Vinyl records are beginning to have a huge surge in popularity again. There is a whole generation of young people who don’t even know what a vinyl record is let alone know how to fix a record player that is not spinning.
There are basically two different types of spinning platter record players.
- Direct Drive which has the drive motor directly connected to the platter.
- Belt Drive which has the platter connected to the drive motor via a rubber belt.
Many old vinyl record players from the 1960s and earlier are a work of art and still function today. The main problem I come across with early record players are the drive belts are usually worn or broken.
People then throw them out or give them away to their local Goodwill store where someone with a little bit of knowledge can fix them right up.
How to replace the belt on a vinyl record player.
Most record players have easily removable platters. The record platter is the round spinning disk that the vinyl record will rotate on. Some platters will have access holes and some will require access from underneath.
These easy instructions are for my Auna TT-931 turntable but they will work for 99% of all turntables that have an internal drive belt.
How to remove turntable platter
- Turn off and unplug the record player from the mains power for safety.
- Start by taking off the platter by either removing a circlip on the top or a screw from underneath. Be careful with circlips as they can spring off. Use a small screwdriver to gently prise it off.
- Spin the turntable by hand to align up the drive motor with the access hole in the record player table. If the record player platter is still connected to the drive motor use your fingers or a pencil to gently remove the drive belt from the motor. Some turntable platters have access holes that make life easy. Otherwise, you will have to remove the base of the record player.
- Measure the platter diameter to work out the belt size that you will need. If you still have access to the old belt you can also measure belt width, thickness, length, and circumference. Be aware
ifthe belt has stretched, you may get an incorrect measurement.
Replacing the turntable platter
Basically its the reverse of taking one off but with the added step of putting the rubber turntable belt back onto the platter and the drive motor. While the vinyl turntable disk is off its a great time to lubricate any gears and springs. I like to use SuperLube Synthetic Grease.
With platters that have access holes, I first place the belt onto the platter and then use my finger to stretch the rubber band onto the drive motor. You can now push down the platter fully onto the turntable base.
Use the circlip to secure the vinyl platter to the turntable and spin it by hand to make sure everything moves freely. Twists in the belt are a big problem to make sure that the belt is tight and untwisted. You can now give it a dry run without any records on the turntable.
Be sure to finish up by making sure that the record player turntable platter is level and runs true. It should be quiet and not rubbing on any parts of the turntable. Wobbles are bad and need to be rectified quickly before damage is caused to the turntable and vinyl records.
The video below shows how to change the drive belt on a Crosley turntable. It should only take you a few minutes.
Direct Drive turntable not spinning.
Direct drive turntables are a lot harder to diagnose and fix. This is because they don’t have easily replaceable parts. Some of the quick fixes that may cause the motor to stop spinning are.
- Loss of power, check the internal fuse and that the power leads are still connected.
- Direct drive motor has dirt, fluff or hair wrapped around the shaft.
- Turntable platter is jammed up against the edge of the casing.
- The drive motor has failed and will require a new part.
- Auto start limit switch on the pickup arm has been damaged or failed.
Each of these problems and solutions is a starting point for a record player that is not spinning so you will need some basic troubleshooting skills. But if I can do it anybody can.
DIY Turntable belt alternative
For a quick fix to see if everything else is working you can use rubber bands or dental floss. Make sure not to put too much stress onto the motor by using an undersized rubber band.
Dental floss works great with adjustable motor mounts so you can get the correct tension. Be mindful this is only a quick test to check all of the other components of the turntable.
Bicycle inner tubes cut to size and glued using patch glue also can work to make a turntable belt. Use the patch to glue both ends together with the patch on the outside of the rubber band.
Thin flexible o-rings can also work if it is very close to the correct size. Try an auto parts store for something that may fit.
Finding an old record player that is not spinning and restoring it back to life is a very rewarding experience. In society today we throw out too many items that break down. If you are into vinyl records sooner or later you will have to open up your turntable and do some basic maintenance.
Some of these old turntables are becoming very valuable. One that is working is worth even more. I know people who only go to garage sales to buy old records and turntables. With a belt replacement and a new stylus, they are now selling on eBay for hundreds of dollars. For a good idea on the value on some old vinyl records, Discogs.com is a great resource.
If you take care of your vinyl music machine it will take care of your records and your music will sound fantastic. Don’t spend $400 on a new turntable when all it may need is a belt repair.
I also like to replace the turntable needle on all second-hand units. You never know how old or how damages this stylus is. It is a cheap item so its better to be safe than sorry is the old needle damages you expensive vintage vinyl records.
Let me know in the comments below what you have had to fix to get an old turntable working again. Don’t forget to check out our other DIY repair jobs around the home.