Dual 1219 Idler Drive Turntable Major Service & Repair

Every so often, a customer brings me a piece of gear that reminds me how much I love vintage hi-fi. The Dual 1219 idler drive turntable is just such a piece.

The Dual 1219 idler drive turntable is a relic from an era when almost everything was made out of metal and wood. The deck is German, and old, so this type of solid construction should be no surprise.

Specifications, courtesy of the Vinyl Engine

Power supply: AC, 50 or 60Hz, changeable by changing motor pulley
Voltage: 110/117V or 220V switchable
Drive: Synchronous motor with radial-elastic suspension
Platter: non-magnetic, dynamically balanced, 3.1kg
Speeds: 33, 45 and 78rpm
Pitch control variation: 6%
Rumble: -60db (weighted)
Tonearm: extra long, torsionally rigid metal arm, 4-point gimbal suspension, skeletal head design
Cartridge holder: removable, accepts cartridges from 1 to 12g
Weight: 6.8kg
Dimensions: 376 x 334mm

The Dual 1219, ready to receive some TLC.

Likes

There’s a lot to like about the Dual 1219. It’s a very serviceable machine. Those with experience and the correct tools and lubricants should be able to make good progress. The metal and wooden parts respond well to cleaning and lubrication and there are few plastic parts to fail. If you are not sure though, don’t try, there’s a lot to go wrong if you are clumsy.

Bearings and metal parts tend to last and everything is quite robustly constructed. There are no belts of course, another bonus. Drive is to the inside of the platter, via an idler wheel. This is almost direct drive, not quite as direct as direct drive, but more direct than belt drive, if you follow me. Idler drive machines tend to play records very well as a result of the high torque this arrangement delivers, like better direct drive decks.

The motor is likely to last a lifetime and, speaking of the platter, it’s heavy and dynamically balanced. In fact, the platter makes up half of the total mass of the deck, outside of a chassis. The 1219 also plays 78s and can repeat play records, great for parties! Automatic start and stop are bonuses which many people enjoy.

Dislikes

The Dual 1219 and other Duals from this era are complex and need regular maintenance. Servicing a deck like this doesn’t take an hour either. The 1219 needs several hours service time, every five or so years. This allows for careful disassembly, cleaning and lubrication of something like a dozen points. If you are not up for that, this probably isn’t the deck for you.

Some 1219s come in pretty sketchy wooden cabinets, so watch out for that. For more on the 1219, Tone Audio wrote a nice piece about the deck, check it out.

Problems

Synthetic lubricants weren’t really a thing back in 1971. The half dozen or so specific mineral oils and greases used in the 1219 don’t hold up well over 40+ years, nor should we expect them to. These are highly mechanical decks, and all the points specified in the service manual need greasing or oiling with specialist lubricants. I only use synthetic lubricants these days.

Many owners don’t understand the maintenance requirements for decks like the Dual 1219. The result is that they are often partially or completely seized by the time they come to me. This unit certainly was, and it took some methodical service work over several hours to resolve her issues. Is it worth it? Of course it is, nothing like this will ever be made again.

There are also issues with Dual’s ingenious removable cartridge system. The delicate little fingers and spring loaded pins can break. If they do, there is trouble ahead.

The 1219 is fully automatic which people love. Just select the record size, and move the lever to play, or stop.
The deck can also be set to repeat records, great for old-skool parties! Note the general dust and dirt on this old girl.
Speed selection is made with this control, with vernier adjustment of pitch via the central knob. This speed selector was locked solid, and I mean solid. Never force a control that presents like this.

Service & Repair

First thing to do with one of these decks is remove them from the chassis.

Cables are thoughtfully terminated with RCA connectors internally, making for easy disconnection.
Power is also on a connector, nice work Dual. Note the massive AC motor.
I use jigs to support decks like the 1219 outside of the chassis. Jigs, in this case wooden blocks, make for easy access to various parts of the deck. Because the jigs are soft wood, they don’t cause scratches. Everything sits on rubber-backed carpet.
Made in Germany! I spent a long time just on this control, carefully working in penetrating oil before freeing, cleaning and correctly lubricating it.
Oh, the joys of this control. But – you can disassemble, clean and grease it. I use lightweight synthetic grease, which will never seize up again.

Here, I am about to grease and oil the many other points mentioned in the service data. I’ve already cleaned and lubricated the motor.
A few things to attend to on the top-side of the deck, like he spindle bearing which needs grease, not oil.
I clean drive wheels and idlers with isopropyl alcohol, before appropriately lubricating them.

Cabinet

I like this cabinet, but it was looking a little worse for wear when it came in.

Hard to tell how dull and lifeless this wood is.
Not a lot of colour in it.
Australian Disney beeswax furniture polish to the rescue. I start with a special wood soap, to get rid of surface contaminants, then apply the beeswax.
And wow, what a difference it makes. Hopefully you can see the extra depth and colour that pop from this cabinet now.
Doesn’t that look beautiful! The polished platter and chassis contrast nicely.
On the test-bench here for final testing and adjustment of tracking force, anti-skate, azimuth, functions etc etc.
Plus speed fine tuning.
With everything now working perfectly, we can admire how great the old girl looks!
Beautiful…
The speed control now works flawlessly.

Low mass is a big part of the design of this deck. Check out the skeletonised headshell and nylon cartridge mounting hardware.
What a gorgeous deck. Her owner is thrilled and recently delivered me a second Dual 1219 needing service, in a slightly different cabinet.

If you would like me to service or repair your Dual turntable, get in touch and we can book it in.

2 thoughts on “Dual 1219 Idler Drive Turntable Major Service & Repair”

  1. I still have my 1219. My favorite is my 1229, which I use daily. I replaced the tonearm on the 1229 with a Grace 747. It’s magical, and I like it better than my Garrad 301. The turntable sounds just as nice, and the motor is dead silent. Something the Garrard isn’t.
    I hope that you pulled the motor apart and soaked the top and bottom bearing in oil. They dry out after 40 years. But you are correct. These will run forever.
    Excellent post.
    Norman

    1. Hi Norman, thanks for your comment and I agree, these are great decks. I have another 1219 here for service that I haven’t started yet, but will soon. You are correct that it is essential to lubricate the motor. There are actually a couple of effective ways to do this besides soaking the bearings as you describe. Lubrication throughout the deck is also critically important, but when properly cared for, these are great machines!

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