Mellotron FX Console #10006 (the "Mooatron") arrived at Jimmy Moore's place in January 2002 - click here for the story, some sound samples, and several "before" pictures. MONEYPIT had a visit with the Mooatron in July '04 as well. Although the machine made sound, there were issues with the keyboard adjustment (caused by some weak parts of the frame that had sagged), there were cycling problems, and--let's face it--the gouge on the front was none too sexy.
Mellotron Professor Jerry Korb had a great base to start out with, though, and throughout 2004 and early 2005 Jerry disassembled, rebuilt, and restored the machine from the ground up.
Jerry provided the photos for this section. He also documented the process on video (as he does with all of his work), and he'll be glad to show you that if you're ever by his way.
As when doing a frame-up restoration on a vintage automobile, one of the first steps is a complete disassembly. Jerry makes use of the Genie Lift as needed for his Mellotron repairs, and this allows the easy removal of the mechanicals associated with the tape path--the basic frame of the machine--leaving behind the cabinet. The frame is placed onto a special jig Jerry assembled for this purpose (which has now been used for three Mark I/II-series Mellotrons (as well as to hold up a table :-) ).
One of the interesting things about the FX Console is the track selection. Each headblock is in two independent pieces, so it's possible to have four simultaneous sounds on the FX Console. Unlike the Mark I/II but more like the M300, the FX Console's track selection is electronic. If you click on this image, you will see two trapezoids. At rest you have Track B. When Track A or C is selected, the solenoid deploys, rotating the trapezoid left or right, moving the head block. This is a rare glimpse of an interesting way to tackle the track selection problem.
Diving into the electronics of the FX Console further, you will
find a series of line amps and preamps.
TAPES IN MOTION
Not only does the capstan and flywheel spin in the FX Console, the Mark I/II/FX/M300-series also has to deal with station selection. Each tape in these machines is dozens of feet long (about 50 feet), and the drums on which the tapes are stored are turned at high speed (20 inches per second) back and forth to allow different stations (or banks of sounds) to be selected. Position along the length of the tape is determined by a wiper that looks like a clock dial on the back of the machine and then a pulse tape that guides the station to the correct stopping point (the start of the sounds). Working this magic are the SSCUs, which are often in a state of disrepair on older Mellotrons. Jerry has been repairing these buggers for years.
In addition to the motors that drive the capstan, these
Mellotrons have additional motors to drive the tape drums, one motor per
Pulling the tapes through the machines when you actually play
the instrument is the job of the capstan motor. There's only one in these
machines, and the one that was in there was tired, so it was replaced with a
brand new motor from Streetly.
Before we leave the insides of the machine, have a look at the main frame resting on the jig. You will note two complete tape paths, one for each keyboard. The tape drums are clearly visible, as are the head blocks.
Jerry refinished FX #6's cabinet. Aww, gee, the gouge on the front is all gone now. In addition to the wood repair and sanding, Jerry used a new technique to paint the box, called HVLP (high volume low pressure), an inexpensive alternative to paint methods you would find at, say, body shops. The original finish was a rather flat black, but the new finish is a semi-gloss. Jerry made exclusive use of "green" solvents and finishes for the SFX, keeping in step with Vermont's environmentally-friendly policies.
Let's see the cabinet refinishing as it went along.
Is it time now for the Unveiling...well, maybe... -->