Repair Journal

Purchased on April 30th for $100 from a biker bar that was going out of business. Unloaded from the truck and determined the following problems:
  • A. Front lower glass broken (known before purchase)
  • B. Cabinet lock missing
  • C. Cash door key broken off in lock but working
  • D. No selection buttons working
  • E. Cartridge and needle missing
  • F. Wires in tone arm missing cartridge connections
  • G. Lights under console for now playing numbers and instructions not working
** Did I mention she weights almost 400lbs and I got a black eye during the move? **
Over the next few days I began to fix the problems I could:

Problem B: I figured out how the cabinet lock worked and determined that the cabinet would close and lock and reopen OK but it was tight fit. I used my finger shoved through the lock hole to make this detmination. I then purchased a cabinet lock complete with keys from Lowes. After some modifcation to the hole so it would fit and some bending of the connection bar, I managed the get the cabinet to lock and unlock as it should. Problem B solved.
   New Problem: H. The upper cabinet rubber seals are bad and it appears to be offset making closing difficult.

Problem C: I purchased the same type of lock as I used in Problem b. and again had to modify the hole slightly for the new lock to fit. I repainted the door black and installed the lock and all is well. Problem C solved.

Problem D: This one confused me and as of this date (5/13) it is still not completely functional. I did manage to get the selections process to work in a limited fashion by cleaning the 'write in' side of the selection wheel. Now the problem is that I can only make selections that have a 0 for the second digit.
May 3rd

Problem E: Inside the case I found two cartridges, one with a needle and one with out. The cartridge with out the needle was the type of the original cartridge (Shure M44MR). The other cartridge had a needle so I tested the fit in the tone arm and appeared to fit but the mounting bracket was bent so I straighted it out. Problem E solved (or so I thought.)

Problem F: I pulled out the wiring harness for the cartridge that ran directly to the input connection on the amp. Of the three wires only 1 had the needed brass connection. Fortunately, the non-original cartridge had some wires still on it that had the needed connections. I de-solderd the connectors and then solderd them on the wiring harness. I replaced the wiring harness and hooked it up to the cartridge. I could make a selection play by flipping a switch on the selection wheel. The A side was placed down and the system attempted to play but sounded terrible. I then forced the eject cycle and played a B side. Again the record was placed and sounded just as bad. I figured the cartridge was bad. When the eject cycle happened, the gripper arm hung up on the cartridge and demonstrated why the mounting bracket was bent. This cartridge was mounted to low to clear the gripper on. Problem F solved.
   Problem E: Now I just needed a needle for the Shure cartridge.
I purchased about 40 records from a garage sale and 70 more from a resale shop. I created a database and indexed these records so I could print title slips. I then loaded the records into the carousel and attempted to play the records.
New Problems

   I. Selections were not being recognized consistantly.
   J. Tone arm would not go all the way across record causing it to repeat (skip).
May 8th

Problem E: Found a replacement needle for the Shure cartridge on eBay and purchased. $19 including shipping. When the needed arrived, I placed in the cartridge, forced a selection and "Whoo Hoo" she played great! Problem E solved.

Problem I: After some research I determined that the most likely cause of my system not selecting properly was bad connections on the selection (read in) arm. I removed the retaining bolt from the selection arm and pulled it off. The contacts were very dirty as was the 'tracks' on the selection wheel. I cleaned both with an automotive electronic cleaner and remounted the arm. Selection read-in process is now working great. Problem I solved.
   New Problems: K. Selections were not being placed properly on the turn table.
         L. Selections were not being picked back up after playing.
Problem J: After trying to play a couple of records I realized that there was something binding the tone arm and preventing it from moving across. I dug around a little bit trying to see what could be causing the problem. I then realized it was my own repair work that was causing the problem. When I reinstalled the wiring harness for the tone arm, I did not allow for enough slack in the wire for the full movement of the tone arm. I loosened up the retaining screws, pulled in a little slack and retightened the screws. Problem J solved.

Problem K: I determined by watching the pick up process that there was an alignment problem not only with the laying of the record on the turn table, but also in the gripper process. I then realized that the read-in selection arm that I removed and reinstalled is directly related to this alignment problem. I adjusted this arm by loosening the retaianing bolt and rotating the arm slightly and then retightened the bolt. The process worked much better but was still off a bit. I found the adjustment screw on the read-in selection arm and after a couple of turns and tests, the gripper worked better and was laying and picking up the records more consistantly. This seemed to solve Problem K.
May 10th

Problem G: I pulled out the plastic components that held the lights and began to investigate the problem(s). I found a few bulbs that were burned out. The bulbs are an old GE 53 type and doing some research I determined they are the same as standard 12volt bulbs for a car's intrument panel. A quick trip to Autozone and the burned out bulbs were replaced. I also discovered that some of the bulb mountings were broken. I tried to solder one back together but had no luck. I purchased some bulb holders from Radio Shack and will attempt to mount them soon.

