Walker CJ55 Reboot

After many years I have finally found a replacement belt for my Walker CJ55 turntable.  I have had to order it in from the UK, at far less cost than a couple of US vendors who wanted $25 or more for it!

Walker CJ-55 TurntableThis is a last ditch effort to give the CJ55 a reboot, or boot it out the door.  Since the day I bought it in 1983, it has been notoriously obnoxious in regard to speed.  It never could hold a pitch without wavering.  And on top of it, the platter rotated a bit too fast.  A year or two ago, I solved the pitch problem by finding some fat rubber bands to wrap around the subplatter.  That works fine.  I also had to sell off the Music Hall I had, and had to return its belt from the Walker.  The Music Hall belt was a little too tight for the CJ55, pulling the suspension toward the motor, but at least it could control the platter speed.

This new belt is probably the correct original size, but I have been thinking that the original size was too loose.  It can be a little tighter without affecting the floating suspension.  I had an idea: why not move the motor?  The motor is mounted on a small bit of board fastened to the underside of the plinth.  I can probably move it 1/2″ to 3/4″ outward, adding more tension to the belt.  This beats trying to mess with other belts I’ve found that are the wrong width.  Looking over the build of this turntable, though, it is rather slipshod.  That board the motor is attached to has a couple of other holes in it that make it look like it was reused from another project.  Me drilling a few more holes, or just moving the whole board outward, isn’t going to make any difference now.

There was also a modification possible for the motor, doing something to the shaft in order to make the motor operate smoother.  Still tracking that down.  It also feels like the platter rotation could be smoother–it is time to swap out the old oil and put in some new.  To make it look better, I am going to paint the black bottom half, as the current rough finish shows off scuffs and dirt to easily.  I can easily touch up and re-oil the top surface.  Heck, I may even sand it down and stain it, and give it some coats of polyurethane to give it some gloss.  As for the innards, the bottom panel is flimsy fiberboard–I may replace that with thicker wood and install some real feet to this thing (the current feet are–get this–little cork pucks), or just dampen this one with something like Dynamat.  

I figure if this belt thing works, it will hold me over until I buy a completely new turntable.  (I am looking at the Pro-Ject 6Perspex as a replacement, which will go nicely with the new cartridge I’ll be purchasing.)  If not, this headache will go up on eBay and can become someone else’s problem.

The saddest thing about this?  I really like the sound of this turntable.  The Denon is certainly competent, but it does not have that richness that the Walker CJ55/Grace 707-II has.  I look forward to hearing it again…hopefully without all the problems this time!

 

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