Technics Linear Tracking Turntable Maintenance 82


Linear tracking turntables are significantly more complex than your average pivotal arm turntable. Linear mechanisms need regular maintenance to keep them running at their best – and to prevent mechanical errors causing damage to your precious vinyl.

One of the most prolific manufacturers of consumer-grade linear-tracking turntables was Technics/Panasonic. During the 70s, 80s and even 90s, Technics produced a huge number of linear tracking turntables – many of which are still in use today, and many of which can also be found on the second-hand market. I myself have owned countless Technics linear tracking tables – and each one has been meticulously serviced and restored to full working order.

It’s my goal here to share some servicing and maintenance tips with you in this post. Basic maintenance of these machines is not hard to carry out, can be done at minimal cost, and takes little time. Hopefully this information is useful to some of you out there – though I won’t be held responsible for any damage you should cause yourself, your turntable, or to any other human being, animal, or inanimate object as a result of following these instructions. With that in mind – let’s get started.

The Linear Mechanism.

Technics SL-J300R Linear Tracking Mechanism

Technics SL-J300R Linear Tracking Mechanism

The main cause of mechanical failure in these turntables is dry lubrication. The tonearm rail and gears are coated with a layer of thick grease which, after 25 years, forms a dry, sticky substance. It’s not particularly difficult to remove – depending on your turntable model, accessing the mechanism usually involves removing either the mechanism cover from inside the lid, the lid itself, or both. The correct service manual for your turntable is invaluable at this point – many of which can be obtained from Vinyl Engine.

Once inside, remove all grease and lubrication using 1 of many commercially available cleaners – alcohol works best. On many models, it’s necessary to remove the tonearm rail to clean it properly – if you don’t, you’ll have to continuously move the tonearm back and forth by hand to ensure all the old grease is remove from its bearings. While your’e in there, don’t forget to clean the pulley of the little DC drive motor, as well as the pulley connected to the worm gear.

Once the grease has been removed, relubricate by applying a thin layer of dry teflon lubricant to the tonearm rail. You can also apply this to the drive gears – or you can use thin gear/bearing oil, either will work.

While you’re inside, it’s a good idea to replace the tonearm drive belt. These small square belts are readily available online. If you don’t have one to hand, cleaning the belt will generally serve to keep it running until you’re able to obtain a new one. Once complete, the mechanism should run smoothly, with the arm traversing evenly across the record at a continuous and steady speed.

The Main Bearing

The final step in the maintenance of these turntables is to re-oil the main bearing. This is done by removing the platter, and then the bass of the turntable. A small bracket beneath the spindle needs to be removed to reveal the C-Clip securing the spindle in place. Remove this clip with a small, flat-bladed screwdriver – at which point, the spindle should come free.

With the turntable up-side-down, removing that C-Clip can at times be difficult as it’s impossible to get a screwdriver between it and the base of the motor board. I find that placing a ball of scrunched up paper, a scrunched up cloth or some paper towels between the end of the spindle and the lid pushes the spindle out and makes that clip much easier to remove and install.

Next, it’s time to clean everything. Clean the spindle, the spindle hole, and the small bracket which you removed earlier with the same cleaner you used for the linear mechanism. Make sure to get every last drop of old bearing oil from inside the spindle hole.

Next, replace the spindle and its C-Clip. Put a drop or 2 of turntable bearing oil on the bearing end, and replace the bearing bracket. Next with the turntable right-side-up, apply several drops of bearing oil to the shaft of the spindle, by lifting the spindle by hand and applying the oil in the gap between it and the motor board. turn the spindle to allow the oil to drop down into the shaft. Do this until the spindle doesn’t rub on the surrounding metal – the result should be a free-spinning, silent-running bearing.

Note – this procedure differs somewhat on the SL-10 turntable and its variants. These turntables use a mechanism similar to the Technics SL-1200, and are disassembled from the top down.

And that’s it. That’s all the regular maintenance these turntables require. Linear tracking turntables do have several adjustments which should be checked if the turntable has been sitting for a long period of time (several years or more). However, these adjustments require specialist equipment, so we won’t touch on them here. If, after following the instructions in this guide your turntable runs smoothly and sounds good, it’s generally safe to assume it’s running within spec and that, for now at least, adjustment isn’t necessary.

In a future post, we’ll discuss adjustment of the track detection mechanisms, as well as maintenance of fully and semi-automatic pivotal arm turntables. That’s all for now – e sure to share your maintenance tips in the comments below!


