Dual 1219

Dual 1219 Idler-Drive Turntable Major Service & Repair

Every so often, a customer brings me something that reminds me just 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.

Idler-Drive

The Dual 1219 uses an idler-drive, quite different from most other turntables, which use belt or direct-drive for their platters. Idler-drives use a powerful motor to drive a rubber wheel, which drives the inside edge of the platter.

Idler drives are unlike direct-drive or belt-drive decks, but similar in some ways to both. Some would suggest that they combine the best of both worlds, I’m not sure I agree with that but they certainly can play records very well when correctly set-up and well-maintained.

The downside also relates to set up and maintenance – they typically need more than belt-drive machines and definitely more than direct-drives.

Specifications, courtesy of 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

Dual 1219
The Dual 1219, ready to receive some TLC.

The Good

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 in many cases. 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, it might be best to seek out an expert as 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 as mentioned, drive is to the inside of the platter, via an idler wheel. This is almost, but 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 good 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. The 1219 also plays 78s and can repeat play records, great for parties! Automatic start and stop are bonuses which many people enjoy.

The Bad

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, the 1219 needs several hours of service time, every five or so years. This allows for careful disassembly, cleaning and lubrication of something like a dozen service 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 Dual 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 Dual 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 of decks like the Dual 1219, with the result that they are often partially or completely seized by the time I see them. This unit certainly was and it took methodical 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/ridiculous removable cartridge system. The delicate little fingers and spring-loaded pins can break. If they do, it’s trouble.

Dual 1219
The 1219 is fully automatic which many people love. Just select the record size and move the lever to play, or stop.
Dual 1219
The deck can also be set to repeat records, great for old-school parties! Note the general dust and dirt on this old girl.
Dual 1219
Speed selection is made with this control, with vernier adjustment of the 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

The first thing needed with one of these decks is to remove it from the chassis.

Dual 1219
Cables are thoughtfully terminated with RCA connectors internally, making for easy disconnection.
Dual 1219
Power is also on a connector, nice work Dual. Note the massive AC motor.
Dual 1219
I use jigs to support decks like the 1219 outside of the chassis. Jigs, wooden blocks, in this case, make for easy access to various parts of the deck. Because the jigs are softwood, they don’t cause scratches. Everything sits on rubber-backed carpet.
Dual 1219
Made in Germany! I spent a long time just on this control, carefully working in penetrating oil before freeing, cleaning and correctly lubricating it.
Dual 1219
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.

Dual 1219

Dual 1219
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.
Dual 1219
A few things to attend to on the top-side of the deck, like he spindle bearing which needs grease, not oil.
Dual 1219
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.

Dual 1219
Hard to tell how dull and lifeless this wood is.
Dual 1219
Not a lot of colour in it.
Dual 1219
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.
Dual 1219
And wow, what a difference it makes. Hopefully, you can see the extra depth and colour that pop from this cabinet now.
Dual 1219
Doesn’t that look beautiful! The polished platter and chassis contrast nicely.
Dual 1219
On the test-bench here for final testing and adjustment of tracking force, anti-skate, azimuth, functions etc.
Dual 1219
Plus speed fine-tuning.
Dual 1219
With everything now working perfectly, we can admire how great the old girl looks!
Dual 1219
Beautiful…
Dual 1219
The speed control now works flawlessly.

Dual 1219

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

Dual 1219

If you would like me to service or repair your Dual turntable, get in touch.

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

  1. I DUAL 1219 which needs total Service & Overhauling. I live in New Delhi, India.
    Could anyone help me to get contacts in New Delhi for the repair.

    1. Hi Vikas and thanks for your question. Your 1219 really needs to go to a specialist repairer. You could start by contacting the best hi-fi stores in the city and see who they use, but the problem will likely be the lack of this sort of gear in India, and therefore a lack of people with the skills necessary to work on it. There were no high-end hi-fi stores when I visited New Delhi but perhaps things have changed? I did a quick search and could not find any.

  2. Hi Mike, Thanks for the prompt reply. I suppose Jerusalem, ISRAEL is not that close to Perth, Australia…
    In the mean time I found several discussions about these lubricants, suggestions for replacements etc.. I’ll start my study and preparations with this subject.
    I’m lucky nothing is stuck in my turntables so I’ll try to avoid too much disasseblies.
    Still your discussiion will be a great help I’m sure.
    Best regards, Hanan

    1. Hi Hanan, understood and yes that creates a problem in terms of just dropping by! Start with the service manual, they list the original types. I find modern substitutes in 4 broad types useful: light and medium-weight synthetic oils and light and medium-weight synthetic greases. A lithium-based light grease is also a useful addition to the group. With these, you can tackle most of the lubrication requirements of a deck like this. There are always others that are useful, like penetrants for these decks where mechanisms have become seized, which is common.

  3. Dear Mike, I am so lucky to find your article: I have now two 1219’eens which are desperately in need of servicing. I like your excellent detailed photos and explanations. However, you stress so much the point that several different but correct materials should be used for the different parts of these “machines”, but the only material you really recommend is the Australian bee wax…!
    Could you please be more specific about which lubricants you actually use? And for the benefit of your international admirers please give besides specific trade names also a little technical description as not every trade mark is everywhere available.
    Yours faithfully, Hanan

    1. Hi Hanan, thanks for commenting and I’m glad you found the article helpful! The articles are not really meant as ‘how-to’ guides, they are more about showing the type of work I do for my customers, the level of precision involved and the results, whilst offering a little help for DIYers out there at the same time. I purposefully don’t go into all the lubricant details because that would take a video all on its own and realistically, most people shouldn’t be going inside one of these things anyway. If you live near Perth, you are most welcome to chat about booking your decks in for service. I realise many of my viewers don’t live near Perth though, so that makes things harder!

  4. 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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