View Full Version : Some Empire Turntable History


Pages : [1] 2 3 4 5

empirelvr
01-28-2010, 04:39 PM
***UPDATED****UPDATED***UPDATED***UPDATED****

Updated November 19, 2010

I posted a version of this in another thread on Empire turntables and the response I received encouraged me to flesh it out even more and post it under a new topic. As my username implies, I’m a big fan of these turntables. I was exposed to them at a very early age, and have owned at one time or another a 298, 598 and 698. I currently own two 598III’s. One pretty much stock, the other mounted with a SME 3009 II (which I really had to alter to get it to work) and a custom wood base and dust cover I had built to replace the one that came with the unit. (It was in bad shape.)

There are so many myths, mistakes, and erroneous information about these turntables that I pooled all my collective knowledge of them in this post in the hopes some of the mystery surrounding them clears up.

It’s by no means a perfect or truly definitive post, and I appreciate any corrections and feedback anyone can offer.

All the information herein was gleaned from personal experience, library crawls for back issues of audio magazines from the early to late seventies, contemporary reports in stereo magazines such as Stereophile, www.radioshackcatalogs.com, Ebay, this forum, Vinyl Engine, Audio Asylum and the treasure trove that is the rest of the internet.

Empire Scientific was a manufacturer of high-fidelity products based in Garden City, New York. It started life as Dyna-Empire, then Audio-Empire, finally sticking with Empire Scientific in the mid 1960’s. Along with phono cartridges and various speakers, Empire manufactured five turntable systems under the “Troubadour” name starting at about 1961 to 1980. It is these turntables that we shall look closely at now.

The major models produced were the 298, 398, 498, 598 and 698.

Those are the model numbers of the “complete” systems that were offered for sale, meaning base, platter/motor, and tonearm sometimes with an Empire cartridge. There are also model numbers for various other permutations involving no arm or no base.

The standard finish was satin chrome for the turntable and tonearm. A satin gold finish was denoted by a G suffix to the model number, except for the 598 & 698 where the gold finish was standard and the chrome was special order only. (I have seen in pictures on the web of one example each of a stock silver/chrome 598 and 698.)

While the gold colored Empire’s are I think the classier looking of the two finishes, they don’t hold up well. The 98 and 980 tonearms in their gold versions seem to suffer the most with an alarming degree of tarnish, flaking and corrosion even worse than in the silver versions. The gold finished platters and plinths also seem to age worse than their silver counterparts. This can be attributed to the metal Empire used, which wasn’t pure aluminum as advertised, but rather “pot metal.” According to Wikipedia:

"Pot Metal" is a slang term that refers to alloys that consist of inexpensive, low-melting point metals used to make fast, inexpensive castings. There is no scientific metallurgical standard for pot metal; common metals in pot metal include zinc, lead, copper, tin, magnesium, aluminium, iron, and cadmium. The primary advantage of pot metal is that it is quick and easy to cast. Due to its low melting temperature no sophisticated foundry equipment is needed and specialized molds are not necessary. Pot metal can be prone to instability over time, as it has a tendency to bend, distort, crack, shatter, and pit with age.[1] The low boiling point of zinc and the fast cooling of the newly-cast part often allow air bubbles to remain within the cast part, weakening the metal.[1] Many of the components of pot metal are susceptible to corrosion from airborne acids and other contaminants, and the internal corrosion of the metal often causes the decorative plating to flake off. Pot metal is not easily glued, soldered or welded.

In 1961, Empire offered for sale it’s first turntable, the model 208/298. The model 208 was an unsuspended, 3-speed belt driven turntable, using a dynamically balanced hysteresis-synchronous, self-cooling AC motor manufactured by Pabst of West Germany, and came with a walnut base and no tonearm. The 1962 Radio Shack catalog shows this for sale at the then princely sum of $92.50. (In 2009 money, $656.06.) The model 298, a model 208 turntable with Empire’s model 98 tonearm and walnut base sold for $145.61 ($1031.96 in 2009 dollars)

Unusually, Radio Shack sold the 208 without a base, which was $12.50 extra. ($88.66 in 2009 money) Radio Shack offered bases in walnut, mahogany and fruitwood, the only mention I’ve ever seen of a base in a finish other than walnut.

The 298 was a 208 turntable with the Empire 98 tonearm and walnut base.

The 288 was a baseless 208 turntable with 98 tonearm.

The 398 was a 208 turntable with the Empire 980 tonearm and walnut base. This was first seen in the 1963 Radio Shack catalog selling for $175.00, or $1213.13 in today’s money.

The 388 is a baseless 208 turntable with a 980 tonearm.

The 208 was a serious turntable, featuring a massive seven-pound platter, individually dynamically balanced for lowest run out and maximum smoothness mounted in a heavy bearing well screwed into a substantial metal frame. Even today, fifty years after their manufacture, if you take the belt off a 208/298/398 and give the platter a fast whip spin around, it will turn and turn and turn in an impressive display of the precision of it’s construction. The platter featured a built in pop-up 45-RPM adapter similar to what was found on other turntables of the day like Thorens or Rek-O-Kut, and the usual rubber mat.

Even the base was subtly elegant featuring a semi-gloss clear finish over solid walnut. Far from being a simple box, the base sloped in and downward in a mirror image of the edges of the plinth. The standard hard rubber feet could be augmented by accessory soft springy rubber feet that fit in pre-drilled holes in the bottom of the base to help combat acoustic feedback if needed.

The motor was isolated by three elastomer grommets and there was a small (unspecified) speed change possible by altering the motor’s relation from perpendicular via a knurled set screw on one of the motor’s mounting bushings. Speed change was strictly manual. You had to move the belt on the appropriate pulley for the speed you wanted. The only concession to flash was the on/off switch which had a neon bulb mounted under the clear red plastic push button that made it subtly glow when on.

Because of the heavy platter, synchronous belt drive system, and tight tolerances the 208 has outstanding rumble and wow and flutter specs. The turntable easily met and exceeded the criteria set by the NAB for broadcast quality.

In all, it was worth every penny of it’s substantial asking price.

People talk about a 108 turntable, but I've never been able to uncover any evidence of such a model for sale. I've checked old Lafayette, Allied, and Radio Shack catalogs, and old audio magazines from the late fifties to early sixties and can't find mention of one. Even a late 1980’s replacement turntable parts list I have from Empire makes no mention of a 108 or 100 series turntable. I think people refer to a 108 turntable because early 208's didn't come silk-screened with the model number on the plinth and the serial number tag made no mention of the model number. But because the number A-108 or 108A is scribed on the platter and other metalwork on all the 200/300 series turntables Empire manufactured, it is mistaken for a model number and not the part number it is.

Empire made two tonearms that went with the 208 turntable, the model 98 was introduced in 1960 and, in 1962, the model 980 tonearm. The model 98 sold in 1960 for $34.33 ($245.92 in 2009 dollars) and the 980 sold for $50.00 or $346.61 in 2009 money.

The 98 and 980 arms are high-mass tonearms; though they featured very high quality micro ball bearings in the vertical and horizontal planes that permitted extremely light and accurate tracking down to one-gram if not less, compared to other tonearms of the day. They were also dynamically balanced featuring a flat-coiled spring. This enabled them to track at any angle, even upside down. (Something I saw with my own eyes more than once.)

The implementation of the horizontal bearings also differs between the two pickup arms. The 98's horizontal bearing consists of individual ball bearings capped by a screw locked cap. This makes service difficult as you have to be careful while disassembling the arm, otherwise you'll have tiny ball bearings flying everywhere. It also makes it hard to re tighten the cap, as you have to find a balance between stiffness and ease of movement. The 980's horizontal bearings are of a captured race type that is much more service friendly with no risk of bouncing bearings getting under the rug.

The Empire 98 and 980 tonearms are very similar, and can be hard to differentiate at a glance. The main difference was the 98 has a removable bayonet pin headshell similar to the SME, and the 980 had a fixed headshell and introduced the black plastic cartridge mounting plate that existed in all Empire arms until the introduction of the model 698 turntable.

The 98 didn’t have any sort of connector to hook up a patch cord to it. It had flying leads out of the arm to solder to a suitable jack or tie points. There was also no flying fifth (ground) wire connected to the inside of the arm. Grounding was achieved from mounting the metal tonearm base to the metal base of the turntable, or by attaching a ground wire to one of the tonearm mounting screws.

No doubt part of the reason for the introduction of the 980 so soon after the model 98 was to address these small ergonomic faux pas as the 980 introduced the five-pin tonearm connecting cable (with integral ground wire) that all Empire’s had from this point on.

The 98 and 980 arm originally did not come with an anti-skate adjustment or end of record lift. Empire later offered a retrofit kit to attach a weight and pulley system to the 980 arm. Later production runs of the 980 arm featured a built in weight and pulley anti-skate system. (Seen mostly on 980 arms mated with the 498 turntable.)

The 98 and 980 tonearm were available in two versions. One for 12” maximum records, and a longer model suitable for 16” transcription discs. The longer arm was probably geared towards the broadcast industry and not for the average hi-fi enthusiast, though Radio Shack sold the 16” 98 tonearm in 1960. Existence of a 16” 980 was confirmed by two different Ebay auctions I’ve seen over the years for this longer variant.

The 98 tonearm also did not originally come with Empire’s unique “Dyna-Lift” magnetic end-of-record arm lift system, which first appeared on the 980. A separate retrofit kit was offered for sale to let you enjoy this feature on your older 98 arm and the earliest versions of the 980, which also didn’t have this feature.

The Dyna-Lift feature was unique, as it was an end of record arm lift that didn’t rely on any mechanical linkages like those on a typical record changer. It worked via a hollow cylindrical post attached to the base of the arm, which held a powerful magnet. Attached to the arm tube, near the back was a small protruding post (sometimes round, sometimes square) made of steel. As the arm nears the center of the record, that small metal protrusion enters the hole in the post and when aligned correctly, the magnetic attraction force "grabs" the arm up and off the disc as the stylus enters the run-out groove.

The action is crude and abrupt though, because being a magnet, there is no way to "damp" this action. However, I've used it for years now with a variety of cartridges and never once had an issue of damage caused by that abrupt take-off. It can also be turned "off" by pushing back on the post, which makes it cock back a good ways, rendering it inoperative. (A recent post in this thread from fellow AK'er “MrMonster” suggests the lift action is quite smooth when the arm is properly adjusted and that it is from people ignoring Empire's instructions to leave a certain set screw on the arm alone, that is to blame for the less than gentle action of most surviving Dyna-Lift examples.)

The weakest link in the 980 tonearm is the black plastic cartridge mounting plate. This alone I think is responsible for the less than enthusiastic reception given this tonearm’s performance these days. The plate is soft, bends easily under stress, and just isn’t a rigid enough platform for a good coupling of either cartridge to plate, or plate to tonearm. They are also extremely rare to find replacements for. It is a shame, because the overall build quality of the tonearm matches that of the turntable, and would mate well with any number of modern day low-compliance moving-coil cartridges that require arms as massive as these.

The weak point of the 98 is its fixed cartridge mounting position in the bayonet headshell. You cannot adjust overhang after initially mounting the arm. Not that this is unusual, as Rek-O-Kut and Ortofon had similar designs for their bayonet style headshells. This may sound like an oversight on the part of the design of the 98, but in the late fifties and early sixties, there seemed to be an unspoken consensus between the biggest phono cartridge makers of the day regarding stylus tip position and mounting dimensions. So once the arm was properly mounted you could install cartridges from Shure, Pickering, and Empire knowing the stylus tip would always be in the same spot. At least you can mount a Pickering 380 series cartridge in an Empire 98 arm without the need for spacers.

Speaking of Rek-O-Kut, this is a good place to address the similarities between the two companies. Both were based on Long Island, New York, both utilized AC synchronous motors sourced from Pabst of West Germany, and both companies even used the exact same motor grommets sourced from Lords of Pennsylvania. Both companies also featured heavy cast platters balanced for perfect balance with a built-in 45 RPM adapter and bearings that even today are marvels of precision engineering. Styling is also similar, although Rek-O-Kut’s are more utilitarian with their boxy bases, gunmetal gray baked on finish, and red rubber platter mats. Rek-O-Kut also concentrated on idler driven turntables, but the one belt drive model they did produce is uncannily similar to the Empire.

The 498 was the first suspended sub-chassis Empire and appeared as far as I can tell about 1966 or 1967. It used the 980 arm, a suspension system of springs and felt that was refined further in the 598, a one-piece platter design very similar to the unsprung 208, and came with a walnut base similar to the 208.

The 488 is the baseless version with 980 arm.

The 498 and 398 appear to have been offered for sale simultaneously at one point going by an undated Empire sales flyer I have which shows a 398 and a 488 pictured along with two models of their Grenadier speaker, and a generic Empire phono cartridge

There is no model 408 (armless, with base) because the arm mount is part of the suspension t-bar (like the AR) and almost impossible to modify to affix an aftermarket tonearm. With this model, you have to use a 980 tonearm unless you have a machine shop in your garage or know someone who does.

The 498 is the rarest of Empire turntables, being offered for sale for only a short while compared to the 398 before it and the 598 that followed it. Those who have been lucky enough to spend time with one, claim it is Empire’s best turntable, offering the strengths of the non-suspended 208 without the perceived subjective negatives of the later sprung 598.

The 598, introduced about 1969~1970, was a radical rethink in design. It featured a two-piece platter, a self-lubricating oilite bearing, a newly designed walnut base, a new tonearm (the model 990,) an arm rest that featured a light that made it possible to “see” where you were placing the tonearm on the record in a dark room, a stroboscope plate built into the platter, and a first for Empire: a wood framed Plexiglas dust cover.

Contrary to assumption and popular belief, the 990 arm on the 598 WAS offered for separate sale. (You can see ads for it in stereo magazines of the period.) Like its predecessors, it was a dynamically balanced tonearm featuring captured race ball bearings in both the vertical and horizontal planes. Its anti-skate adjustment dispensed with the weight and pulley system featured in late production 980 arms and used an internal spring to set the opposing force using a increasing bias principal. It also featured a levered cuing control as well as the Dyna-Lift magnetic end-of-record lift system. It was also high mass, though it was designed to mate to Empire’s top of the line 1000ZEX cartridge which boasted the ability to track as low as a quarter of a gram in the arm. (I’ve successfully used a Shure V-15 Type V at one gram in mine with no ill resonance effects.) The 598 retailed for $199.95 and the 990 for $74.95 in 1971. ($1047.47 and $392.64 respectively in 2009 dollars.)

Interestingly, according to ads and equipment reviews I have of the 598 from 1971 editions of Audio, Stereo Review, and High-Fidelity magazines, going against previous model numbering convention, the 598 is a baseless turntable with the walnut base and dust cover an option for $35 more. ($209.28 in 2009 dollars) Therefore, there was no formal "588" baseless version of the turntable.

The 598 went under three revisions during its production life.

598 – 3 speeds, with Empire’s standard pop-up 45-RPM adapter in the platter, matte finish very pale gold 3-speed strobe plate, “old” logo plate on the upper left corner of the dust cover hinge board on the base.

598 II – 3-or 2-speeds, either with Empire’s ubiquitous pop-up 45-RPM adapter in the platter, or a new 45 “turn over” adapter that sat flush on the platter usually, but when flipped over let you play 45 RPM discs. The 598II also had a matte finish, very pale gold 3-or 2-speed strobe plate, and “new” Empire backwards “R” logo plate on the upper left corner on the dust cover hinge board on the base. The instructions were updated to reference the then new 4 channel Shibata styli in the anti-skate settings chart

598 III – 2 speed only, with the new reversible center disc 45-RPM adapter, matte finished very pale gold 2-speed strobe plate and new Empire logo on the upper left corner on the dust cover hinge board on the base. The instructions were re-typed and reformatted.

Those are just general guidelines though. It seems Empire was a lot like guitar or drum manufacturers of the day in that they used whatever was available on a given day to make their turntables. This lack of consistency causes many variations to show up among surviving units of all their models, which can be extremely confusing.

In 1976 came Empire’s final turntable model: the 698. The 698 retailed for $400 ($1490.91 in 2009 dollars.) It was sold only as a system with tonearm, dust cover and base; though I’m sure one could have probably special ordered a baseless version as well.

It’s sad that the last turntable Empire made has so many issues considering the tank like build of their previous offerings.

The positives:

The base, plinth, platter and bearing design and construction are unchanged from the 598. People say the 698’s bearing and motor is inferior to the 598 when the two 698’s and three 598’s I have examined show identical construction of the bearing and a high-quality Papst motor like Empire used in all its turntables. It seems Empire made sure they used as much of the proven 598 design and tooling as possible. (I am just talking about platter/bearing quality of the 598 vs. 698, not the debate about the bearing and platter quality of the 208/498 vs. the 598/698 that exists.)

The motor in the 698 was (as on all previous Empire's) an AC synchronous, self-cooling, high torque Papst, sourced from Germany and built to the same standard as on the 208, 498 and 598.

The dust cover switched from clear flimsy Plexiglas plastic to true, tinted tempered glass with a silk-screened gold Empire logo on the top lower left corner of the glass. A nice touch. The hinge board did not have an Empire logo plate.

The 2-speed strobe plate on the platter was a shiny deep gold with a mirror finish that looked gorgeous.

The arm on the 698 was a totally new, true low mass design, and was able to handle the highest compliance cartridges you could throw at it. It continued Empire’s preference for a dynamically balanced tonearm, and featured micro sapphire ball bearings in the vertical and horizontal planes in a true gimbaled design. The anti-skate again used the increasing bias principle first used in the 990 arm; it's opposite field "push" increased as the arm neared the center of the record. It also came with two connecting cables, one a low-capacitance cable for CD-4 cartridges.

Why people think THIS arm is a continuation of the higher mass arms of Empire’s past puzzles me. It was the first tonearm made by Empire not to be offered for separate sale.

The 698 also featured a unique electronic/optical cue and end-of-record lift system that didn’t rely on motors or mechanical linkages that would have compromised the performance of the tonearm. The cue system used your finger to bridge two small gold colored contacts within a round clear plastic button that was backlit by red LED’s, which, when touched, completed a DC circuit that caused a small damped solenoid coil to gently lift or drop the tonearm depending on which “button” you put your finger on.

The end-of record lift was optically triggered via a small photocell sensor. When aligned correctly, the arm would gently lift up as the stylus entered the run out groove. Provision was made for changing the speed of the cuing as well as a tool that adjusted the height of the cueing mechanism. (Though, truthfully, there was very little range of adjustment for either parameter.)

The negatives:

There are two major weaknesses in the 698: the tonearm headshell and the electronic cueing. The headshell design is a unique one, only ever used on this tonearm so replacements are now impossible to find. It is also prone to failure because of the way contact is made electrically.

The electronic end-of-record lift and cuing is prone to failure as well, and no one seems to know how to fix them, despite the full schematic being printed in the instruction sheet. This is unfortunate as the design is quite clever and when it is working, is probably the most accurate, gentlest, and elegant cue and end-of-record lift system ever developed.

There are also a number of “little things” that are problems with the 698.

The clear plastic "Lexan" arm holder and fingerlift on the headshell seem prone to age related brittleness and breakage. It’s a pity about the armrest too, because the red LED shining underneath it gives it a nice, classy glow that compliments the cueing buttons which also are backlit by red LED’s.

The capacitor in line with the power switch (to keep “pops” from being heard when power is turned on or off) seems to be the wrong value or defective in the examples I have seen, doing nothing to keep loud transients out of your speakers when you turn the turntable on or off.

The increase in weight of the dust cover because of the real glass causes the hinges to fail even earlier than in the 598. (The hinges were always a weak spot, despite their ingenuity in design.) Side note: Do NOT tighten the screw on the hinge bracket to try and get more tension to fix a dust cover that won’t stay open!! :nono: You will do serious damage if you do. There is a collet pin that is going through the screw and nut in the wood that in theory should keep the hinge from loosening, but in practice, only works for a limited time. Random tightening of the original screw will only cause the screw to break and make the hinge totally useless. If you want to try and fix it, you need to carefully remove the pin and rebuild the hinge using a new screw, which must match the threads of the nut inside the wood. Screw the hinge assembly back into the dust cover as tightly as possible with your new screw, then drill with a small bit into the screw where the original pin was and set a nail inside to fix the problem. It’s best to make sure the nail going through the screw and nut is long enough to go through the wood to assure the nail won’t work itself out in time. The final result will be a stiff moving dustcover, but as time goes on it will get smoother. Be prepared to have to do this “fix” several times in the course of life with the 598/698.

And finally, the silk-screening and gold plating on the 698 seems to be so thin that it rubs off quite easily. Extreme corrosion is also present on the metalwork on many 698’s, which seems to have happened much faster than the corrosion on older models. All the gold finish Empires seem to show various levels of flake, corrosion and discoloration that the chrome-plated versions don’t seem to suffer, but the 698’s are particularly bad in this regard. This was probably due to using an even cheaper pot metal formulation as a cost cutting move.

