How to Restore an Antique Victrola

By Tracy Morris
How to Restore an Antique Victrola
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In 1906, the Victor Talking Machine Company introduced the first Victrola, a phonograph with the turntable and amplifier tucked away so it looked more like a piece of furniture than a piece of machinery. The Victrola line ranged from small tabletop models to massive Chippendale and Queen Anne style cabinets. Victrola marketed the brand through the 1920s, and the RCA Victor Company used the brand’s name on record players through the 1970s. However, collectors consider antique Victrolas to be only those models marketed by the Victor Talking Machine Company.

Step 1

Oil all machine parts. Then turn the motor’s winding crank. Listen to the motor run. If it won’t crank or if it clanks, stalls or makes a rattling noise, the machine will need to be taken apart, cleaned, re-greased and put back together again.

Step 2

Replace the phonograph needle. Steel record needles must be replaced after each use to avoid damaging phonograph records.

Step 3

Listen to the sound of a record playing. If the sound buzzes, is distorted, or squawks, you may need to rebuild the sound box. This can be accomplished by replacing the brittle gaskets and re-waxing the sound bar.

Step 4

Clean away any grime from the finish by applying a lemon wood oil and letting it sit for two to three hours. Then gently rub with 0000 steel wool. Use light pressure to avoid scratching the shellac finish.

Step 5

Apply lemon wood oil to 600 grit sandpaper and gently rub the shellac finish to smooth out any rough surfaces of the varnish.

Step 6

French polish the finish by applying rubbing powder and mineral oil to the surface. Wait for the polish to dry.

Step 7

Select a finish restoring compound such as Restor-A-Finish for the specific type of wood you are restoring. Rub into the finish and allow it to dry.

Step 8

Coat the wood surface with wax to protect the finish and add sheen to the polish.

Step 9

Rub the metal parts with metal polish to shine them up.

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