I recently acquired an example of the legendary Technics SL-10 turntable. Despite its non-working status, the price was such that I simply couldn’t refuse – and, having experience with linear tracking turntables of this nature, I was confident I could restore it to full working condition.
And that’s exactly what I did – in fact, the turntable is playing as I write and, with the original MC310 cartridge, it sounds nothing short of beautiful.
All this particular turntable required was the usual maintenance, as detailed in my post regarding Technics linear tracking turntable maintenance. However, getting the turntable apart was something of a task – and the lack of information in the service manual and on the internet resulted in a lot of trial and error. I have attempted to form the notes which I took at the time into something worthy of a blog post – which, hopefully, will serve to help others out there with this same turntable. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take any pictures at the time – but hopefully my descriptions will be good enough.
Removal of the upper cover.
The first, and arguably the most frustrating issue I encountered was the removal of the upper cover. The manual states that removal of the 12 setscrews should allow the cover to simply lift away, revealing the mechanism beneath. However, this was not the case – thanks to the small plastic snaps keeping the cover secure around the clamp area. These plastic clips hold the cover firmly in placed -and cannot be unclipped unless the transparent window is removed – which, ironically requires the upper cover be removed first. Still with me? OK.
The easiest, and least damaging way I found to remove the cover was to heat the area around the clamp to soften the plastic and allow it to come free. Once all 12 screws are removed, take a hair drier and heat the circular area situated to the right of the record clamp as you look at the turntable from the front. If, like me, you opened the turntable with it resting on its lid and the buttons facing you, the part you’re looking to heat is the part closest to you on the left, nearest the arm. You’ll know you’re heating the correct part as there is no gap between it and the dust cover window, whereas there is a significant gap on the other side.
Apply heat for around 30 seconds – be careful to get things warm but not too hot. Once heated, lift the cover from the sides, place a finger in the middle next to the arm rail, and lift up, twisting slightly to the left as you go. The cover, with the record clamp attached, should pop right off. You can also lift the cover by grasping the record clamp – as it is attached to the cover itself.
Once inside, you’re greeted by a relatively standard iteration of the technics mechanism, all be it covered by a large circuit board. Removal of a single screw behind the arm motor allows that circuit board to be lifted from its resting place, allowing you to unplug its cables and tilt it up out of your way.
My particular turntable simply refused to move its arm. A few seconds of prodding at the mechanism revealed the arm motor was frozen solid. 2 Screws later, and said motor was removed. 3 Drops of bearing oil were dropped into the tiny gap underneath the spindle, and after turning it by hand for several minutes the motor was free and running like new.
All that remained was to clean and relubricate the mechanism, and replace the small square-section belt which runs the mechanism. Genuine replacement belts can be purchased very cheaply online, so it’s a good idea to replace this while you have the turntable open. I also dropped some grease around the clamp area and on the tonearm cable protection guide.
The only complication I ran into during reassembly involved the lid switch – mounted to the rear of the circuit board, this switch must be fully depressed to allow the upper cover to clear it. The end of the switch pokes out through a hole in the upper cover, and is pressed against the rear of the turntable when the lid is closed. As you’re slotting the upper cover into place, be sure to press in that switch with the aid of a small screwdriver – as failure to do so will render the turntable inoperable and cause you many hours of frustration.
After all this was complete, I had a fully functioning SL-10. I did also choose to replace the platter bearing oil – a simple matter of removing the platter and applying some cleaner and fresh oil to the gap beneath the spindle. The platter is removed by removing the plastic nut that holds the 45RPM adapter in place, and removing the nut and washer beneath. Be sure not to over tighten either nut during reassembly.
Hopefully this information has been of use to those of you attempting to restore these decks to working condition. Despite the problems getting this deck apart, I still maintain that Technics decks are some of the easiest to work on – and this would’ve been too if it weren’t for that record clamp.