Talkin Jukeboxes Hrader

Talkin' Jukeboxes

AMI Continental

The AMI CONTINENTAL A Jukebox that was, until about 15 years ago, largely ignored by jukebox junkies. The AMi Continental is now reverred in most circles of jukebox fans. A late developer the Continental was not introduced until 1960 as the Mk 1 which was followed in 1961 by the Mk 2 version. The cabinet design was a radical change from the style trend that AMi had set with the models H, I, J and K that had preceded it. They totally ditched the 'car look' and came up with a futuristic almost Sci-Fi vision, back then, of a music machine for the future.

The Mk 1 and Mk 2 are similar, in fact the mechanics are identical, but the sound systems are different and so are some cabinet trims and colour scheme. These were the days of add-on1 amps to facilitate the production of stereo sound. Alot of audio manufacturers were hedging their bets as to whether stereo was a viable proposition or not. The Conti one was put out as mono and the Conti 2 was either mono or stereo, with the stereo being achieved by an 'add-on' unit - replacing the mono preamp with a second power amp and fitting a new stereo preamp in that way AMi played with the stereo/mono thing a bit longer than other manufacturers.

Most twos that you find do tend to be stereo and when set up correctly are capable of that great AMi beat. I say correctly set up as the speaker connections are a bit of a nightmare : there is the main front speaker , tweeter and a mid range speaker on each side - all of which are coupled to the amplifier via a crossover unit. It is important to get the front speaker as the loudest one with the sides at much lesser volume to make the machine sound good. I have heard countless examples where the front unit is supplying the background sound whilst the poor little side ones are almost splitting themselves in two trying to cope with the volume, so give it some thought and do not blindly follow the service manual !

The amplifier is not a cheap one to rebuild particularly the stereo version. All the capacitors always need changing and most resistors 100k ohm and over + time + cost of new valve set = money! Currently the only really difficult parts to replace, as original, are the speaker grills on both models, the glass dome, the lower trim around the speaker grill and the 'neck'. The neck is the part that holds the titlerack above the dome, an important function and one that is put in peril when the neck is cracked ! This often occurs in transit and with mishandling when you are trying to get this surprisingly large machine into your house.

The Continental does appear to take up more space in your home than other jukes because it likes corners. Placed in the corner of a room the Conti two side speakers will actually work to good effect as the sound they produce is bounced forward by the walls in the corner. The shape of the box and the titlerack actually suits a corner position and they certainly look at their best when sited like that.

As with all AMi jukeboxes do not take short cuts in their will rarely get away with it. They can be made to function reliably and they should sound great but as Nursie says you have to be thorough : amp rebuild, pulse convertor cleaned etc., motors cleaned, mains wiring replaced and micro switches replaced, not the easiest machine to service so do it all ONCE to save all that frustration that will otherwise happen later.

Wurlitzer 2000

Wurlitzer's first 200 selection 45 rpm juke box also dubbed the "Centennial" commemerating Wurlitzer's 100 years of musical achievement 1856-1956.Its main claim to fame is through its use of turning pages to enable you to view all 200 titles.

The centre section is static whilst to the left and right of it are the "books" of pages. When the button is depressed a page is turned by a mechanical lever assembly linked to a small A.C. motor via a gear box. This feature was also used in their 1957 model the 2100. The turning page system was not used in any other fifties models - it probably attracted a bit too much attention as it is fun to watch the pages turn!

The turning pages always gave the old operators trouble and were not liked in the old days. This feature is unique to these two models.

The styling of the 2000 is identical to the 1900 (104 selections) the only difference being in the number of selections and the way that the titles are displayed. High prices are being sought for the W2000 mainly due to its so called"limited production"which is proving to be a bit of a myth - How many were made? I think that no-one really knows. Here at The JukeBoxMan we have many parts to make your Wurli 2000 radiate its former glory - check it out.


