Wednesday, May 22, 2013


After a break of three years, it is time to finally look at this project. This project stopped for many things to take priority. But, it's time is now and we have to Fast Forward the project. Like a time-machine, it is back. Watch this space...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Keeping up with the times...

Work got underway today with a complete cleaning of the transport as it last left. After all dust was cleaned away, the various areas were carefully checked. Everything seems to be ok, and we take the next step forward.

The two spindle assemblies are taken apart. The 700ZXL is interesting as it has a variation on the transport mechanism. At it uses a digital counter, the deck needs some way of sensing movement and direction. There is the motion sensor found on all other decks which is powered by a long belt from the take up spool to a small light and wheel assembly. But this only allows the deck to sense movement. Both forward and reverse direction appears the same.

Nakamichi did something interesting with the other spindle by fitting this assembly on it. Two light sensors are placed side by side on one side of a wheel. the other side has a small bulb. By sensing the order of which sensor triggers first, the deck now knows which way the tape is moving.

This takes care of getting the digital counter to index in the right direction - interesting!

This assembly is removed, along with the rest of the spindle parts. With both spindles removed, all that remains in now the brake assembly and little else. Time for a good cleaning!

Above, you can see the transport with most of the assemblies stripped. The digital counter mechanism is mounted back for picture taking. The entire mechanism is carefully checked, and cleaned away of dust, dirt and grease.

Once all the dirt and old lubricants are cleaned away, the base is ready and kept away. Attention now turns to the various sub-assemblies. But before that, it is time to catch some important shows and have some rest.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Turning a new page..

After a year and a half of being in the queue, it is time for this project to see the light of the day again. All the parts had been checked and tagged. The polished capstan flywheels still have their immaculate shine, as do the other transport parts.

Stay tuned for from Nakamichi action...

Friday, February 6, 2009


After much work, I finally get time to work on the 700ZXL again! After a quick check on the flywheels which are doing very well after their rust removal treatment, it is time to work on the rest of the transport. Today, I checked the bearings on which the capstan shafts run. These seem to be sintered bearings hence need to have their lubrication checked.

Sintered bearings behave much like a sponge by storing oil, and then releasing whenever it is needed. This happens when the joint starts to spin and causes heat. Heat causes the bearing to release oil and lubricate the running joint. A neat idea - until it is a quater of a centuary old!

The assembly consists of two sleeve bearings inserted at both ends of a cast metal holer. First the bearing is checked visually and everything is in good shape. Swabbing with cotton buds and alcohol does not show any dirty lubricant. The assembly is then inserted into a oven. Heat is then slowly and carefully applied to the joint to ensure that expansion is as linear as possible.

Our oven has a grill function will allows the heat to circulate. This ensures that the heat is even at all parts of the oven - useful!

After about 15 minutes at 250 degrees Celsius, thick , dark brown oil starts to drip out from the bearings! This is caused by the heat which causes expansion of the bearing which releases the oil.

The bearing is then slowly cooled down, then heated up again. This causes a small quantity of brown oil to be collected on the foil.

On the right, you can see the some of the dirty oil on a kitchen towel. (Thanks Wife for the oven and towel!)

Next the assembly is immersed in solvent (like common paint thinner in an open ceramic or glass bowl) and then set back into the over at a lower temperature of about 130~150 degrees Celsius.

This has to be done in a well ventilated area because we are dealing with heat and solvent. The bowl is then taken out and let to cool in outside air. Because the assembly is immersed, it will take some time to cool down. The assembly is then set back into the over for more heating. Doing this about twice turns the clear solvent into a brownish mixture which contains more used oil.

I then change the solvent and perform the heat and cool cycle until the solven runs near clear. Finally I see some clean oil which is the unused oil that was deep inside the bearings. The dirty oil would have clogged the pores and prevented the remainder of the clear oil from lubricating the bearings. On the picture on the right shows the solvent mixed with brown oil. Some of the clear oil is visible at the bottom of the bottle. The dirty oil comes out first and now the clear oil is able to exude from the bearing. However, now the bearing is void of oil and needs to be filled up with new and proper oil.

I will have to find out the best oil with the correct number for lubricating this grade of sintered bearings. Too viscous and not enough will enter the bearing. Too runny and the bearing will not soak and hold the oil.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Moving On...

I discovered some rust removal solution which was left over from a previous project. I tried applying a small amount on the surface to see how it reacts to the metal of the flywheel. After about 10 minutes, much of the rust dissolved, leaving very marks and a clean surface!