About Ashley

I founded Audio Appraisal a few years ago and continue to regularly update it with fresh content. An avid vinyl collector and coffee addict, I can often be found at a workbench tinkering with a faulty electronic device, tweaking a turntable to extract the last bit of detail from those tiny grooves in the plastic stuff, or relaxing in front of the hi-fi with a good album. A musician, occasional producer and sound engineer, other hobbies include software programming, web development, long walks and occasional DIY. Follow @ashleycox2

Share Your Thoughts

82 thoughts on “Technics Linear Tracking Turntable Maintenance

  • Steve Cresswell

    Just a quick message to share what I’ve been up to with my SL J1. I bought a cosmetically sound but neglected example (complete with midi system) to replace one I had as a teenager. Nostalgia is hard to resist. My plan was a stand alone system with just the turntable and a pair of Kanto speakers with internal amp and Bluetooth.
    I replaced both belts and cleaned all the old grease. It had set like glue. I still had two issues. The motor would sometimes need a push to get started and the track skip was unreliable, often missing all the tracks.
    I removed the motor and took it apart. The old oil had set hard so just needed cleaning and oiling.
    The track skip and search was my major concern. I guessed it was the IR sensor or sender. It turned out to be the tact switches on the front of the unit. They had broken down and upon pressing would send multiple broken signals to the 4 bit processor. I de-soldered them all and replaced with 6x6x5 (OEM spec and £1.50 for 10) switches. Not a hard job, just fiddly. Now it works perfect and has never missed a track and the rpm speed is spot on.

  • Skip

    HI Ashley – I have a Technics SL-L1 that I purchased back in the 1980s. The tonearm tracks (moves left) and drops, but it doesn’t stop – it just drags across the LP. Is this a lubrication issue or something else?

  • Joe

    Hi Ashley.
    I have gone over everything again on this sl-6 but with same results! It doesn’t make sense why lifting the lid slightly before the tonearm lowers the stylus into the track seems to disengage the tonearm motor and makes the turntable work properly and not continue pulling inward, but not doing this, leaving the lid closed, it continues pulling inward after lowering the stylus into the track. Your help has gotten me so close to getting this turntable operating and I feel I am right there. Can you think of anything else that needs to be checked?

    • Ashley Post author

      Certainly a very strange issue. Without seeing it myself I can’t fathom why it’s not working. it must be something simple or something electronic.

  • Joe

    Hi Ashley,
    I have a sl-6 which I have owned since new (1983) and has always operated well until recently. Turned on the unit and the platter turned but the arm only moved slightly. Started to research this online and came across your site. That’s when I found out about the maintenance that should be performed after all these years – tonearm rails cleaned & re-greased & tonearm belt change. I had this done, along with the main gear cleaned. Now the arm moves, scans the record, detects the tracks, moves to the track ( in program mode ) but won’t drop down. You can hear the click for it to down and the track button light flashes as if it is playing ( it also does this when not in program mode when pressing start to play a record from the beginning). Then if I press stop, the arm just stays in that position – nothing happens. It moves back to the home position though when I lift the lid. What should I be looking at next? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Ashley Post author

      Interesting issue. It sounds as those the arm lowering mechanism is sticking. The click indicates that the electromagnet is releasing the arm correctly, but there is a mechanical damped lowering device which allows the arm to slowly drop to the record (see the comment thread below with Phil). The behaviour you describe would occur if that mechanism was sticking or if a grease of too high a viscosity had been used to lubricate it. If you put a finger on top of the cartridge with the lid open, are you able to push the arm down, and does it rise again when you release it? Does the arm have a small amount of free movement left to right? When the lid was reinstalled was anything blocking the arm?

      • Joe

        Thank you Ashley for responding. There is nothing blocking the arm. The tonearm does have movement left to right and when I push down on the tonearm it does come up when I release it. I still have to check the raise/lower mechanism grease.

        • Joe

          Hi Ashley,
          I have finally completed the check and cleaning the raise/lower mechanism grease. Additionally, I have replaced the stylus, and am happy to report that the tonearm does now indeed drop to the record but I have encountered another problem. When the tonearm moves to play a track, it will drop down to the beginning of the track but skate on it till the end of the track and then lift up and return to its home position. It does this no matter what mode its in. Tracking force adjustments don’t help. What should I be looking at now? Thanks.

          • Ashley Post author

            Could be a couple of things; I’m assuming the lift platform is now dropping clear of the arm, and that you’re using the original mat to allow for the correct record height. There is an optical sensor (sometimes a small electrical microswitch in cheaper models) which detects when the arm needs to move forward and triggers the motor that advances the carriage. If it is dirty (if grease fell on it during maintenance for example) it may be malfunctioning and the turntable will compensate by trying to drag the arm inwards because it can’t ‘see’ the position of the arm. The sensors are located near the arm pivot point but differ from model to model, you should be able to find the parts in the service manual. Otherwise if you have a multimeter, check the servo gain adjustments according to the service manual which will determine if the arm movement sensor is working.