I’ve never been able to find out exactly when Empire ceased manufacture of the 698, but it must have been shortly after Ernst Benz bought Empire Scientific in 1981~1982. (The date of the sale according to Stereophile, December 1990, page 65.)

After that, Empire concentrated on phono cartridges until Benz cut his losses and sold the company in the mid-1980’s, wherein, Empire became a shell of it’s former self.

Various spare parts for the turntables as well as new 698’s at greatly reduced prices were available from Lyle Cartridges in Brooklyn for many years after Benz sold Empire. After Lyle closed, parts were shipped back to Empire’s then new Deer Park, NY location and were available via mail order only up until around 1990. Stocks of headshells for the 698, 98 and the cartridge mounting plate for the 980 and 990 tonearms were already depleted by this point. (I know, I tried ordering them back then.)

Then, shortly after my last contact with Empire regarding replacement parts for their turntables, the company’s name and logo was sold to Russell Industries and their run as a manufacturer of High-Fidelity Stereo products was truly at an end. The remaining inventory of replacement turntable parts apparently was junked and no one at Russell Industries seems to know or care about the brand’s past as a maker of some of the most gorgeous, reliable, and overachieving turntables of their day. The name exists now only as a badge for aftermarket phone batteries, cheap replacement needles and new phono cartridges of questionable quality.

Sad.

Sam Cogley
01-28-2010, 04:57 PM
I asked this in the other thread and don't remember seeing a response - if the strobe disc on a 598 is silver, does that mean the finish of the table was silver? My 598 has been covered in gold leaf, so the strobe disc is the only visible, finished portion.

Thanks for the very intensive and interesting history lesson!

ekmanning5
01-28-2010, 04:58 PM
empirelvr,
Once again, thank you for the info you've provided about Empire tables. As an owner of a 598, I will be saving this thread for future reference. :thmbsp:

empirelvr
01-28-2010, 05:02 PM
I asked this in the other thread and don't remember seeing a response - if the strobe disc on a 598 is silver, does that mean the finish of the table was silver? My 598 has been covered in gold leaf, so the strobe disc is the only visible, finished portion.

Thanks for the very intensive and interesting history lesson!

More than likely, yes, the original finish was silver if you have a silver strobe disc. What color is your tonearm though? It should be silver as well if the plinth was originally silver. I'd be shocked if someone painted the tonearm gold too!

JohnVF
01-28-2010, 05:09 PM
Thanks for this comprehensive history.

My 208 is stamped 11/20/60. Not sure if it actually went on sale until 61, though. It has 208 written on the top plate, even though I guess it's technically a 298 with the arm and base.

http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b384/fiebke/IMG_3771.jpg

Naptown Rob
01-28-2010, 05:16 PM
Thanks for the info! I'm a 598 II owner, looking for someone to re-wire my tonearm...

Tarl Of Gor
01-28-2010, 05:40 PM
I just picked up a 598 this past Saturday with a broken belt. Received the belt today and am cranking some Joe Bonamassa on it right now. Great looking and awesome sounding TT.

hifi_nut
01-28-2010, 06:28 PM
Thanks for the info! I'm a 598 II owner, looking for someone to re-wire my tonearm...


If you donīt mind shipping your arm to Scotland, you could do worse than having it dona by AK member Audioorigami ( Johnnie ).

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/member.php?u=42497

Hereīs a link to his site:

http://www.audioorigami.co.uk/

Big Bill
01-28-2010, 07:12 PM
Wow! I believe that this might be, the most encompassing Empire thread on the "net" to date. :yes:


Thank you for your service, Bill.:thmbsp:

Big Bill
01-28-2010, 07:13 PM
I just picked up a 598 this past Saturday with a broken belt. Received the belt today and am cranking some Joe Bonamassa on it right now. Great looking and awesome sounding TT.

Congrats on your score!:thmbsp:

Naptown Rob
01-28-2010, 07:40 PM
If you donīt mind shipping your arm to Scotland, you could do worse than having it dona by AK member Audioorigami ( Johnnie ).

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/member.php?u=42497

Hereīs a link to his site:

http://www.audioorigami.co.uk/

It's a quasi-crazy idea, but I've e-mailed him for a quote. Thanks for the tip.

70salesguy
01-28-2010, 07:41 PM
As the 70salesguy, I sold more than just a few 598 TTs!

Although I am more fond of another brand, I have always admired the build quality of the units.

Congratulations and thanks for this greatly detailed information. :thmbsp:

Doug G.
01-28-2010, 08:02 PM
Thanks for the wonderful information on these wonderful turntables!

It is a shame that, with the advent of CDs, turntables were initially neglected and carelessly discarded.

John, if that is a picture of your actual turntable, it is absolutely stunning!

Doug

JohnVF
01-28-2010, 08:23 PM
Thanks for the wonderful information on these wonderful turntables!

It is a shame that, with the advent of CDs, turntables were initially neglected and carelessly discarded.

John, if that is a picture of your actual turntable, it is absolutely stunning!

Doug

That is my actual Empire. There are a number of nice Empires owned by members. Of all of the pieces of gear in my collection, the Empire gets the most curious looks and questions about how it sounds from those unfamiliar with vintage audio. Everybody seems very surprised at how great it sounds, compared to how 'old' it looks.

stashu
01-28-2010, 08:42 PM
Great thread here, thank you for the info.

I'm the proud original owner of a 598 III myself although it's been inactive for years due to the lack of a cartridge mounting bracket, but still, I would never part with it.

Naptown Rob
01-28-2010, 09:15 PM
Great thread here, thank you for the info.

I'm the proud original owner of a 598 III myself although it's been inactive for years due to the lack of a cartridge mounting bracket, but still, I would never part with it.

The Unobtanium mounting bracket. There was one on ebay recently, with the rather obscene Buy It Now price of about $200. Guess they know when they've got you by the short & curlies.

Beobloke
01-29-2010, 08:53 AM
empirelvr - you have a PM (or you will shortly)

However, thankyou for a superbly detailed account of some very fine turntables that are even rarer here in the UK than in the US, it appears!

empirelvr
01-29-2010, 11:23 AM
Thanks for this comprehensive history.

My 208 is stamped 11/20/60. Not sure if it actually went on sale until 61, though. It has 208 written on the top plate, even though I guess it's technically a 298 with the arm and base.

http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b384/fiebke/IMG_3771.jpg

That really is gorgeous!! The first Empire I ever was exposed to (it was a favorite Uncle's) looked very much like that, in gold. It also just said Empire on the plinth, not 208. I wound up being given it when he purchased a 698.

Yours looks like you went back in a time machine and grabbed on when it was new. Are you the original owner or did you get lucky on the used market or Ebay?

JohnVF
01-29-2010, 11:53 AM
That really is gorgeous!! The first Empire I ever was exposed to (it was a favorite Uncle's) looked very much like that, in gold. It also just said Empire on the plinth, not 208. I wound up be given it when he purchased a 698.

Yours looks like you went back in a time machine and grabbed on when it was new. Are you the original owner or did you get lucky on the used market or Ebay?

Thank you for the compliments on this fine turntable. I've only had it since last summer, actually. It's 14 years older than I am. As long as I've been going to this local audio store (several years) it had been sitting on display. They never wanted to sell it but I eventually got to know the staff pretty well and the manager sold it to me for a very good price. He's really into high-end analogue, I think he has a Sota with an SME-V arm, and couldn't understand why I wanted it.

They also have a 698 on display that they'd be willing to sell me, but it's much more expensive than what I paid for the 208, and the 208 (298) is what I really wanted. I have a Denon DL-103 on it right now. It doesn't have the headshell insert, the Denon just sort of snapped into the headshell like it was made for it. When I checked the alignment, it lined up with the cheap paper protractor I had onhand when I set it up exactly. It sounds great but I need to replace the motor grommets and want to add some dynamat to the inside of the plinth and under the top-plate.

audio-ed
01-29-2010, 12:15 PM
Nice work on the history of empire.I bought my 698 from a lady I'd done some work for.The glass and wood lid had come unglued,she thought it was a home built t.t. I paid her $10 and walked out the door.she came running out as I was loading it in my car and said here's a box of spare parts.In that cigar box was 6 more headshells and 8 cartridges and 12 stylis all empire.also 4 empire braided rca cables record brushes and 3 cartridge stylis setups in the boxes a broadcast one,400tc, and rm30 all new.I was one of my greatest finds of all time.only negitive was the horseshoe mount on the tonearm was broken.a tech friend grafted a 4 pin mount to and I've been using it for the last 10 years and loving it.Truely a work of art the most beautiful t.t. I've ever had.I also got a set of empire 8000p speakers from her for another $10 but i sold them a while back.

empirelvr
01-29-2010, 12:22 PM
I have a Denon DL-103 on it right now. It doesn't have the headshell insert, the Denon just sort of snapped into the headshell like it was made for it. When I checked the alignment, it lined up with the cheap paper protractor I had onhand when I set it up exactly. It sounds great but I need to replace the motor grommets and want to add some dynamat to the inside of the plinth and under the top-plate.

You were lucky with the alignment. Something I forgot to mention in my post is that the headshell on the 98 arm doesn't allow for overhang adjustments after the tonearm is mounted. It has two tapped holes for screws and no way to slide the cartridge to and fro to dial in an alignment. I think that was common on arms of the period.

Good luck with it! It's sure sounds great doesn't it?

Lucky for all us Rek-O-Kut and Empire fans that exact replacement motor mount grommets are a common and not too expensive item on Ebay these days.

Arkay
01-29-2010, 01:23 PM
Wow! What a great, comprehensive description of the history of, and differences between, Empire models. When I started the other thread by asking about the Empire models, I never dreamed such a comprehensive answer would be forthcoming. Congratulations on creating a valuable reference guide to all things Empire; your knowledge of these TTs is impressive, and thank you for taking time to write this all out and share it, so that the rest of us can learn and benefit.

I still don't have an Empire TT yet, but one day... all good things come to him who waits! :D

JohnVF
01-30-2010, 01:05 AM
Wow! What a great, comprehensive description of the history of, and differences between, Empire models. When I started the other thread by asking about the Empire models, I never dreamed such a comprehensive answer would be forthcoming. Congratulations on creating a valuable reference guide to all things Empire; your knowledge of these TTs is impressive, and thank you for taking time to write this all out and share it, so that the rest of us can learn and benefit.

I still don't have an Empire TT yet, but one day... all good things come to him who waits! :D

Have we finally found the one thing available in America that isn't readily found in your drool-worthy Hong Kong market? I'd love to read a page-long, detailed post about you finding one...I really hope you do. I like your acquisition stories.

empirelvr
01-30-2010, 11:20 PM
Wow! What a great, comprehensive description of the history of, and differences between, Empire models. When I started the other thread by asking about the Empire models, I never dreamed such a comprehensive answer would be forthcoming. Congratulations on creating a valuable reference guide to all things Empire; your knowledge of these TTs is impressive, and thank you for taking time to write this all out and share it, so that the rest of us can learn and benefit.

I still don't have an Empire TT yet, but one day... all good things come to him who waits! :D

Thanks! You're quite welcome.

Sam Cogley
01-31-2010, 01:50 AM
Lucky for all us Rek-O-Kut and Empire fans that exact replacement motor mount grommets are a common and not too expensive item on Ebay these days.

Esoteric Sound has some very nice grommets for a reasonable price.

slial
01-31-2010, 10:53 AM
My Thorens 124 came with a gold tonearm attached to it. The only thing I find strange about it is that the headshell has the lowercase letters "ae" on it.

Which Empire tonearm is this and what can you tell about its specs?

Scott

empirelvr
01-31-2010, 12:00 PM
My Thorens 124 came with a gold tonearm attached to it. The only thing I find strange about it is that the headshell has the lowercase letters "ae" on it.

Which Empire tonearm is this and what can you tell about its specs?

Scott

Sounds like the Empire 98 tonearm. The "ae" on the headshell stands for "Audio-Empire" which is what Empire called itself before it settled on "Dyna-Empire" and then finally, "Empire Scientific."

The arm looks like this but only in gold, right? http://cgi.ebay.com/EMPIRE-98-TONE-ARM-STUNNING-FIDELITY-RESEARCH-DL-103_W0QQitemZ140374184757QQcmdZViewItemQQptZTurnta ble_Parts_Accessories?hash=item20aef41335

The specs for it are almoist identical to the 980 which are listed here: http://www.vinylengine.com/library/empire/980.shtml

A good arm for a low-compliance moving coil like the Denon 103. The only negative is the total lack of anti-skate adjustment.

empirelvr
01-31-2010, 12:08 PM
Esoteric Sound has some very nice grommets for a reasonable price.

Interesting claims for them, and inexpensive enough to experiment with. Maybe I'll give 'em a try. :music:

wajobu
01-31-2010, 12:14 PM
Wow JohnVF, what a[nother] nice TT...first the VPI and now this :gigglemad

Nice!

JohnVF
01-31-2010, 12:42 PM
Wow JohnVF, what a[nother] nice TT...first the VPI and now this :gigglemad

Nice!

I told you I have a sickness. The Empire is second only to the VPI in this house, and I owe the VPI purchase partly to how much I liked the sound of the Empire. I've read that Harry Weisfeld of VPI designed the classic in many ways as an update of the design philosophy of the Empire's and I have to say, you can hear it in the sound.

slial
01-31-2010, 03:47 PM
Empirelvr,

That is definitely my tonearm, except for the color.

MrMonster
02-04-2010, 02:36 PM
Hello,Lads, Great postings,
My tast in audio gear runs strictly to vintage gear, for both the look and sound of it. I am shamelessly in love with the Empire turntables, and have been collecting them and any information about them.

I currently own seven Empires, 2, 398's 3, 598 III's 2, 698's and a custom 598 with a modified SME 3009 tonearm to fit the stock Empire mount.

I have learned a lot about these great tables, and one thing for sure, is they are the best tables I have owned in 45 years of buying gear and records.
I don't know about $2,500 or $25,000 tables and never will.

I have figure out a fix for the 598 tonearm with cue problems and will post it soon.
I have also had great luck in restoring the finish on the 598 tonearms if they aren't too bad off..

I will post some information on the 598 arm from taking apart a damaged arm after salvaging the cueing parts and the headshell.. What I can say now, is...... DO NOT!! try to take apart a 598 arm, all of the bearings are press fit, and held in with redundant and heavy retaining rings that take special tools to remove. Just about everything on this arm say's factory repair only! The only things you can safely remove are the counter weight and the cueing parts.

The only things you can do is repair the cue, and rewire with a lot of difficulty, but can be done you can remove the headshell to swap or repair a broken finer lift, as it is sweated on with a rosin, and not soldered on.

I also found a factory accessory mount to use the 590 arm on other tables or to retrofit the 398 table with the newer arm.

Owners of 398 and lower number tables, will see a drilled hole next to the button feet, this was for a factory accessory rubber shock absorber foot. I found that the Thorens "mushroom"" isolators are a match for the option foot and do wonders for vibrations on the 398 table.

I have tracked down the part number for the isolator grommets, and a supplier for the West coast, but I will need to buy a minimum of 60 pieces to place an order. If any one is willing to pay $15.00 includes shipping for a set. Let me know and I will put together an order, as this is cheaper than any of the resellers on Ebay.

Also, in one of my other hobbies I do molding and casting of poly resin parts. I an going to try to replicate the cartridge clip, but upgrade it to a no solder wire connector using a brass pin the will make contact to the arm as normal but able to slip the headshell wire on it like a normal headshell. I did a repair of a headshell with a damaged contact by removing the damaged contact, and filling the hole with JB weld, and redrilling to hole to fit a modified brass round head nail, and it works perfect.

Lastly, the big wall I have hit on researching Empire tables, is the dead end at 1980. What happened to the turntable division? I know the cartridge line went to Benz, but what happened to the last tables, the spare parts, the tooling etc. It's like they all fell into a vortex in 1980.

Well that was a lot of ramble, but I wanted to fit things into the post as I think I can help some of you on the cue repair and clean up of the finish on the 598 arm. I am going to do a rewire of one arm this Spring, and will document that also.

Thanks for listening,

Donald Bowman

Tarl Of Gor
02-04-2010, 02:50 PM
I have figure out a fix for the 598 tonearm with cue problems and will post it soon.

GREAT!! I just purchased a 598 and it has a problem with the cueing. Glad that mine isn't the only one.

ZebraBlvd
02-04-2010, 03:10 PM
Thank you very much empirelvr for starting this thread. It is has been an informative and interesting read on the Empire's. :thmbsp:

empirelvr
02-04-2010, 03:55 PM
I currently own seven Empires, 2, 398's 3, 598 III's 2, 698's and a custom 598 with a modified SME 3009 tonearm to fit the stock Empire mount.

I did kind of the same thing. A friend who has a friend who owns a machine shop made the hole in the t-bar big enough to accept the SME arm. I had to alter the SME arm in a few other ways, but the results have been very worth it!


I will post some information on the 598 arm from taking apart a damaged arm after salvaging the cueing parts and the headshell.. What I can say now, is...... DO NOT!! try to take apart a 598 arm, all of the bearings are press fit, and held in with redundant and heavy retaining rings that take special tools to remove. Just about everything on this arm say's factory repair only! The only things you can safely remove are the counter weight and the cueing parts.

I second this! I successfully took apart and repaied my own stock 990 arm, but it was a "nothing to lose, everything to gain" situation. One gratifying thing was I found that the horizontal race bearings are a stock, common item so I was able to pick up two new bearings from my local hardware store. Oddly enough, the cuing on the 990 arms I've had never posed a problem.


Also, in one of my other hobbies I do molding and casting of poly resin parts. I an going to try to replicate the cartridge clip, but upgrade it to a no solder wire connector using a brass pin the will make contact to the arm as normal but able to slip the headshell wire on it like a normal headshell. I did a repair of a headshell with a damaged contact by removing the damaged contact, and filling the hole with JB weld, and redrilling to hole to fit a modified brass round head nail, and it works perfect.

THIS sounds really promising. I hope you can do this.

Lastly, the big wall I have hit on researching Empire tables, is the dead end at 1980. What happened to the turntable division? I know the cartridge line went to Benz, but what happened to the last tables, the spare parts, the tooling etc. It's like they all fell into a vortex in 1980.

In retrospect, Empire was an odd company from all I gathered over the years. I grew up in Brooklyn, not too far away from their Garden City location and I remember going there with my Uncle in about 1977 to try and get his 98 arm fixed. Even though I was only about 12, I could sense an atmosphere of tension there. (They kept it for about a month, then said they couldn't fix it. I fiddled with it later and found out my Uncle inadvertently reversed two of the leads in the headshell to the new cartridge he installed causing the problem. I think the repair people at Empire didn't even look at it.)

Plus it was impossible to find a dealer in the NYC area that carried the 698, despite it being a current model. Whenever my Uncle went looking...cash in hand...all he got were sniffs of disapproval and tried to steer him to other brands and models. This despite glowing test results from all the magazines. Eventually he found a dealer in NYC that special ordered it for him. It was hard finding their cartridges as well. Everyone only wanted to sell Stanton/Pickering and Shure. Never Empire, despite their aggressive advertising.

It got so bad, the only place you could get replacement belts in the late seventies were from Lyle Cartridges of Brooklyn NY.

I can only infer from all this that Empire must have been difficult to deal with on many levels. The Stereophile article I referenced above quoted Benz as saying how the factory wasn't very well maintained, with worn out machinery and a workforce that he implied was set in their ways and resentful of any attempts to modernize or increase production. Make of it what you will.

As to spare parts, they had 'em up to about 1990, though not for everything. I would assume all the tooling and machinery went into the dumpster after they moved from Garden City to Deer Park NY. When that happened I don't know, though I'm guessing it had to be after Benz cut his losses and closed down the NY factory entirely.

MrMonster
02-04-2010, 06:43 PM
Hello again Lads,
The factory floor may indeed have been an odd place, and the dealer network slim, but this may be be the strong point of these tables.

They just seem to last forever. Of all my tables, the only problems I had when first acquired were belts, isolators, and dirt.
All of my motors are dead quiet, tonearms except for the cueing are all working perfectly. What a testament to a near 50 year old machine to still run like new! How many hours are there on a 50 year old motor and still runs cool and noise free? All my tone arm bearings, and wires are still fine.
The weight adjustment are within .10 of a gram of being true
I think that the only real problem one will find is just plain abuse and neglect.

What hooked me, was my fist Empire was a 398, and once cleaned up it worked like new, I cleaned out the platter bearing, added oil, and without a belt gave the platter a spin. Four minutes and 48 seconds later it finally stopped. I asked myself right then, who the hell still makes this kind of precision and quality any more?

