Pioneer PL-12D-II Revitalization Success Story

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rdwhitehill
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Joined: 08 Oct 2018 21:58

Pioneer PL-12D-II Revitalization Success Story

Post by rdwhitehill » 09 Dec 2018 01:43

Greetings everyone,

I must thank a number of folks here on VE for helping me along in my journey to revitalize my treasured Pioneer Pl-12D-II turntable. I thought that I would have to live with noise and hum and rumble, but others here helped me with their own information and suggestions. My turntable, which I bought in the mid 1970's, is truly back to brand new condition with just a little bit of effort. Here is my turntable's story; I only wish to share it so that maybe someone else can learn from me what I learned from so many others here on this forum.

I bought my Pioneer turntable new without a cartridge in the mid-1970's, and opted for a Shure M91ED at the time... good choice I think for this turntable! The Shure cartridge performed well, but always had a bit of issue with inner-groove tracking, even though I carefully checked overhang, cartridge angulation, VTF (with a Shure balance-beam VTF scale) and I fussed with anti-skating adjustment tweaks. I still have the Shure and the Pioneer OEM headshell, but opted for a new/different cartridge.

In the 1980's I bought a B&O MMC 10 E cartridge (it came with a sort-of-headshell adapter into which the proprietary cartridge plugged, which then could directly connect to a standard 4-pin collar connector at the end of the Pioneer tonearm. WOW! Heavenly sound! But I always thought that there was some minor hum or resonance or *something* very subtle going on. Pretty much tried to ignore it at the time...

Then, many years went by, with me getting all caught up in the CD and digital music thing... and my turntable was little used. My mistake of course! Earlier this year (2018), I decided to re-discover my vinyl collection, and see what my turntable was able to do. Then the troubles showed up.

A good bit of mechanical hum, and some mechanical rumble. The hum wasn't an electrical hum... more like motor-running hum coming in through the tonearm. That's when I discovered Vinyl Engine here. I read everything I could, and learned a lot. Now, I had always lubricated things carefully and properly and changed out the drive belt often, being careful to not even use pure ethyl alcohol on a brand new drive belt... just only the drive surfaces to clean/prep them. After all of this, the steps below are the things that I did that turned my PL-12D-II from bad to truly brand new again!

1. I completely cleaned the TT spindle assembly. Removed it from the plinth, removed the spindle from its brass sleeve, being careful to keep track of the single ball bearing in the bottom (it was still smooth and not worn, fortunately). Cleaned it completely and then lubed with a custom mixture of Singer Sewing Machine Oil + a very small addition of SAE 0W-20 synthetic motor oil. VERY VERY small amount of that. But the addition of the synthetic oil helped the Singer Oil to not be too thin for the assembly. Worked really well, but as others have said here in this forum, it took a long time to slowly re-insert the spindle back down into its brass sleeve, due to the slowness of air moving out of the space in the bottom of the brass sleeve as one presses the spindle back down into it. Took about a half-hour to work it fully down in.

2. Fortunately, the motor itself was never abused or over-used, and the whole turntable was stored carefully over the years, so all it needed was fresh oiling as per Pioneer's instructions (using my custom oil mixture as noted above).

3. At the suggestion of a few folks on this forum, in order to reduce resonance problems and overall reduce tonearm mass, I carefully removed the lateral counter-weight and also its supporting rod off of the left side of the tonearm assembly. Since I am still using the extremely light B&O cartridge unit, I opted to remove the lateral weight. I carefully loosened the tiny lock ring from where the support rod threads into the tonearm using needle-nosed pliers, and then carefully turned out the support rod itself from its threaded attachment point.