            • Joe

              I have finished checking everything that you have said to look at – the lift platform does drop clear of the arm, I am using the original mat, there is no grease on the optical sensor, and the servo gain adjustments are ok, and still the arm still won’t drop completely. But if I press start ( to play from the beginning ) or enter a track selection, for example #3, and lift the lid ever so slightly and close it, the arm will then drop and play the record! This is very perplexing! What should I look at next?

              • Ashley Post author

                This is an interesting issue. The problem with these turntables is that everything has to be exactly right for them to function. When the lid is closed, does it sit level? Alignment of the lid is important in these decks as if the lid is misaligned it can push the mechanism slightly out of alignment which can cause odd tracking behaviour. Try taping the lid switch shut so that you can operate the mechanism with the lid open. start the turntable, and hold down the play button to advance the arm forward. In the middle of the arm’s travel, press the cue button to release the arm, and then nudge it to wards the centre with a finger. Does it move slowly in steps, or does it immediately move quickly towards the centre? When not touching the arm, it should remain perfectly still in the drop position when the lid is up.

                • Joe

                  Now that the holidays are over, I had time to try what you suggested. The lid is level when closed. The lid switch was taped shut so to operate the mechanism open. The turntable was started and the play button held down and the cue button was pressed midway through. The arm was released but the arm never stopped moving inward. I then had the sensors recleaned and had the servo gain adjustments checked again, with only one improvement. With the lid closed, following these steps, the arm does now drop the stylus into the track but still continues inward pulling the stylus out. But, like before, with the lid closed, if the steps are done and the lid is opened just barely and closed before the arm is released, in this and program mode, the arm doesn’t continue and the stylus stays in the track and operates normally. Very frustrating!

                  • Joe

                    Hi Ashley.
                    I have gone over everything again but with same results! I don’t understand why lifting the lid slightly makes the turntable work properly. Your help has gotten me so close to getting this turntable operating and I feel I am right there. Can you think of anything else that needs to be checked?

                • SeaBee

                  Hello,
                  Glad to have found your blog and someone with background in old Technics Linear Drive Turntables. I have an SL-5 that has worked flawlessly for years, went into storage, wouldn’t work and upon dissection revealed a frayed Drive cord/rope
                  Can you provide suggestion for my replacing it?

                  I think the motor was bound but seems to work freely now. Thanks

      • Phil

        yeah that’s the reason why i was scared to use too high of a viscosity. As the mechanism is lowering and coming up too slow. I have received the 200k silicon now – just need a little time now to open up the machine again. ;o) What I do recall is that not the lowering mechanism (94) bugged, but that part 105 actioning the lowering mechanism (too clunked up inside around the plunger – but it looks heavy duty to open that one up). Is that an electromagnet? It looks rather like a chamber with a spring and a plunger through it. I’ll try to document when I’m doing it. The plan in my link might help to see what I mean http://www.globaldistrict.com/_media/companies/company_0/social_images/arm_schematic_vlarge.jpg .

  • Marcelo

    Hi Ashley,
    On there you talk about changing the tonearm belt while doing it.
    On the SL-J300R would that be the “guide rope” on the photo ?
    I’m lucky I have the exact same one.
    I Was able to find the service manual online and can’t see any belts, just that rope. am I missing anything?
    Thanks for the help

      • Ashley Post author

        What needs adjusting? I’m afraid I don’t know of anyone who will work on these turntables, however the adjustments are listed in the service manual. IIRC some models require a special adjustment record but you can get by with trial and error, providing you have the right equipment and knowledge to work safely around the electronics. You’ll probably find however, on the J300R at least, that fixing up the mechanics will bring the turntable back into full working order.

    • Ashley Post author

      No, the guide rope is the piece of string (or nylon rope) that pulls the arm along via the large plastic gear on the left. You’ll have to take the lid off to access the belt, which is a tiny square rubber belt on the left-hand side of the mechanism, stretching between the pulley of the tonearm motor and the pulley of the worm gear.

  • Phil

    Hi had my technics SL QL1for a couple of months, arm moves fine, the stop button though now just won’t let you stop the record, so now only way to use it is to press the cue button and lift the lid, the arm moves fine and it moves to the right when lift the lid, do you think the stop button has stopped working? The lights on the stop button though still work, any ideas?