The dealers may have hated them, as it would be the last table the customer would ever buy. Maybe the same for cartridges, I have two Empire 4000 DIII's that are still on their original stylus ans still are singing away.

Another point may be the refusal of the turntable division to change, as there really was no need to, why change perfection? Like those old Empire ads said, "It may be the last turntable you ever own"
No explanation why your Uncle had a problem with their repair people.
But I have had a lot of so called electronic service techs tell me that there is nothing that could be done, and wound up as a small fix and repaired it myself

Donald Bowman

MrMonster
02-04-2010, 07:10 PM
Hello Lads,
here are some photos of my clip repair. When I got this clip, it was obvious someone had the iron on it without a heat sink and the contact was melted out of the clip. I removed the old contact filled the hole with epoxy. drilled a hole to be a tight fit on a brass nail that I cut to length and narrowed the head, You can see the headshell wire now slips on with no solder.

I am confident I can make a new one with this style contact pin. The only problem is the headshell retaining nut. Empire used the same nut here as they used for the cartridge mounting screws, It has squared off shoulder and is cast into the clip, with a bit of it sticking up through the clip. I will have to figure out how to mount the nut and what nut to use. I wish I could find a source for those nuts, as they make mounting the cartridge a breeze on these clips.

Donald Bowman

MrMonster
02-04-2010, 08:38 PM
Hello Lads
Here are some photos showing what the mass or a 990 arm is, and the wiring route you have to make if you want to rewire your arm.

Here is a photo of the naked tube, the headshell and a clip, and they tip the scales at a combined 56 grams. I don't know if this makes it a heavy mass or not for a tonearm.
The next is the wiring route from the headshell contacts to the din plug.
These are some really fine wires, I guess 32 AWG with a very thing insulation.

You see they go from the contact clip on the headshell to the din plug. The small metal tab is the headshell ground that goes to your ground wire.
The din plug is in there solid as it is roll crimped to the mounting tube. and if you remove it, you need to find a way to remount it to the tube. I have seen a rewire that got rid of the din plug and just extended the wires to RCA jacks mounted to the base. I have been looking at making a replacement plug that would slide into the tube and attach via a scre into the side of the tube, I will have to find some DIN pins to mount into a plug that I can make a mold of to make copies, and then use a stardard 5 pin RCA cable.

More late on the cue system.

Donald Bowman

Balifly
02-04-2010, 08:52 PM
I have tracked down the part number for the isolator grommets, and a supplier for the West coast, but I will need to buy a minimum of 60 pieces to place an order. If any one is willing to pay $15.00 includes shipping for a set. Let me know and I will put together an order, as this is cheaper than any of the resellers on Ebay.


Donald Bowman

Are they applicable to all models?
A friend of my has at least two Empire turntables.
He would be delighted to get new isolator grommets for them.

MrMonster
02-04-2010, 09:12 PM
Hello,
as to the isolators, they are all the same as the motors are alike with only the spindle changed over time.
I will let this list know if and when I buy a bulk purchase.
Donald bowman

AudioSoul
02-04-2010, 09:45 PM
I just bought a Empire 208 today, fitted what looks like a 298 arm. It comes with a Empire 108 cart. It is in terrific shape. The wood base is even in very good condition. It has the original manual as well as the paper work that came with the cart. and a receipt for a new belt that was purchased from Turntable Basics back in 05 The grommets look to be in fine shape. All lettering is intact and all metal parts are clean with no pitting. All for the sum of $ 225.00............:D

JonL
02-04-2010, 10:12 PM
I live about 10 miles from Garden City. Next time I get up that way I may drive past the ex-factory just to see where it all happened. Who knows, maybe I'll find some goodies still laying in an alley or the weeds!

empirelvr
02-04-2010, 11:57 PM
I just bought a Empire 208 today, fitted what looks like a 298 arm. It comes with a Empire 108 cart. It is in terrific shape. The wood base is even in very good condition. It has the original manual as well as the paper work that came with the cart. and a receipt for a new belt that was purchased from Turntable Basics back in 05 The grommets look to be in fine shape. All lettering is intact and all metal parts are clean with no pitting. All for the sum of $ 225.00............:D

Congrats!! Glad you got your hands on it. :thmbsp:

Big Bill
02-05-2010, 12:05 AM
I just bought a Empire 208 today, fitted what looks like a 298 arm. It comes with a Empire 108 cart. It is in terrific shape. The wood base is even in very good condition. It has the original manual as well as the paper work that came with the cart. and a receipt for a new belt that was purchased from Turntable Basics back in 05 The grommets look to be in fine shape. All lettering is intact and all metal parts are clean with no pitting. All for the sum of $ 225.00............:D

Congrats and welcome to the club!

ekmanning5
02-05-2010, 12:42 AM
Our numbers seem to be growing. :tresbon:

empirelvr
02-05-2010, 11:01 AM
Our numbers seem to be growing. :tresbon:

The cat's outta the bag! :D

Redboy
02-05-2010, 11:22 AM
The cat's outta the bag! :DDamn, now I won't be able to afford them anymore! :no:

I've had a couple of them in recent years and they have a special hold on me.

I'm pulling a couple pictures in from other threads. Empire 208 fitted with a Clearaudio Satisfy Ebony tonearm:

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=124671&d=1229899487

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=121164&d=1228277138

JonL
02-05-2010, 11:43 AM
I just want one to stare at. Incredibly beautiful turntables. The gold and the proportion of the angular facets give it such a timeless look. I mean really timeless. It looks like something the ancient Egyptians could've made, or the Maya. Of course the original tonearm in gold adds to the formidable look. :drool::drool::drool:

Balifly
02-05-2010, 12:54 PM
There might be a sighting today!
Must remember to take pictures. :D

MrMonster
02-05-2010, 01:24 PM
Hello Lads,
You are right about timeless, this design would fit in the Art Deco age, the 50's streamline craze, Techno, Industrial, and will look contemporary 20 years from now.
The choice of that particular angle for the corners, and carrying that angle to the motor cover and the wood base, just captures and holds the eye.

I had a visitor ask me if this was a new European import, he isn't a audio geek like us, so I said "why yes, it is from a joint German, French audio design company, very exclusive"

I am such a stinker.
Donald Bowman

Balifly
02-05-2010, 03:40 PM
Don't know the model number.
Saw the auto lift in action, very neat! :thmbsp:

empirelvr
02-05-2010, 03:42 PM
Don't know the model number.
Saw the auto lift in action, very neat! :thmbsp:

That's a 598, original version.

ekmanning5
02-05-2010, 03:43 PM
That's a 598, original version.

yep, Looks like mine. The model # will be underneath.

Balifly
02-05-2010, 04:01 PM
What would be a good cartridge for 78 RPM, beside the Shure M 78S.
My friend is using this turntable to play mostly old country and western 78 RPM.
I am urging him to get a different cartridge and a Spin Clean rcm.

empirelvr
02-05-2010, 04:10 PM
What would be a good cartridge for 78 RPM, beside the Shure M 78S.
My friend is using this turntable to play mostly old country and western 78 RPM.
I am urging him to get a different cartridge and a Spin Clean rcm.

Depends on your budget. A lot of people love the Grado 78 Cartridge(s). I swear by an old Stanton 500 with various styli sizes. (You can find a good selection of Stantons at http://www.kabusa.com/frameset.htm?/)

For an old Empire, I'd go with a Stanton, tracking at about 3 grams. Good match for the stock arm.

Balifly
02-05-2010, 04:29 PM
Thanks for the information! :thmbsp:
I will look up your recommendations in the cartridges and their prices.
I will try to find him something around the $100.00 area.
Will report back later.

Tarl Of Gor
02-05-2010, 05:07 PM
Here's a couple pics of my 598:

http://i991.photobucket.com/albums/af32/tarlofgor/empire1.jpg

http://i991.photobucket.com/albums/af32/tarlofgor/empire2.jpg

ekmanning5
02-05-2010, 06:13 PM
How do you get inside the tonearm rest of a 598 to change the bulb? Where can one get this bulb?

empirelvr
02-05-2010, 06:31 PM
How do you get inside the tonearm rest of a 598 to change the bulb? Where can one get this bulb?

Bulbs are available here:
http://www.turntablebasics.com/belts/empire.html
Scroll down to the bottom of the page. It's the second bulb listed on the page at the very bottom. (The one called "Empire Strobe/Illuminator Lamps 6W, 120V")

Replacement isn't too difficult. Unplug the turntable. Carefully turn the turntable upside down, or if you don't want to take off the platter, tilt it upward. Then locate the wires coming out of the armrest. You'll see them (two thickinsh black wires) going through a metal grommet. This grommet is the socket for the light bulb. Gently pry the grommet off with a small screwdriver. (It's friction fit into the bottom of the armrest). After you get the grommet/socket off, replace the bulb, and when done, push the socket back into the armrest.

Tarl Of Gor
02-05-2010, 06:36 PM
The bulb assembly pulls out from underneath. I tried a screwdriver but a pair of channellock pliers works better - grab ahold of the edge and pull it out. The bulb is similar to an old style autmotive bulb but it's a 115V 6W bulb - maybe Home Depot has them.

MrMonster
02-05-2010, 08:12 PM
BE VERY AWARE IN TURNING THE 598 UPSIDE DOWN!!!!
Hope that got your attention.
If you turn the table upside down, make sure of your tonearm position. IF the arm is in it's rest, there is a possibility of breaking off the finger lift.
When upside down, the high angle of the tonearm fingerlift will make contact with your bench top, and any weight pressing down, like removing the lamp, will press against the finger left and snap it off. There are a lot of 990 arms out there missing the finger lift.

If you need to turn your table upside down for any work, REMOVE THE TONEARM!!!

Be afraid, be very afraid!
Donald Bowman

Tarl Of Gor
02-05-2010, 08:28 PM
FYI, Home Depot and Lowes didn't have the right bulb.

d-ray657
02-05-2010, 10:43 PM
It is worth going though this thread just to see all of those works of art. An Empire turntable has been on my wish lost for awhile. The first nice cartridge I bought when I entered this hobby a couple of years ago was the Empire 2000. That caught my interest. This has peaked it more.

Regards,

D-Ray

ekmanning5
02-05-2010, 10:57 PM
Thanks for the replies. I'll order a bulb on Monday. :thmbsp:

Naptown Rob
02-06-2010, 10:04 AM
Mr.Monster - If you're still thinking of ordering those grommets, I'd take two sets...

MrMonster
02-08-2010, 10:45 PM
Hello lads,
I have a 598 that is stumping me as to the model. The motor label is 598 with an N suffix. It is a three speed, with a popup 45 adapter.


I am not sure if this a first generation 598 as that N suffix is throwing me off in trying to ID it.

Thanks,
Donald Bowman

empirelvr
02-08-2010, 11:20 PM
Hello lads,
I have a 598 that is stumping me as to the model. The motor label is 598 with an N suffix. It is a three speed, with a popup 45 adapter.


I am not sure if this a first generation 598 as that N suffix is throwing me off in trying to ID it.

Thanks,
Donald Bowman

It's quite possible that you came across a 598 that was supposed to come without a base, but wound up with one anyway. (Maybe "N" = "No Base")

I did amend my post recently to draw attention to the fact that when the 598 initally went on sale, it was for the turntable *only*; the base and dust cover was a $35 option. There was no "588" as such, so the factory maybe used a "N" to signify a model ment to be shipped sans base and dust cover.

MrMonster
02-08-2010, 11:33 PM
Empirelvr,
Thanks, I have seen a number of 598's that were installed into consoles, This might have been destined for one, but caught a base at the last minute.
Donald Bowman

ekmanning5
03-11-2010, 04:28 PM
Empirelvr, if you're still out there. What would you use to clean your Empire 598? Can you use something like Neverdull on the platter to make it shine? Or does the gold finish that you see on many Empire tables prohibit this?

empirelvr
03-11-2010, 04:34 PM
Empirelvr, if you're still out there. What would you use to clean your Empire 598? Can you use something like Neverdull on the platter to make it shine? Or does the gold finish that you see on many Empire tables prohibit this?


I'm still here! :tresbon:

Tough call. Depending on the quality of the plating work on the platter, a good glass cleaner should help clean off any accumulated schmutz that may be on the platter. Anything stronger runs the risk of taking off the gold coloring, though it may make the platter shine. (experience talking)

For the gold plinth, I like using glass cleaner followed by a non-silicone furniture polish/wax. I also use the polish on the wood base, naturally.

MrMonster
03-11-2010, 04:56 PM
Hello Lads,
Warning, Warning, Dr. Smith!!! Do not use Never Dull on any surface that is sil screened or has a thin finish. That stuff looks cuddly, but it will wipe the paint right off metal and will scratch plexiglass
Do not use anything stronger than a light glass cleaner on the center of platter with the strobe, as the strobe marks and color is only painted on.

I have one platter now with a beautiful and shiny center, as I used a too aggressive cleaner on the platter and rubbed off the strobe marks in one spot. So I had to go ahead and strip the center and polish it .

You can use simichrome or MAAS polish on the rest of the platter if it isn't a gold washed finish..
On the other hand the MAAS brand polish will polish off the dull anodized wash on the tonearm, it takes a lot of time, and elbow grease, but you get a finish that looks like this.
I found that most of the scratches and pitting you see on the 990 arm is to the anodized wash and the brass plating underneath is in good condition.

this wont work on the early arms on the 398, as the anodize on those is a foot thick and not even bead blasting gets it off.

Donald Bowman

ekmanning5
03-11-2010, 04:57 PM
I'll try that route. The gold plating just SEEMS fragile to me. This is a classic example of wanting to learn from other's mistakes. :yes:

empirelvr
03-11-2010, 05:29 PM
I'll try that route. The gold plating just SEEMS fragile to me. This is a classic example of wanting to learn from other's mistakes. :yes:

Make no mistake about it...the plating IS fragile, and gets more fragile the newer the unit is. Extreme TLC is the order of the day in keeping it nice looking.

Tinkerbelle
03-11-2010, 06:51 PM
Great thread, with lots of very useful and interesting information. :thmbsp:

...People talk about a 108 turntable, but I've never been able to uncover any evidence of such a model for sale. I've checked old Lafayette, Allied, and Radio Shack catalogs, and old audio magazines from the late fifties to early sixties and can't find mention of one. Even a late 1980ís replacement turntable parts list I have from Empire makes no mention of a 108 or 100 series turntable. Now, the number A-108 or 108A is scribed on the platter and metalwork on all the 200/300 series turntables Empire manufactured. Iíve always took this to be a part number though, not any indication of a turntable model number.

It is entirely possible that there was a model 108, and if so it may have been a baseless, armless version of the 208 turntable. Since Empire did try to get into the professional broadcast market with their turntables (WQXR in NY used Empire turntables in the early 1960ís according to pictures and blurbs Iíve seen from magazines of that period,) that would have been a viable configuration to offer a radio station. Along with the longer length 98 tonearm, it would have been an ideal package for a high-fidelity conscious radio station back in 1961. But that is just my conjecture...
Interestingly, there is an Empire TT listed as an A108G up for auction on the 'bay (I have no affiliation with this). Perhaps you could take a look at that and solve that part of the puzzle.

empirelvr
03-11-2010, 08:12 PM
Great thread, with lots of very useful and interesting information. :thmbsp:


Interestingly, there is an Empire TT listed as an A108G up for auction on the 'bay (I have no affiliation with this). Perhaps you could take a look at that and solve that part of the puzzle.

I saw that. It's really a 298 (208 turntable with a 98 arm.) People insist on calling the early 208/298's a 108 because of the scribing of that part number in the metalwork underneath the platter, plinth, and motor cover and the lack of the true model number anywhere on the unit itself.

Tinkerbelle
03-11-2010, 08:18 PM
Great, that's good to know. Thanks for clearing that up.

MrMonster
03-12-2010, 01:18 AM
Hello Lads,
you can always go the whole way and have it pro polished.
I found these photos on a Refurb site for table.

Enjoy,

Donald Bowman

empirelvr
03-12-2010, 01:28 AM
Hello Lads,
you can always go the whole way and have it pro polished.
I found these photos on a Refurb site for table.

Enjoy,

Donald Bowman

Not sure I like that look. Not the shiny part (I really like how reflective it is), rather how the strobe, arm, and arm rest don't match color wise with the rest of the table. It makes it look disjointed. Though that may be a last resort for someone with a plinth in really bad shape.

AudioSoul
03-12-2010, 04:39 AM
Heres my modded 208.......

Naptown Rob
03-12-2010, 07:04 AM
Hello again, Empire lovers. I've had the same questions in my head as Ed, and I've been wondering if it's possible to have parts re-anodized.

I have a 598II (the one you helped me with, Ed) that has some dullness & pitting on the platter edge. I recently got a 598 that looks brand new in comparison, & it's really made me want to do something about the look of the 598II. But I worry about color matching. Anybody have re-anodizing experience?
- Rob

Big Bill
03-12-2010, 09:20 AM
Heres my modded 208.......

Where is it?

MrMonster
03-12-2010, 10:24 AM
Hello Lads

The problem in having things anodized, is that the tonearm is made from different metals, I count, Brass, Aluminum, Pot Metal, and I think, steel,
all react differently to anodizing, and the arm would need to be disassembled,
and that you just can not do, period. It takes proprietary tools to take apart the 990 arm, and a service manual, of which there aren't any

I found that your best route is to polish what you have, the anodize on the tonearm is thin and will polish off, leaving a nice brass/gold finish underneath, as the brass plating is very thick. go back a few messages and look at the arm I polished on mine.
IF you want dome full photos I can put them up.

I had at one time thought of having the arm on one gold plated, but after taking apart a trashed parts arm I found on Ebay, that is not possible as most of the parts are all press fit, with specialty retainers. This arm was designed to be a factory repair only.

Donald Bowman

Donald Bowman

Naptown Rob
03-13-2010, 04:43 PM
Donald -
It was just the outer platter piece I was thinking of new anodizing for. What are your thoughts on that?
- Rob

empirelvr
07-05-2010, 06:22 PM
Bump for minor corrections and added information absed on comments to the thread, conversations with others, and new information I've uncovered since originally writing the post.

Sam Cogley
07-05-2010, 11:25 PM
More than likely, yes, the original finish was silver if you have a silver strobe disc. What color is your tonearm though? It should be silver as well if the plinth was originally silver. I'd be shocked if someone painted the tonearm gold too!

I don't think I ever responded to this post. EVERYTHING on the table is covered in gold leaf, including every bit of the tonearm. I stripped the platter and verified that it's silver anodized aluminum underneath (I actually think it's just plain lightly polished aluminum that was clear anodized).

golana
07-16-2010, 04:05 PM
Hi, what are the hallmarks(telltales) of the 498,please?

empirelvr
07-16-2010, 04:11 PM
Hi, what are the hallmarks(telltales) of the 498,please?

The easiest sign is the on/off lighted push button is green as opposed to red, and off to the right side instead of being in the middle of the plinth.

The other surest sign is the platter is very "thin" as opposed to the platter on the 208/298/398 and the belt is not visible. (See attached picture.)

Flammaster
07-16-2010, 04:13 PM
Wow these are beautiful. I never saw them before.

golana
07-16-2010, 04:13 PM
Oh boy! Thank you.

Oerets
07-16-2010, 04:18 PM
I want one !



Barney

golana
07-16-2010, 04:58 PM
Empirelover, looking at these, they are definitely different than the other tables.
According to your earlier comments, they were the best of both world. Might you iterate a bit more? What could be advantages, etc.. I kind of like the taller platter with the belt showing. Could you sell me on pluses of the other.
Don't get me wrong, I'm already sold, just trying to hash out my purchase.

empirelvr
07-16-2010, 05:20 PM
Empirelover, looking at these, they are definitely different than the other tables.
According to your earlier comments, they were the best of both world. Might you iterate a bit more? What could be advantages, etc.. I kind of like the taller platter with the belt showing. Could you sell me on pluses of the other.
Don't get me wrong, I'm already sold, just trying to hash out my purchase.

It has to do with the bearing and the flywheel effect. The 498 shares the same type of bearing the 208/398 had, which has really stood the test of time. It was really a work of art. Close toleranced, machined immaculately, and built to last a lifetime. That's not to say the bearing on the 598/698 is junk...it's just that the earlier bearing was superior.

As for the flywheel effect, while the weight of the platter's of Empire's various models didn't change much, (about seven pounds) the *diameter* varied, which influences the flywheel effect. (The more, the better.)

On the 208 turntable, the bulk of the weight is on the periphery of it's 12" plus platter, making it quite a massive flywheel. Whereas on the 598/698, the diameter of the platter is smaller so the flywheel effect isn't quite the same. (The gold "rim" exposed on the 598/698 is not all that heavy.)