Rock-ola 1448-1458

Gene Vincent rocked and his Blue Caps rolled, Chuck Berry did that walk, Elvis got all shook up and Rock Ola produced their "Rock'n'Roll" series of jukeboxes. The luxury of retrospection gives us the ability to identify the models 1448 - 1458 that RockOla produced during the years 1956-1958 as Rock'n'Roll classics. Designed to look compact, but in reality there is very little difference between their dimensions and any other jukeboxes, these models are full of typical American Fifties Flash but with a non-agressive styling featuring plenty of chrome,glass and light. The fully visible play deck is surrounded by a colourful plastic "dress-cap". The colour/shape/style of the dress cap changed with each model and so is a very important feature. Internal silver or gold coloured foil was used on all models to either totally line the top part of the cabinet or only partially when used in conjunction with brightly coloured plastic as in the 1458.

The 1455 was the first to have the record magazine partially obscured with shaped plastic caps which were further embellished in the 1458 by using self-coloured 'aqua' plastic. Other major variations between models are found on the speaker grill.

The 1448 has its "icicles or as some people say "waterfalls" or "chains" together with decorative glass panels (four) vertically mounted across the front - this glass in its original pattern is known as "Waffle Glass" due to its pattern. The 1454 exchanged the two outer waffle glasses for two strong metalgrids also with a reduction of the chromed "chains" but this time included the famous RockOla shield fixed to the grill.The 1455 disposed of the somewhat fragile glass panels and "corrugated " grill and in their stead opted for a flat very open mesh grill with a set of nine gold rings..3 large and 6 small. Another significant styling difference was the bulkier button bank casting giving the juke box a heavier look. This was improved with the 1458 by having the front casting chromed instead of a stuck on woodgrain finish as in the 1455. All have a standard RockOla mechanism with very few technical surprises. The main problems are usually with the selector pins and associated contacts. All have the typical RockOla sound : slightly compressed tone range with loads of volume..perfect for those great sounds of the fifties! The cult Rock'n'Roll movie "Hot Rod Gang" has lead to the 1458 being dubbed the "Gene Vincent" jukebox . In that movie the 1458 is sited in the local hang-out for the kids and very nearly gets involved in a fight. The film is only memorable for the classic performances by Gene and the Blue Caps - terrific ! The appearance many years later of the 1458 on the front cover of the "greatest hits" type album just strenghthened the name.There is one other RockOla that has received the 'star' treatment the model 1455. Since featured on the cover of the classic "New Juke Box Hits" by Chuck Berry it has been nicknamed the Chuck Berry RockOla. If you have never seen this Chess album cover check it out ! -- The sharp, handsome Mr Berry gazes entranced in to theRock Ola...boy what a Classic.

Chantal Meteor

The 'Chantal' is a juke box without frontiers : conceived in Lausanne, Switzerland and where the first ones were built (Swiss Chantal) - later built in Bristol, England (English Chantal)  also exported/altered in Paris, France (French Chantal).

In1954 the Chantal was conceived and designed by Jean Foufounais and Andre Deviaz. The Jukebox was named after Foufounais' wife Chantal. It is said that 500 to 600 Swiss machines were assembled by hand and sold between 1956 and 1961, which seems an extremely low number for 5 years work!

The factory in Switzerland went up in flames in 1961 ending the Swiss Chantal production.

The English Chantal was made in 1959 under licence by David Fry as Chantal Ltd in Bristol. A  re-designed cabinet gave this Chantal a more solid look which some say is less aesthetically pleasing when compared to the Swiss machine.In 1962 a fire destroyed the Bristol factory bringing production to an end only eight months after the Swiss fire.

As to production numbers, well these have been declared low as in the Swiss factory BUT I have handled quite a few and know of other dealers who have done the same. These are not all the same machines and speaking with ex-operators it is easy to see that production numbers were not low.

One such operator told me they had between 200 - 300 on site and that he can remember burning 50 in one go alone !! That accounts for the lack of survivors!

These machines are not easy to restore. The lack of parts is most frustrating, the large perspex domes very expensive to make correctly and most mech parts non -existent. A solid sounding machine with bass and drive it can be rather unkind to your 45's.

