1918 Gabel Entertainer Jukebox

View from the front showing the record starting after a nickel is deposited. 


The electric motor drops out of the cycle once the music begins. This is strictly a mechanical jukebox.

Gabel Entertainer Jukebox 1918

Earlier models had a crank on the front, this model uses an electric motor to wind the internal springs. Mechanical springs were used for purposes of consistency.  Regardless of the current in any part of the country, these jukeboxes would run correctly, including spinning the turntable at 78 RPMs.  The sound is acoustic with a formed cardboard horn behind the top grille.


This is the most fascinating mechanical collectible I have ever restored. Owners of old Victrolas were instructed to change the needle every time they played a record. This jukebox automatically changes the needle before every play. A very remarkable design! The used needles are mechanically collected and end up in a small tin box for emptying. Amazing!

The front of the coin mechanism showing 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. The finger connects two wires together to run the electric motor and lights.

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. Red fiber material isolates the electric circuit from rest of the mechanism.

Interior view, with the back panel removed, 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 of AC. The motor takes the place of the exterior crank on older models. The "V" belt runs up to the large diameter pulley above. Three springs are wound: 1. The turn table spring. 2. The changer mechanism extension spring (or coil 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 using the knob, 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. 

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, the record 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.


Each stack of records is adjustable to counterbalance the exact weight of the heavy 78s.

Each of these hollow brass tubes is stacked tip to end with needles, a total of about 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. Notice the hole in the top if the cabinet for lifting the magazine out.

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.  This chamber above the "ceiling" of this area contains a cardboard horn that directs the sound to the front of the cabinet behind the grill.


The sound is clear and loud! The volume produced can easily overcome the background noise of a restaurant or nightclub. 

Only one needle at a time falls into the funnel at the top of the needle chute. A fine gauge music wire holds the other needles at bay in the needle magazine. The back of the chute has a cutout 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, the center top of this photo shows the winding gear and drive gear for the 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 powered up 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 electric current  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 (extreme left). 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 visible). 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.

With the back panel removed, the jukebox cycles to begin playing after a nickel is deposited.

With the back panel removed, this shows the shut-off cycle. 


 An anticlimactic ending for such an ingenious mechanism. Watching the record spin without music went without question back 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.