I recently was asked by a customer to restore her partner’s lovely old French ERA Mk 6 belt-drive turntable, as a surprise birthday gift. I was very happy to assist of course, and it gave me a wonderful opportunity to work on a deck I had never seen before.
The ERA Mk 6 is a belt-driven deck from the early seventies. It is slightly unusual in the actual mechanical layout of chassis, plinth, platter and motor. I had never seen anything quite like it. The Mk 6 originally shipped without an arm, but the British importer at the time added a very nice SME 3009, all for the price of – can you believe it – 88 pounds! The deck is not heavy and neither is the platter, which is spun by a multi-pole AC motor.
The chassis of the ERA Mk 6 is built up from thin sheet steel, painted black and there is a wooden arm mounting board, cut out for the SME of course. The motor is mounted on a sub-section that also houses the bearing, arm and platter, but the motor is a 48 pole unit, and generates less vibration than many. Another unusual feature is that the bearing itself sits roughly in the plane of the record, as opposed to deep within the bearing well. This is a design aspect the Pioneer later claimed as their ‘Stable Platter’ design, but clearly this was thought about by ERA in the early 70’s! You can find a link to the ERA catalog from the time here.
This ERA deck came to me in quite a state – the smoked Perspex dust cover was virtually destroyed, cartridge clips had been broken off the headshell wires, the belt had dissolved into dust, the cartridge was broken and needed a new stylus and the tonearm was exceptionally dirty and completely out of adjustment. I had to clean and adjust and repair almost everything on this deck. I also fitted a nice new Japanese JICO stylus for the lovely Shure V15 cartridge installed on this old girl. The end result was a very nice sounding ERA Mk 6 that should now give years of trouble-free service.