But on the 498, the platter is still one piece, the diameter, while smaller than the 208, isa bit greater than the 598/698 and has some weight on the edge because it's a one piece casting. So it splits the difference.

Is it audible? I don't know. I've never seen a 498 "in the flesh" much less used one. But I HAVE owned a 298 and the differences I heard between it and the 598 seemed to be more of a suspended vs. rigid mounting variety than a bearing/flywheel issue.

(BTW...Pix not mine. Gathered from the internet. I take no credit for them.)

JohnVF
07-16-2010, 05:30 PM
I've seen on in person, it used to sit on the display shelf of my local audio store. I like the looks of the other series better, both the 208/398 and 598 with its beautiful cabinet...but the 498 is a looker, too, in comparison to most anything else. I noticed it was gone the last time I was in there, but the manager, who I'm friendly with, wasn't there to ask where it went. He had alluded to the fact that he might take it home to play with about a month ago. This is a guy with some really fantastic turntables, who made fun of me when I talked him out of the 208 that was on display. Hmm...

cepheuskappa
07-17-2010, 02:22 PM
I have a 498 coming in shortly :banana:. Let you know how it stacks up against my other Empires:298 & 398.

Cheers!
Rolly

golana
07-17-2010, 02:45 PM
The platter is said to weigh 4#, and to run out for an eternity.:D
http://i220.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/trampledunderfoot/kjhg003.jpg
http://i220.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/trampledunderfoot/ett001.jpg
http://i220.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/trampledunderfoot/ett003.jpg
We'll know more as I tear into it.

JohnVF
07-17-2010, 03:14 PM
Sweetness.

empirelvr
07-17-2010, 03:36 PM
I have a 498 coming in shortly :banana:. Let you know how it stacks up against my other Empires:298 & 398.

Cheers!
Rolly

Interesting hybrid. It's a 498 with a 98 arm, and a replacment power switch, a configuration that never existed at the time of the 498's lifespan. The original owner must have had trouble with the stock 980 arm or had two incomplete units and made this hybrid up. It's still VERY sweet though. :tresbon:

More importantly though, if you havent, you MUST make the seller aware that he HAS to ship the turntable with the platter and tonearm off with each packed seperately. This is an absolute if you want this turntable to arrive in useable condition. That arm has to come off and be wrapped in it's own pile of bubble wrap, even if he has to undo the jack on the base. Otherwise you better pile on the insurance and be prepared to get the unit in unusable and ruined condition. Double boxing and lots of bubble wrap will NOT work.

empirelvr
07-17-2010, 03:39 PM
The platter is said to weigh 4#, and to run out for an eternity.:D
http://i220.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/trampledunderfoot/kjhg003.jpg
http://i220.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/trampledunderfoot/ett001.jpg
http://i220.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/trampledunderfoot/ett003.jpg
We'll know more as I tear into it.

That is really, really sweet. Looks like a late production 498 too with the 980 arm that had the anti-skate adjustment. :tresbon:

golana
07-17-2010, 03:52 PM
Thanks guys, and thanks for all the info. this came with a home built box, table shipping shims and extra belts, sweet it is. With the scratching(front right) I'll definitely strip and polish it. I do like the look of bare Al. so no problem there. And, a new base is easily built. It ran flawlessly:thmbsp: solid and quiet as a,
well nothing actually.

levlhed
07-18-2010, 01:12 PM
I've got a local 598 tempting me....

Are these quiet tables?

empirelvr
07-18-2010, 01:29 PM
I've got a local 598 tempting me....

Are these quiet tables?

I'm not sure what you mean by "quiet." It can be taken two ways, so I'll give my two cents like that,

From a rumble/playback noise perspective, they are. Any rumble I've ever heard through my speakers was cut into the disc by the master lathe. Other brands of turntables may have more "blackness" or any other number of audio terms, but there is no mechanical noise picked up from the motor. (Provided the belt and motor grommets and suspension are in good condition.)

Mechanically though, the Papst motor is a hevy duty piece of kit. It just might be audible as a quiet whirring depending on the noise level of your listening room. I find it mostly comforting myself. I never find it to get in the way of the music.

levlhed
07-18-2010, 02:19 PM
Quiet from a rumble/playback noise perspective as I listen with headphones exclusively.

empirelvr
07-18-2010, 08:01 PM
Quiet from a rumble/playback noise perspective as I listen with headphones exclusively.

with a good belt, new motor grommets (available on ebay and elsewhere really easily), platter bearing wiped with light machine oil (don't put oil in the bearing housing) and the suspension tuned right, it should be dead silent.

bluesky
07-19-2010, 02:23 PM
Really nice TTs! You guys are really into it and that's just so way cool. I'm into Sansui TTs myself but this is such an interesting thread.

Great history write-up. You've done your homework.

Great thread. Empire!

Sam Cogley
07-20-2010, 12:20 AM
Really nice TTs! You guys are really into it and that's just so way cool. I'm into Sansui TTs myself but this is such an interesting thread.

Great history write-up. You've done your homework.

Great thread. Empire!

Empires are just fun. There is something delightfully loony about their tank-like build quality and steampunk-ish looks, IMHO.

Edriz
08-18-2010, 07:56 PM
Hello,Lads, Great postings,
My tast in audio gear runs strictly to vintage gear, for both the look and sound of it. I am shamelessly in love with the Empire turntables, and have been collecting them and any information about them.

I currently own seven Empires, 2, 398's 3, 598 III's 2, 698's and a custom 598 with a modified SME 3009 tonearm to fit the stock Empire mount.

I have learned a lot about these great tables, and one thing for sure, is they are the best tables I have owned in 45 years of buying gear and records.
I don't know about $2,500 or $25,000 tables and never will.

I have figure out a fix for the 598 tonearm with cue problems and will post it soon.
I have also had great luck in restoring the finish on the 598 tonearms if they aren't too bad off..

I will post some information on the 598 arm from taking apart a damaged arm after salvaging the cueing parts and the headshell.. What I can say now, is...... DO NOT!! try to take apart a 598 arm, all of the bearings are press fit, and held in with redundant and heavy retaining rings that take special tools to remove. Just about everything on this arm say's factory repair only! The only things you can safely remove are the counter weight and the cueing parts.

The only things you can do is repair the cue, and rewire with a lot of difficulty, but can be done you can remove the headshell to swap or repair a broken finer lift, as it is sweated on with a rosin, and not soldered on.

I also found a factory accessory mount to use the 590 arm on other tables or to retrofit the 398 table with the newer arm.

Owners of 398 and lower number tables, will see a drilled hole next to the button feet, this was for a factory accessory rubber shock absorber foot. I found that the Thorens "mushroom"" isolators are a match for the option foot and do wonders for vibrations on the 398 table.

I have tracked down the part number for the isolator grommets, and a supplier for the West coast, but I will need to buy a minimum of 60 pieces to place an order. If any one is willing to pay $15.00 includes shipping for a set. Let me know and I will put together an order, as this is cheaper than any of the resellers on Ebay.

Also, in one of my other hobbies I do molding and casting of poly resin parts. I an going to try to replicate the cartridge clip, but upgrade it to a no solder wire connector using a brass pin the will make contact to the arm as normal but able to slip the headshell wire on it like a normal headshell. I did a repair of a headshell with a damaged contact by removing the damaged contact, and filling the hole with JB weld, and redrilling to hole to fit a modified brass round head nail, and it works perfect.

Lastly, the big wall I have hit on researching Empire tables, is the dead end at 1980. What happened to the turntable division? I know the cartridge line went to Benz, but what happened to the last tables, the spare parts, the tooling etc. It's like they all fell into a vortex in 1980.

Well that was a lot of ramble, but I wanted to fit things into the post as I think I can help some of you on the cue repair and clean up of the finish on the 598 arm. I am going to do a rewire of one arm this Spring, and will document that also.

Thanks for listening,

Donald Bowman

Any luck with the cartridge plate. I'd sure like to get ahold of one.

orthophonic
08-18-2010, 10:17 PM
I believe all the parts and unsold inventory went to (now defunct) Lyle Cartridges.
In 1983 I inquired at Empire for a new belt and they sent me a Lyle Catalogue saying
they were handling that now. In the catalogue were belts, headshells and new in the box 698's for $150.00 and many other parts. I ended up ordering a few 698 headshells
and a new in the box 698 as a spare. I had paid $400.00 for the 698 in 1979 and it
was just too good to pass up another for $150.00, should have bought several!

I remember reading an interview with Benz back in the late 80's and he said the tooling and such was worn out, obsolete and worthless to him.

Puddintane
09-08-2010, 09:47 PM
Is there any risk in taking apart any part of the tonearm from a 698? I recently acquired one, and I just noticed that inside the top under the clear plastic (in the tracking force guage) there is a loose spring and a small black part. After reading the cautions against trying to disassemble the tonearm on a 598, I'm wondering if there is any similar risk with this model. Thanks.

empirelvr
09-08-2010, 09:56 PM
Is there any risk in taking apart any part of the tonearm from a 698? I recently acquired one, and I just noticed that inside the top under the clear plastic (in the tracking force guage) there is a loose spring and a small black part. After reading the cautions against trying to disassemble the tonearm on a 598, I'm wondering if there is any similar risk with this model. Thanks.

Do you mean the tracking force dial on the side or the anti skating spring on the top of the arm? (see pic)

Puddintane
09-08-2010, 10:19 PM
Do you mean the tracking force dial on the side or the anti skating spring on the top of the arm? (see pic)

I guess it's the anti-skate spring on top, inside the dial numbered 1-4. Sorry, my bad.

empirelvr
09-08-2010, 10:31 PM
I guess it's the anti-skate spring on top, inside the dial numbered 1-4. Sorry, my bad.

You're in luck!! While I would advise against opening up the arm on the 698 for the same reasons as Empire's other arms, in your case what you are looking at is quite a simple fix.

The four screws that hold the plastic top should be quite easy to remove, and once open, it should be fairly obvious how the spring inside is supposed to attach. (This was something that happened to my Uncle's 698, so I did this myself.) Since the spring is disconnected you don't have to worry about anything flying out when you remove the top. I may be remembering this wrong, but I think it was easier to attach it if the arm was swung over the platter near the spindle. (With headshell removed of course.)

Just be careful with that top! It's made of Lexan, and so like the headshell fingerlift and arm rest is is probably quite brittle by now. Handle it carefully and when you screw it back on, try to not bear down on the screws too much. It might crack if you screw it down too tight.

johnda
09-08-2010, 10:54 PM
Thanks for that great history on Empire turntables, it was extensive and informative. I appreciate all the work you put into it.

JonL
09-08-2010, 11:11 PM
Every picture just make me want one more. What beautiful design and workmanship in these tables and tonearms. And to think they were made not 10 miles from where I live and I never knew....

Puddintane
09-08-2010, 11:32 PM
You're in luck!! While I would advise against opening up the arm on the 698 for the same reasons as Empire's other arms, in your case what you are looking at is quite a simple fix.

The four screws that hold the plastic top should be quite easy to remove, and once open, it should be fairly obvious how the spring inside is supposed to attach. (This was something that happened to my Uncle's 698, so I did this myself.) Since the spring is disconnected you don't have to worry about anything flying out when you remove the top. I may be remembering this wrong, but I think it was easier to attach it if the arm was swung over the platter near the spindle. (With headshell removed of course.)

Duh! My bad. I took off the cover, and it wasn't disconnected after all. I'm unfamiliar with this tt, and when I looked at it through the cover, it looked to me like the spring was lying in there on it's side, which it was--just as it should be! Thanks for the help. I have a feeling I might be needing more. I just acquired this tt and plan to try and restore it. You can see it here.

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?p=3975727#post3975727

empirelvr
09-08-2010, 11:46 PM
Duh! My bad. I took off the cover, and it wasn't disconnected after all. I'm unfamiliar with this tt, and when I looked at it through the cover, it looked to me like the spring was lying in there on it's side, which it was--just as it should be! Thanks for the help. I have a feeling I might be needing more. I just acquired this tt and plan to try and restore it. You can see it here.

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?p=3975727#post3975727

Oh no! The headshell is really cracked! Oh what a shame.:sigh: You paid more than a fair price for that haul. In fact I'd call it a steal, even with the compromised 698.

That 698 looks immaculate. And the XUV-4500 cartridge was one of Pickering's "statement" offerings and one of the finest CD-4 quadrophonic cartridges ever made. Unfortunately, finding both a headshell and new stylus will NOT be easy...or cheap.

Puddintane
09-09-2010, 12:15 AM
That 698 looks immaculate.

It is in pretty nice shape overall--except for the headshell. The left side of the base is weathered a bit too. Looks like it might have sat with that side facing a window--it's dry and faded looking, with some raised grain in the veneer (maybe a little moisture too). The left side of the top of the base is a bit faded too (compared to the rest of the base top).

And as I mentioned in the other thread, it looks like the cover has been reglued on the top right (to secure the glass to the wood on the right side). It looks like it might be the same glue that's on the finger lift inside the headshell. I suspect it all got damaged at the same time from lifting the cover off it's hinge and then dropping it.

I'll probably need to remove the whole metal top in order to restore the wood base. Is it a fairly easy disassembly process? Do you (or anyone) have a service manual or the like? I have the foldout owner's manual that came with it new. But that's mostly just setup info.

empirelvr
09-09-2010, 12:27 AM
It is in pretty nice shape overall--except for the headshell. The left side of the base is weathered a bit too. Looks like it might have sat with that side facing a window--it's dry and faded looking, with some raised grain in the veneer (maybe a little moisture too). The left side of the top of the base is a bit faded too (compared to the rest of the base top).

And as I mentioned in the other thread, it looks like the cover has been reglued on the top right (to secure the glass to the wood on the right side). It looks like it might be the same glue that's on the finger lift inside the headshell. I suspect it all got damaged at the same time from lifting the cover off it's hinge and then dropping it.

I'll probably need to remove the whole metal top in order to restore the wood base. Is it a fairly easy disassembly process? Do you (or anyone) have a service manual or the like? I have the foldout owner's manual that came with it new. But that's mostly just setup info.

Unfortunately there is no service manual as such. The fact you have the setup guide - instructions is amazing enough.

Getting the top plate off the base isn't all that hard. It's all screws, no glue. Just be gentle, take pictures as you go along so you have a guide how to re-assemble it and you should be fine.

I would hold off on doing anything with the base though. You are dead in the water with that headshell being like it is. Finding another or getting the one you have repaired is absoltely imperative. Without it, you're just refurbishing a nice door stop. Also, check the cueing and see if that is in working order. It is a problem with a lot of 698's and if THAT is also buggered up, I'd not even attempt a restoration. I'd just put a classified here on AK and sell it to a fellow AK'er who needs parts. Unless you are really invested in this, it's not worth the headaches, time, and money you'll have to spend to get it up and running properly. I wish I could say happier things, but I can't. :tears:

Puddintane
09-10-2010, 01:11 AM
Does anyone know the correct belt length for the 698? I seem to get different recommendations from different sellers, and the one on mine is pretty stretched.

empirelvr
09-10-2010, 01:27 AM
Does anyone know the correct belt length for the 698? I seem to get different recommendations from different sellers, and the one on mine is pretty stretched.

That's a tough one. The belt size for the 598/698 should be identical and constant across the models, but there seems to be no consensus on that.

More important than length is width. The wrong width will cause speed errors.

Your best bet is to buy a belt from someone who offers numerous variations for the 698 and has a liberal return policy. It would help if you can measure the belt you have in all the dimensions (width, length, thickness) and give that to whoever you buy the belt from, depending on if the speed is still correct with the old belt. They might be able to match it that way, with some allowance for the stretched length.

MrMonster
09-10-2010, 03:30 AM
This is tough,
Although the 598 698 belts are for the most part the same, It is the 598 III and 698 belts that are the same from the standpoint of original specs. as these two model don't run 78"s and have different width and thickness from the other 598's that are three speed

The best source I have found for belts is from Turntable Needles.com
AT http://www.turntableneedles.com/Empire-DB-508-Flat-Belt-Medium_p_750.html

The belts from these guys have been the best fitting for all models of Empire that I have found so far..
They do turn a tad fast on a strobe test, but the actual sound is normal to me.
I have nine Empires in all models except the 498 , and I have tried belts from all over. So far these have been the best, and I don't notice fast play on records across all speeds
I have some original belts, and they are all quality live rubber and are ground thin, at around .018 to .020 thick .

The best advice is, to first replace your motor bushings with new. Then clean and polish your motor pulley to a high sheen, and then if you find a belt from someone that works, buy another three or four for the future. Then rotate them out every six months so all will stay fresh.

Empires rule,

Donald Bowman

Puddintane
09-11-2010, 10:49 PM
The best source I have found for belts is from Turntable Needles.com
AT http://www.turntableneedles.com/Empire-DB-508-Flat-Belt-Medium_p_750.html

The belts from these guys have been the best fitting for all models of Empire that I have found so far..

I ordered one, so we'll see how it works.

The best advice is, to first replace your motor bushings with new.

Is that the same as grommets (like those someone sells on eBay)?

empirelvr
09-11-2010, 10:57 PM
I ordered one, so we'll see how it works.



Is that the same as grommets (like those someone sells on eBay)?

Yes. And those that are on sale on ebay are from the original manufactuer of the grommets (Lord Industries of PA.) So they are an exact replacement.

http://www.lord.com/Products-and-Solutions/Vibration-and-Motion-Control/Elastomer-Devices/Grommet-Isolators.xml

Puddintane
09-12-2010, 01:11 PM
I would hold off on doing anything with the base though. You are dead in the water with that headshell being like it is. Finding another or getting the one you have repaired is absoltely imperative. Without it, you're just refurbishing a nice door stop.

No door stop here! See what I found?!

http://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k90/Puddintane_2006/Empire%20698/IMG_7361.jpg

I have a feeling I'm going to have several more questions to ask and could benefit from, and appreciate greatly(!), your and others' expertise on this TT. Should I start a new thread so as not to hijack this one?

Edriz
09-12-2010, 02:09 PM
anybody know who the seller is cause i could use new grometts for my Empire 598III

empirelvr
09-12-2010, 03:31 PM
anybody know who the seller is cause i could use new grometts for my Empire 598III

You don't even need ebay. Esoteric Sound sells them as well.

http://www.esotericsound.com/access.htm
They're near the bottom of the page.

empirelvr
09-12-2010, 03:32 PM
No door stop here! See what I found?!

I have a feeling I'm going to have several more questions to ask and could benefit from, and appreciate greatly(!), your and others' expertise on this TT. Should I start a new thread so as not to hijack this one?

A new thread is probably a good idea.

Score on the headshell! :thmbsp: The turntable godz are smiling on you, for sure!!

soma89
09-12-2010, 04:56 PM
How do these empire turntables compare to more common tables like those by Dual and Thorens?

empirelvr
09-13-2010, 12:56 AM
How do these empire turntables compare to more common tables like those by Dual and Thorens?

A Dual comparison is kind of apples/oranges as the majority of Duals were changers. Especially the models from the 60's and early 70's. Also the classic models from Dual were idlers, not belt drives. Not saying anything against them, just the intended market was different from Empire.

Thorens vs. Empire is a valid comparison though, especially the belt driven Thorens tables.

I'm not much of a Thorens expert but I think the design of them tended towards small motors (some of them DC motors,) lighter platters, much like the AR, but with better precision, better construction, and that unbeatable Swiss engineering. Also some of them have convenience features like semi-automatic playback, push button speed change, and other options Empire in general eschewed. There are also more models than Empire ever had.

Empire's favor mass. Big, high-torque motors, heavy platters, and a spartan no-nonsense design that needs a bit more space than the average Thorens. Especially the 598/698 with it's dust cover. These aren't small tables. They also still perform to spec 50 years later thanks to good design and manufacturing. Many think Empire's still compete with today's mega-buck turntables. They certainly blow your sub-$1000 Rega's out of the water. Inaudible rumble, extremely low wow and flutter, great solidity in presentation, and "drive."

It's a question of what you like. At least with Thorens the company is still active, though admittedly not what it was. I think there are even spare parts available for a number of their "classic" models. And there is a thriving online Thorens community which can help with issues. Empire's seem to still be a dark horse, very slowly starting to get the kind of online love that Garrard and Thorens have had for a while now.

golana
09-13-2010, 07:34 AM
Got my love. 498 is an absolutely gorgeous player.

ekmanning5
09-13-2010, 09:52 AM
Perhaps we can ask our moderator to make an Empire TT sticky.

empirelvr
09-13-2010, 11:07 AM
Perhaps we can ask our moderator to make an Empire TT sticky.

That would be sweet! :yes: What are the criteria for a sticky?

Maybe I can write another new post to be made as a sticky taking all the information gleamed from others contributions to this thread, crdited of course, along with new information I've collected since I wrote the main body of this post. Good idea?

ekmanning5
09-13-2010, 12:32 PM
That would be sweet! :yes: What are the criteria for a sticky?

