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ERA Mk6 Belt-Drive Turntable Repair & Restoration

I was asked to restore this lovely old French ERA Mk6 belt-drive turntable, as a surprise birthday gift. I was happy to assist and it gave me an opportunity to work on a deck I’d not worked on before.

The ERA Mk6 is a belt-drive deck from the early seventies. It is slightly unusual in the actual mechanical layout of chassis, plinth, platter and motor and I had never seen anything quite like it.

Details

The Mk6 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 Mk6 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 ’70s!

Here’s a link to the ERA catalogue from the time.

Overhaul

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 Mk6 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 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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A new precision German drive-belt. Yes, these do make a difference, mainly in terms of speed accuracy.
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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 Mk6

Liquid Mike

As a kid, I cherished my Tandy 200-in-1 electronics project lab, Dick Smith electronics kits, my Dad's hi-fi and my own first proper system. Later, I created Liquid Audio to help keep classic hi-fi gear alive and well. Our mission: to deliver TLC for classic Japanese, American and European hi-fi stereo equipment.

This Post Has 6 Comments

    1. Mike

      Correct, this is one of many repairs I have still to list from this year!

  1. Povl Olsen

    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. Mike

      Hi Povl, it’s true that the belt dimensions must be spot on, and this is true for most belt drive machines, especially those utilising mechanical speed change mechanisms. This deck worked perfectly on both speeds after I was done with it, but keep in mind that those who just change a belt don’t necessarily have the knowledge needed to get the deck running properly. There are variations in belts, I use suppliers who send me belts that meet my exact specs.

  2. Mike heasman

    Can you remember where you got the drive belt, I have a mk4 in need of a belt change, dimensions would be useful please

    1. Liquid Mike

      Hi Mike, my name is Mike and I wrote the article you’ve enjoyed here. You are most welcome and thanks for visiting!

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