    • Ashley Post author

      That’s an odd issue, not seen that before. Does the stop button still have the same ‘click’ feel as the other buttons? I would imagine it’s either the plastic stub that pushes the button has bent or broken, the button itself has failed or is dirty, or there is a cracked solder joint somewhere. Difficult to say without removing the board beneath. Certainly worth repairing, that is one of the best Linear decks they made.

      • Philip

        Hi, thanks for getting back to me, it seems to be an intermittent fault, when it’s been on for a few hours it sometimes works, it’s a bit or a weird one, do like this turntable, could you recommend anyone repair company that could look at it? Do have a tv repair shop, they have fixed a few pieces of audio equipment in the past for me, might ask to see if it is something they could tackle, thanks again, Phil

        • Ashley Post author

          I’m afraid I don’t know of anyone that I could recommend from experience, I tend to repair these things myself as I don’t know any repairers who will work on these turntables. That said there are quite a few independent audio repairers around who might including Mike Powell or London Sound, or try your local shop if they work on vintage equipment. I suspect a cracked solder joint around the button, which will cause the button to work intermittently when the board heats up, which any repairer should be able to spot and solve. It is important that they take care if the board is removed and replaced, as the switches can become brittle and fragile over the years and can be easily broken. Should be an easy repair however.

  • austen73

    Hi Ashley
    Thanks for posting this. I have acquired an old Panasonic SG-165 which I am desperate to get going again. It’s a well-built and solid piece of kit. When I try the turntable it both (a) doesn’t quite line up with the edge of the record (it falls short) and (b) falls aggressively. This has broken the stylus. From my short description does it sound within the scope of your maintenance or is it likely something much more complex?
    I’d appreciate advice. I cannot bring myself to get rid of it.
    Best wishes
    Matt

    • Ashley Post author

      Hi Matt – yes, it will likely need some maintenance by now. Lubricating the mechanism likely won’t fix that particular issue, but it will make things run a lot smoother. With regards the stylus drop position, there is usually a small set screw somewhere and turning that will define the drop and lift position. It’s normally on the arm carriage, sometimes covered by a label.

      With regards the aggressive drop, that requires a viscous dampening fluid be applied to the plunger that raises and lowers the arm. On most Technics / Panasonic linear mechanisms it’s mounted on the right-hand side of the arm in the middle, but you’ll have to take the lid off to find it. See This forum thread for some pictures of a similar mechanism.

      Unfortunately I can’t find a service manual for that particular system so I can’t give you exact instructions. Take a look on eBay as there are a couple of OEM service manuals available for sale which will give you the disassembly instructions and also allow you to make the servo adjustments to restore correct performance. It does look like a pretty cool system, if I find one for a reasonable price we might cover it here.

  • Bill Magnan

    Ashley

    Great info on these turntables, I currently have a SL-QL1 and the related SL-DL1 both in excellent shape, however the built in Phono Interconnects look like they could be upgraded. Is this something you recommend and if so any suggestions. I notice quite a few adds for replacements for the TECHNICS SL1200 which I would think would be good for the LT.

    Thanks
    Bill

    • Ashley Post author

      The cables used certainly weren’t of the best quality and though I’m not a proponent of expensive audiophile cables this is certainly an area where these decks could be improved. One of the Van Damme options for the 1200 available on eBay should work nicely. I wouldn’t touch the internal wiring of the arm itself as it would be very easy to knock some of the adjustments out of alignment (and they’re difficult to put back). That said replacing the external cables is an easy task if you’re handy with a soldering iron.

  • Ifor

    Hi Ashley,

    I have problems with an SL-DL1 and an SL-QL1.

    The tonearm of the SL-DL1 sometimes gets stuck when playing an album, but often it behaves well. I replaced the tonearm belt, cleaned off gunk and relubed the cogs with lithium grease about eighteen months ago. The guide rails appear clean.

    I only just bought the SL-QL1. It was advertised as working but doesn’t; I might yet return it. When I first turned it on the platter turned, the arm dropped, but it didn’t track. I diagnosed a worn belt so I replaced it. After reassembly absolutely nothing happens when I press the start button. Also the repeat button is either on or flashes, which isn’t right. Any ideas?

    If I fail to sort them myself, do you know anyone in the UK who services and repairs them?