Maybe I can write another new post to be made as a sticky taking all the information gleamed from others contributions to this thread, crdited of course, along with new information I've collected since I wrote the main body of this post. Good idea?

I'd say. The info I got from this thread alone has been invaluable to me.

Redboy
09-13-2010, 01:07 PM
I thought this thread already was a sticky! It most definitely should be. :yes:

empirelvr, I don't think you'd need to rewrite it, though.

1newbe
09-27-2010, 01:05 AM
Didn't know anything about the Empires, but no surprise as I am new to the vintage game. These tables are gorgeous! On my wish list. Really enjoyed reading this thread and learning about them. Thanks to all involved.

Edriz
10-07-2010, 09:51 AM
My Empire seems to be very "bouncy". I was thinking maybe the springs may be shot. Would anyone know where new springs can be had?

I also havent been able to adjust the speed. No matter which direction I turn the speed adjustment know, the speed does not change. I installed a new belt and motor gromets. Is there something I'm missin.
Thanks for assisting me
Ed

MrMonster
10-07-2010, 11:19 AM
Hello,
can you elaborate on what you mean by "bouncy"
The springs in the 598/698 Empire should not go bad, but the felt piston washers can.
Is the platter and arm vibrating from normal walking around your turntable stand?
I have done nothing to the suspensions of my 7 suspended Empires, and I can pretty much jump up and down on my wood floors and not have an effect on them.

As for speed adjustments, do you have a correct size belt for your Empire?
As many of the belts available today are too wide and thick, and can cancel out the adjustment of the motor.
Is your table running too fast or slow? Is it something you can actually hear, or is it measured by a strobe and proper light?

Donald Bowman

empirelvr
10-07-2010, 11:40 AM
My Empire seems to be very "bouncy". I was thinking maybe the springs may be shot. Would anyone know where new springs can be had?

I also havent been able to adjust the speed. No matter which direction I turn the speed adjustment know, the speed does not change. I installed a new belt and motor gromets. Is there something I'm missin.
Thanks for assisting me
Ed

As MrMonster has suggested, the speed issue sounds like you received a wrong sized belt. Not that the speed adjustment has that great a range, but it should produce some difference, so I would make sure the belt is the proper size.

MrMonster also touches on something I've been meaning to write about.

Those felt washers in the suspension system of the 498/598/698. They provide that "piston" action that Empire describes, but I found that removing them improves the sound by more than an order of magnitude.

They provide a nice amount of damping, but since when my Uncle first got his 698 I noticed that the turntable didn't have the complete freedom other suspended tables had from vibration transmitted sounds like thumping on the plinth or acoustic feedback.

So in a fit of experimentation two years ago I removed the felts from my 598III and after readjusting it and all, I found not only is the turntable now completely impervious to any sort of influence from being tapped on, acoustic feedback etc, but a whole low layer of grunge and "haze" is no longer there. Plus, and I admit I cannot explain this, subjectively the bass seems to go deeper and with more authority than it did before the felt removal.

The downside is, naturally, that you need to have a really solid support for the thing now. That's not a concern for me, as my listening room floor is a concrete slab, but for others, doing this mod would make wall mounting almost mandatory. Plus you lose the ability to use the cueing facility as touching the cue lever causes the whole platter/arm to swing and jump up and down. (I rarely use it anyway. I've always been a "fingerlift" man.)

But if you can do it, I would at least try it. It does a LOT to help an already good sounding turntable sound even better.

MrMonster
10-07-2010, 01:14 PM
Hello Lads,
I concur with Empirelvr, from my research, the speed adjustment does little to actually adjust speed.
From the manuals and reviews I have, this is is only a fine adjustment to make up for belt wear, or to to compensate for improper mastering of the record itself.

The manuals I have on hand, suggest to use the motor adjustment knob to center the belt in the pulley groove for the speed of your choice, and then check speed.
This works for me, as this will put the speed nearly right on.
The speed problem that exists in even the best fitting belts of new manufacture, is you will run a tad fast when measured by a strobe, but my ears do not hear it as being too fast, and I have played the same records on my Empire and my Pioneer PL 630 that runs dead on by strobe. I have A/B the tables and do not notice a speed change in listening.

Back to the springs, I have one custom 598 III that has the springs rubber coated and the felt washer replaced with new silicone impregnated felt washers.
Amazingly there is no difference in sound from the table compared to my others. I will have to try removing the felt pistons to see if there is an improvement for me.

Donald Bowman

Donald Bowman

Puddintane
10-07-2010, 01:25 PM
Hello,
can you elaborate on what you mean by "bouncy"
The springs in the 598/698 Empire should not go bad, but the felt piston washers can.

Donald Bowman

Can those felt washers be replaced? And if yes, where might I obtain them?

Edriz
10-07-2010, 01:31 PM
Hello,
can you elaborate on what you mean by "bouncy"
The springs in the 598/698 Empire should not go bad, but the felt piston washers can.
Is the platter and arm vibrating from normal walking around your turntable stand?
I have done nothing to the suspensions of my 7 suspended Empires, and I can pretty much jump up and down on my wood floors and not have an effect on them.

As for speed adjustments, do you have a correct size belt for your Empire?
As many of the belts available today are too wide and thick, and can cancel out the adjustment of the motor.
Is your table running too fast or slow? Is it something you can actually hear, or is it measured by a strobe and proper light?

Donald Bowman

I guess what I mean by bouncy is I can barely walk by the Turntable without the tonearm skipping. I dont have the same problem with my Pioneer PL-600 turntable. Even tip toeing I can watch the platter/tonearm moving up and down. I know the floors arent the greatest, wood floor and carpeted but I also have a 60LB piece of granite under the Empire and about 200 or so records on the bottom 2 shelves of that rack which also add quite a bit of weight.

The speed adjustment doesnt really seem to be any big deal, I cant hear the difference between my PL-600 which is quartz lock and thew Empire. I was just wondering about the adjustment. I do use an 18" flourecent light when I check the stobe on the platter. the lines look to me to be going in a counterclock wise rotation. I cant answer if thats fast or slow?

Edriz
10-07-2010, 01:35 PM
As MrMonster has suggested, the speed issue sounds like you received a wrong sized belt. Not that the speed adjustment has that great a range, but it should produce some difference, so I would make sure the belt is the proper size.

MrMonster also touches on something I've been meaning to write about.

Those felt washers in the suspension system of the 498/598/698. They provide that "piston" action that Empire describes, but I found that removing them improves the sound by more than an order of magnitude.

They provide a nice amount of damping, but since when my Uncle first got his 698 I noticed that the turntable didn't have the complete freedom other suspended tables had from vibration transmitted sounds like thumping on the plinth or acoustic feedback.

So in a fit of experimentation two years ago I removed the felts from my 598III and after readjusting it and all, I found not only is the turntable now completely impervious to any sort of influence from being tapped on, acoustic feedback etc, but a whole low layer of grunge and "haze" is no longer there. Plus, and I admit I cannot explain this, subjectively the bass seems to go deeper and with more authority than it did before the felt removal.

The downside is, naturally, that you need to have a really solid support for the thing now. That's not a concern for me, as my listening room floor is a concrete slab, but for others, doing this mod would make wall mounting almost mandatory. Plus you lose the ability to use the cueing facility as touching the cue lever causes the whole platter/arm to swing and jump up and down. (I rarely use it anyway. I've always been a "fingerlift" man.)

But if you can do it, I would at least try it. It does a LOT to help an already good sounding turntable sound even better.

The first belt I received was way too big but the seller sent me the right one the second time. Or as far as I can tell, its the correct one. Its slightly smaller then the one that came with the turntable. I'm guessing the original may have been worn.

MrMonster
10-07-2010, 10:59 PM
Hello,
If your tonearm is bouncing from normal foot traffic, you may not have the platter adjusted properly or more likely the tonearm is not setup correctly.

Go to vinylengine.com and download the 598 manual.
There are instructions to properly setup the platter height and the tonearm and cartridge.

Like I said I can pretty much jump on the floor, and I have two of my 598's on a low table.

Donald Bowman

golana
10-11-2010, 09:31 AM
It's time I build a decent base for the 498. Can anyone point me to the dimensions. Mostly the angle. It appears to be opposite the plinth angle.

I seem to have found that the original base, i.e. small, light and or petite. Used for belt drive. Versus, a larger block of wood, for an idler drive. Is the way to go.
I do like the looks of the standard base, but would like to to what would be best for the music. Any opinions? And, no I won't go in Redboys direction.:D

Redboy
10-12-2010, 11:16 AM
It's time I build a decent base for the 498. Can anyone point me to the dimensions. Mostly the angle. It appears to be opposite the plinth angle.

I seem to have found that the original base, i.e. small, light and or petite. Used for belt drive. Versus, a larger block of wood, for an idler drive. Is the way to go.
I do like the looks of the standard base, but would like to to what would be best for the music. Any opinions? And, no I won't go in Redboys direction.:DI think the original base (small and lightweight as you note) was similar to what was built for most turntables of the period, whether they were belt or idler driven. The idea of sinking resonance and vibration into a massive plinth is more recent, I think.

That said, I don't think you could go wrong by building a massive base for a non-suspended Empire, but in your case it may not make much difference - the 498 is suspended, right?

golana
10-12-2010, 10:41 PM
- the 498 is suspended, right?

Suspended yes, like a trampoline.
Just trying to make good decisions. I've been leaning to traditional, for that very reason.

cplyons
10-13-2010, 09:50 AM
To all you more knowledgeable folk:

What's the correct adjustment to the springs on a 598? The weight of the arm assembly makes me fool with the adjustment until all the springs are roughly the same bounciness. I would say I've never been able to get to a Linn-like smoothness. What should I be shooting for?

cplyons
10-13-2010, 09:55 AM
Oh yeah, since I'm askin questions should probably post what we're talking about. Here's what my 598 looks like...

empirelvr
10-13-2010, 12:30 PM
To all you more knowledgeable folk:

What's the correct adjustment to the springs on a 598? The weight of the arm assembly makes me fool with the adjustment until all the springs are roughly the same bounciness. I would say I've never been able to get to a Linn-like smoothness. What should I be shooting for?

Empire's instructions advise to set the springs so that there is approximately 3/16 of an inch clearance all around the outer platter periphery. I found it helpful to do the measuring with the arm OUT of it's armrest (to avoid having the arm locked in the rest from influencing the position of the platter.) Make sure you use whatever stylus guard you have and keep the cue in the up position. And of course be VERY careful in your measuring to avoid stylus damage.

You're never going to get a Linn like smootheness in the bounce due to the felt washers that act as piston damping to the springs in the suspension system. The most you can hope for is a bounce that goes straight up and down for the one or two times the suspension moves before it settles back.

Now if you take the felts out like I talked about above, you'll get a LOT of smooth up and down bounces with no side to side motion following Empire's 3/16 of an inch all around rule of thumb, so it is good advice they gave.

cplyons
10-13-2010, 12:45 PM
Thanks mucho, Empirelvr! I can't wait to get home to put your advice into practice.

Chris

MrMonster
10-13-2010, 09:54 PM
Hello Lads,
Here is a tip on setting up the platters height on the 598 and 698 turntables.
A turntable being level is of high importance to any table due to the pressure on the stylus from an unlevel platter.

For the Empire with a suspended platter, you need to get the platter ring set to 3/16" of an inchh above the base.
A quick way to do this is to make a tool. I use a cheap wood ruler that is 1/8th or better in thickness with no curve to the surface use a flat wood ruler.
I cut the ruler into three four inch sections.

Remove the dust cover, and remove the tonearm for both safety of the stylus and arm, and to keep the arm's weight and angle from influencing the platter.

I set the plinth on top of four same size soup cans, placed on each corner, to make it easy to access the thumb screws on the suspension.
place the three ruler sections halfway under the platter ring at the same points of the springs. See photo...
You can then raise or lower all three adjusters until you are just touching the ruler evenly at all three points.
Remove the rulers and depress the platter about 6 to eight times and recheck the clearance again with the rulers, and make any adjustments necessary.

Then remove the soup can set the turntable flat on your work table and reinsert and setup the arm for height and clearance to the mag lift.

Hope this helps.

Donald Bowman

cplyons
10-14-2010, 02:38 PM
Just a quick poll - Do most of y'all whose Empires employ the mag lift use it? Mine makes a slight but nerve wrackingly audible lateral pull when it lifts off, and sounds like it might not be the best thing for a stylus to have to do... Is this typical? If so, does it scare any of you away from using this feature?

MrMonster
10-14-2010, 03:49 PM
Hello,
As to the Mag Lift feature, if an empire arm was factory fresh, I would have no qualms about using it, but after 40 years of people adjusting re adjusting, and loosening the platform screw that Empire says in the manual to not touch, I would not use it.

On my 598's it works as it should, and puts nearly no stress on the stylus.
It is a nice gentle pickup of the arm. Now having said this, it took me about 10 hours of observation and adjusting to make this happen.
Now, I have no qualms about it picking up my vintage Shure V15 II cartridge and stylus.

There are four different angles on these arms to consider. The height of the arm, the relationship of the arm lug to magnet, the arm travel, and the platform with the Mag Lift to the arm itself.

Once someone changes these four positions out of alignment then this smooth system goes to hell. The primary problem lies in the the base of the arm, the portion with the mag lift and the cue being moved out of alignment from the arm itself. This also cause trouble with the cueing, as the lifter goes out of alignment with the lift tab on the tonearm.

I really don't know if I can write out a solution, as it took numerous trial and error attempts to get the alignment back to zero.

In the end, if you mag lift is making a fast jerk to the arm, just fold it back out of the way.

Donald Bowman

cplyons
10-14-2010, 05:57 PM
Excellent, comprehensive answer. I'm putting it out to pasture! - Chris

empirelvr
10-14-2010, 11:03 PM
Hello Lads,
Here is a tip on setting up the platters height on the 598 and 698 turntables.
A turntable being level is of high importance to any table due to the pressure on the stylus from an unlevel platter.

For the Empire with a suspended platter, you need to get the platter ring set to 3/16" of an inchh above the base.
A quick way to do this is to make a tool. I use a cheap wood ruler that is 1/8th or better in thickness with no curve to the surface use a flat wood ruler.
I cut the ruler into three four inch sections.

Remove the dust cover, and remove the tonearm for both safety of the stylus and arm, and to keep the arm's weight and angle from influencing the platter.

I set the plinth on top of four same size soup cans, placed on each corner, to make it easy to access the thumb screws on the suspension.
place the three ruler sections halfway under the platter ring at the same points of the springs. See photo...
You can then raise or lower all three adjusters until you are just touching the ruler evenly at all three points.
Remove the rulers and depress the platter about 6 to eight times and recheck the clearance again with the rulers, and make any adjustments necessary.

Then remove the soup can set the turntable flat on your work table and reinsert and setup the arm for height and clearance to the mag lift.

Hope this helps.

Donald Bowman

A nice technique but I have to respectfully disagree with you very strongly about taking the arm off to do this. It is important the arm stays ON with this adjustment otherwise you will knock the suspension you just adjusted out of balance when you put the arm back on due to the added weight of the arm which will throw everything off.

If you don't adjust the suspension with the arm on you will have the right rear part of the suspension all of a sudden heavier than it was, making the suspension now lean toawrds the right rear instead and not with an even 3/16" clearance all around as needed. Especially on the 598 where the arm wasn't the lightest of tonearms with a lot of it's mass centered about it's main bearing housing.

In fact I would (and do) balance my suspension not only with the tonearm on it, but with a 180 gram record on the platter as well. I know that's taking things to a fanatical degree, but it has been shown how important and influential suspension tuning is.

I totally agree that a level turntable is of paramount importance, not only just to keep stylus pressure even (which supposedly isn't as big an issue with dynamically balanced arms like the Empire tonearms,) but also to keep an even load on the platter bearing, which is a concept that doesn't get much ink.

MrMonster
10-15-2010, 01:12 AM
[QUOTE=empirelvr;4068138]A nice technique but I have to respectfully disagree with you very strongly about taking the arm off to do this. It is important the arm stays ON with this adjustment otherwise you will knock the suspension you just adjusted out of balance when you put the arm back on due to the added weight of the arm which will throw everything off.

Hello Lads,
I agree with Empirelvrs statement.
I actually misspoke, as I meant to say to remove the stylus not the arm,
When writing this reply, I was at the same time writing a private message to another member, trying to solve a tonearm problem with a 698 arm, and had tonearm on the mind.

So yes, leave the arm on but remove the stylus for safety sake.

Donald Bowman

dlaloum
10-19-2010, 05:09 AM
Hi Folks

Although I know this turntable existed, and have heard it mentioned a few times... I have never seen images of it (much less in the flesh/metal)

Apparently during the Benz era, Empire bought complete Revox B291 Turntables (late 80's early 90's?), and modded them substantially...

Put heavier duty parts into the linear tracking tonearm, bypassed the muting circuit (which kept the table muted until after the stylus was in the track) - and did some other mods.

Does anyone out there know of one of these?

Are there details, photos etc...

I know this is a little bit of a cuckoo's egg in the nest... but it was a high end TT in the early 90's and apparently sold in Germany for circa DM4500.

Bye for now

David
(owner of a Revox B795, hoping to find clues as to how to mod his table...)

empirelvr
10-19-2010, 11:13 AM
Apparently during the Benz era, Empire bought complete Revox B291 Turntables (late 80's early 90's?), and modded them substantially...

Put heavier duty parts into the linear tracking tonearm, bypassed the muting circuit (which kept the table muted until after the stylus was in the track) - and did some other mods.

I know this is a little bit of a cuckoo's egg in the nest... but it was a high end TT in the early 90's and apparently sold in Germany for circa DM4500.

David
(owner of a Revox B795, hoping to find clues as to how to mod his table...)

Hmmmm...I've never heard of this happening, although if your time frame is correct, it would have had nothing to do with "our" Empire.

Benz sold off the company in America by the mid-1980's, BUT kept the name "Empire Scientific" for his European company/operations, so it's possible this happened but had no distrubution, press or exposure in the USA at the time.

If true I'd think it would be somewhat outside the scope of our interest here, although it IS an interesting footnote/tangent. Considering how into phono reproduction Ernst Benz was, a modded Revox as you describe from him sounds like a very provocative model to try and track down.

4140
10-20-2010, 11:55 PM
I bought an empire 598 II for 100. with two carts. an empire 999te/x and 1000te/x carts in case from the original owner. Its in great shape. dont know much about there tables. The tonearm looks a bit on the large size. I can only assume from reading this. that this was a good buy. I deal more with jap and british tables like garrard and marantz. I own about 25 tables and thinking about down sizing some. and not sure what ones to keep. Is there any stuff I can down load on this table?

dlaloum
10-24-2010, 10:20 AM
Hmmmm...I've never heard of this happening, although if your time frame is correct, it would have had nothing to do with "our" Empire.

Benz sold off the company in America by the mid-1980's, BUT kept the name "Empire Scientific" for his European company/operations, so it's possible this happened but had no distrubution, press or exposure in the USA at the time.

If true I'd think it would be somewhat outside the scope of our interest here, although it IS an interesting footnote/tangent. Considering how into phono reproduction Ernst Benz was, a modded Revox as you describe from him sounds like a very provocative model to try and track down.

Thanks for that - it fills in the blanks - I remember being told it was by Empire in Germany.... but I thought Empire was a NY/US company....

Now I am starting to join the dots....

Sounds like I will have to lurk on German forums and use lots of google translate to track this down....

P.S. the original Empires are very droolworthy - but don't think they were ever imported to Australia, so my chance of finding one is negligible.... but you never know

princeoftides
11-07-2010, 02:23 PM
Cleaning any piece of old audio equipment is best done with ammonia. Keep it away with electrical contacts and wood and soak it if possible but I met a guy who ran an audio store and he used this method on faceplates and knobs and I was amazed at what he could do with it. He said it's best to soak for days when you're dealing with years and years of smoke, grime and other pollutants but it's an amazing cleaner if you stay away from the fumes. BTW. Do not mix ammonia with any other cleaner. Otherwise you may get toxic fumes.

Fasterdamnit
11-14-2010, 09:49 PM
I picked up this Weathers TT with AE arm.

Can anyone ID it? It has a cylinder that will receive a little metal tab on the arm at the end of the record. The cylinder has nothing in it. Is it supposed to be some kind of stop or lift?

Thanks for any info.

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/picture.php?albumid=893&pictureid=7882

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/picture.php?albumid=893&pictureid=7883

MrMonster
11-14-2010, 10:04 PM
Well now this is something completely different!

That is an empire 980 tonearm, but the headshell is not from a 980, as it had a fixed headshell and used a removable clip for the cartridge This looks like a custom job or something from Empire I am not aware of.

