam

Fig. 1(A) Canadian Berliner Model (A) & U.S. Victor Model B (Trademark): Unless one possesses a small lathe and is prepared to make bushings for the gears, governor pivots, replace the governor drive gear (with a 148-tooth substitute from the Boston or Berg gear companies), the effort often results in a noisy but workable motor. In any case, just to have a Trademark machine which is all together, lubricated and working is satisfaction enough.

Figs. 2(B), 3(C) & 4(D): Victor Machine Models C through Z Motor Type used I-, 2-, or 3-spring "Spur" or "Brass" motors, as found in the front mount and early rear mount models. Although there were differences in gear sizes, barrel construction, motor frames, governor weights, governor gears, winding pauls etc., they all had the same style of gear train with a large noisy governor drive gear. Talko-phone and Victor's Zonophone line used the same style of motor, except some were improved with quiet running worm governor gears.

These spur and bevel gear motors, (Figs. 2[B], 3[C] & 4[D]) are the most challenging of all motors to overhaul satisfactorily but it can be done. Having rebuilt a dozen or more of this type in Canadian Berliners, I found these motors were quite poorly manufactured. If these motors were actually manufactured in the United States then I am sure most of the following will apply to early Victors. The main problem is that the stantions which hold the spring barrel, gears, governor, winding shaft etc., were not cast as part of the motor frame. As a result of warped castings, poor machining and hole drilling, everything is out of alignment and binds when the stantion mounting screws are tightened. The reason is that the original factory (or retrofit) shims were made of paper which are destroyed in the disassembly process, so one has to start from scratch upon reassembly. Filing of castings, then shimming with shim stock is often required. This procedure involves rough assembly of everything (without the spring in the barrel) and rotating the gears by hand. Obvious misalignment of the stantions can be seen when visually checking from all angles, then the necessary filling and shimming is performed. Final shimming may be necessary after the bevel gear adjustment. For these gears to run properly, try to match the previous running position and ensure there is sufficient but not too much backlash. Check the backlash every quarter turn.

Fig. 2(B): Typical single spring motor as found
in Berliner K (Canadian)
Fig. 3(C): Typical double spring motor as found
in Victor M

When you finally get to installing the spring in the barrel for its first test run, the motor should be off the motor board and supported somehow in its normal horizontal position. Final adjustment of the bevel gears and the governor pinion backlash will provide best results this way. Because of the value of the machines (these motors are in) a half-dozen tear downs and reassembly are worth the frustration to achieve satisfactory performance from these motors. Balancing of governor balls and matchings of governor springs is also a worthwhile task. I use a 3-beam-gram scale graduated to 1/100 of a gram, and match each spring to length and thickness. I do this to any motor from which vibration can be felt. A micrometer or dial calliper is useful to have for this purpose, as well as for many other places even if not doing lathe work.

Fig. 4(D): Typical triple spring motor as found in Victor D and early Victor VI which was all nickelplated

Fig. 5(E) Motor Type EM & D: the Victor motor type EM used in Victor O is similar to motor type D used in Victor I and shares some of the same parts as the Victrola IV motor (type B), and all three of these have the Bull gear as part of the barrel pressing. Two other similar styles used in Victor I utilise separate but smaller diameter steel or brass Bull gears (as shown in Figs. 5[E] and 6[F]), which are riveted or screwed on and may share the same frame casting with the EM. All of these styles use 1-inch-wide main springs. Motor Type D as used in Victor I and Type B as used in the Victrola IV are similar motors except that the Victrola IV does not use a geared crank incorporated into the barrel stantion, and has a larger Bull gear than Type EM. Frame casting appear at first glance to be the same but are not; the Victrola IV is slightly larger and hole spacings are further apart. Motor Type CM,also used in Victor O and Victor 1, is a Victor style all of its own but appears to share the same brass Bull gear as the other version of EM and D, except the CM is riveted on, and the other version of EM and D is held to the barrel with screws from the wind side flange. As mentioned, the other Bull gears were not part of the barrel.

Motor Type F Single Spring (see Figs. 8 [5]) is another one of at least three motor types used in Victor I and Victrola IV. It also shares some of the parts of the Victrola type J two-spring motor but not the main springs, as the type F motor uses a 1-inch main spring.