4. I replaced the foam damping sponges in the four support springs under the plinth. I really struggled to find the right foam material to put inside those four springs... but I had an "AH-HA!" moment while washing my car one day in the driveway! Believe it or not, I used the very soft and small-pore sponge material that is inside one of those automotive "bug-scrubby" sponges that are very common in auto parts stores. I cut open the nylon scrubby webbing of a new sponge, and removed the sponge. It is very soft, very small-pored, and very compliant when pinched or squeezed. I had to experiment with how big of a piece, and the shape of the piece, to use in each support spring, but I finally got it right I think. I have a very small amount of the sponge remaining below the open end of the support springs so as to rest on the wood socket in the base of the turntable cabinet instead of just the metal spring touching the wood socket. Perfect!

5. MOST IMPORTANT: I followed the advice of others here and removed the three motor rubber cushion items on the three motor-mount bolts. Easy to do. Fortunately they are in decent shape, but they were somewhat stiff and light-colored... slightly dried out but not failed. I opted for buying Rubber Conditioner from LaCrosse Footwear in the USA. WOW what a difference! This stuff is made to condition rubber, not just clean it. It is truly amazing, and I am sure that this company doesn't realize that I used their boot-rubber conditioner to repair my turntable! I soaked the three rubber cushions in this stuff in a small plastic sealed container (like 35mm film used to come in) for two days (shaking it often in case the conditioner liquid decided to separate, which it didn't). Took them out, wiped them off and allowed them to dry for a day. Wiped them off, and then finally reinstalled them. MUCH more pliant and soft rubber! I don't work for this company (LaCrosse Footwear) or anything like that, but this stuff really does the job for this purpose!

After doing all of these things, and installing a new drive belt, and leveling the turntable and checking VTF, this 40-something-year-old turntable produces STELLAR sound! All hum is gone. All rumble is well, maybe, almost gone... I may be imagining some very soft very low-pitched "rushing" noise a very low frequency, but it may also be on the vinyl itself as it was recorded and stamped... who knows? But this turntable now sounds amazing, maybe better than it ever sounded!

I am still playing with anti-skating tweaks, as the spring-type system on these tonearms may fatigue over many years. But I have no audible tracking error distortion anymore even on the inner-most grooves. The B&O cartridge may have something to do with this, especially since I removed the lateral counterbalance weight that came installed on the OEM tonearm.

To owners of Pioneer turntables similar to mine, it is indeed possible to gain back an amazingly great-sounding TT with a bit of work and patience, using the expert information here on VE..I joined VE for just this purpose, and I am grateful to all of the folks that helped me to learn how to renovate my TT back to new condition and even better! None of what I did was hard, and it didn't require any special techie or electrical knowledge... just some patience and care.

Just thought I'd share my story, with hopes that what I have learned might help someone else in the future. Thanks again, VE! I LOVE my Pioneer PL-12D-II !

Doug

vinyl master
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Joined: 01 Nov 2013 05:27

Re: Pioneer PL-12D-II Revitalization Success Story

Post by vinyl master » 09 Dec 2018 04:14

Thanks, rdwhitehill, for the great story...I love my PL-12D II, too! :D I'd love to hear your results with the B&O cartridge...I do love my Shure M91ED, but I also love to hear about different cartridges and how they sound...My PL-12D II originally came with an ADC Q321 cartridge...I do have a stylus for that one and I may have to play around with it some more...In any case, good job with the restoration!! =D> What receiver/amp and speakers are you using with her, if you don't mind me asking? :-k

By the way, the Rubber Conditioner is an interesting idea...I may have to look into that! :D

rdwhitehill
Posts: 4
Joined: 08 Oct 2018 21:58

PL-12D-II revitalization - cart and amp system details

Post by rdwhitehill » 09 Dec 2018 05:19

Hey vinyl master! Thanks for the nice reply. Hope you don't mind the long response to you here... here we go:

The B&O MMC 10 E is one of B&O's linear tracking cart's from years back that they offered for a while, with an adapter mount to fit into standard headshell tonearms. Not sure how long they sold those, but I guess that my timing was good. I'm sure not an expert, but I think that I chose a good one.

