Phonograph Victrola

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Frequently Asked Questions...

How do I fix my old gramaphone?

I was given an old gramaphone as a present from my wife. It was working well in the shop being turned with a spanner. She got a new small handle put on it. The gramaphone doesn't last any length of time before slowing down and stopping and if I take off the needle it starts up again, as though there is not enough tension. Any thoughts?

Best Answer...


Here is some info from . Even if your machine is not Victrola brand, the same advice should apply:

"Victrolas are spring wound mechanical motors. They use spring tension and a speed governor to operate. The most common problem is dirt or a broken spring. Victor Talking Machine original grease formula was one pound petroleum jelly and one pound graphite. Over the years the petroleum jelly dries out leaving you with a substance that resembles and performs like tar. If you add 100 years of dust to the tar it becomes tackier. If your machine has not been cleaned in the past 50 years it is time. Most machines have 2 springs but can have up to 6 springs. The springs are approximately 1” wide and can be up to 15 feet long. These springs fit into a canister that is approximately 4” in diameter. It requires special tools and good safety practices to wind a 15 foot spring into a 4” hole."


You can also find help here:


It sounds like your machine may indeed have a problem with the spring. You can read the links above for more info about care and repair of gramophones.

I have about a dozen antique crank phonographs (Victrolas, Edison machines, etc.). I've learned how to do minor repairs myself but I would never tackle working on the spring. The spring is very, very tightly wound and you need a special tool to remove and replace one. If you tinker with the spring it can suddenly fling itself out of place and uncoil violently. That can cause very serious (even fatal!) injuries to you or anyone near by. Please do not try to work on the spring unless you are experienced and have the proper tools and safety plans in place. I can't stress that enough.

Good luck in getting your gramophone repaired. They are great fun to have around the house!