Fig 7(I) Motor Type BM as used in Victor II, shares many of the same parts as Victor III and IV. This motor style, as used in Victor II through VI, was a big improvement over the "spur" motor and is relatively easy to overhaul. However, there were some shortcomings in design. For one, when the spring shaft and Bull gear hole wore, misalignment and poor mesh with the spindle worm would result, causing wear and damage. For many of this motor style (which I have yet to repair), I do not have good replacement Bull gears, so I will attempt to install the later style Victrola riveted-on Bull gear, and matching fine pitch worm spindle.

Fig. 5(E): Motor Type EM as used in Victor I & O (Victor motor type D is similar as is Victrola Type B)
Fig. 6(F): Motor Type CM as used in Victor O & 1

Fortunately, Victor did convert to a fine-pitch, 6-inch long spindle in later production or were retrofitted. A better bushing arrangement in barrel drive end, and the heavier Victrola Bull gear riveted to the barrel, should result in a longer lasting and more serviceable motor.

Although the course pitch governor gears do not run as quietly as the fine-pitch ones, these motors per- form quite well, and should be carefully adjusted with shim washers so that the barrel (Bull) gear runs properly meshed with spindle, not off the centre line.

Fig. 7(J) Motor Type AM (2-spring) is as used in Victor III and IV, a modified version is used in Victrolas, and a third style in early Schoolhouse (XXV), which had a crank attached directly to the mainshaft.

Fig. 7(K) Motor Type M (3-spring) is used in Victor V and VI. Also used in Victrolas, some of these motors having the yielding turntable shaft feature which is most often found.

Fig. 7(I): as found in Victor II (Type BM)
Fig. 7(J): as found in Victor Ill & IV (Type AM)
Fig. 7(K): as found in Victor V & VI (Type M)

Depending on the phonograph model — there were many spindle versions which made them different from one another — there were at least nine different lengths and three turntable drive pin locations: 1/2-inch, 7/8 inch and 1 inch below record guide pin. These variations, I believe, were necessary to fit these motors into the early Victrolas.

Fig. 8(x) Victrola Motor Type B: Introduced in September 1911, the Victrola IV table model is powered by a 1-inch main spring which was wound by an arbor shaft directly attached to the winding crank. This motor appears to have been used in an intermediate model Victor I (type D) around the same time, but with a geared crank built into the barrel stantion. Another similar style, as described earlier, was used in the small case Victor I (type EM) which had a smaller diameter brass Bull gear, which would only fit into its own case.

Figs. 8(2) & 8(2B) Victrola Motor Type 2: Introduced October 1911 in Victrola VI, and Victrola VIII in September 1911 (and others?), but with two 1-inch main springs, this model used a geared crank built into the main frame, which raised the crank up. Figure 2B is similar, except it is without a geared crank. The spring is wound directly with a crank screwed to the spring shaft on the other side, resulting in a lower positioned crank. It is not known if this style motor was used in horn machines.

Fig. 8(3) Motor Type AM & Variations: This motor is equipped with 1.25-inch wide springs, and appears to be an adaptation of the Victor III motor, with the geared crank winding from the other side. The later Victor III used the notched motor frame designed for the Victrola application. A third style of this motor was used in the Schoolhouse which had the crank screwed directly to the spring shaft.

Fig. 9: A different example of a single spring "spur" motor with an all-iron top

Fig. 8(4) Type M & Variations: This early Victrola motor was directly interchangeable with the Victor V and VT (except earliest spur gear models), and the model which had the crank attached directly to the spring shaft. Most of these motors had the "yielding" shaft feature and cast iron turntable. Later model Victors and Victrolas did away with this feature, using the more common slip-on pressed-steel turntable. This motor used three 1.25-inch springs and used the same 6-inch long spindle worm shaft as (3) above. Fine thread barrel and governor gears were used on later versions resulting in quieter running (Retrofit 2?)

Listed and pictured are most of the variations of motors used in Victrolas. (See Fig. 10 of Victrola XII motor shown separately.)

Figs. 8(5-8B) Victor and Victrola Type E J and Variations (some used in the very last horn machines): This series to 8(8B) are similar styles, except that (5), (6) and (6B) have 1-inch mainsprings and (7), (8) and (8B) have 1.25- inch springs. Also, (6), (7) and (8B) have geared cranks, while (5), (6B) and (8) have cranks attached to the spring shafts on the opposite sides. Figure 8(7) is a Victrola type J introduced November 1st, 1914 and uses the same main-spring as types M and AM. It may be that each of these motors has a version which could be wound from the other side. More research is needed here.

Note: (6B) was removed from a table model inside horn Zonophone machine (No. 1126). No. (5) appears to be the type F as used in a late model Victor 1 and No. (6) I believe I saw in a very late model Victor II when visiting Musical Americana some years ago. This Victor II also had an aluminum I.D. plate with Roman numerals.

