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ERA Mk 6 Belt-Drive Turntable Repair & Restoration

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.

 

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Check out the dirt on this sub-chassis section! Note the bearing assembly in the middle, motor and speed changer to the bottom-left and mains inlet to the middle-left.

 

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This is the top part of the chassis, removed for cleaning and inspection…

 

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A few things are visible in this picture: the SME 3009, in all its broken and dirty glory, plus the sub-platter and platter, in the background and chassis bottom, plus a sprinkling of tools and cleaning implements!

 

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A good view of the dirty headshell and broken headshell wire

 

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Closer view of the very dirty SME 3009

 

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Freshly cleaned sub-chassis, doesn’t this look so much better!

 

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Cleaned platter…

 

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… and cleaned sub-platter, now back on deck, with new precision German drive belt.

 

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Close-up of all cleaned drive parts and speed changing mechanism. Some careful cleaning and lubrication was performed in this area.

 

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New precision German drive-belt. Yes, these do make a difference, mainly in the accuracy of the platter speed.

 

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This was a fiddly job to repair, but easily fixed with the right soldering equipment

 

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Dirty SME 3009…

 

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… VS clean SME 3009! What a difference a little cleaning makes.

 

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Fixed headshell wiring, but note the back end of the V15 hanging out – I had to reinsert this back into the cart body.

 

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Lovely clean SME 3009, set up and installed back on the now clean ERA Mk 6!

 

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Close-up of the cleaned headshell of the SME

 

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Nice view of the finished deck. This doesn’t show the new JICO stylus I installed for the Shure V15 Mk3.

 

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Another view of the freshly restored and serviced ERA Mk 6

 

4 thoughts on “ERA Mk 6 Belt-Drive Turntable Repair & Restoration”

  1. Will the player play 45’s with the german belt? I have a similar where the belt needs replacement, but i read somewhere that the belts that you can buy today is too wide, in comparison to the original and that the speed changer does not work.

    1. Hi Povl, this deck worked perfectly on both speeds after I was done with it. Bear in mind that those who just change a belt don’t necessarily have the knowledge or skill to get the deck running properly with that belt. There are likely variations in belts supplied to users. I use suppliers who send me belts that are spot on, which also helps!

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