Food for thought -
In my early years of working with playback machines, I added a small
motor coupled to the feed screw via a pulley and belt and a set of
contacts which keyed the motor whenever the contacts closed , much the
way a RABCO tonearm operates. It worked pretty well.
>>> [log in to unmask] 8/8/2004 10:20:21 PM >>>
Bill, and everyone else who responded.
Thanks very much for all the input looks like a fun but fairly
fruiltess pursuit! I will probably replace the feedscrew for either 100
or 200tpi and play around a bit. I got the unit from a fellow ARSC
member sans motor. I have a nice brushless (very very quiet) AC motor
that I might put in and see what she'll do!
thanks again to everyone!
From: Bill Klinger [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Sunday, August 8, 2004 07:48 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] edison voicewriter?
On August 5th, Eugene Hertz posted a message to ARSC List, explaining
Just acquired an edison voicewriter model 74000, its the small gray
metal box version ...
I am interested in seeing if I could use this to make transfers of
cylinders by using a modern quiet brushless motor. It seems it only has
one TPI speed, anyone know what speed it is?
Yes. Edison dictating machines (including the Edison Business
Phonographs, Ediphones, and Voicewriters) operate at a fixed, nominal
groove pitch of 150 threads per inch or "turns per inch" (TPI).
Unfortunately, that pitch does not suit the vast majority of commercial
"entertainment" cylinders. So-called "two-minute" cylinder records have
a nominal pitch of 100 TPI, and four-minute cylinders have a nominal
pitch of 200 TPI.
You would face a number of technical challenges in adapting your
Voicewriter to play entertainment cylinders -- particularly if you wish
to produce high-quality "archival" transfers. Frankly, I can't recommend
the use of any vintage dictating machine or antique phonograph as a
platform for building equipment for use in making high-accuracy
Consider, for example, that most Ediphones, Voicewriters, and
Dictaphones were designed to be used with heavy, rugged, six-inch-long
"wax" cylinder blanks that were internally reinforced with cloth fabric
(for greater physical strength). Wax entertainment cylinders lack such
internal reinforcement and typically have much thinner walls than those
of "business" blanks. On some dictating machines, the mandrels were
equipped with spring-loaded rib mechanisms, intended to reliably grip
the blank dictation cylinder, despite dimensional variations and changes
in temperature. These protruding ribs exert forces that might
catastrophically shatter a vulnerable entertainment cylinder, such as a
weak and brittle Edison Amberol Record (a "wax Amberol").
Also, I am very curious about the main lever on the recording/playback
head. It seems to have 3 positions, with the middle position being off
and not engaging the feed screw.
What are the top and bottom position for? Is one record and one play?
Different brands and models of dictating machines may not share a
universal operating scheme, but I can at least tell you that
instructions for Ediphones of the mid-1920s directed the operator to
"throw the lever back for play ("reproduce"), and forward, to cut a new
recording. As you say, the central, midway position of the level is an
idle or standby state.
Also, in one of the two operating positions of the lever, there is an
odd device that seems to trigger periodically as the cylinder rotates,
almost as if it were a metronome tapping the side of the case a few
times per revolution, yet the other operating position takes this out.
Yes, perhaps, but it would be good to discuss the possibilities, by
phone. You may call me, any day or evening, at my home phone number,
below (in my signature).
And lastly, on the bottom of the head are two push buttons named (L)
and (C) it would appear that one would insert a slip of paper under
these buttons and perhaps could mark areas of interest corresponding to
recorded material. What to the letters L and C denote?
Ediphones of the 1920s employed an erasable celluloid "Index Slip" --
placed in the "Index Holder" of the executive's machine -- to take
markings that later conveyed, to the typist, specific "cues" about the
dictation contained on a given cylinder. This system continued, but with
the use of paper slips, in later installations.
I hope that someone will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that
"L" marked the Length of a letter, so that the typist could plan to
appropriately arrange the text on one or more sheets of paper, even
before the transcription process was begun. "C" most likely marked a
Correction in the oral dictation. These two terms were definitely in use
in the 1920s, together with Extra Carbons and Rush.
There is also info about it in the ARSC Journal's Cylinder issue.
To be more specific, the "Cylinder Issue" was Volume 26, Number 2 (Fall
1995). It had been priced at $18 per copy. However, for a limited time,
it can be ordered for just $5, postpaid in the U.S., by starting here:
That issue of the ARSC Journal contains a good overview of cylinder
record types and brands. (But it won't tell you much about your
I hope that this info will be of some help, Eugene. If you wish to
discuss cylinder records, or playback methods and equipment, please feel
free to give me a call.
Chair, ARSC Cylinder Subcommittee
13532 Bass Lake Road
Chardon, OH 44024
Telephone: +1 (440) 564-9340