To your question, that tab on the back of the arm is part of Empires Mag Lift design. It lifts the arm at the end of the record using a magnet inside the upright tube on the left.
Could you show us some closeup photos of that headshell and where it attaches to the tube?
Thanks,
Donald Bowman

Fasterdamnit
11-14-2010, 11:43 PM
Will do.

I saw the reference to the mag lift and after some adjusting it is working. It is a home made base (obviously.)

So I am now listening to Dire Straits, Communique. Was not sure to expect with such a light platter, small motor and idler wheel. I am nicely surprised at the sound.

Fasterdamnit
11-15-2010, 12:20 AM
http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/picture.php?albumid=893&pictureid=7889

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/picture.php?albumid=893&pictureid=7888

MrMonster
11-15-2010, 12:21 AM
Hello,
after looking at this arm, it is an Empire 98 tonearm, that has been "upgraded" with a 980 Mag Lift. You arm has a band on the rear of the tube for the Mag Lift lug. Later arms had the lug installed in a hole in the tube..
You can occasionally find extra headshell on Ebay for this arm so you can switch cartridges.

Donald Bowman

Fasterdamnit
11-15-2010, 12:26 AM
Excellent! Thanks for the info.:thmbsp:

princeoftides
11-18-2010, 10:31 PM
The turntable history presented here is almost unparalleled in the history of any audio component that has been written about, particularly concerning the length of time the author spent on ferreting out sometimes obscure bits of history. I recently bought a beautiful and well kept 598-1 Troubador. There is only a small amount of corrosion on the tonearm where it touches the arm rest. However the dust cover is a little difficult to set properly and some of the screws are loose, however it does do what it's supposed to do without falling down. However there is a very thin bead of glue on the inside of the dustcover where wood meets glass. The quality of this work is almost impossible to see and the glue is almost translucent. But this glue does not go all the way around the inside and some of the screws are loose on the area where the dustcover mounts to the plinth. I'm wondering if this is something that was done at the factory or was it done later by someone who wanted to keep the glass from loosening from the wood. Whoever did, whether factory or the previous original owner of the table did an excellent job. However, the glue seems to hold the unit too close between glass and wood and it is therefore slightly difficult to get the dustcover to expand enough to fit the mount. One side seems to have slightly more glue than the other. I'm just wondering if this is a factory job or one done to ensure that the glass does not separate from the wood creating a mess and probably breaking the glass., If it is not original I'm thinking of taking an Exacto knife and removing the glue. That way the dust cover would not be so "tight fitting" such that the it is impossible to place properly on the mounting area. Could anyone who has a dust cover for their table for a 598-1 and take a look to see if this glue is on their unit? If several people respond I might be able to make a proper decision on whether to remove it I've only had this unit for a few days but I can already see how well engineered and lathed the whole unit is. The tolerances used must have been a huge contributing factor in how well thee tables are regarded. and how they hold up.
If the glue is not original then I will need to remove it promptly by the Exacto knife method (or if anyone has any other thoughts on how to remove this glue if THE dustcover glue if it is not original to the system then let me know. Right now it is a little tight but I worry whether someone tried to tie up a lot of loose ends in the dustcover by adding glue, which does make it more stable but perhaps not original but perhaps slightly safer with children around, bu we don't have any children so I'm willing to get it back to normal if that glue was not put on at the factory. Since the glue is only on one side and not all the way around the dustcover system, I presume it is not original. But I really don't know.

Also, if anyone has any ideas on how to stop the tonearm from corroding further, I'm sure that everyone who is dealing with this problem would greatly appreciate it.

MrMonster
11-18-2010, 11:23 PM
Hello Lad,
we need a little info first.
you say this is a troubadour 598-1 are the panes in the dustcover real glass or plexiglass? if it is real glass, then this is not a factory job, as the 598 model were all to my knowledge, shipped with Plexiglas and wood dust covers.

Also, please post some photos of the lids problem points, and the "corrosion on the arm, as I maybe able to help with both problems.
I have installed real glass in my 598 covers, and have had great luck in polishing the tonearms on this model.

Donald Bowman

empirelvr
11-18-2010, 11:30 PM
The turntable history presented here is almost unparalleled in the history of any audio component that has been written about, particularly concerning the length of time the author spent on ferreting out sometimes obscure bits of history. I recently bought a beautiful and well kept 598-1 Troubador. There is only a small amount of corrosion on the tonearm where it touches the arm rest. However the dust cover is a little difficult to set properly and some of the screws are loose, however it does do what it's supposed to do without falling down. However there is a very thin bead of glue on the inside of the dustcover where wood meets glass. The quality of this work is almost impossible to see and the glue is almost translucent. But this glue does not go all the way around the inside and some of the screws are loose on the area where the dustcover mounts to the plinth. I'm wondering if this is something that was done at the factory or was it done later by someone who wanted to keep the glass from loosening from the wood. Whoever did, whether factory or the previous original owner of the table did an excellent job. However, the glue seems to hold the unit too close between glass and wood and it is therefore slightly difficult to get the dustcover to expand enough to fit the mount. One side seems to have slightly more glue than the other. I'm just wondering if this is a factory job or one done to ensure that the glass does not separate from the wood creating a mess and probably breaking the glass., If it is not original I'm thinking of taking an Exacto knife and removing the glue. That way the dust cover would not be so "tight fitting" such that the it is impossible to place properly on the mounting area. Could anyone who has a dust cover for their table for a 598-1 and take a look to see if this glue is on their unit? If several people respond I might be able to make a proper decision on whether to remove it I've only had this unit for a few days but I can already see how well engineered and lathed the whole unit is. The tolerances used must have been a huge contributing factor in how well thee tables are regarded. and how they hold up.
If the glue is not original then I will need to remove it promptly by the Exacto knife method (or if anyone has any other thoughts on how to remove this glue if THE dustcover glue if it is not original to the system then let me know. Right now it is a little tight but I worry whether someone tried to tie up a lot of loose ends in the dustcover by adding glue, which does make it more stable but perhaps not original but perhaps slightly safer with children around, bu we don't have any children so I'm willing to get it back to normal if that glue was not put on at the factory. Since the glue is only on one side and not all the way around the dustcover system, I presume it is not original. But I really don't know.

Also, if anyone has any ideas on how to stop the tonearm from corroding further, I'm sure that everyone who is dealing with this problem would greatly appreciate it.

First...thank you very much!! I appreciate the kind words.

To your question though...this is a peculiar situation. The 598 series *usually* came with a -plastic- paned dust cover. The plastic inside the wood frame is clear, flexible, and lightweight.

But your saying it's actual glass, which is quite unusual for a first generation 598. The last run of 598III's sometimes had a glass dust cover, similar to what was standard on the 698, so I'm wondering if your cover was a custom job to replace a cracked plastic pane, a replacement from Empire during the 698 era so it is the one found on the 698, or done by the original owner just for cosmetic purposes. (The plastic does tend to give an aura of cheapness to it, at least I feel it does.)

My stock 598 dust cover shows no glue along the perimeter, though there is evidence of glue where it meets the wood and the wood strip in the front. I can see why someone would glue it as the plastic does have some wobble play on mine, adding to the "cheap" impression of it.

I don't know how trimming this glue would benefit or change the snugness of it's fit on the hinges though. That "snugness" is another reason I wonder if it was a replacement, repair, or custom job done by contractor or handyman and they got the measurements just slightly off. Plus you cant tell if the glue would still be pliable to slice off like you suggest. It could also "break off" leaving you with a jagged edge making it look worse than it does now and potentially weaken the bond. If the job is as good as you say, I'd leave it alone. Remember: spare parts for these beasts no longer exist!!

Unavoidable tolerance differences from parts made at widely spaced time intervals might also explain the not too great fit if it is a stock Empire cover made at a later date bought as a replacement.

Are you saying the hinges and screws on the hinge board are loose? That would be common from years of use, and I would re-read my warning about trying to tighten them and the best way to go about it.

Is the glass clear or tinted on your dust cover? Does it have the Empire logo on the top, front left side? This will go a ways to determining if it is a true Empire dust cover. Some pictures would help in this regard.

You can't stop the metal corrosion. Look on vintage car websites for discussions about "pot metal" and you'll learn how and why it is unavoidable. It's the nature of the beast, sadly.

princeoftides
11-19-2010, 12:22 AM
You are correct that the dustcover is plexiglass and not glass. My mistake. I knew that it was plexiglass from the description given by the seller when I bought it. But since we've both left feedback for each other, that is the end of the item appearing directly on Audiogon. Doesn't say Empire on the dustcover but does say Empire on the back wood piece where the dustcover attaches to the rear of the table. Perhaps a better way to show the turntable would be to refer you to the cache on Google of the table as the seller and I have both exchanged feedback so the listing was taken down but here is the item in the Google cache. I'm sure it will be gone in a few days, or at least the pictures will. Incidentally, that's not something weird on the end of the turntable but is tape that the seller used to keep the tonearm from moving. I would have used a different way of doing that but I've already taken the tape residue off with a product designed to do just that.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:EGCOAZwJm8sJ:www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl%3Fanlgtabl%261288744219+Empire+turntable+59 8+site:audiogon.com&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

I'll have to drag my trusty camera out to get some pictures but my motherboard on my main computer went out last week so I'll have to wait until at least next week to get you the pictures as my other computer with the latest Intel chips has my reader for photography inoperative since my digital camera uses chips from my digital. . Otherwise I'd have to take the chip down to the drug store and have a DVD disc made.

As to the glueon the plexiglass, one side has more than the other so a previous owner could have reglued the dust cover and fitted the dustcover more tightly than was done at the factory. But it could be exactly what you described but the excess glue looks odd which led me to question whether it had been reglued too tightly at some point in its history.

But yes, the hinges and screws are loose and the dustcover seems too tight to fit correctly fit over the squares on the outside top rear of the back wood on the table. But they will fit with some work, primarily by pulling the dustcover slightly so that it fits over the rear wood panel and over the squares on the exterior at the top of that raised back panel. But it won't raise and lower without the possibility of falling off. That and the slight corrosion on the tonearm are the only two faults I see rather than it needing a new belt and I'm not even sure of that yet. All in all though I feel that I got a great deal but we audiophiles are never satisfied are we. The nature of us beasts I guess. I do wonder if painting the arm from a few inches after the the bearing with clear enamel in a can (you don't want polyurethae in that bearing) might slow down the corrosion. I once knew a guy who painted all the metallic copper coated door knobs in his house every few years and they never had wear or corrosion. But the tonearm isn't handled that much and it is possible that a polyurethane product might make the problem worse, sealing in the corrossive elements in the arm and causing it to deteriorate faster.

Thanks so much for your willingness to help me sort all these questions out. Sometimes I can ask too many questions for my own good and be too much of a perfectionist for my own good. But again thanks for being willing to take your time out to help me in my quest for a good turntable, which may be used exclusively for my vast collection of 78 rpm records as I plan to put some of them up on Youtube and this table fits the bill without buying one of the much more expensive new Rek-O-Kut tables. But no matter what I do, this table is a keeper. For what I got for my money, it's vastly superior to anything else out there used that also plays 78 rpm records. Thanks for making me aware of this table.

empirelvr
11-19-2010, 12:44 AM
There's no way to really fit the dustcover more tightly by gluing the glass. The wood frame won't let you bow it if everything is in good shape. Assuming it's the original plastic in the frame, even if the original owner took it apart and reglued it, while there is some play of the pane in the frame, it's not enough to cause the effect you're describing.

Exclusively for 78's? Oh my friend, you know not what you are missing if you do that! :music: Play some LP's on it when you have it running up to snuff. You may just get addicted to the unit. ;)

What's your main 'table?

Tarl Of Gor
11-19-2010, 12:51 AM
Gotta love them Empire turntables!

empirelvr
11-19-2010, 01:14 AM
Just a note to let everyone know I just revised, expanded, and updated the first post in this thread.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread as well as others from Audio Asylum and The Vinyl Engine. All the new infromation gleaned from your contributions have been incorporated into the main post as much as possible.

princeoftides
11-19-2010, 01:45 AM
I've got an older Dual and about 4, 5 or 6 Ariston RD11S tables. (I don't buy new anymore) Some of them need some serious turning up but I've been collecting them over the years. I also have an odd display model made by Pioneer in the 70s to display the innards of one of their turntables at dealers. I'm sure it was a very limited run and guy I bought it from had modified it to actually play records. It's a direct drive table with a lot of electronics in it. I forget the model number. And yes, you're right, I could use the Dual to play 78s. I've had other models over the years, a Dual CS5000 which I got rid of because I couldn't get rid of Acopustic feedback and a Kenwood KD500 with Black Widow tonearm which I sold to a so called friend. He was going to pay me in installments but he was having a rough time financially so I let him go until he got on his feet and then he swore he paid me already. So I lost both the table, arm and a guy who I thought was my friend. Glad to let hm go. I felt much better when his wife gave him a 50th birthday party and two people came. I wasn't one of the two who came to the party. So apparently I wasn't the only one he done something like that to.

I also have a prototype arm that was made for McIntosh years ago when they were planning to put out a turntable. The prototype arm was made by Bob Graham and only a limited number of these were made when McIntosh put their turntable on hold. So there are probably less than a dozen of those in existence, probably far less.
See: http://www.roger-russell.com/phono.htm

But I guess that was where Bob Graham got his street credits and perhaps some money for MIT tuition. I haven't mounted that arm but bought it because it's got to have some value just for its historical value alone, although I paid perhaps too much for it. But it looks very similar to his 1.5 arm.

Also have a Lenco light platter belt model from the 70s and a real junk Rek-Ko_ Kut

But I do appreciate the comments from the fellow who called me a "young man". I sure wish it were so but then relatively speaking someone in their early fifties is still young. But I'm most happy with my Linkwitz Orion speakers. They do call attention to new components but that's the joy of owning such a speaker because\e every time you change a component. I do have the Linkwitz Orion speakers and they are quite good but I've got to get the latest upgrades done. I also owned one of George Merrill's table's, the kit models in the mid 70's. I should have kept that one too. It was a fine table.

At last but not least, I do have an uncle who committed suicide. He had in his system a set of Empire end table speakers and an Empire turntable. I was about thirty when he bought the table and there wan't much buzz about Graham who is quite a legend in his tonearm advancements.

Oh, one other thing. When I first went off to college I bought a table that was made by Stanton but which had magnetic bearings. But he drank heavily and had some emotional problems so he killed himself. It was sad and tragic for me because he was only eight years older than I am and I considered him to be like a brother who I never had. His mother worked in the Federal Probation system and knew all the judges and got him duty on a ship sailing around harbors in Southern Europe. And I think he always felt guilty that he didn't have to serve in the war like many of his buddies who never came back. Plus his drinking didn't help at all.

I'm sure I owned other tables over the years but I've forgotten those. A case of "remember the good times and forget the bad". Judy Collins a sang something like that once. But his death hit me pretty hard then and I moved away to Seattle in 1994 because I couldn't deal with that. But that was about 20 years ago and I've largely put that behind me. Sorry to go on so long but since you asked...
But I have had an off again and on again love affair with turntables so I've had quite a few over the years. Now I just buy old ones and try to get them inexpensively. Sometimes not. Solid state amplifiers I've never had much a taste for since I discoverd tubes. Although solid state sounds fine in my Linwitz Orions.

MrMonster
11-19-2010, 12:17 PM
Hello Lads,
I have been an owner of 15 Empires to date I have picked up a number of observations and tips.
As to the glue problems on your dust cover, from your descriptions, it appears that it came apart at one time and was re glued by a previous owner.

I have owned two 598's that arrived with the cover completely disassembled. One came from Arizona and the other from Canada, both had been in storage for a number of years. The obvious weather conditions in these two extremes just dried out the glue to the point that it delaminated.

I had another situation where I took one 598 cover apart to replace the badly scratched plexi with real glass.

IF interested, I can write up my procedure to take apart and reglue a cover, as I have another cover here I am going to replace the plexi in.

As to the tonearm, yes there is a lot of pot metal, but there are in some arms a number of brass castings, and a lot of brass plating to the pot metal.
with anodizing over this, and what appears to be some kind of a clear coat applied to the exterior of the arms.

I have found in at least four arms, it is this clear coat that has taken the brunt of scratching and pitting, but left the finish underneath in very good condition.
See photo of headshells and a finished polished tonearm.
The difference is hand polishing with a product called MAAS, which has a soft abrasive in the polish that cuts through the clear coat.
It is the only thing I have found so far that can get through it safely, and I have tried most chemicals including Acetone to no avail

Here is also a photo of the rear of my arm polished

As to the hinge, yes do not tighten the screw. But, I have found on most dust covers that on disassemble of the hinge, there is a flat spring washer between the hinge and the wood back support. Over the years, this washer has lost all of it tension and no longer adds resistance to the hinge joint. I replaced this spring washer, and reassembled to find a remarkable improvement in the covers tension.

Great care must be used to remove that screw, you will more than likely need to soak the joint with penetrating oil and check to see if there is a lock pin keeping the screw captured, and again, do not over tighten on assembly.

Again this is my observations of owning and restoring 15 Empires of all models. I am truly fond of these tables, and am now finishing the build of two custom Empires with SME 3009 Tonearms.
I will share these when the are done.

Donald Bowman

princeoftides
11-19-2010, 02:01 PM
Thanks for the help. I started cleaning the table and the arm and I noticed that there appeared to be what looked like cigarette smoke ( or air pollution) that had accumulated on the tonearm and the plinth. I was amazed at how much came off the plinth alone. So I used some 91% rubbing alcohol and then a product made for taking off price stickers, stamps and the like from various things. If I was brave I would take the table apart and soak all the metal parts in ammonia which is an amazing cleaner if you let the parts soak long enough. I learned this trick from an audio dealer and I have found it quite helpful on a number of occasions, both as an audiophile and around the house. So I cleaned the table off including the arm and it looked much, much better. But I do have a question for you. When you used a polyurethane coating on the arm did you use a spray type or a very thin paint on type. I worry about the polyurethane getting in the bearings and creating friction or causing them to hang up since I understand now that there are tiny bearing in there. So spray painting that could cause problems but I haven't tried it so I don't know. I haven't taken the dustcover parts off but will do so when I have the time and can make sure I'm not going to have to follow up with something like turpentine to free up the bearings. But my arm looks much better. A good bit of what I thought was corrosion must have been a build up of grime. I do appreciate your hlep and thoughts on this matter and I do believe I'm going to make this table I my main table as soon as I'm sure I have the right cartridge for my system on it. Thanks very much for your help. I think I might do a review of it when I'm sure it's "the one". My loudspeakers will make that clear when I turn them on. But right now they have to have a major mod in the crossover as determined by the engineer who designed them and that's going to take a little while.

MrMonster
11-19-2010, 03:23 PM
Hello Lad,

I am not sure what you mean by me applying polyurethane. or how you got that from my post.

What I was talking about in my last post, is that I removed the old poly or what ever that coating is, on the arm in the photos, and did not apply a new coat. it isn't necessary, as the shine you see in my photos is just the polished metal, no poly. Doesn't need it don't do it.
The MAAS cleaner and polish leaves a light barrier to prevent future tarnish.
In fact the arm you see here was polished over a year ago, and only needs a light wipe down from time to time.

I believe, that most of the yellow you are seeing is the old "poly" like coating applied by the factory.

One thing, be very careful in cleaning the center of your platter. The strobe lines and the gold color is painted on, so use only a light detergent to clean it.
I have on 698 that the center is just polished metal, as the owner before me tried to remove the "yellow" color with acetone, and just wiped out the paint.

Donald Bowman

ekmanning5
11-19-2010, 03:27 PM
Mr. Monster. :yes: Yes! Share with us all your dustcover tips and restorations. I too have a cover on my 598 that falls apart on a regular basis. A gentle squeeze on the side wood usually puts it back together for a week or so. But it always seperates at the most inopertune times. :no:

MrMonster
11-19-2010, 06:24 PM
Hello again Lads,
until I get to the glass installation of a dust cover, here is some quick information on that infamous hinge.

The hinge is three parts, hinge itself is just a rectangle of steel held to the plinth's backboard by a screw that threads to an insert in the backboard, and a steel spring washer. please note, the threaded insert is roll pinned to the wood to prevent it from moving along with the hinge, This pin also goes through the screw, to keep it from backing out during use.
To remove the screw, you will have to punch out the pin.
If you try to unscrew it without removing the pin, you will either snap off the screw, or so mangle the screw head to make it unusable
Of course you will have to repair the hole in your wood, and install a new pin. I did this, but used a solid pin so I could easily remove it in the future
Empire used roll pins in many places on the 598/698 I think it was to keep the user out of self repair.

It is my belief that, the failure point is the spring washer. It is a 3/4" diameter washer that is curved from the center on two opposing sides.
The pressure of the spring acting against the hinge and the steel insert in the board is what holds the dustcover in place. After 40 plus years, the spring washer just looses it's set, and can no long hold the weight of the cover.