The flwheels were prepared for treatment by removing the oil retaining felt pads, and completely cleaned of all grease and oil. The grease between the back of the flywheel and thrust plate had hardened and stuck to the flywheel and had to be gently scrubbed away.

I next tried the solution on the belt riding surface and carefully monitored progress. After about 30 minutes, the rusted capstan flywheel turned out like this...

You can see the line where the flywheel was out of the solution and the difference prior to the treatment.

One member had posted about being careful about the diameter of the flywheel. This is very important because a changed dimension or flat spot can lead to poor tape handling.

Here is another picture of the flywheel showing clearly before and after treatment. Even with treatment, some deep pitting was still there. The rest of the smudge like traces are stains. The flywheel is much smoother now that the deep rust is all gone.

The other flywheel was more challanging because of the step. For this, a different vessel was used to give more exposure of the treatment fluid to the belt riding area.

After both flywheels were treated, the next step was to remove the remaining stains on the flywheel and make the belt riding surface as smooth as possible. This was done by gently buffing the surfacing with metal polish, by hand. After slowly polishiing away the stains, turning frequently and keeping the surfaces even, the following resulted:

The second flywheel was also cleaed and buffed. Both flywheels were checked carefully for any dings, scratches, marks or flat spots. Some pitting was still present but these will not affect the belt or performance and it is best to leave them as they are. The resulting surface is much smoother at has the right surface to give the driving belt a good grip.

The flywheels are ready to literally roll!

Now its time to move on to the rest of the transport...but first to get some sleep!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rolling On..

While still looking for a solution to test the repaired board seperately, I move on with the other aspects of the Nakamichi. Today, I removed the transport. This involved removing some cable ties, and freeing four mounting screws that hold the transport to the main frame.

The transport used by Nakamichi in this period is truly a engineering marvel. It was a versatile transport that had been used as a basis to produce fully direct drive, semi-direct drive, belt drive, auto-reverse and a few other configurations.

It is a simple, but effective and very stable transport that has few problems. The tranport features two capstand that rotate at different speeds. This allows mechanical noise to be distributed and reduce flutter and modulation. The aluminum chassis of the transport is damped by plastic resins that absorbs vibration and inert. The transport does not use solenoids that give a 'thumping' noise on other decks. These wear out over time and induce mechanical shock. Nakamichi uses instead a near silent cam mechanism that operates the various modes.

Once the cable ties and screws are removed the transport is carefully removed from the main chassis. The transport is then inspected to asses its condition. From far, it looks not too bad, but a closer look reveals some issues. Some parts of the transport is covered with a layer of grime and dust.

The motor spindle which drives the idler is corroded! Some cleaning with solvent does not seem to help, so this needs to be fixed.

The classic transport uses a swinging idler wheel to drive the spindles. This is a very simple and reliable method. The idler wheel has a rubber 'tire' that needs to be changed althoug this is not often.

In this deck, the tire looks worn and cracked. It definitely needs to be changed.

The back of the drive consist of a back plate that mounts the capstan motor, thrust bearings for the capstan flywheels and the cam mechanism for overall transport control. Removing this, brings access to the capstan flywheels and cam mechanism.
The lubrication between the thrust bearing and flywheel is hard and almost dry. Small wonder for a deck of this age!

When turned by hand, the flywheel does not seem to be very smooth and some resistance is noted. The flywheels have to be removed.

The capstan drive belt, noted at the back on the left picture is quite slack and also needs to be changed.

Bad luck - the edges of the capstan are corroded! This edge comes into contact with the belt and they are rusted!

The other flywheel, visible slightly in this picture, also has the corrosion on the surface that contacts with the belt.

This is a majr problem and needs to be solved if this deck is every going to sing again!

A solution is required to remove the corrosion from the flywheel so that the surface does not damage the capstan driving belt.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Weaving a web

As the initial wiring worked well, I started wiring more larger sections of the board. The wiring seems to work well, although some wires have to be re-done so that they hold each other.

On the left you can see how some connections are used to hold the others down. Most of the connections closely follow the original circuit path.

The leaked acid also damaged the solder pad of most components, so m
uch of the soldering has to be done to the component legs. When I remove the original corroded solder, the solder par underneath was found to be corroded also as the chemicals have reach under the pad.

Here is more soldering with close components. The center row of components are transistors and heat is applied carefully to these.

This section shows soldering done underneath two ICs. The wiring was very close and have to be cleaned and checked.

The wiring was finally complete. No glue or solvent was used to hold the wires down. Now all that remains is to power up the board. However, before setting the board back inside the actually deck, I want to check the board seperately. What are the possible ways to make the board work seperately?