    Cheers,
    Ifor

    • Ashley Post author

      Hi Ifor – firstly, two great turntables there and well worth resurrecting. The QL1 in particular is one of the best models. To your questions:

      Firstly, the DL1. You stated that you’d cleaned and greased the cogs. Did you do the guide rails also, or are they running with factory grease? Is your replacement belt reasonably tight? Does the arm operate smoothly when you move it manually back and forth? There are a couple of things that could be causing the issue you’re having. The guide rails, if running with factory grease or no grease at all, may be sticking. Also be aware that some grease used for automotive applications can dry up and become sticky over time, so even if you applied new grease it’s worth giving it a check. It’s unlikely to be the belt if you’ve replaced that with the correct size part. It could be the guide rope that pulls the tonearm along, check that it isn’t snagging or stock with dry grease. Or it could be the tracking sensor that detects the movement of the arm is dirty, or something is mis-adjusted in the electronics (though both are unlikely). If you’re handy with a multi-meter and capable of carefully making voltage checks, the service manual is readily available online and shows the voltage points for the servo system.

      Now to the QL1. Did you strip and clean the mechanism while it was open as well as replacing the belt? The flashing repeat light on any Technics turntable usually indicates a problem with the arm, normally that the automatic mechanism is unable to move the arm into position. Note that the QL1 uses infrared record detection and won’t start with no record, or a clear or coloured record, unless the covers are on and there’s either something covering the platter holes or the slider switch on the inner lid cover is slid across. My first port of call for any Technics table is a full strip and clean of the mechanism and that usually gets them going. Again, failing that, you’ll have to investigate the electronics.

      I have never found anyone in the UK who will service and repair them. They’re difficult to service because there are several proprietary parts that can no-longer be obtained, and for this reason many won’t touch them. I’ve always fixed them myself and have a 100% success rate so far, they’re not terribly complex once you understand the logic and design behind their operation. Let me know how you get on with the suggestions above.

      • Ifor

        Hi Ashley, thanks for your reply.

        There’s another working SL-DL1 and an SL-7 in the house too, so I know how good they can be. The SL-7 had a really thorough service by Vantage Audio of Taunton just after I bought it, but unfortunately VA no longer exists.

        There is no sign of any old grease on the guide rail of either the SL-DL1 or the SL-QL1; they both look really clean. Maybe some grease is needed. I noted that you recommended dry teflon lubricant, which is not something I’m familiar with (can you recommend one? I assume a spray can should be avoided). Is there a way to manually move the arm across other than by rotating the wheel by the motor?

        The belt does look a bit looser than I would expect so I’ll try another new one. I have the service manuals for both machines, but a multi-meter and voltage checks would be beyond me.

        Thanks again,
        Ifor

        • Ashley Post author

          Yes, Vantage are the only company that I’ve heard will work on these decks but as you say, sadly no-longer in business. You could try Mike Powell or London Sound, both may be able to service them. Before doing anything, clean the guide rails with isopropyl alcohol (which you can obtain through eBay). Once they’re properly cleaned, I tend to use a general purpose grease these days on the guide rails, spread a nice thick, even layer around the rail and move the arm back and forth to spread it around. Unfortunately there is no really easy way to move the arm back and forth. You could try powering the deck up with the mechanism open, hold the lid switch (inside at the back, usually on the right) with a piece of tape and hold the start button, that should get the arm moving into the centre though you might have to put a record on the platter to cover the sensors. To return the arm, release the switch.

          • Ifor

            OK. I’ll give that a try. I have some lithium grease. Unfortunately, holding the lid switch down when open does allow the arm to track or the platter to spin. I think there must be another sensor involved somehow. Thanks for the pointer to Mike Powell.

  • Karl Donnelly

    Hi, I have a SL-J300R turntable which has been in storage for the best part of 13 years and finally cracked it out now I’m on my own. Connected it all fine and put a record on to test and it scans 3 tracks which is perfect then pressed play and it moves over to play and it just tries to lower the stylus, clicks and tries to reset and does the same thing over and over again. It also flashes repeat at the end of each process. It moves across and scans perfectly, it just fails to lower the stylus to play the record. Any thoughts?
    Thanks Karl

    • Ashley Post author

      Could be a number of things. I’d start by cleaning and lubricating the mechanism anyway, regardless of whether it moves. I’d also change the tonearm belt if it’s been sitting. Then check the plunger that allows the arm to drop to see if it is stuck. It’s lubricated with a thick grease that damps the lowering action, that may have dried up. You should see the part I mean when you have the lid off, it supports the arm in the up position and moves when you press the arm down manually, it’s near the tonearm pivot point. When the arm tries to play, is it positioning the stylus in the correct position? Have you tried the deck in manual mode?

  • Glenn Michael Norris

    Hi Ashley,
    Below you mentioned this:

    “be careful when removing the screws as there are often some small plastic separating washers placed between the lid and the mechanism plate which must be put back for proper function.”