However perserverance and skill will prevail and like the Phoenix a Chantal can be reborn from the ashes.


Wurlitzer Lyric

The 'Classic' LyThe 'Classic' Lyric was made in Germany by Deutsche Wurlitzer from 1961 - 1969. I say 'Classic' to distinguish the 61/69 range from those Lyrics that came after : from 1970 onwards the flat play mechanism was used and all the 'action' was obscured by the cabinet. The 'Classic' Lyric operates in the classic Wurlitzer 45rpm style by playing the records vertically just like its American cousin.

Compared to the Yankee Wurli the Lyric is classed as a compact jukebox of a rather 'lightweight' nature. What it is though, is the Classic sixties jukebox - definitely 601s in design and, some might say, obviously European.

This jukebox was very common in England throughout the sixties and seventies ideally suited to coffee bars, cafes on the A1 and the back rooms of pubs. At max volume it won't make your ears bleed but the sound is more than adequate for the more modest locations and some might say an ideal home jukebox.

My opinion has always been that the Lyric is an ideal jukebox to learn the basics of jukin with.It is a simpler mech to the USA Wurlitzers: still the same principles but utilising slightly different components like motors/relays.

The amplifier is really not a patch on the American Wurlis but is adequate although limited. Problems when restoring these models are always with trim parts particularly the glass, and even the motors. The turntable motor is a 30volt AC type and so is fairly unique to these models. Complete title rack with frame is always a BIG order and so are the badges.Selector buttons and there clear covers, particularly numbers, are now fairly hard to find.

Lyrics can be made to sound pretty good : a new p.u usually helps as does an amp rebuild and sometimes even speaker replacement of either one or both loudspeakers but as I said before they do have a limited output value with what some people may consider a limited tone range as well. Values of these machines have soared to a couple of thousand pounds but realistically it is alot less than that!

Most dealers would only sell a good restored example with all the relevant trims etc in place for between 900 and 2000 including full guarantee, delivery etc.. As with most jukes what you see is what you get.

Seeburg HF100R

In 1950 Seeburg set the benchmark for the coming decade with the 100 select M100B. It made everything else obsolete overnight and sent the competitors back to the drawing boards in a big hurry. Seeburg had gambled on the new 45rpm record becoming the industry standard and it paid off in spades. It was 1954 before Wurlitzer caught up with a new mechanism expressly designed for the new discs, and by that time Seeburg were ready to rock the industry back on its heels yet again. The following year they would unveil the mighty V200, the worlds first 200 select machine and inevitably a jukebox classic.

The 1954 HF100R was therefore Seeburg's last electromechanical selection machine, but no less inovative for that. It pioneered the 'Bandshell' look(using cantilevered support for the front glass), a feature widely copied by other manufacturers, and its use of glass 'waterfall' panels and ribbed gold interior was also influential.

RockOla's 1454 of 1956 was in many ways a direct copy of the HF100R but what it didn't have was the 'Seeburg Sound'. The combination of an unprecedented five speakers, Seeburg's unique magnetic pick-up and a hefty amplifier made this one of the sweetest sounding jukeboxes of all time. By the end of the decade things were changing fast in the jukebox world. The Eisenhower era was over and the design opulence of machines like the HF100R was gone forever, but despite the dictates of planned obsolescence these things were built to last.

So drop a nickel in the slot and enjoy the sound that only a valve amp and big speakers can make .....still wonderful after 45 years!

Last of THE Jukes?

News in from the intrepid explorer Ernie about his 'Liberation' from the Americans of one of their >Last< Jukebox treasures.

The whereabouts of the legendary Gabel Kuro, one of perhaps only two surviving, has been known to a select few for some years now and along with the rest of the owners fantastic collection, never for sale.

Time moves on and mostly every ones circumstances/thoughts on life change, what was once important becomes less and what was not thought of is......He decided to sell! Ernie brokered the deal between the seller and the buyer and what a deal !!