The B&O is, hmmm, I guess I'd say, a "gentle but extremely accurate" performer. It just doesn't express anything harsh, or muffled either, or anything out of place. It just seems very REAL and ACCURATE sounding. High freq's are very clean and tight and noticeable but not shrill, and the low end isn't boomy, but it sure is there when it is there! Mid-range is clear but not too "trebble-y" if that makes any sense. I suppose that makes it, at least to my ears, a natural-performing cart. I like all sorts of music, new and old, but for me to test a system is to use well-recorded pipe-organ music; that stuff really makes or breaks a system IMO. I have a Columbia Masterworks Bach recording done on a really decent pipe organ by E. Power Biggs that causes a couple of other very decent TTs/carts I have played it on to mis-track or break up especially on the inner tracks, but my humble Pioneer TT with its B&O cart track it 100% clean and crisp with no mis-tracking noise. I always get a lump in my throat when I listen to it at a serious volume... but only when I am by myself in the house! <ggg> I also love to listen to an Epic Records vinyl (early 1960's, amazing vinyl pressing quality!) of theatre organ music recorded by Leonard McClain on a biggie Wurlitzer... oh lordy, it is just the most amazing thing, it has an amazing tonal range... and it'll shake any set of loudspeakers for sure. My Pioneer and the B&O track it perfectly.

My audio system for this particular TT is pretty simple but old-school... I use a pretty old Sherwood integrated amp (back when Sherwood amps were really decent, not like the current cheapy ones) and Bose 301 series IV's. I use AKG M240 headphones. I also have a separate sound system for my piano/keyboard work which includes a Samson dual 15-band stereo EQ, Behringer Edison stereo 3D processor, and a Samson 240W/ch power amp into SoundTech 12" two-ways. In any event, when I run the TT out of the Sherwood to the Bose's in our living room, sound is tight and accurate with just the right amount of bass response (typical Bose). But when I run the TT out of the Sherwood's preamp into my keyboard rig, and I play with the EQ and stereo 3D processing, that TT blows my socks off! Whew!

Anyway, all of the advice here on VE is GREAT! I think other than the most important item of working on the motor-mounts with the rubber conditioner (not my idea, someone else here on VE suggested it and I tried it too), the other best thing probably was to remove the lateral counter-weight given that my cart is so light. Made all the difference I think! Thank goodness that my TT motor is still in really good shape... I guess that a lot of other Pioneer motors have seen their better days by the sounds of all of the posts here.

Thanks again! I have a few more questions unrelated and will post them in the future, but it is great that VE is here to help Lots of great info and experience!
Doug W.

PS: Here is the link to the company that sells the rubber conditioner (they are in Portland Oregon USA):
https://www.lacrossefootwear.com/access ... spray.html

vinyl master
vinyl engineer
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Re: Pioneer PL-12D-II Revitalization Success Story

Post by vinyl master » 09 Dec 2018 05:51

Thanks, rdwhitehill...You're not the only one who can appreciate a good old Sherwood...I've got these two in my arsenal...This one that is going to my "vinyl mentor"...

39557

I wrote about that system here...

viewtopic.php?t=107326

and this old Sherwood that I bought over the summer at a garage sale for the lowly price of $20...

41410

I wrote more about it here...

viewtopic.php?f=50&t=42000&start=1635

...and even completed the seller's dad's old system!

viewtopic.php?t=104750

By the way, if you have any pics of your audio components, I'm sure we'd love to see 'em! :D

Tonybro
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Great Britain
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Location: Lancashire

Re: Pioneer PL-12D-II Revitalization Success Story

Post by Tonybro » 09 Dec 2018 08:57

Thanks, Doug, great story/result.

Although some of the activities are specific to your Pioneer, the principles remain for most TTs. I like your tip on the sponges and I'll look for the rubber conditioner as those things aren't that common here in the UK.

Great work.

rdwhitehill
Posts: 4
Joined: 08 Oct 2018 21:58

Re: Pioneer PL-12D-II Revitalization Success Story

Post by rdwhitehill » 06 Mar 2019 20:31

Hey there Vinyl Master, Tonybro and all,

I apologize for being away from the forum for a while... all is well. I was asked about pics of my Pioneer tt and rig... happy to oblige!

