ERA Mk6 Belt-Drive Turntable Repair & Restoration

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.

ERA Mk6
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.
ERA Mk6
This is the top part of the chassis, removed for cleaning and inspection…
ERA Mk6
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!
ERA Mk6
A good view of the dirty headshell and broken headshell wire
ERA Mk6
Closer view of the very dirty SME 3009
ERA Mk6
Freshly cleaned sub-chassis, doesn’t this look so much better!
ERA Mk6
Cleaned platter…
ERA Mk6
… and cleaned sub-platter, now back on deck, with new German drive belt.
ERA Mk6
Close-up of all cleaned drive parts and speed changing mechanism. Some careful cleaning and lubrication was performed in this area.
ERA Mk6
A new precision German drive-belt. Yes, these do make a difference, mainly in terms of speed accuracy.
ERA Mk6
This was a fiddly job to repair, but easily fixed with the right soldering equipment
ERA Mk6
Dirty SME 3009…
ERA Mk6
… VS clean SME 3009! What a difference a little cleaning makes.
ERA Mk6
Fixed headshell wiring, but note the back end of the V15 hanging out – I had to reinsert this back into the cart body.
ERA Mk6
Lovely clean SME 3009, set up and installed back on the now clean ERA Mk 6!
ERA Mk6
Close-up of the cleaned headshell of the SME
ERA Mk6
Nice view of the finished deck. This doesn’t show the new JICO stylus I installed for the Shure V15 Mk3.
ERA Mk6
Another view of the freshly restored and serviced ERA Mk6

Liquid Mike

At 10 I was pulling apart electronics and by 13 I'd have Dad's hi-fi in pieces when my parents went out! Later, I started Liquid Audio, a specialist electronics repairer known for detail-focused service, repair and restoration of hi-fi electronics & turntables. Keeping classic hi-fi gear alive and well is what we do. Our mission: to deliver TLC for classic Japanese, American and European hi-fi stereo equipment. In my spare time, I ride motorcycles, travel, listen to music and research interesting topics.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

    1. Mike

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

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