The jewel of the collection was the Kuro but even without it the collection contains some extremely fine machines. Before the machine reached Holland some Americans were already making good money offers on the machine but the guy who bought it does not want to sell - yet!

John Gabel Co made the first 'light-up' jukebox in 1936 with their 18 selection model 'Starlite'. The Kuro of 1940 was designed by Clifford Brooks Stevens The name of the model was an amalgam of the names of John Gabel's two sons Kurt and Robert. As a designer Clifford Brooks Stevens was one of THE best.

The John Gabel Company - USA manufactured the following models: Entertainers from 1906 - 1916, 24 selections
Gable jr. 1929-30, 12 selections
Commercial 1929-30, 24 selections Entertainer 1929-30,
Standard Gabel Jr. 1931-33, 12 selections Moderne Gabel Jr. 1933-34, 24 selections Sheraton Gabel Jr. 1933-34, 24 selections
Starlite. 1933, 12 selections
Entertainer. 1935, 24 selections Streamline. 1936, 12 selections
Elite. 1936, 18 selections
Aristocrat. 1936, 24 selections
Lorelei. 1936, 12 selections
Charme. 1937, 18 selections
Rainbow. 1938 - 39 , 24 selections
KURO. 1940, 24 selections.

Gabel made a significant contribution to JUKEBOX history in 1906. The 1906 version of their Automatic Entertainer was multi-selection. It was mounted in a five foot cabinet with a forty inch horn on the top. It had a screw feed mechanism to carry the sound box across the record, a magnetic slug detector (coin system) and was wound up from the front by the patron. Gabel stopped, the manufacture of the Entertainer in 1908 - as this system was just not good enough for patrons to abandon their money in to: the sound let it down !!!


My name is Russell Ofria. I am a jukebox historian going back to 1981 when I published my first stories in Nickel A Tune magazine, and then in Loose Change Magazine. I hope you will not take offense at a few corrections I offer. In your website, you have a page that talks about rare machines: "John Gabel Co made the first 'light-up' jukebox in 1936 with their 18 selection model 'Starlite'. " Actually, the first light up machine was made by Holcomb & Hoke in 1926 called the Electramuse. This machine came in several models all of which had a back lit artistic panel at the top. The Concert Grand model even had animation in that panel. Second, "Gabel stopped, the manufacture of the Entertainer in 1908 - as this system was just not good enough for patrons to abandon their money in to: the sound let it down !!!" The Gabel Automatic Entertainer was produced from 1906 up until about 1929 or 1930. AND, in 1914 it won an award at the Pan American Exposition. It was judged the "best sounding reproducing machine" winning over even the Victor and Edison phonographs! The Gabel Automatic Entertainer was the most successful machine of its day with around 6000 of them produced before Wurlitzer produced a few thousand P-10's. Again, I apologize for being such a nit-picker. I just thought the record should be set straight. These days, there are several books circulating that have presented a little erroneous information. I think they bear correcting. Cheers, Russell Ofria. September 2002


Newboult Empire

The Empire was Norman Newboults project to build a jukebox from scratch is now complete. The machine I've named the Empire is now in our living room stacked with LP's and working well. It all started after admiring a Discophone Goliath and seeing a lot of the internals made of wood. I had a desire to acquire one of these machines but began to think about the possibility of making one, as they don't turn up very often and maybe pricey. I particularly like the style of the cabinet on the lines of a 1930's cinema, hence the name of my machine "The Empire". My thoughts soon turned away from a Goliath copy playing 45's to one which would play vinyl LP's. I chose the Wurlitzer counter top idea were all the records are stacked on the turntable and devised a method of splitting the stack and sliding the tone arm in between. This would only play one side, to play the other; the record stack is locked into a rotating mechanism, rotated through 180 degrees and placed back on the turntable. After selecting an LP any track can be played. I won't go into technicalities but to say it is all mechanical technology, not a chip in sight only valves and relays. As there is no modern technology to position the stylus in the gap between each track the machine relies on solid engineering.

