Antique Mechanical Restorations
Restorations Since 1973

Gable Entertainer


Gable Automatic Entertainer or Gables Automatic Entertainer. 

    This model dates from about 1918 and is mechanical and acoustic apart from the electric motor used for winding the springs. This complicated machine was a very sophisticated jukebox for its time. Bill Singleton, a restorer of automatic pianos, took on the task of the cabinet. Bill workmanship in repairing and refinishing the is flawless. I took the entire mechanism apart down to the last bolt, cleaned the parts, reassembled and adjusted it. This machine came with its own set of problems to overcome as you can imagine when you read about the complexity of the mechanism.
    The Gable Entertainer changes the needle automatically every time a record is played. The old needle falls into a tray, the tray is dumped sideways into a trough every other selection. The needles then make their way to a small tin box where they collect until emptied. Amazing!


Exterior view of Gables. Earlier models had a crank on the front, this model uses an electric motor to wind the internal springs.


    With the works removed from the cabinet, the coin mechanism shows a simple slug rejector. As the coin falls through this chute, it trips a finger located in the rectangular opening at the bottom of the casting.


    Back of the coin mechanism before restoration. A wire connects behind each of the two knurled nuts, the lever falls onto the knife contacts to complete the circuit. Notice the red fiber material isolating the electric circuit from rest of the mechanism.


    Interior view showing the electric motor. The electric motor shown is original to the machine. If this machine had been from a location such as New York City, it may have had a DC motor instead. The motor takes the place of the exterior crank on older models. The belt runs up to the large diameter pulley above. Three springs are wound: 1. The turn table spring. 2. The changer mechanism extention spring. 3. Timing spring for shut off.


    The large toothed gear in the center of the photo (one of two) is connected to a knob on the front of the cabinet. When this concentric gear is turned by hand, the lifter arm with roller bearing, lifts one of the two record stacks. The customer can select from one stack of records at a time. After the selection has been moved to the turntable, the tune card for that stack is covered up and the tune card for the other stack is revealed. Take a look at the first video and watch the tune cards .


    Partially obscured by the upright support in the center of this photo, the shifter lever with its forked end pointing up engages the record table. After the selected record is pulled from the rack, it slides to the center position and is placed on the turn table. At the same time, the record that had just played is returned back to its place on the opposing rack.


    Watch as the machine changes records.


    Each of these hollow tubes is stacked tip to end with needles, a total of two or three hundred phonograph needles are in reserve. After every play, this magazine revolves one notch to line up with the next brass tube. It is held in by one screw and is easily removed. The operator would carry a spare filled magazine with him ready to install on location. 


    This brass cone is part of the horn system. The cone rests in place on the back of the tone arm. The cone is free to follow the tone arm as it moves across the record. Notice the hole in the top if the cabinet for lifting the magazine out. This chamber above the hole contains a cardboard horn that directs the sound to the front of the cabinet behind the grill. 
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    Only one needle at a time falls into the funnel at the top of the needle chute. I fine wire holds the other needles at bay in the needle magazine. The back of the chute has a cut out near the bottom for the ejector tip. As the record changes, the needle ejector lever moves downward and the ejector tip is forced into the needle chute to eject the used needle. It is a delicate system and all has to be just right in order for it to work properly. I've outlined the ejector tip in black, it is a hardened steel rod about .025 in diameter, curved to match the contour of the chute.


    Partially disassembled, center top shows winding gear and drive gear for record changer. The coil spring projecting up through the center of the mechanism powers the changer. This spring is extended at the beginning of each cycle and is one of the three springs "wound" by the electric motor.


    Looking up from the bottom, the three weights for the phonograph governor are prominent in this photo. A standard spring wound phonograph turntable is used rather than electric drive. Consistent speed is achieved regardless of the power supplied in each location.


    Changer spring on extreme left. Coin box with keys. Counter balance spring projecting up at an angle. An explanation for this spring accompanies the next photo.


    The counter balance arm pulls down on the steel cable. This cable runs over a pulley and supports one rack of records. The other end of the coil spring is connected to an adjustable bolt (not visable). Spring tension is adjusted to support the weight of the ten records in the corresponding rack. This spring has to be adjusted every time a record is replaced or the records will jam while changing.  Without this counter spring, the patron would have to wrestle the weight of ten records (with the knob on the front of the cabinet) when making his selection.


    Timing gear with roller chain removed. This gear slowly revolves as the record plays. There is no shut off trigger at the end of play as in a standard 78 RPM wind up phonograph. Instead, the playing of the record is timed for a certain duration. Depending on the length of each recording, there is some time at the end of each play where the record continues to spin until the pin on the timing gear shuts the mechanism off. Shut off is accomplished when the pin on this wheel (4 o' clock position) pushes down on the coin mechanism lever and disconnects the light.


    An anticlimactic ending for such an ingenious mechanism. Watching the record spin without music went without question in the mechanical age. From the beginning of the 1900s until 1930, it was the norm for most coin operated pianos to play without producing music, while the ten tune coin piano roll was rewinding.
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