Before you start any refurbishment I recommend to download user, service manual and schematics for your equipment. It’s much easier when you know what to do and how to adjust it properly.
In part 1 I’ve bought TT, brought it home and done thorough research; purchased all needed parts.
So far the best guide how to rewire SME tonearms:
Restoring An Audio Classic, The SME 3009 Series II Tonearm By Brian Kearns
- cartridge upgrade
- tonearm service and upgrade
- base plate cleaning ad polishing
- motor and belt mechanism
- oil bearing and reservoir
- original lid re-polished
- proper re-adjustment
Original vintage SME 5-pin connector. Seems to be silver plated or something – I’m judging this by the oxidation on pins. Unfortunately it coming very fiddly and unreliable connection. RCA plugs or mini XLR is much better solution with lower resistance.
I skip it a bit, dismantle of the TT is very easy and intuitive. So is tonearm. Pretty much all you need is set of screwdrivers and pair of tweezers. I was following the manual above. Cleaned by my favourite windolene and lighter fluid.
Silver plated cartridge pins are very easy to wowk with. Cost only £4 on eBay and coming with some cheapo silver solder. This is how you star – from headshell carry on further wiring up.
RCA conversion kit is quite nice piece of kit. Connectors are not Neutrik, but still they will provide much better connection than original SME one. Unfortunately I coudn’t use original metal tube, because of new alu bedplate. I’ts bottom has got different bottom shape and I woudn’t be able to attach it to Transcriptors TT. Again – it’s instalation is very straight forward by manual. Big advantage is, that it’s very easy removable and retro-fit original connector for vintage purists.
Tonearm is almost assembled. I would describe it not hard, but very fiddly. The worse part is attach grounding metal strip inside arm. I bet everyone who ever did this agree with me :)
Detail of RCA conversion and wiring. Ground wire is tricky to pull back, once you take it apart. Cheap silver wires were a big disappointment in the end. Read part 3 for more.
I used 4mm banana connector as a grounding connector. My Whest Audio PS30R is supporting it and it seemed to be much more elegant solution than original spade.
Toenarm was thoroughly cleaned, rewired by silver wires, new metal SME knife edge bearing fitted, new high quality polished aluminium bedpate fitted and RCA conversion kit used. Problem with new metal knife edge bearing happened when I was trying to attach it for the first time. I bought it from eBay and somehow I didn’t realize, that It has got different shape for SME 1 and 2. SME 1 has both sides symmetrical, therefore one side needed to be filed down. Oh dear! I know, what you think, it’s barbarian! Well… I put it in vice and filed down the unfortunate side :) Surgery was successful and all fits perfectly now. I don’t know what was sound with plastic bearing, so can’t say the difference. I don’t like chasing shadows – only thing I wanted was good quality no-nonsense upgrades.
Denon Dl-304 waiting for it’s happy moment. Really beauty that is. Looks much better than pictured. I managed to buy it for £300, since they gone up considerably.
Denon DL-304 is pretty easy to attach and adjust, thanks to it’s plastic cover and shape.
Detail of wires attached to RCA. I was using Multimeter to find out which one is which. Plastic braiding works as a flux, so no removing necessary.
Now fitted to TT chassis. Note that grounding wire is connected now. It was very hard to attach it back because of bad access to screws. I find out, that it’s not necessary to take off the bedplate.
I have cleaned reservoir and exchange silicon fluid. The old one was in color of honey. Also bearing oil was replaced by original Michell oil.
All fitted, cleaned and adjusted.
From different angle. New bedplate really looks great.
I purchased cheap scale from Hong Kong, great investment. It’s even fairly accurate. Look for one on eBay, UK seller have them cheap too.
Tonearm was adjusted by Stevenson alignment protractor. It was recommend to me by SME, also I find further informations on Vinyl engine.com (you have to register to be able to download protractors). I used Rowing alighment to adjust overhang. You can print it at home and it works great. The most fiddle is set up hight of tonearm and horizontal alignment. It was much easier to do it by SME manual. Tiny spirit level is recommended with such a operations.
New power cable with original connector. I add little ferite core as RFI rejection. (Probably bullshit for synchronous motor – I dunno). I was using Atlas Equator MKII for a while, but studio cables Klotz seem to be better choice for this kind of application. Silver WDH cable or DIY cable will be used in the future.
Result is very pleasing after couple of hours of polishing and cleaning. All I was scared all that time, that 40 yrs old top will fall apart :) Original lid and base plate is re-polished by perspex cleaner. Now it is in stunning condition. You can purchase one from eBay. Search for “perspex cleaner”.
With lid lifted. They say use it without lid – it should sound better. But I don’t care. Basically I can’t be bothered to take on and off the lid every single time I use TT. Perspex lid is a great thing on TT.
And one without vintage record clamp. Same process of cleaning of all aluminium part is always used – Windolene, lighter fluid, thin layer of WD 40 and paper tissue in the end.
Of course, this was my first ever turntable refurbishment, so I’ve made few mistakes. How I set it up and further upgrades has been made.
Forgot to mention, that overhang for SME 3009 series II S2 improved (>439606): 17.95 mm
Stylus downforce is exactly 1.2 g, but I will experiment with higher one. Heights and mids are great, but bass is not so strong. Unfortunately sound seem to be a bit distorted and stylus is skidding from the groove????? Antiskate is almost impossible to adjust.
Don’t forget to follow Part 3 if you want to know more.