Yes, I Have A Victor Victrola (Sorry Mr. Edison)


As a matter of fact, I have the 1914-vintage Victor Victrola IV shown above and a 1931-vintage suitcase portable RCA-Victor Victrola 2-65.  The Victrola IV is my favorite and certainly is the most photogenic.  Victrolas are internal horn phonographs manufactured by the Victor Talking Machine Company, and after 1929, RCA-Victor. 

My Victrola IV was the cheapest phonograph in the Victor Talking Machine product line.  Nevertheless, it is a well-made machine and somewhat handsome in it's tiger oak cabinet.  It is an acoustic phonograph because it has no electronic means of sound amplification.  It is fully mechanical.  It has a single spring motor which is adequate for playing 10-inch records.  The phonograph has a 10-inch turntable, but it is capable of playing 12-inch records on one full crank.

The when the lid of the phonograph is raised, you can see the wooden horn on the interior of the cabinet.  The sound is amplified by the sound box (the round thing with a needle that rides on the record).  The sound box creates pressure waves that travel through the hollow tone arm and into the horn you see here. The tone arm and horn act like a megaphone to amplify the sound.  This small machine puts out very loud volume!  The spring-driven motor has been removed for service.  It would normally hang down into the horn.  Later Victrola IVs had a cast iron horn inside the cabinet.
This view shows the sound box tilted down to play a record.  The tone arm (a.k.a. "taper tube") rides on a curved square casting that is bolted to the cabinet.  The casting directs the sound down to the horn in the cabinet.  The crank on my machine is similar to those provided on outside horn Victor phonographs.  It is round and has an elegant taper to it.  Earlier versions of this machine had a flat crank and later versions had a plain round, un-tapered crank.  The little knob on the top corner is the speed control knob.  It adjusts a friction leather on the speed governor in the motor.
A close up view of the Exhibition sound box shows the disposable needle resting on the record.  These needles are intended to only be used for one play.  They are chucked into the sound box using the thumb screw at its base. When chucked in, the needle pivots on a fulcrum at the base of the soundbox in response to the lateral zig-zags in the record grooves.  The other end of the fulcrum has a needle bar which extends up to the center of a mica diaphragm where it is attached by a small screw.  Small movements of the needle are translated into large movements of the needle bar via the fulcrum.  The needle bar vibrates the mica diaphragm and this creates sound pressure waves.  Simple and very effective.
Like most of its bigger cousins, volume control is achieved by opening doors on the front of the phonograph cabinet.  A decorative wooden grill hides the horn inside, but allows the sound to come out.  Even with the doors closed, this phonograph pumps out the volume!  The little lever sticking out from under the turntable is the brake.  This brake is used to start and stop the turntable.
My Victrola IV has this interesting motor diagram pasted on the bottom.  It still gives helpful information on how to lubricate the motor.  I use 3-in-1 oil to lube bearings and the governor friction leather.  I use A+D Ointment (available in drug stores) to lubricate the gears.  The ointment is better than vaseline because it tends to last much longer.  This is an early motor and the crank comes out of the cabinet towards the front.  Later models had a different motor design where the crank was moved closer towards the back of the cabinet.  There are several different variations on turntable and speed control knob placement as well.


Click on the YouTube video below to see and hear my Victrola IV in action:


Visit My YouTube Website To See And Hear My Phonographs In Action! (11064 bytes)

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