I was lucky to find 4 of these sized washers in a neighborhood hardware store, and replaced the springs on two tables, a 598 and a 698 both have glass tops and fronts.

This worked quite well, and held the cover in place at a 90degree angle, plus a bit more in a forward position.

I found a few sources for them on the net, and I will order some in different thicknesses to find a match for the original

If you try this yourself, use care in removing the screw, as it looks like they used a thread locker along with the roll pin. if iit does not move under normal strength, stop and soak it with penetrating oil and wait a day or so.
Clean up the surfaces with a light abrasive and reassemble in the order it came apart.
DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THE SCREW on assembly.

By the way, the screw in this photo came from a Empire tale with a broken hinge I got from an estate sale it is much shorter, due to the fact the the rest of the screw is still inside the inset.
The previous owner tried to remove it with out removing the pin, and snapped the head of the scre off at the pin pont.

Hope this helps.

Donald Bowman

MrMonster
11-19-2010, 08:18 PM
Hello Lads,
I need to mention something important on the polishing of the Tonearms and other bright parts of this and other audio equipment.
Under no circumstances, use Brasso, or other "brass polishing products.
Brasso and others are for use on marine castings, and heavy brass plated objects. It is harsh enough to actually strip the finish off off your tonearm.
The only thing I have found that fills the bill for use on electronics and fine surfaces like nickel, silver and brass plate is MAAS. It is a powerful cleaner and polish, but not caustic to the metal. It also leaves an invisible protective coating behind, that keeps the tarnish away, and you can use an occasional wipe to keep things clean and bright

Donald Bowman

atmasphere
11-24-2010, 03:44 PM
I just discovered this thread today.

About 20 years ago I got my first 208, and after a few mods, it replaced my SOTA Cosmos.

The mod was to mount my SME 5 arm and put on a new platter pad. Later I damped the platter and the results were astonishing!

Finally I began to wonder what would happen if the plinth was solid instead of hollow. So I built a new plinth. That made a big difference too. I've stayed away from the suspended models, as the prospect of installing a modern arm was a bit daunting. Right now I run a Triplanar arm on my table.

The new plinth is completely solid, machined out of 3/4" aluminum. It has the least amount of machining to allow it to accommodate the original parts, all except the arm. I've done them in brushed anodized natural and also in black. Otherwise it looks exactly like the original, and is often mistaken as one by the casual observer.

Later I went to Lord and had them make up the grommets for the motor. If anyone needs them, we have them, set of 3 for $12.00, mailed in the US. This is the actual correct part, and they are *new*.

I've put this machine up against the best I can find and so far, not heard a machine of obviously better sound. Some of the the competition has been over $20,000, so I think its not doing so bad:D

golana
11-24-2010, 08:43 PM
Welcome to AK. So cool,how bout pics of your 208. We're simple folk, so visuals are needed.
How come you couldn't have said silicone gel grommets., and why is Lords the only game in town?

Redboy
11-24-2010, 09:32 PM
Welcome to AK, atmasphere.

Your Empire 208 was the very first that I saw a few years back and I made a mental note then and there to hunt one down. I've played around with a couple of them since, and another local fella (I'm sure you know rfgumby :)) helped build my current table, a heavily modded Empire that I call the Skele-208:

The Empire 208 reinterpreted: a modern twist on an old spinner (http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=300927)

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w178/whobody/New%20Empire/072010006.jpg

Daltown
11-26-2010, 01:31 PM
I have what I hope is a simple query. I just received my first Empire table (598 - 3 speed) and am in the process of getting acquainted with it. Aside from the fact that it was shipped to me without removing the tonearm and with the platter not secure it arrived in fairly decent shape. I will have to have the tonearm re-wired (unless I can figure out how to do it) because it appears the box was dropped forcefully and the cartridge popped loose and snapped the wires. The other damage caused by the drop seems fixable after reading everything here.

My question is this - the stobe markings all appear the same no matter what position I move the belt to. They always each look like a wide gray band while revolving - all 3 of them - no belt position causes one to look any different than another. Should I have some sort of light source that I use? I know previous tables always had a light source. If so, what light source? Is it already on the table and I just don't know it?

Thanks for any help and thanks for a great thread of information

Philip

empirelvr
11-26-2010, 01:57 PM
I have what I hope is a simple query. I just received my first Empire table (598 - 3 speed) and am in the process of getting acquainted with it. Aside from the fact that it was shipped to me without removing the tonearm and with the platter not secure it arrived in fairly decent shape. I will have to have the tonearm re-wired (unless I can figure out how to do it) because it appears the box was dropped forcefully and the cartridge popped loose and snapped the wires. The other damage caused by the drop seems fixable after reading everything here.

My question is this - the stobe markings all appear the same no matter what position I move the belt to. They always each look like a wide gray band while revolving - all 3 of them - no belt position causes one to look any different than another. Should I have some sort of light source that I use? I know previous tables always had a light source. If so, what light source? Is it already on the table and I just don't know it?

Thanks for any help and thanks for a great thread of information

Philip

Unfortunately, if the wiring inside the tonearm has been snapped, you have far more trouble than you suspect. Rewiring the 990 tonearm is almost impossible due to non-availibilty of the proprietary tools needed to get into the arm without risking serious, permanent damage. (This comes from personal experience.) AK'er MrMonster can also attest to how difficult and nerve wrecking getting inside one of these arms can be. Since it was packed so totally wrong, there is also a risk of bearing damage in the tonearm as well.

I wouldn't rule out filing a claim against the shipper and getting your money back. Pictures would help immensely though.

As to the strobe, you have to look at the pattern under a flourescent light to see it "stand still" at exact speed. Watching it inder an incadescent light will give the visual you describe.

MrMonster
11-26-2010, 02:05 PM
Hello,
Welcome to the Empire club.
as to your strobe marks, it is your light source,
you need a fluorescent or some brands of small quartz lamps to read he strobe marks properly, due to the lights wave length

Can you explain a little more on the torn cartridge wires?
as Empires don't have exposed cartridge wires, as they use a cartridge mounting plate.

Donald Bowman

atmasphere
11-26-2010, 02:38 PM
Welcome to AK. So cool,how bout pics of your 208. We're simple folk, so visuals are needed.
How come you couldn't have said silicone gel grommets., and why is Lords the only game in town?

I did think about some sort of updated grommet, but there were immediately several problems. The first was, if I was going to do this, we needed to put in a big order, and we didn't have any high aspirations for selling a lot of machines. We also wanted to be able to provide something to people that were not doing extensive renovation.

The second problem was that any new part would need an injection mold and a bit of research to see that indeed the new part was somehow better than the old one. IME, if the grommets are in good shape, you get no noise from the motor at all, so I figured, why try to fix it??

This particular machine in the photo was my first attempt at the new plinth. So its about 11-12 years old. The finish is brushed anodized. In person the difference between the motor cover and the plinth is more obvious, and the anodized finish cleans up pretty nice. You can see a couple of screws by the push button, we hid those in all the later machines. The Triplanar arm is mounted and I guess you can see that I didn't take a lot of time setting up this photo...

So the motor cover is original as is the base (I have plans for the base someday- something in Corian might be nice). The platter is damped- you can thwock it with your index finger and not hear anything in the speaker. You have to thump the plinth pretty hard to be heard in the speaker as well- when the plinth was first installed, I found that I had to turn the volume up another 8 db on the volume control to get the same perceived volume level. That's a lot of resonance that went away. The platter has been machined (no more 45 rpm adapter) to allow for a modern platter pad. This allows for the use of a nice record clamp; I like the Basis clamp best so far.

I am planning a stainless machined bar that will bolt under the plinth, that extends a hoop around the main bearing and then lays in the space between the bearing and the base of the arm. The purpose is to add additional rigidity and deadness in this area, which is one of the most critical in any turntable. If there is any resonance or microscopic movement between these points it will be interpreted by the transducer as a coloration.242068

MrMonster
11-26-2010, 02:45 PM
Atmasphere,
I am not following why you would need to custom order grommets from Lord.
The grommets used on the original Empires are still in stock, as I bought 60 of them just 3 months ago.
They are the exact same number as the originals, and work perfectly and also makes a dramatic improvement over the ancient ones in my tables
Donald Bowman

Daltown
11-26-2010, 03:19 PM
empirelvr and MrMonster

thanks for the response. As I mentioned, I'm still in the stage of getting to know the table. Your comments got me looking closer. I think the cartridge mounting plate screw wasn't tight enough and the catridge and plate came free and then ripped two of the wies from the L shapped piece on the tone arm to which they are soldered. The other two broke in half but nothing inside the tube was torn (I think).

Given this I just need to solder the wireing - correct?

The arm doesn't seem harmed - is there a way to check bearing damage without a cartridge in it and plaing an LP?

Also, the tonearm appears to have had a counterweighted anti-skate at one time (it has a ribbed rod protruding towards the rear of the arm but no wire that the string with weight would have hung over. I am counting an this not being a problem?

The tonearm is slightly different from the others I've seen - finger lift only (broken off but the seller sent it), the counterweight is bell shaped, the gram scale knob is located on the platter side.

Philip

MrMonster
11-26-2010, 03:35 PM
Daltown,
you are going to have to post some photos, as your description sounds like two tonearms in one with the anti skate rod in the back, as the 990 arm has it's anti skate inside the tonearm case, activated by a small brass knob in the center top of the arm housing.
IF the arm is swinging free, with no rough spots or grabbing, the bearing should be fine, but the only true way is to play a record.

Donald Bowman

atmasphere
11-26-2010, 09:50 PM
Atmasphere,
I am not following why you would need to custom order grommets from Lord.


I didn't. I just figured out which one was the correct one used by Empire, as Lord's catalog numbers had understandably changed in the last 30 years or so.

golana
11-26-2010, 10:54 PM
Atmasphere, Cool deck! Once Redboy had posted, I remembered reading the page on your table. Thanks 'bout the grommets. Just curious as I'm buying a set.

What are your opinions on changinjg wire in the 980's? Is it near impossible like the 990? Stand a chance? And if so, is there any reference material? Thanks.

empirelvr
11-27-2010, 12:48 AM
empirelvr and MrMonster

Also, the tonearm appears to have had a counterweighted anti-skate at one time (it has a ribbed rod protruding towards the rear of the arm but no wire that the string with weight would have hung over. I am counting an this not being a problem?

The tonearm is slightly different from the others I've seen - finger lift only (broken off but the seller sent it), the counterweight is bell shaped, the gram scale knob is located on the platter side.

Philip

It sounds like you may have a late production 980 arm on your turntable...which is the wrong arm for the 598. That would be strange because while the 980 may "fit" into the 598's tonearm mounting hole, I would think the back end would protrude too much, making it impossible to use with the dust cover assembly on the 598 base. hmmm....:scratch2:

No way around it, we are going to need pictures in order to help you! Was this an ebay purchase? Maybe you can direct us to the listing if there are pictures of the table there.

Daltown
11-27-2010, 11:05 AM
Here are photos of the tonearm on my newly acquired 598. Although similar it has differences from other arms I've seen. Can anyone tell me about it?

Also - some of the cartridge leads were seperated from their solder point in the head shell. There are 4 solder locations. Can anyone tell me which color wire goes to each connection point and which color goes to which pin on the cartridge?

empirelvr
11-27-2010, 12:09 PM
Here are photos of the tonearm on my newly acquired 598. Although similar it has differences from other arms I've seen. Can anyone tell me about it?

Also - some of the cartridge leads were seperated from their solder point in the head shell. There are 4 solder locations. Can anyone tell me which color wire goes to each connection point and which color goes to which pin on the cartridge?

As I suspected, that is NOT the right arm for the 598. That is a 980 arm, used on the 398/498 turntable. And from the second picture, the way that wire looks, I'm not sure the arm is "stock" in the total sense. The cartridge clip should come off via the knurled screw on top of the headshell. Can you provide some pictures of the underside?

It will be up for others to say whether or not the 980 arm is okay to use in a 598. As it is, it's very much a klugde and probably not capable of delivering the performance the table is capable of, sadly. :sigh:

Daltown
11-27-2010, 12:31 PM
here is a photo of the underside of my headshell - is the situation getting worse as I post photos?

MrMonster
11-27-2010, 01:04 PM
Well Now,
this is getting downright weird!
Okay, let's see a photo of both sides of the cartridge clip, the part your cartridge is attached to.
AS there should be no wires soldered to these point. There should be small pointed brass contacts on your cartridge mounting clip, that make contact with the contacts in the headshell, the point where these cartridge wires are soldered.

Did you get this on Ebay? if so when? as I would file a claim against the seller for a not as described item. Even if it is damaged in shipping, it is the sellers responsibility to get it to you as it was described on the auction.
I have filed and won many a claim due to items arriving damaged due to poor packing. Also it is not your responsibility to buy insurance or handle the insurance claim for the seller.

Donald Bowman

Daltown
11-27-2010, 02:19 PM
this is the cartridge that broke free of the headshell during shipping (yes ebay :( - the wires are attached with metal clips

MrMonster
11-27-2010, 03:37 PM
Well, here is another problem,
That is not an Empire cartridge mounting clip.
it is some unknown mount, that has been modified to poorly work on the empire arm.

How long ago did you get this on Ebay?
Do you have the auction number? if less than 45 days, and depending on the auction description, we can get a claim filed for you to get your money back, as this is table has been Frankensteined together, and damaged in shipping. more than enough to open a claim.

Donald Bowman

ODYOFAEL
12-20-2010, 06:24 PM
... custom 598 with a modified SME 3009 tonearm to fit the stock Empire mount.


Donald Bowman
I am very interested in finding out how it was done. I have a THORENS TD 125 MK II with an SME 3009 and I have a 598 II. I can just remove the TA from the TD 125 and use it on the 598.:thmbsp: I stareted a thread a couple of days back and it was about which TT to keep...598 0r the 125? You'll dfinitely say, keep the 598...which what I was thinking of doing (if I have the option of changing the TA) coz some say this is the only drawback on the 598's design.:yes:

ODYOFAEL
12-20-2010, 07:13 PM
Many think Empire's still compete with today's mega-buck turntables. They certainly blow your sub-$1000 Rega's out of the water. Inaudible rumble, extremely low wow and flutter, great solidity in presentation, and "drive."

Why do they say the TD 125 sounds better than the 598?:scratch2: I'm not sure if they are talking about the 125 Mk II that uses the SME 3009 though.:smoke:

I'm not sure if I missed something along the way but are there any mods on improving the performance (sound) of the 598? Tone arm mods or replacement maybe?

empirelvr
12-21-2010, 10:16 PM
I am very interested in finding out how it was done. I have a THORENS TD 125 MK II with an SME 3009 and I have a 598 II. I can just remove the TA from the TD 125 and use it on the 598.:thmbsp: I stareted a thread a couple of days back and it was about which TT to keep...598 0r the 125? You'll dfinitely say, keep the 598...which what I was thinking of doing (if I have the option of changing the TA) coz some say this is the only drawback on the 598's design.:yes:

I did this to one of my own 598's and I can tell you first hand it is NOT for the faint of heart! You don't only have to alter the tonearm mount on the 598, but you also have to alter the arm to maintain correct overhang and geometry.

I'll be interested myself in how Donald did his. Here's how I did mine about six years ago.

A friend of a friend has an auto machine shop and bored out the arm hole on the suspension to fit the SME 3009's arm post, since the 980 arm's post is thinner. He got it to a tolerance so close that I don't even have to use the set screw the fit is so tight. It makes it a bear to set VTA, but once it's done, nothing short of a hammer blow is going to throw it off.

Now came the hard part. The Arm itself.

The SME 3009 is too long to use as is on the 598. You can't set the overhang correctly especially if you use the SME headshell that doesn't have slots for overhang adjustment. It's a shame too because as I recall it's too long by not that much.

Since my 3009 was the fixed headshell type, I first hacked off a small portion of the arm (I can't remember how much and I didn't make a note of it...sorry) at the headshell end and redrilled the hole for the headshell retaining screw. Then I used a "standard" lightweight plug-in headshell with the contacts removed so the end was as hollow as the SME's. I used some metal flashing wrapped around the circumfrence of the new headshell to press fit it in the armtube and used a small screw and nut to attach it securely. Of course this meant a total rewire to the arm as well as giving up the SME mounting system outright.

But it was worth it. I now have a SME 3009 that fits on the table and gives me overhang adjustability. I'm able to do a two point alignment easily and have enjoyed the combination ever since.

I'm not sure how this would work if you have the removable headshell version, although if you do, it would make it easier to use a 'shell with slots for overhang adjustment. It would then be trial and error finding the right sized headshell that would give you the right amount of "play" slot length wise to achieve alignment with your cartridge of choice.

One of these days I'll take some pictures because...yeah...I know... :worthless

golana
02-27-2011, 09:07 PM
In an effort to keep all things EMPIRE together. Not to mention, it keeps my bookmarks down.
http://www.clarisonus.com/blog/?p=92#more-92
http://www.clarisonus.com/blog/?p=96

brother
03-03-2011, 12:43 PM
I own a 598 II empire.The cue has not worked for some time now.I am manually putting tone arm on album.Really miss this feature.Anybody know how to fix this?

AudioSoul
03-05-2011, 09:36 PM
I have a 208 that I put a Jelco 750D arm on. I am very satisfied with this setup. But I feel I should lube the motor at some point. Does anyone know how to do this? Do you have to remove the motor? Thanks....

MrMonster
03-05-2011, 10:13 PM
Hello lads,
The Papst motors used on Empires used oil lite bearings in a sealed bearing, so the do not need oiling as most bearings do.
Having said that, I use and air gun to blow out the motor and the shaft where it enters the motor, and occasionally just a little oil on my finger at that same joint.
The oldest Empire I have in my collection is from 1961, that's 50 years now, and it sings along everyday with no noise or heat, just a little air noise from the cooling vents.

Donald Bowman

spider
03-15-2011, 08:27 PM
need help, am looking for empire 698 headshell and stylus (4000D or 2000E)

davidk5
03-18-2011, 10:07 PM
A+++ history of Empire , Lot's of Killer info .

I just aquired a table Myself , it needs some TLC , but hope to be able to find all the parts i need to get it up & running ...:thmbsp:

MrMonster
03-19-2011, 12:35 AM
Hello Lads,
I see another cue repair request, so I am going to try and explain the cue system on the 598 980 tonearm.

The cueing system is all mechanical, using a cam to raise the piston to lift the arm, and a friction clutch combined with a sticky grease to damp the lowering of the arm.

See the photos, when the lever is lifted up, a cam arm on the top of the friction clutch is moved across the piston which raises the piston through a hole in the brass hood where it meets a plate attached to the bottom of the arm.
There is a very small headless slotted screw in the top of the piston that makes contact with a rubber pad that is glued to the tonearm plate.
This rubber pad is to prevent the arm from floating to and fro when the arm is elevated.

On most arms that no longer up cue, this rubber pad is missing from the plate on the bottom of the arm, it has fallen off due to the glue drying out.
See photo of the plate and the pad.

The pad is natural rubber, and is approximately .040 in. thick.
I have not found any rubber in this thickness in my town, and tried a lot of other material like neoprene with no luck. It needs to be natural rubber for the piston screw to bury into the pad to keep the arm stationary when up.

I did a repair that that replaces the adjustable screw in the piston with a flat head cap screw and instead of the rubber pad, I placed a piece of 80 grit wet or dry sandpaper on the plate to lock the arm in position when cue'd up.
This works great, but is a lot of touchy work, as you have to work with the arm upside down and with great care to avoid damaging the tonearm wires that are exposed just a half inch behind the plate.

I will write a full report on this if there is any interest.

Please note, the arm you see was taken apart from a lost cause tonearm, and you can not disassemble a 980 arm to the a bare tube.

If you are having damping problems on the down stroke, the cue assembly needs to be taken apart cleaned, and greased with thick 300,000 Wt. silicone grease. I can write up a step by step on this if there is any interest.

HavnFun
03-19-2011, 06:02 PM
Would you all mind giving me a little tonearm feedback.

I picked up a pretty clean 598 (the 3 speed version). It came with the Empire tonearm that has the anti-skate adjustment on it (I have no idea what number it is). I wasnít worried about the arm because my original plan was to scrap it and mount something different on it. I have since begun to really admire the overall look Ė just gorgeous! - and want to stay with the complete Empire look. My questions are:

1. This isnít the correct arm for this table is it? What is?
2. Is it feasible that Iíll ever find the correct arm without purchasing a complete table (something Iím not wanting to do)?
3. The anti-skate for the tonearm I have is missing the looped wire that the counter weight line runs thru. I would think I can rig up something with a piece of wire and fishing line but how heavy should the weight be and would it really be this simple? Iíve never used a tonearm with this type anti-skate and have no idea how to adjust it.
4. I have a great condition 980 tonearm I could use (though again not the correct arm) if it is a better choice than what is currently on the table (problem is aesthetics Ė its silver and the table is gold). Any particular thoughts regarding this?

