Ron has a good point. Most of the early electric motors that were used in the first electrified phonographs were of the "universal" type.  I seem to remember seeing this type in the early Columbia electrics. Meaning they had windings of wire in both the armature and in the stator magnets.  This is unlike the pure induction motors that were typically used by Victor in this period.  The rotor of an induction motor has no obvious wire in the rotor that comprises a winding, so it's generally easy to identify it as an induction motor.  The armature of a universal motor has a commutator with electrical contact brushes that is required to switch and energize the several sections of the armature at the correct times to interact with the magnetic poles in the stator.  Motors of this type can run on either AC or DC current, hence the term "universal".  Since the household power commonly in use at that time could be anything from low voltage to high voltage DC (the Edison system) or variations of AC voltages, universal motors were found to be the most compliant with these early electrical systems.  Maybe as a consequence of the several voltages available back then, most of the early universal phono motors were designed to operate on a fairly low voltage of around 24 to 60 volts or so.

    So in order to use them with 120 volts power that is universal throughout the USA today, you need to add a "ballast" resistor in series with the motor to reduce its operating voltage to whatever it was designed for.  Some of these motors have an identification plate attached to them that states their operating voltage range. But some don't.  So unless you have some other service data that tells you what the motor voltage should be, you have to figger that out by trial and error.  The easiest way to do this is to hook up the motor to a variable voltage device such as a variable autotransformer, typically referred to as a "variac" or a "powerstat".  These devices have a continually variable output voltage, usually determined by a knob that slides a contact brush around the periphery of a toroidal winding on a magnetic core. Then slowly raise the voltage on the variac up from 0 and observe the operation of the motor.  Motors such as these had their speeds dependent on their applied voltage.  In order to make them suitable for phonograph use where you want a constant speed, the motor assembly usually had a mechanical flyball governor attached to it which operated in a manner similar to the flyball governors that were used on spring motors.  The electric motor functions as a torque motor and its speed is controlled by the mechanical braking action of the governor.  So you would need to have the governor mechanism attached and functioning while you try to determine the motor voltage.  Crank up the variac until the governor engages the brake mechanism to provide the desired platter speed of 78 or 80 rpm.  If you have the motor mounted in the player, play a record which will produce some additional drag on the motor and raise the variac voltage until the playing record is running at the desired speed at the outermost diameter (greatest drag).  Then notch the variac voltage up a little more, say 5% to 10%  or so to provide some  reserve torque for "draggy" records.  Note the voltage you are providing to the motor.  Then you can either leave the variac in place permanently, or you can figger out how to reduce the 120 volt household voltage to what the motor wants to see.  You can do this by inserting a big, power-hungry wirewound resistor in series with the motor, which needs to dissipate a lot of power and will get VERY HOT in operation, which is why they are typically wound on a ceramic core.  This is what most of the player manufacturers did in their original designs.  This allows the motor to continue to be used with either DC (maybe if you're still living in the downtown New York City subway system) or typical AC.  If you only plan to use the motor with AC, you can look for a fixed transformer that provides the required voltage change that you need.  You'll need to use a fairly hefty transformer for this application since the motor is probably consuming 25 watts or so and the transformer will have to provide sufficient current for the job.

    In summary, your Columbia motor is probably a low voltage universal type.  So you DO NOT want to hook it up directly to your 120 volt household current.  Doing so will burn it up pretty quickly.  Perform the variable voltage check described above to determine the proper motor voltage and then find a way to step down your household 120 volt outlet power to what the motor wants.

Greg Bogantz

On 11/6/2019 5:11 PM, Ron L'Herault via Phono-L wrote:
You should be able to figure out what connects to what with visual
inspection and a meter that measures continuity.   Most of the old motors
went through some kind of resistance device, a long coil of wire on a
ceramic tube, for instance, as a way of controlling voltage.  You may want
to submit the question to the Electrola group.,
but don't wait too long.  Yahoo is abandoning these mailing list type

Ron L

-----Original Message-----
From: Phono-L [] On Behalf Of Robert
Wright via Phono-L
Sent: Tuesday, November 05, 2019 3:39 PM
To: Antique Phonograph List
Cc: Robert Wright
Subject: Re: [Phono-L] Columbia Grafonola - electric motor question

Anyone? No one here knows about these Columbia electric motors? I would be
shocked if that were true!

On Oct 25, 2019, at 5:35 PM, Robert Wright via Phono-L
<> wrote:

Hello, all! Got a question on behalf of a lovely couple I get this weekend
regarding a big, beautiful Columbia Grafonola. I was going to find them a
crank for it, since they thought that's what was missing, but upon further
inspection, it's got the same situation as in the attached ad. Pretty cool,
and super clean as well.
Problem is: how do you connect this motor to an outlet? No cable included
(that's the easy part), couple of loose wires, not sure what does what... I
only know Victor induction motors! Anyone have a schematic for getting this
thing wired up back to original spec? I'd sure love to help these folks if
Thanks from them and myself in advance!


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