Fig. 10: Victrola XII motor (Unique Victor)

Of the preceding purely Victrola motors (years 1911 to 1917 approximately) all these housed a single spring in a single barrel arrangement, and the governors angled downwards. With the governor friction disc hanging down, one would think that the governor would have to work harder to pull the friction disc up against gravity. The Bull gears were similarly attached to spring barrels with rivets, except now the spring shaft and supporting bushings were significantly improved making this style a much longer wearing design. Does anybody know of a 3-spring version using 1-inch springs which is not the spur type? Anyhow, it would be interesting to know why the later motors went back to horizontal governors and with larger worm diameters.

Figs. 8(9), (10), (10B), (11) Victrola Motor Type M- 100, M-240 M-440 etc: This series appears to have been used in all later model Victrolas introduced June, 1917 and all having 1.25-inch springs except the single spring version which used a 1-inch spring. Governors are mounted horizontally as the earlier rear mount horn machine models. The governor worm gear is slightly larger in diameter from .280 inches to .310 inches (appear not interchangeable?); however, the numbers of teeth remained the same. (9), (10), (10B) and (11) Bull gears are spring driven and all the other prior models are barrel driven. Motor (10B) used bent-end springs and had a different winding dog and pawl arrangement. Speed indicator attachments may have been on more models than is evident in the pictures.

Notes on Lubrication

All moving metal parts require lubrication to prevent wear and reduce friction. Modern automobile engines and gear trains last so much longer than their counter- parts prior to the 60s. This is due mainly to superior lubricants being made today, so, the phonograph can benefit from their use also.

  1. Mainsprings

    I have used the modern substitute Molybdenum® disulphide for the original graphite grease. This is a multipurpose grease in a non-melt base made by Moly Slip® and others. I have used this in dozens of motors over the years and never experienced chugging or thumping, as | have with oils or white grease. Moly Slip® has a very fine buttery texture and spreads easily around the coils after the barrelis closed up.

  2. Gears and Pivots

    Extreme pressure (EP) automotive gear oils work best in the slow moving areas of high pressure between gears, pivots and shafts. There is no gear so perfectly made that sliding between gear teeth does not occur, and even more so once teeth wear a little, so lubrication is essential. With most phonograph motors totally enclosed and suspended under the motor board, contamination of oils is not a factor to worry about. Avoid oils and greases which dry out after application (e.g., wax base oils).

  3. Governors

    Suitable oils for governor friction discsd top works of cylinder machines need a light non-wax oil. I use SAE 20 refrigerant oil which has no wax therefore will not get sticky or dry out quickly. Light household and automotive oils serve well in this area also.

About the Author

Having recently retired, I now have the time to work on restoring my collection of cylinder and disc machines. I started collecting phonographs in 1968, and doing repairs for other collectors — but only quality repairs. If a gear pivot was worn on a shaft end, a new oversize pivot was machined in and the worn pivot hole was centred and reamed out to fit, or rebushed with brass bushing, in the same manner that clock repairs are done,so that proper gear contact and backlash are maintained.

I was fortunate to have found and purchased two warehouse stocks of new and used phonograph parts, one cache in 1973 weighing 1,850 lbs. While travelling on business all over the Canadian Prairies, it took me 3 years to track down this cache after hearing from another collector that a Port Coquitlam, British Columbia music store had many years prior sold all their old stock of crated machines and parts to an unknown collector in the Prairies somewhere. I did not know for sure that this was the collection I had heard about till I began unwrapping the sealed boxes at home and discovered the parts all wrapped in a 1942 Port Coquitlam newspaper.

The other find was in 1974, nearly 1,000 lbs of new boxed main springs, gears, governor springs, reproducers, etc. This find came from a music store in Winnipeg which was still selling wind up phonographs and 78 RPM records displayed in the store at the time (1974), however the parts were neatly stacked in the warehouse untouched for 40 to 50 years, as were thousands of parts for musical instruments. It was hard to believe what I saw. Another deal was made and from the two collections for the next 18 years I sold and traded my surplus parts to other collectors. Finally, in February 1992, the last of my surplus Edison gears (mostly new old stock) were traded off.

I have started to make patterns for casting reproduced back brackets and jigs to make wood horns in the years to come. If ever time permits I hope to do a similar study of Columbia motors as I have with Victor, and if somebody wants to collaborate or undertake this project, I would be glad to assist in the effort.