    Mine only has 2 of these remaining, And want to know how this affects proper function.
    This unit was given to me a few months ago, and I’m ready to tackle it.
    I got a new little belt for it and just put it in, then after getting it all buttoned I find the lid is not closing all the way,
    (you can see the tiny gap at the front end where the tiny bumpers are)
    Any help is very much appreciated!

    Thank You Much,
    Glen Michael

    • Ashley Post author

      Hi Glenn – The washers are used to set the lid height so that when closed the arm assembly is at the correct height to provide optimal tracking force and overhang of the stylus. Depending on your turntable there is usually a small rubber washer, a thicker washer behind that, and then a thin washer behind that. With regards your lid not closing, this can be a bit of a fiddly one to correct. The easiest way to do it I’ve found is to slightly loosen all of the screws that hold the lid (five on most models, 1 on either side and the 3 inside) such that the lid can be moved but is still relatively tight. Then lower the lid and ensure it closes properly, pressing down on both front corners and wiggling it back and forth until it is correctly aligned with the turntable base and sitting evenly on the front bumpers with no gaps. Then carefully lift the lid and tighten the 3 inside screws, starting with the middle and then the 2 at either side, working in small increments so the lid doesn’t move. Then tighten the two near the hinge and the lid should sit properly. If that doesn’t solve the problem, please let me know which model of turntable you have.

  • Mr. T

    Hi Ashley,
    I’ve had my Technics SL-L3 turntable since 1985. It’s been great, but sometimes it won’t play the first track on an lp record. It looks like the tonearm is searching and gradually lowers itself on another track and drags on the vinyl. This happens in automatic and in manual operation. This problem usually goes away when I mess with the stylus set-down position adjustment knob, but sometimes I have to keep doing this every time I play my vinyl. Any advice?
    Thanks

    • Ashley Post author

      Interesting. Does the arm drop particularly slowly? How old is the stylus? It sounds like the turntable isn’t detecting that the stylus is playing a record, and tries to move the arm on by speeding up the stepper motor that drives the arm. My guess would be either the tracking force is slightly out (unlikely), the stylus is worn (possible), or that the tonearm drive belt is slipping (most likely).

      • Mr. T

        The tonearm doesn’t drop particularly slow. The stylus is almost 20 years old, but doesn’t have 20 years of normal playing time on it. I only use my turntable maybe about once a month on average for a couple of hours at a time. It’s an entry level (conical) replacement that’s done it’s job well. I was thinking of replacing it with an upgraded (elliptical) stylus, but there aren’t a lot of choices for this model. What stylus do you recommend?
        The issue I’m having usually happens when I first turn on the turntable. After I mess with the stylus set-down position adjustment knob and after it warms up a bit, it works fine after that. I didn’t even know my TT had this switch as it is covered by a plastic plug. I got this tip by watching a YouTube video a couple years ago. It almost seems like it’s not recognizing the first track and searches only to drop and drag the stylus somewhere on the 2nd or 3rd track. The program record play feature works great though.
        Is the tonearm drive belt easy to replace?
        Thanks

        • Ashley Post author

          That works out to about 480 hours, which is on the high side especially for the entry level conical stylus. Stylus life isn’t the only concern after that amount of time; the suspension can soften, which can cause odd problems particularly with this kind of turntable. The correct elliptical, assuming you’ve never changed the cartridge from the original Technics P33 is the EPS-P33ES. You can buy good replica styli from AVA Record Stylus Supplies. Alternatively, change the cartridge to something like an AT311EP, once you’ve fixed the dragging issue of course.

          The tonearm belt isn’t particularly difficult to replace. You’ll need to take the lid off, at which point you’ll have access to the mechanism. I’d recommend you replace the belt, and thoroughly clean and apply fresh grease to the mechanism. It sounds to me like the arm is getting stuck, and to compensate the turntable is trying to pull it forward. Either that or the optical sensor which detects the arm movement is dirty or going bad, but that isn’t usually an issue.

          • Philippe

            Hello! Interesting read! What kind of purification would you recommend for the sl-10? I read ptfe for the guiding rod and silicone for the lowering mechanism of the tonearm. But what’s the best viscosity? 100k or 200k or 300k? And for the motor and worm drive of the belt? Many thanks for your advice.

            • Ashley Post author

              PTFE should be fine on the guide rod, I use a white lithium grease similar to what was used from the factory. Really as long as it doesn’t dry sticky it will be fine, the carriage needs to have as fee movement as possible along the guide rail. For the tonearm lift / lower mechanism you need a high viscosity silicone grease. I’ve used 200K and 300K with success. The higher the viscosity, the slower the arm will lift and descend. I would probably go with 300K on a linear deck as the travel in the mechanism is less than a traditional lifter.