Thatís it Ė I apologize for such a long post.

MrMonster
03-19-2011, 08:15 PM
Hello,
Post Photos, it is hard to tell what you are talking about as there are a number or Empire arms that can be on it, and If it is in fact a 598 you are talking about.
Donald Bowman

MaxSeven
03-20-2011, 10:36 PM
Here is my first attempt at a sort of home-made turntable, using the Empire 208 chassis and an Audio Technica ATP-12 tonearm.

I sanded the deck plate and motor/pulley housing, then painted them with a textured satin black. The platter was cleaned, polished and re-brushed. The piece of corrugated is just a template for the actual cover-plate that will be made from zebra wood. This conceals the holes from the former tonearm mounting area. The plinth (24 x 18 x 3") is from michigan maple block - to be stained to a darker tone. The mat is from Herbies.

You'll notice that I rotated the entire tt assembly 90 degrees, to accomodate the length of the AT tonearm (which is around 11")

Everything is just set in place right now, still lots of finishing to do yet.

http://i531.photobucket.com/albums/dd358/Maxseven777/photo.jpg

djnagle
03-20-2011, 10:43 PM
That will be beautiful Joe.

MaxSeven
03-20-2011, 10:55 PM
That will be beautiful Joe.

Thanks Dennis - it's getting there. That Bosch jigsaw I bought cut through the plinth with no problem.

djnagle
03-20-2011, 11:21 PM
What are you using for feet?

MaxSeven
03-20-2011, 11:32 PM
What are you using for feet?

That's just some stock maple I'm using for rests - but ultimately I think I'll use some of the Mapleshade brass footers I have, although that doesn't allow for leveling.

Sam Cogley
03-21-2011, 03:13 AM
It turns out the stock arm on my 598 might not be as far gone as I thought. There is a little spring between the baseplate and one adjustment screw on the pivot assembly. Does anyone know what I could use for a proper replacement? That spring is badly damaged on my table.

Also, if anyone has the specs on the proper cartridge mounting screws/nuts and cartridge clip screw, mine are missing though I have the clip itself.

MrMonster
03-21-2011, 08:08 AM
We need a photo of what you are talking about when it comes to your spring problem.

As for cartridge screws, the originals were a propriety shoulder nut, but any cartridge screw that will fit the slots will do. I use 3-48 stainless screws and nuts
As for the headshell to clip screw, that is also a 3-48 thread nut in the clip.
A screw about an half inch to 5/8ths long will fit through the headshell to meet the clip. Just don't over tighten.

Sam Cogley
03-21-2011, 09:43 AM
We need a photo of what you are talking about when it comes to your spring problem.

It's the spring for the anti-skate control. A pin on the baseplate holds one end, then it hooks onto a narrow portion of the threaded anti-skate shaft at the other. I'll get a picture tonight, but the spring is hopelessly damaged.

As for cartridge screws, the originals were a propriety shoulder nut, but any cartridge screw that will fit the slots will do. I use 3-48 stainless screws and nuts
As for the headshell to clip screw, that is also a 3-48 thread nut in the clip.
A screw about an half inch to 5/8ths long will fit through the headshell to meet the clip. Just don't over tighten.

I haven't found a source for nuts that fit the slots. Are they a relatively standard part from audio suppliers?

I'll stop at the hardware store and see if I can find an appropriate 3-48 screw for the cartridge mount. :thmbsp:

Redboy
03-21-2011, 09:49 AM
Here is my first attempt at a sort of home-made turntable, using the Empire 208 chassis and an Audio Technica ATP-12 tonearm.

I sanded the deck plate and motor/pulley housing, then painted them with a textured satin black. The platter was cleaned, polished and re-brushed. The piece of corrugated is just a template for the actual cover-plate that will be made from zebra wood. This conceals the holes from the former tonearm mounting area. The plinth (24 x 18 x 3") is from michigan maple block - to be stained to a darker tone. The mat is from Herbies.

You'll notice that I rotated the entire tt assembly 90 degrees, to accomodate the length of the AT tonearm (which is around 11")

Everything is just set in place right now, still lots of finishing to do yet. Geez Joe, you beat me to it!

Believe it or not, I've considered doing exactly what you've done there, butcher block and 90 degree rotation and all! I'm quite interested to hear your impression of the sound, once you get things dialed in. I don't think many people have put an Empire on a massive plinth, but the idea makes sense to me. Did you have a chance to listen to it in stock form first? :scratch2:

Very cool. You probably ought to start a separate thread for that build so we can all ooh and ahh over it some more. :)

Sam Cogley
03-21-2011, 10:06 AM
Geez Joe, you beat me to it!

Believe it or not, I've considered doing exactly what you've done there, butcher block and 90 degree rotation and all! I'm quite interested to hear your impression of the sound, once you get things dialed in. I don't think many people have put an Empire on a massive plinth, but the idea makes sense to me. Did you have a chance to listen to it in stock form first? :scratch2:

Very cool. You probably ought to start a separate thread for that build so we can all ooh and ahh over it some more. :)

Mine's probably going to be mounted in a drawer in a Barzilay cabinet. Is that massive enough? :D

MrMonster
03-21-2011, 02:46 PM
I haven't found a source for nuts that fit the slots. Are they a relatively standard part from audio suppliers?

I'll stop at the hardware store and see if I can find an appropriate 3-48 screw for the cartridge mount. :thmbsp:[/QUOTE]

You aren't going to find the original nuts in a hardware store, as they were made for Empire only, and are long gone, as they have a squared recessed shoulder the fits into the slot. They are made of aluminum. see photo.
The attaching nut in the center of the clip is one of these nuts, and you can clearly see the milled shoulders. The screw I added in the cartridge slot is a 3-48 screw with a washer, which will work perfectly to mount your cartridge.

You can use a standard #3 screw with a nut and a washer, see photo, or a metric #3 or 4 with a larger head on the screw.
And most standard cartridge screws will work as the clip is slotted just like most new headshells are.

The spring is going to take some hunting, I find a lot of small parts at Micromark.com which is a hobby site, and do a Google search for miniature machine parts. There are also a number of small parts and springs to found on sites that cater to RC modelers, Radio Controlled.

I found long ago, that if you have wedded yourself to vintage audio gear, you have to do some work to find parts, use substitutions or fabricate them.
When Empire was sold off, all the tooling, spare parts, and service information was scrapped for a tax loss, so one needs to think long and hard about getting bit by the Empire bug. On the other hand, it's part of the love for these high quality machines, and a testament to the build quality that they still work so well after 50 years of use, and are still a better quality turntable than 90% of tables built today. Well maintained and cared for, there is no reason they won't last another 25 years.

The fried spring is probably due to prior users cranking away on the knob, and not a manufacturing fault. I have three 598's now, and had five at one time and all worked perfectly, but I bought them from original owners.
I also scour Ebay and other sites for spare parts, as I have no desire to sell my Empires for a "better" table

I answer a lot of mail from new Empire users that haven't a clue on how to use a turntable, much less dealing with the quirks of the 598. Sometimes it's exasperating, but it gives me a good feeling to see another Empire running as it should. Good luck.

Donald Bowman

Sam Cogley
03-21-2011, 03:43 PM
I have one of the cartridge nuts, but the other was lost before I got the table.

The spring damage actually occurred due to the problem that I thought killed the arm - the horizontal pivot and the arm pivot "box" became separated. I figured out how to get it properly reattached, but the spring was stretched badly when it was the only thing holding the arm sections together.

davidk5
03-22-2011, 11:52 PM
That will be beautiful Joe.

Yes A++ job all the way , very nice :thmbsp:

davidk5
03-23-2011, 09:14 PM
I have to get some parts for a 598 II , everyone just using standard replacement parts ??
I need to get a new Belt , a new stylus & the audio/arm cable ... I know they no longer make these Cables , i was thinking of trying to make my own with the right Pin configuration .
The Cartride is an Empire , anyone know if Jico makes a replacement for them ? thanks !

MrMonster
03-23-2011, 10:30 PM
I have to get some parts for a 598 II , everyone just using standard replacement parts ??
I need to get a new Belt , a new stylus & the audio/arm cable ... I know they no longer make these Cables , i was thinking of trying to make my own with the right Pin configuration .
The Cartridge is an Empire , anyone know if Jico makes a replacement for them ? thanks !
Hello,
There are no cables available except from some custom makers that show up on Ebay, as the pin arrangement on the Empires are proprietary and unique to Empire. There is a fellow in Rhode Island that makes a very nice replacement cable and sells on Ebay
The best belts I have found are at http://www.turntableneedles.com They have the best fitting and deliver the best speed for all of my Empires.

There are a number of Empire stylus around, just do a Google, but unless it is a really high end Empire, you can do better with a number of new cartridges, especially the AT 440, which is a performer in the 990 arm.

Donald Bowman

Sam Cogley
03-23-2011, 11:22 PM
Found a spring at the hardware store that I think will work right for the anti-skate mechanism. I also got some aluminum barstock to use to make proper cartridge nuts. Now to come up with a way to make an improved cartridge clip...

I have to get some parts for a 598 II , everyone just using standard replacement parts ??
I need to get a new Belt , a new stylus & the audio/arm cable ... I know they no longer make these Cables , i was thinking of trying to make my own with the right Pin configuration .
The Cartride is an Empire , anyone know if Jico makes a replacement for them ? thanks !

Empire made some very nice cartridges (I run a 2000E with a cheap Pfanstiehl stylus all the time), JICO and all of the regular suppliers will have new styli.

Belts are available pretty much anywhere that sells turntable belts. While you're at it, it's a good idea to invest in Esoteric Sound's motor isolation grommets.

A previous owner of my 598 got sick of the cable connection, yanked the jack out of the bottom of the arm mount and made a terminal strip connection like on an AR XA.

MrMonster
03-24-2011, 07:19 PM
Hello Lads,
here is the Ebay listing for the lad that makes Empire tonearm cables.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=110665999000&ssPageName=ADME:B:SS:US:1123
I ordered one last week, and will post on it's use when it arrives.

Donald Bowman

ekmanning5
03-24-2011, 08:23 PM
Hello Lads,
here is the Ebay listing for the lad that makes Empire tonearm cables.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=110665999000&ssPageName=ADME:B:SS:US:1123
I ordered one last week, and will post on it's use when it arrives.

Donald Bowman

I bought one of these when my Empire was new to me (18 months ago?), and had a lot of trouble getting mine to seat. I eventually was able to get the proper cord from Aker Clydeselsor (thanks Clyde!). I'm anxious to hear your experiance with these. Maybe it was just me.

MrMonster
03-24-2011, 08:39 PM
Hello Lads,
I have owned a lot of Empires, and I had a couple of them that I could not get any cable to seat well. It turned out that the female pins in the tonearm were spread open and the spring tension of the pins had relaxed from age and the cables would continue to fall out. I wound up having to cable tie them to a hook I put in the plinth.

I emailed him a number of times on this, and he guarantees them so will let you know.

Donald Bowman

Chiefpa
03-27-2011, 01:17 PM
To all regarding Empire turntable repairs. I have an Empire 698 which I bought new in 1977 and several years ago the electronic cue stopped working. I took it to ABL Electronic Services, Inc.314 E. 14 Mile Rd.Madison Heights, MI 48071(248) 955-4270 and they were able to repair it by replacing some parts on the circuit board. ABL has been in business for many years and they have some "old" techs who appreciate vintage gear. Great place if you are in S.E. Michigan.

MrMonster
03-27-2011, 01:48 PM
Thanks you chief,
it is always helpful to find techs that will work on vintage gear, especially if those techs are older fellows with a real hands on history of these vintage pieces.
There are always hidden quirks and solutions that aren't covered in the service manual, so to be able to pick brains or contract them to do your repairs, they are a God send to keep your elderly audio gear singing away like a feisty teenager.

Thanks,

Donald Bowman

Tinkerbelle
03-27-2011, 02:33 PM
I bought one of these when my Empire was new to me (18 months ago?), and had a lot of trouble getting mine to seat. I eventually was able to get the proper cord from Aker Clydeselsor (thanks Clyde!). I'm anxious to hear your experiance with these. Maybe it was just me.
I bought one of these last year and it worked out fine. It did take some coaxing to seat correctly but has been working good for me.

AlleyKat
03-27-2011, 02:39 PM
I bought one upon the completion of my restoration project. Just be certain to follow his instructions for the initial plug-in and you'll be fine.

ekmanning5
03-27-2011, 09:57 PM
I bought one of these last year and it worked out fine. It did take some coaxing to seat correctly but has been working good for me.

Patience has never been one of my virtues, Christine. :D

JohnVF
03-28-2011, 05:55 PM
My avatar has been overtaken by the Empire empire. Probably should have put a cart on it.

My new avatar...camera phones have come a long way.

http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b384/fiebke/photo.jpg

golana
03-28-2011, 06:54 PM
Shes a looker.:naughty:

davidk5
03-28-2011, 07:00 PM
Hello,
There are no cables available except from some custom makers that show up on Ebay, as the pin arrangement on the Empires are proprietary and unique to Empire. There is a fellow in Rhode Island that makes a very nice replacement cable and sells on Ebay
The best belts I have found are at http://www.turntableneedles.com They have the best fitting and deliver the best speed for all of my Empires.

There are a number of Empire stylus around, just do a Google, but unless it is a really high end Empire, you can do better with a number of new cartridges, especially the AT 440, which is a performer in the 990 arm.

Donald Bowman


Thanks monster for the link & the info !! I do have 2 At440's so maybe i will give one a try on the Table ...
I have seen the Cables listed on Ebay , please post how it works out for you , if not maybe i will bypass the whole system & make up some different Cable plugs ...

davidk5
03-28-2011, 07:07 PM
Found a spring at the hardware store that I think will work right for the anti-skate mechanism. I also got some aluminum barstock to use to make proper cartridge nuts. Now to come up with a way to make an improved cartridge clip...



Empire made some very nice cartridges (I run a 2000E with a cheap Pfanstiehl stylus all the time), JICO and all of the regular suppliers will have new styli.

Belts are available pretty much anywhere that sells turntable belts. While you're at it, it's a good idea to invest in Esoteric Sound's motor isolation grommets.

A previous owner of my 598 got sick of the cable connection, yanked the jack out of the bottom of the arm mount and made a terminal strip connection like on an AR XA.


Thanks for the tip on the Grommets ..... now on your Cable connection what do you mean by "terminal strip" if you don't mind me asking ?
Like speaker type clips , or screw on clips like the back of an old receiver ?
I was almost thinking of mounting some Rca plugs up under it so i could just swapt out the cable when needed & buy high qulity cable .
I don't care about resale value as i plan on keeping this as it was an old family members who passed on & we spent a lot of time withi this table as a kid .

MrMonster
03-28-2011, 07:27 PM
Hello lads,
I thought I would share a couple of photos of part of my Empire collection.
The first is two 398's that I converted to SME 3009 II improved tonearms.
One is the fixed headshell model arm, while the other is the removable headshell model. The fixed headshell is an improved sound, but I wanted to be able to use a number of cartridges to match to different music styles, plus I have one headshell for 78's

The other photo is of one of the 598's and a 698
I have a 598 with a SME arm, but it is down for a rewire at the moment, and I will post on it later with all the hell it took to convert.

Thanks,
Donald Bowman

ekmanning5
03-28-2011, 07:46 PM
Hello lads,
I thought I would share a couple of photos of part of my Empire collection.
The first is two 398's that I converted to SME 3009 II improved tonearms.
One is the fixed headshell model arm, while the other is the removable headshell model. The fixed headshell is an improved sound, but I wanted to be able to use a number of cartridges to match to different music styles, plus I have one headshell for 78's

The other photo is of one of the 598's and a 698
I have a 598 with a SME arm, but it is down for a rewire at the moment, and I will post on it later with all the hell it took to convert.

Thanks,
Donald Bowman

Very nice Donald. Seeing yours side by side made me realize something...I need another one. :yes:

Sam Cogley
03-28-2011, 07:47 PM
Thanks for the tip on the Grommets ..... now on your Cable connection what do you mean by "terminal strip" if you don't mind me asking ?
Like speaker type clips , or screw on clips like the back of an old receiver ?
I was almost thinking of mounting some Rca plugs up under it so i could just swapt out the cable when needed & buy high qulity cable .
I don't care about resale value as i plan on keeping this as it was an old family members who passed on & we spent a lot of time withi this table as a kid .

Nah, just one of those phenolic strips with the solder lugs. Rat Shack still carries them.

MrMonster
03-28-2011, 08:05 PM
Very nice Donald. Seeing yours side by side made me realize something...I need another one. :yes:

These Empires certainly have a Siren's call about them. I am selling my 698's, although they are so very cool, they are fragile, at the headshell tonearm connection, and the cue can become snitty from time to time.
I also find that I don't play the 698 much these days since I did the SME conversions of the 398

davidk5
03-28-2011, 08:42 PM
Nah, just one of those phenolic strips with the solder lugs. Rat Shack still carries them.

Very cool , thanks !


It looks like mine Table has the 1000 Ze/x Cartridge on it , how were /are these in the scheme of things ? looks like a replacement is about $40 for a needle which would be nice if it sounds good .


Donald , A+++ Collection , really sweet looking tables & i like that you have the "Monsters" & Hendrix Guardind them :thmbsp:

MrMonster
03-28-2011, 08:53 PM
Very cool , thanks !





Donald , A+++ Collection , really sweet looking tables & i like that you have the "Monsters" & Hendrix Guardind them :thmbsp:

Anybody touches my turntable gets eaten!!!! or bashed in the head by a Fender Axe!

Donald Bowman

MrMonster
03-28-2011, 08:58 PM
Hello Lads,
Well, I ain't rich, with all the Empires and other gear, I bought these before they got popular, and found most of it in estate sales.
I bought one of the 698's at an estate sale for $25.00.

Donald Bowman

davidk5
03-28-2011, 09:14 PM
Anybody touches my turntable gets eaten!!!! or bashed in the head by a Fender Axe!

Donald Bowman

That's what i like to hear !!! I have a small Frakenstein bust on one of my tower speakers & Bella as Dracula on the other from those movie boxed sets ...

ekmanning5
03-29-2011, 09:57 AM
Here's mine. Needs a bit of TLC, but is still my favorite table.

davidk5
03-29-2011, 06:56 PM
My belt shipped out today , thanks again for the link Donald ...... i think i'm just gonna make up my own cable & put some standard jacks under it .

I have been looking for an Empire stylus , Any suggestions ? seems new old stock run just over $100 for one ? the Jico is $78 plus shipping & aftermarkets seem $30 - $40 but i do worry about those , i bought one for an old shure cart. & it did not fit proper & ended up screwing up my cartridge :sigh:
Anyone else find a good type of replacement for an empire cart . ? i think after all that a good cleaning & i will be spinning some lp's on this :banana:

MrMonster
03-29-2011, 09:07 PM
My belt shipped out today , thanks again for the link Donald ...... i think i'm just gonna make up my own cable & put some standard jacks under it .

I have been looking for an Empire stylus , Any suggestions ? seems new old stock run just over $100 for one ? the Jico is $78 plus shipping & aftermarkets seem $30 - $40 but i do worry about those , i bought one for an old shure cart. & it did not fit proper & ended up screwing up my cartridge :sigh:
Anyone else find a good type of replacement for an empire cart . ? i think after all that a good cleaning & i will be spinning some lp's on this :banana:

Hello lad,
The cost and frustration of making your own cable for the Empire will far exceed the $75.00 to buy one from the maker I posted.
Also, if you decide to break open the bottom of the Empire pillar to do a direct wire setup, you are going to run into trouble, I have opened a couple of them, a 990 arm like yours and a 698 arm. There was not a half inch of wire to spare, plus you will need to do a lot of work to remove the DIN fitting on the tube, as it is pressed, glued and crimped into place.

If one is willing to go the distance, it is best to rewire the arm, and use a Cardas DIN plug that will fit with the black ring adapter into the pillar tube, then you can use any 5 pin cable, plus, new wires would be an improvement over the 50 year old ones inside now.

As for those Empire 1000 cartridges, they are highly collectible by the Japanese, and most audiophiles. I see them snapped up on Ebay for up to $400.00 for a cartridge and $150 for a stylus.
I don't know if you are committed to hearing this cartridge, but you can put on an AT 440 ML for almost the price of the replacement stylus, and sell the 1000 body on Ebay to finance it
If you do some hunting you can pick up the AT cartridge for as little as $125.00 or the Stanton 681EEE would work too I believe, and that is under $100, and is an excellent sounding cartridge. I have one mounted on my SME arm on the 398 TT



Donald Bowman