Problem L: As a follow up to problem K, I did some research and discovered that many problems on the Rock-Ola's could be atributed to bad lubrication. I purchased some 3-in-1 oil at wal-mart ($4.00) and lubed what moved. The improvement was almost immediate and complete! Problem L solved!
The leaves me with the following problem list:
  • A. Broken glass and decorative plastic piece.
  • D. Selection process is not completely working.
  • G. Replacement of bad bulb holders.
  • H. Rubber bumpers for cabinets and cabinet door fittings.
  • M. Cleaning: Interior dust and dirt. Contacts and tracks for 'write-in' selection arms.
  • N. Replacement of missing 'Selection Now Playing' card.
  • O. Repair/replacement of wooden side panels.
  • P. Review of credit system and testing of coin acceptance (currently in 'Free Play' mode or it's broke).
  • Z. Other unforeseen problems that have yet to present themselves!
May 11th

I purchased a trouble shooting manual off of eBay and expect it to arrive by May 16th.

More updates as they happen!
May 15th

I received the trouble shooting manual today and began to use it. This manual is designed to work WITH the service manual (that I don't have) but it does provide a great trouble shooting guide and helps identify the various components and their function. Problem D: Reading the trouble shooting guide, I was unable to find the exact problem I am having. While some of the examples were close, none actually fit exactly. What I did discover is that the locaiton of the Selection Circuits which are in a small box mounted on the left side wall. This circuit board seem a bit daunting at first but then looking at the manual and the board I realized that each selection number has it's one set of components consisting of a resistor, diode, SC and capaciter. According to the manual, most of the problems with the selection process are caused by bad wire, connection or burned out resistor or diode. Since my problems seemed to be centered on specific numbers, I began to check the components using my multi-meter. After checking a few I decided to remove the board for easier diagnosis since it's only held in by a clip and two edge connectors. I removed the edge connectors and discovered my problem! The contacts were extremely corroded. I removed the board, cleaned off the connectors and then re-installed the board and BOOM! Now the selections work properly! Problem D solved.

Problem P: Feeling more confident I turned my attention to the credit system. The credit system consists of two major pieces, the coin accepter and the credit counter. The manual showed me that the credit counter was located directly below the power distribution box, so I opened it up to take a peek. Everything seemed to be OK with it although it was dirty and some of the 'paddle switches' were dirty. I blew out the components with compress air and used my electronic cleaner on it and did some 'rubbing' on the contacts with some lint free cleaning papers. I then closed the credit counter box and moved the credit type selection switch from it's current position to the opposite position. I then unclipped the coin accepter and cleaned it using the process as I did the credit counter. I put it back into position, played a few selections and the 'select single' light went off and the machine stopped taking selections. I dropped a quarter and BOOM! Now the machine works exactly as it should! Problem P solved.
Now that I have solved 99% of the electro-mechanical issues, I can turn my attention to the restoration of the appearance of the box. I am thrilled that the machine works and I must admit this is one robust machine. The trouble shooting manual's opening pages talk about how Rock-Ola designed their systems is a heavy reliance on electro-mechanic components in order to insure long life and easy maintenance. This has certainly proven to be true! This machine has had a long and difficult life and yet with only a minor bit of cleaning and care, she is working like a trooper! Keep checking back as I try to 'pretty her up'!
May 19th

Problem G: When I purchased as set of bulb holders from Radio Shack I knew the connections were the 'wired in' type and not 'solder into a board'. So the first thing I did was to bend and trim down the connection tabs to duplicate as close as possible the original lanp holders. I then pulled the old lamp holder that were deffective and soldered the new holders back in. Now all selections light the 'Now Playing' digits properly! Problem G solved.

Problem D: Farther analysis on the selection process as determined that the only selection group not working properly is those selections with a '6' as the middle digit. From the troubleshooting manual it appears that the middle digits are the only selection digit that is kept in 'memory' using the Selection Control board that I had cleaned up the connections on earlier. I tested the diodes and the resistors for the number 6 set and they give the same reading as the other digits cooresponding components. I'm not sure how to test the Silicon Control Rectifier (SCR) chip. I suspect that component to be the culprit, but until I figure out how to test it... I'm left with a row that won't play.

Problem P: Ok, I was over confident about the credit system. It seems that nickles are ignored and dimes and quarters all give the same number of credts (2). The trouble shooting guide wasn't much help on this issue other than to indicate that wires go where. I suspect the problem lies in the actual credit unit and not the coin acceptor.

See page two for more repair updates!