Pioneer PL12D-II outfitted with my B&O MMC 10E cartridge. I still have the original Pioneer headshell with a Shure M91ED, but I really prefer the absolutely neutral, quiet and silent-tracking of the B&O. The B&O is so forgiving of groove damage and noise compared to my Shure! I have VTF at 1.5g. Took me a while to get anti-skating adjusted just right, but have it in the sweet spot! No tracking error distortion beginning to end of a disc. Beautiful.

Signal path is through a Parasound zPhono preamp stage, then through a dual-channel 12-band EQ, then to a Behringer Edison stereo field processor, and then to a Samson 120w stereo power amp (all using XLR cabling), and then out to my Bose speakers. Not a typical "audiophile" choice of components I suppose, but the sound is absolutely quiet and neutral and I am able to tailor things to my room and to my tastes! The Behringer Edison is my treasure... I LOVE to play with expansion and changes to the stereo sound field!

(Vinyl Master) Alas, my old Sherwood integrated amp died, so I don't have a pic of it as you shared of yours. All good things to come to an end eventually I guess. But I do have a few pics of my tt and other items (how about an original Watts Parastat that I still lovingly use to this day!). See attached pic files.

Thanks to you all on this forum for your great advice and information! I am once again lovin' the "old is new again" hobby of hunting for great vinyl, both vintage and new!

Doug W.
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vinyl master
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Re: Pioneer PL-12D-II Revitalization Success Story

Post by vinyl master » 06 Mar 2019 23:12

It really is a beautiful thing there, rdwhitehill! Cool accessories, too! Thanks for sharing ALL those pics! :D

Now, you have to go out and check your local record stores for some brand new (or "new to you") vinyl to play on it...Make sure to share any fun vinyl finds here, too! :wink:

klegier
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Re: Pioneer PL-12D-II Revitalization Success Story

Post by klegier » 09 Mar 2019 04:31

Good writeup. I just went through my PL-12D also. Was going to change out tonearm wires, but chickened out...lol. I may do it in the future. Out of curiosity, did you notice the springs in the rear are a heavier gauge than the ones up front? I never noticed that before. I assume because the motor and tonearm are on the rear portion of the plinth. Anyhow, hope you get many more years out of it! Keith

rdwhitehill
Posts: 4
Joined: 08 Oct 2018 21:58

Re: Pioneer PL-12D-II Revitalization Success Story

Post by rdwhitehill » 13 Mar 2019 01:04

Hey there Keith,

Yep, the springs are different front and back. When I "repacked" some carefully-chosen foam to dampen them, I had to use a very slightly different amount of foam in the back ones due to the heavier weight on the back springs.

Re: tonearm and TT wiring... I thought about doing that too... but since I am the only owner of the TT, I knew how I used/stored it and chose not to dive into that whirlpool. Tonearm wiring seems OK. However, the wiring issue I don't like is the choice of RCA plugs on the original external audio wiring. Cheap connectors... but I am hesitant to change that whole thing out... "let the sleeping dog lie" kind of thing I guess. The cabling seems decently shielded, but the end RCA plugs are garbage... hmmm... need to think about this one.

Thanks on my journal of sorts... I didn't mean to make it as long as I did... I read back over it and realized just how much I typed! Yikes! Sorry to all that found it a bit too long! But... I like reading others' journeys too, so all is OK I guess.

Not knowing your cartridge choice, but... have you considered removing the lateral counterweight and its little arm? THAT ONE CHANGE made a huge difference for me. Overall quieter, not as sensitive to vinyl noise, and the tonearm seems to track "cleaner"... I have a treasured B&O cart on it so it's already very forgiving re: tracking noise and groove damage and such. But removing that darned lateral counterweight really made an aural improvement. Just wondering what you think about that...?

Anyway... glad to hear that you too love your Pioneer TT. Wouldn't trade mine for the world! <smile> As long as the motor holds out and runs quietly, I am good to go for a long time... hope you are too!

Doug W.

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