Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

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euromut
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Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by euromut » 11 May 2015 13:27

I finally have it to a point I;m happy with. So I figured I would post a refresher thread. I wont call it a restoration, because know major mechanical work was needed.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8758/173 ... b6a3_b.jpg

I searched for one for a while. I know they are not everyone's favorite. But after I first saw one, I feel in love with the simple 70's aesthetics. the main goal in my search was one with mostly working mech, and a good plinth.

I found a decent example at a reasonable price. Veneer was dirty, but intact and no mold appeared to be present.

As it came out of the box from ebay. It would play, but not keep steady speed. But some contact cleaner and "exercising" the photometers took care of that.
https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5442/175 ... d6a1_c.jpg
https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5450/175 ... 9449_c.jpg

Was experiencing a bit of distortion, so first things first, I decided to upgrade the original R1000E (Shure M91) cartridge.
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7748/175 ... a9e3_c.jpg

It turns out the cartridge was not the issue. It was corroded RCA connectors on the interconnect. I would assume they were left on the floor in storage.

I decided to replace the RCA cables using some Acoustic Research cables I had.
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7679/168 ... 4633_c.jpg
https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5346/174 ... 7251_c.jpg

Now my connection issues were corrected. But I introduced a horrible line hum.

euromut
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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by euromut » 11 May 2015 13:36

Time for Round 2 of replacing the cables.

This time I ordered Mogami W2528 with Newtrik RCA Connectors.
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8864/174 ... 8e46_b.jpg
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7720/172 ... b4a1_c.jpg

Also updated the grommet on the back panel.
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7726/172 ... b4b3_c.jpg

Hum all but completely gone now.

This time while inside. I took the opertunity to clean and lubricate all the sliding joints and switch contacts.
https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5323/172 ... 3832_c.jpg

I also pulled the motor apart and lubricated the bearings with Superlube 51010. For reference, you do not need to take the motor out. If you remove the 3 screws closer to the center. The cover comes off, and you can twist and lift the rotor/flywheel out of the motor assembly.
https://www.vinylengine.com/turntable_f ... php?id=393
Picture borrowed from EtheKey because I forgot to take one.

After checking out the mech, and motor. Its starting to appear to me that this turntable got very little use before being put in dusty storage.

Realizing this, I inspected the original cart and stylus. Which appear to be in near perfect condition. I re mounted and aligned the cartridge on a spare headshell. And used Lead and hot glue to match the weight of my other Headshell combo. After a bit of fiddling. I was able to match both heads to be hot swap-able without having to touch the tracking force.
M97XE at 1.7g tracking force (Brush Down) and R1000E 1.2g. I only need to adjust the Ani-skate when swapping.

Note the Hot glue holding the lead in place. Not in contact with Cartridge at all.
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8703/174 ... 5728_z.jpg
Last edited by euromut on 11 May 2015 13:47, edited 1 time in total.

jives11
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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by jives11 » 11 May 2015 13:38

Nice job euromut and excellent pictures too

euromut
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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by euromut » 11 May 2015 13:57

jives11 wrote:Nice job euromut and excellent pictures too
Thanks.

Next up is the Feet. The original feet included metal springs covers in a rubber sheath. These were in decent condition, but left a little to be desired in vibration suppression.

I swapped them out for 3 2 inch Sorbothane hemispheres (one centered in the back).
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8711/175 ... 1cd1_c.jpg
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8698/175 ... cd70_c.jpg

I liked the results, but it sat a little low for me. Just out of habbit, I like to slide the cover of the album being played under the TT. I found some turned aluminum discs 10mmx55mm which would serve to raise the whole TT, and tie in aesthetically with the knobs and machined aluminum on the arm. I mounted them to the TT with 2mm foam double sided table. I did not want to drill holes. and used the supplied 3m table to attach the hemispheres to the discs.
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8878/174 ... 9ffd_c.jpg
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7767/173 ... 1603_b.jpg
Last edited by euromut on 11 May 2015 14:02, edited 1 time in total.

euromut
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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by euromut » 11 May 2015 14:02

I am also using a 4mm Cork & Caoutchouc mat. Which helps level the tone arm during play. The original rubber mat was 3mm and the Lab-400 has a non height adjustable arm.

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5456/165 ... 3c0c_b.jpg

I am using a comination of either a J.A. Michell Rega record clamp (short splindle height after the Thicker mat) or a 280g GH Acoustics weight.

The Michell Rega clamp does not ship with a washer/spacer due to the short spindle height it is designed to work with. I made my own using 1mm sorbothane sheet cut to 1 1/2 inch (stores under the 45 adapter) and works great with slightly dished or warped albums.