              • Phil

                Thank you for the reply. Not an easy task to locate these lubes here in France – but I keep looking. I wouldn’t like it to be too viscous as that’s the problem, the mechanism descend and ascend is that slow that the needle scratches over the record when a record is done. Might go and look for 200k. Is that in the 102 103 105 part (spring with plunge assist) that needs relubrification or the 94 part on the manual? Thanks again – it’s people like you saving these gems from the dump! Have a nice day

                • Ashley Post author

                  I purchased my last bottle of tonearm damping fluid from SRM/Tech here in the UK. I’m not 100% sure whether they ship to France but may be worth contacting them. Else try a model shop, the type who deal with RC cars, drones and small model vehicles. These types of fluids are used in those machines and they may be able to help. The plunge assist part you mention is the correct one, you’ll spot it easily when you open the deck and look at the mechanics surrounding the pivot point of the arm. In the raised position, the arm is supported by a tiny platform which is the assembly you’re looking for.

  • Bill McMichael

    Ashley:

    Thanks a million for the assistance. Last week, the platter and tone arm on my SL-L3 – bought in Germany in 1988 and more or less in continuous use – just froze. Took it apart using your assistance and the Vinyl Engine manual (first service EVER), cleaned off decades of black gunk from the tone arm and cleaned up the main bearing. Used valve oil on both, working it a good bit to spread the oil in both spots. It works like a charm! Just glad I didn’t have to get into the electronics 😉 Cheers and Happy Holidays!

      • Greg

        Hey Ashley, I have a Technics SL-DL1 linear tracking tt, absolutely everything works except the tracking portion. Had a new belt, rails have been cleaned and re lubed, the tracking across the record will just not engage! All controls works, auto return as well if I manually move the time arm to the end of the record with the controls. Do you have any suggestions?

        • Ashley Post author

          Hmmm. When you say the tracking won’t engage, does the the turntable place the arm on the record or does it do absolutely nothing at all? If you stick something over the lid switch so that the table will operate with its lid up, then hit play to drop the arm and gently nudge it inwards, does it move in on its own?

          • Greg Carnine

            Nope, will not move at all, I’ve done what you’ve said. Not sure what or where the switch is the signals the are to move, but I have a feeling it would be in the area. It drops, and plays but won’t track across the record.

            • Ashley Post author

              Some of the arms use a microswitch to trigger their movement, while others use a sensor or a pair of electrical contacts. Unfortunately unless one of your switches is particularly dirty you’re probably going to have to begin diagnosing the electronics, which will vary in difficulty depending on your experience and equipment. You can find a service manual for your DL1 Here. It should not only tell you the switch positions but should also tell you how and where to check the electronics. I believe yours has a tracking light, hopefully it isn’t that which has failed.

  • John Stevenson

    Hi,

    Thanks for the very useful Article. I’ve followed the advice and got an old j300r partially working. The track detection mecanism is still faulty (always shows 2 tracks only) but it now works ok in manual mode. You mention in the article you will be following up with a tutorial on the ajustment of the track detection mechanism. Did you get to write this? – I can’t find a link to it anywhere – if you did I’d much appreciate the link. I would guess it’s setting the voltages etc as shown in the seervice manual – but any advice appreciated (yes I have access to an Oscilloscope etc as neccessary).

    • Ashley Post author

      I’m afraid I haven’t as yet gotten around to writing the adjustments article, mainly because some of the older models required a service record to adjust them properly and those records are completely unobtainable. That said if you have some experience with electronics, you can find the service manual for your J300R linked at the end of my SL-J300R Review. That manual should show the necessary adjustments.

  • Nick

    My technics sl-3 is having major issues. It was playing fine right after I bought it, but it then stopped completely. I went through and cleaned everything I could think of and nothing helped. I press the power button and the red light turn on dimly. Then the motor that drives the platter moves a little. And then nothing. this video may help you understand my issue https://youtu.be/t1gcdh2YcR4

    • Ashley Post author

      when you had it open to clean the tonearm mechanism, did you try moving the arm across manually by rotating the small pulley that is driven by the motor? It could be that despite a good clean the arm is simply stuck in the home position.

      • Bill

        That’s how I had to move the arm until I got the black gunk off the mechanism. It may need to be cleaned more thoroughly – I did three or four 2-way passes before I got mine working. Be patient … rotate it gently as you clean.

  • Alex

    Hi Ashley,

    You mention that the entire lid can be removed to ease access to the tone arm mechanisms. How is this done? I don’t see the lid removal mentioned in the service manual.

