M400 #1037

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M400 #1037


Mellotron M400 #1037 - "Mouseotron"

Still in the Protect-O-Muff since it was retrieved from Toronto, #1037 was put in the car and trundled back to Vermont to be worked on over the weekend.  In early March a package arrived from Streetly in the UK containing a motor and SMS2 motor controller and a few other items.  The MONEYPIT gathering was the perfect place to work on the machine.

Friday Afternoon/Night

Jerry and I disassembled the M400.  Disassembly of an M400 is easy.  Just a few screws, and the frame is out.  We listened to the capstan bearings very closely, and we determined that they weren't in bad shape at all, so we left them alone.

We installed the new motor...

New Mellotron Motor (2004)

...and got the holes drilled for the SMS2 motor controller...

Mellotron SMS2 Motor Controller

...and then went and had dinner.

The more astute observers will notice the wrong belt in use in the picture with the motor.  Martin has since sent it along.  Thanks, ol' man.

Saturday Afternoon

The more interesting part of the operation---diddling with the power supply and replacing the pitch pot---happened on Saturday.  To install the SMS2, you remove a few wires, replace a wire in the main transformer, and reroute a few things.  Streetly supplies the cable needed to go from the power supply to the motor controller, so you needn't remove and modify the one from the old CMC10.  You then replace the pitch pot.  The pitch pot is a bit difficult because the one supplied is for printed circuit board mounting, and in a 'tron you're going to be hooking it up to rather thick wires.  Careful soldering is required.

To the right is the original pitch pot.  If you look very closely, you'll notice the gray wire is gnawed.  Yep, mice.  Hey, it is the Mouseotron, after all!!

Mellotron M400 Pitch Pot

Along the way it was fun to do a little archaeology, and inside the preamp case is a good place to find interesting things written.

Mellotron M400 Preamp

Anyone know who "Bill S." is?

By mid Saturday afternoon M400 #1037 was reassembled, the switch was clicked on, and the machine spun up---no issues at all.  The motor controller was adjusted for pitch, and then it was time to begin dealing with the keyboard.

In its years of being abused by mice, the glue let go on a number of the little pads that you find cushioning the adjustment screws on the pad arms and pinch rollers.  A few of the pad arm pads were missing, and several pads normally under the adjustment screws were gone.  We discovered and retrieved many of these in Jerry's driveway back in October, but we didn't get them all.

Fortunately Jerry had the foresight to order some 3/8" felt to go under the adjustment screws and some nice felt to go on the pad arms.  He got these from a good piano supply place (American Piano Supply).  Thanks, Jerry!

The tape set I brought with me was---unfortunately---much more knackered than I originally thought, so by the time I departed on Saturday night, less than half the keyboard was adjusted, and it wasn't sounding all that good.  Darn tapes...Wish these things were digital sometimes...(gasp!!!)


Ken and I joked around during breakfast at the B&B.  "Ya know, Ken, how much do you want to bet that Jerry has #1037 all adjusted and everything?"  Sure enough, when we arrived back at the Korb Residence, #1037 was plugged into the JK MK6's amp and purring away, all set to go.

It's 6AM.  Picture, if you will, Professor Korb wandering from his bedroom in his slippers and pajamas, checking his e-mail and the weather forecast, then disappearing into the basement to inflict a case of Mellotronists Hunchback upon himself.  He took out the tape frame I had in there (the one with the knackered tapes) and put in one of his own (a set from 1979, I believe).  A few minutes later #1037 had gone from a screeching cat to a machine that was very stable and fun to play.

Mellotron M400 #1037
Mali Korb lays down some chops on #1037

I was really astonished to hear how clear #1037 is.  The new motor and motor controller are really stable.  Yeah, there are some pinch rollers that'll need work, but by and large the machine is a bit of a jewel that had been tucked into a basement and lived in by mice for over a decade.

I'm going to spend some time refinishing this beastie, and it'll be just great.

Thanks for the assistance with this machine, Jerry!  I think we've got a keeper!

Mellotron M400 #1037
M400 #1037
On top:  Edgar Froese LPs Aqua and Epsilon in Malaysian Pale