The buisness end of a Michell Rega clamp. The depression is 1mm
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8745/175 ... 6cf5_z.jpg


Picked up a little box to hide my paraphernalia.
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8831/174 ... d2d4_c.jpg

Mounted R1000E in discarded Nagaoka box, Stylus brush, Magic Eraser (also for stylus cleaning), GH Acoustics weight, Super Exstatic carbon brush.
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8867/175 ... d201_c.jpg



All in all, I love my unloved Radio Shack.
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7675/174 ... 442e_h.jpg

Running through my baller on a budget Nobsound MS-10D. Its a nice little hybrid tube amp. Upgraded with Svetlana and Wing-C tubes.
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7757/173 ... 28f2_c.jpg

Running JBL E80 loudspeakers via a 4pDt speaker/source switch.

When in theater mode, The Onkyo reciever runs the rest of the System including a JBL EC25 (Center), JBL E20 (rears) and an SVS PB10-NSD sub.
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7697/172 ... aa85_b.jpg

jives11
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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by jives11 » 11 May 2015 20:16

A very nice job indeed. I'm sure that RadioShack had these decks made by one of the Japanese brands.

I have a few DD decks with hollow plastic plinths and your ply wood plinth is a lot better. One thing you could consider is adding some additional bracing to stiffen the plinth ? I don’t know how solid the base board is ? so one option is to replace it with something stiffer i.e thicker ply or MDF. Then to add some additional internal wooden supports that glue to the underside of the top of the plinth and you screw into from the base board. So exactly like the screw points around the outside edge and in the corners, but say, in positions around the motor. Then the top of the plinth is better supported across the middle.

You might be able to fit a brace piece of ply front to back and over the motor so I'm thinking a 1/2" wide partition front to back and the internal height, with a cut out over the motor housing. You need to take care to allow all moving parts adequate space and not to block ventilation points.

This is sort of what the Lenco users call a "stealth plinth" i.e packing an existing hollow wooden plinth with extra wooden in-filling, and the idea is to add mass and stiffness to the plinth. I imagine that the weight on the center of the plinth from the motor, platter etc might bow it in slightly and the box might resonate a bit. Sorry , just an idea, but the higher end DD decks used more massive plinths.

jwspicer1
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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by jwspicer1 » 11 May 2015 21:21

One note, you are running that M97xE a bit high. The max is 1.25 grams with the little brush up and 1.5 grams with it down (the brush absorbs the extra .5 gram). That would put it at the same 1.25 grams as the M91 rebadge. You may also find the sound of that cart opens up with the change.

But pretty result. Nice job bringing it back to life!

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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by 1200y3 » 11 May 2015 21:22

Excellent work. =D>

I'd suggest to top it off with a new headshell/cartridge carrier and headshell wires.

chisa
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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by chisa » 11 May 2015 22:20

jwspicer1 wrote:One note, you are running that M97xE a bit high. The max is 1.25 grams with the little brush up and 1.5 grams with it down (the brush absorbs the extra .5 gram). That would put it at the same 1.25 grams as the M91 rebadge. You may also find the sound of that cart opens up with the change.

But pretty result. Nice job bringing it back to life!
m97xe is up to 1.5g without brush, up to 2g with

jwspicer1
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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by jwspicer1 » 11 May 2015 22:37

Oops, stand corrected. If you are running 1.7 with the brush down, you are good. My bad. Hey, how does that sound on that turntable?

euromut
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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by euromut » 11 May 2015 23:11

jwspicer1 wrote: how does that sound on that turntable?
I've probably got 20-30 hours on it so far. Some say that would still be in the break in period. It sounds great to me. But I know that's all subjective. I only have the M91 to compar it too. It's a little softer, not as bright as the M91. But not lacking in mids or detail.

vinyl master
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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by vinyl master » 12 May 2015 03:38

Very good job, Euromut...I have a friend who has an old Realistic table, not sure the model...But, if you can bring a beast like this back to life, anyone can! It looks like it was worth the rehab, too!

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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by chisa » 12 May 2015 14:32

looks like it has some Sony parts on it.

jwspicer1
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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by jwspicer1 » 12 May 2015 15:15

Cool. Thanks for the update on the sound. Would think they would be close. And your comparison is about what I have found with that cartridge. And apologies for missing the part about you having the brush down. That puts you at 1.2 grams. Another half-gram may help your tracking, but then it would mess up your swapping unless both cartridges are agreeable with it. And you'd probably need to always use a gauge. Getting those half-point settings on a lot of arms is NOT easy.

And again, that is a very nice table now that you have it basically done. And don't know about Sony, but I do know Radio Shack sourced turntables from Matsushita (Pansonic/Technics), Hitachi, Sanyo, BSR and Elac over their lifespan. Some list BIC and Garrard as also OEMs for them. The design of that one I think originated via Hitachi. Definitely not Technics, but the resemblance is there (but a lot of DDs back in those days emulated Technics, so any surprise?).

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Re: Refreshing of a Realistic Lab-400

Post by JoeE SP9 » 12 May 2015 17:29

I had a Lab 400 back in the day. AFAIK it was a CEC sourced TT. The last cartridge I used on it was a Dynavector 10X. It was a nice combination.

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