    Beyone removing the lid, is there a way to open the lid more (like a book). Right now the lid is only opened about 80 degrees or so, so trying to work on the upper components is very awkward. Any advice is much appreciated. Thank you.

    • Ashley Post author

      Alex – what model of turntable are you using? Some of the turntables have a screw on either side where the lid hinges and 3 screws along the front edge of the linear mechanism (one of which is underneath the end of the tonearm when it’s in the home position). If yours is one of these, be careful when removing the screws as there are often some small plastic separating washers placed between the lid and the mechanism plate which must be put back for proper function. Some other models, such as the J300R, have 2 small pins on either side of the turntable at the back which must be removed using a tiny flat bladed screwdriver. Once removed, the same method should be used to remove the small plastic inserts that hold them in place.

  • Josh Borton

    This is very helpful tutorial. I am working on a Panasonic PL-X505. I’ve cleaned and lubed everything and replaced the tracking assembly drive belt. The tone arm mechanism moves smoothly along the rail, using the forward and back buttons, however, the tonearm assembly does not move during playback. It remains stationary regardless of where playback is started. I can see that the motor that drives the tone arm assembly is not running, indicating that this seems to be a logic problem, ie the tone arm assembly doesn’t know it’s supposed to be moving. Any ideas how I might remedy this.

    Thanks again for your time and posting the previous article. they’ve really helped me understand how the mechanism works.

    • Ashley Post author

      As you can move the arm manually with the forward and back buttons, I’d probably check the tonearm microswitches, in particular the one that is closed when the tonearm reaches the point where it needs to proceed forwards.

      • Riley

        Can you elaborate on this? I have the same issue on an old Technics SL-L3, and I’m not really sure what a microswitch is or what i should check if I found it.

        • Ashley Post author

          A microswitch is a tiny momentary contact switch whereby a pair (or pairs) of metal conductors come into contact with one another to form an electrical circuit. You’ll see a microswitch at the end of the arm’s travel. If you move the arm all the way to the right, you’ll hear a small click as the switch is pressed. On Technics tables, the switch is usually engaged by a piece of wire running along the back of the mechanism, or by a small protruding plate on the arm itself. There is also a microswitch usually mounted on the base of the turntable near the hinge that detects whether the lid is open or closed.

          You can check to see whether your tonearm motor is working. Lift the lid of the turntable and engage the aforementioned lid detection switch by pressing it in and sticking it in place with a piece of tape. Pressing the start button with the lid open should then allow the platter to spin and the arm to drop. With the arm dropped, use a finger to gently nudge the end of the arm to the left. Be very gentle as the arm is extremely delicate. If your tonearm motor is operating correctly, the arm should begin to move on its own to the left as it would if it were tracking a record. If not, disassemble the mechanism and check that the motor itself is able to spin freely.

  • Greg

    Can you please tell me where to get the tonearm drive belt for one of these? where did you source yours from?

    Thanks

    • ashley Post author

      You can find them on eBay. They’re pretty generic, small square section belts used for example in VCR and CD player loading mechanisms, so any decent repair shop should be able to help you out if you can’t find one on eBay.

      • Greg

        Unit arrived today, the Guide Rope wire looks as if the previous owner has tried to force the tonearm across and has stripped it of the black woven nylon outer and left the white centre exposed. have ordered some Radio Dial Rope that is a little thinner and some brass crimps. hopefully i will be able to make a new guide rope.

        Just need to get the drive belt, have found a website that has them and get a needle p-mount style for it.

        See how i go.

        Any advice?

        • ashley Post author

          Give your existing guide rope a try; you may find that it works. I’ve never heard of an instance of someone forcing the tonearm causing the outer cover to strip. Is it stripped all the way along?

          Radio dial string works fine for this purpose, and there are guides in the service manuals (available online for most models) showing how to restring the mechanism should it require it.

          Regarding the cartridges – your’e mainly limited to Audio-Technica cartridges now. The recently discontinued AT92 is my favourite of theres, if you can find one. Ortofon also made some nice P-Mount carts which you can sometimes find on the second hand market. The OM series were manufacturers as P-Mount carts (the OMP10, OMP-20, OMP-30 and OMP-40) and they make very nice replacements.

          And of course, you could just get a new stylus for the technics cart. Upgraded styli are available from several places online. Good luck 🙂

  • Andrew

    Can you recommend some good brands for pulley and bearing lubricants? I have had to work on several tables, and I only have Lucas #2 grease and white lithium. Post links if possible (Amazon, Autozone, etc.) Thanks!