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In the late 50's I acquired a number of portable gramophones from jumble sales; they were mainly free because no one wanted them! One was turned into a fishing gear box (the swing-out needle holder was ideal for lead weights!), and others were dismantled for various other purposes. At the time I had an HMV Monarch (fitted with an EMG soundbox for better sound quality), and my father an Expert Junior with a 4 spring Expert soundbox. So we didn't need the soundboxes that came with the portables, but I kept them nevertheless. Having acquired a few Pathé hill and dale records I needed something to play them on - and I didn't have (nor could afford) a Pathé machine.

So I came up with converting a conventional soundbox (Columbia - metal diaphragm) by soldering a needle holder (from a gash soundbox) to the Columbia as shown in the first picture below. For fitting the soundbox to either of the two gramophones I used a rubber boot that fitted, along with electrical tape to bind the whole unit together, as shown in the second picture below (fitted to the Expert Junior which I still have). I didn't (and still don't) have a Pathé needle, but I don't need one - a triangular fibre needle does the job superbly. I had to enlarge and shape the 'new' holder to take the triangular needle as the original was made to take a steel needle.

PatheHolder PatheBoot

I have found that the sound quality from the Pathé records using this modified soundbox is very good. Of course the Expert Junior is a fantastic machine, and the Columbia soundbox is in perfect condition, so perhaps this is not too surprising. Additionally the tracking across the record surface is the same as for the normal soundbox (which may not be the case if a right angle adaptor is used to turn the soundbox into the 'normal' Pathé orientation of facing across the record).

PathePlay

So there you are; a cheap and very efficient way of playing those Pathé records just using a 'conventional' gramophone: and because of the rubber boot the soundbox can be easily removed, and the 'proper' one put back on.


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