The frame of the working part of the mechanism is welded steel suspended on rubber mounts in an aluminium frame to eliminate any movement of the prealigned parts. The cabinet is in 5 parts, which attach to the frame with lift off hinges. As can be seen from this type of construction the machine is heavy. Weighing the various parts on the bathroom scales and adding it all up it comes to 485lbs. It would have made more sense to adopt a more modern approach but my interest is in juke box mechanics and pre transistor technology led me to build it this way. The mechanical programmer using solenoids to push in pins could have been replaced by a few chips but I would not have had the interest to complete the machine.

The sound system has 6 inch speakers each side for stereo reproduction and a 15-inch bass in the front door fed by valve amps. Built in stages, most of the work was done during the winter months taking around 5 years to complete. During this time if I got fed up, it would be pushed into the corner of the workshop and covered over until the next wave of enthusiasm or I had forgotten why I had pushed it in there in the first place. The whole machine is built from scratch in my workshop with parts like motors, gears and relays salvaged from scrap equipment refurbished and modified as necessary. The only parts I was unable to make are the glass pilasters, stained glass and leather turntable covers. I would like to thank Dave Burton, an artist who produces fantastic designs in leather for making the turntable covers.

We liked his work so much we had a leather-topped table made up with the same design, his speciality. My thanks to Ros and Alan Battson, Alan for turning my sketches and ideas into computer images for Ros to make up into the stained glass for the front of the machine and a green and red dome which when lit from above illuminates the visible part of the mechanism. Norman.

How it works

The 10 LP's separated by aluminium discs are held in a rotating mechanism which allows them to rotate though 180 degrees to play either side. When the selection is made the record stack rotates to play either side. The turntable rises up from below and lifts the whole stack out of the rotator into the separation section that has 8 separation claws.

The claws drop into gaps between the discs and when the selected record is reached the turntable will stop rising. The motor will reverse and the stack descends to the play position leaving some of the records up in the air held with the claws. The tone arm moves across to the selected track and starts playing. After playing the tone arm moves back to the rest position, turntable rises up to the remaining records, the claws open to release and the whole stack descends back into the rotator ready for the next selection.

Track selection is done by 20 rods in a moving carriage assembly, one rod per side. Each rod has 8 pins that can be pushed into place by solenoids operated by pressing a key on the keyboard. After the record and track selection is made the carriage assembly will start to scan and look for pins pushed out. When a pin is found the scan stops and the rod will be pushed upward to 2 detector arms.

The top portion of the rod has adjusting screws pressing against the detector arms to set the start and stop position of each track. At the bottom of the tone arm is a mirror that reflects a beam of light onto detectors at the end of the detector arms. As the tone arm moves over the record the beam of light will hit the stop detector and lower the arm onto the start of the selected track. When the end of track is reached the beam of light will hit the stop detector and the arm will lift off the record and return to rest. All this works with only15 electric motors, 54 micro switches, and 89 relays. On the audio side a magnetic pickup feeds a 20-watt stereo valve amp. 6 inches mid range speakers either side of the cabinet for stereo and a 15 inch bass speaker in the centre.

The bass speaker is fed with it's own valve amp by mixing the left and right hand channels after the pre amp. The cabinet and visible part of the mechanism are illuminated by a total of 30 lamps and 11 fluorescent tubes. 4 fans mounted on rubber to keep then noise down remove the heat generated inside the cabinet by all these lamps and valves.

Greetings from Bristol, Geoff. From the pic, the sound boxes appear to face frontward. Pathe machines were like that, as they were intended to play vertically cut discs, same as the Edison cylinders and Diamond discs. Pathe's cleverly arranged it so the sound box could be turned around to play lateral cut as well, using a steel needle instead of the ball sapphire. So the "Cakestand" might be of French origin, around 1920. Some five years before electric recording... Hope this is of use,John Weedon.


The Cakestand -
Jukebox or ?

Have you any information that can help identify this machine? It is obviously old. Totally mechanical as it works by a clockwork motor.Nicknamed Cakestand bythe owner - there are no i.d. marks on it.













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