The Lenco Rebuild

07/09/05

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The Transformation Begins

I bought this venerable Lenco L75 deck off Ebay with the intention of transforming it A LA Jean Nantaise, into a giant killing superdeck.  Well it's early days yet and I am still waiting for materials to arrive from the U.S. (Lumber) so this page is very much under construction.

The picture above shows how the deck arrived, very much in original condition without having been abused, tinkered with or otherwise.  First thing to be done was to remove the original tonearm (see photos below).  This is generally reckoned to be not worth pursuing as it is not really up to todays standards (except for the few purists who want their Lenco kept as original as possible).  The tonearm is very easily removed much in the same way as a Linn arm is off an LP12, a simple locking collar with two set-screws and voila, space for something better.

The platter is a huge 8lb beast and is dynamically balanced for each deck, I found several holes drilled in the edge of mine much the same as you might find on a personalised golf club. Once removed from the deck, the innards are revealed in all their simplicity, having recently tinkered with a Garrard Zero 100 deck, I can definitely vouch for the Lenco in terms of build quality and simplicity of design.  Of course the Lenco was never meant to be an Automatic Deck but even speed change on the Lenco is a lesson in design.

Having a 'spare' Linn Ittok arm, recently re-wired (see The Ittok Saga here), I decided to have a go at mounting this on the Lenco, just to see what it was capable of.  The Lenco mounting just happens to be almost perfect in terms of geometry and overhang for the entire range of Linn arms which are all in the 210 - 215mm effective length range.  Mounting the Ittok was pretty easy, I actually used the original Lenco arm mount although this is really too large for the Ittok,  I had to squeeze the set-screws up as tight as they would go to keep hold of it (no damage to the Ittok as the set-screws don't actually touch the arm pillar).

First impressions of the Ittok on the Lenco are that it has LOTS of potential, bearing in mind that the deck was played sitting in (not fastened to) the original plinth, the arm was just 'plonked' in, without any adjustment at all (I mean NONE), the results were staggering.  The Lenco obviously has base in spades but this is a little 'bloomy' at present, not tightly controlled like the LP12, but definitely lower than the LP12 if I recall correctly.  I reckon with the high mass plinth I intend to construct bolted on, this will indeed be something to be reckoned with.

Early Photos

   Just Unpacked            Original Tonearm        Under the Platter      Full Metal Idlerwheel

   

   Large Platter              Tonearm Wiring        Ittok LVII Mounted temporarily

    

 

Stage 2 - The Plinth Construction

I wont bore you (too much) with the woodworking details as this is not really important, suffice to say that without some serious tools, this job would not have gotten off the ground.  Since I did'nt have any of the said tools at the time, I can hardly call this a budget special since the tools count adds up to a hefty 600 (well try cutting mitres in exotic hardwoods without a compound mitre saw).  Still, the tools will come in handy for the next project no-doubt ......

The plinth itself is constructed of two hardwood frames (picture-frame style) sandwiched together using biscuit joints and glue, to form a high-mass, constrained layer damping sub-chassis.  The wood was imported from the U.S. since I could'nt get hold of any in Singapore where the plinth was constructed.  The top layer is Bolivian Rosewood (or Morado as its also named), and the bottom layer is American Black Walnut  (from a tree felled in 1912 would you believe, it still had some bullets in it from the war of that period).  Working with wood like this is a bit hairy, especially if you don't have any spare, it's a case of think twice, cut once (as a friend of mine quoted to me).  I'm sure the reader will see the many cut-outs and recesses necessary to enable the platter assembly to fit into the plinth (courtesy of the router).

Stage 2 Photos

 Hardwood Sandwich     Lots of cut-outs       Lovely wood though

Stage 3 - A Trial Stage

Having spent quite a lot of time and effort with the plinth, I was eager to give it a try so I just fitted the plinth to the chassis, fitted an arm (Acos Lustre from Ebay) and off we went.  Early trials were disappointing to say the least, the arm is definitely the weak link here as it is too long by about 10mm to achieve the optimum overhang, and it is also too high, giving rise to a VTA somewhat above parallel.  I tried several cartidges with this arm including:  Linn K5, Goldring GL820, Shure V15-III and a B&O MC20CL but to be honest none of them were all that inspiring in the listening tests.  I'm sure the arm is the problem though as all of the above cartridges should be good enough to involve you in the music at the very least.

Stage 3 Photos

 Trial fit Acos Arm        Not Looking Bad        and it tracks OK        Some joint detail

 

Stage 4 - Time to get it right

Having decided to ditch the Acos, I also thought I would address a couple of other minor niggles with the plinth and the chassis.  In my hurry to hear the darned thing, I did'nt really finish off the woodwork, so, back to drawing board (or Workmate actually) to cut the rebate between the two layers a bit deeper to accentuate the layers better. 

I also elected to repaint the chassis since I did'nt like the original grey colour with the plinth.  The photos below show where I am with the deck at present, plinth now finished as much as it will be, chassis duly repainted in black as it should have been from the start.  Actually, I'm now really pleased that I took the time to do this as the finished result looks much better than the transition stage in my opinion.  So, we are waiting for an arm now.

I intend to try my hand at a Scroder look-alike as per 'Oldfi' on the Lenco Forum has done.  I don't expect that this will happen any time soon so I will fit a Linn LVX (If I can get my hands on one) which at least should be right in terms of overhang and VTA if nothing else.  More to follow obviously when the DIY arm is complete.

Stage 4 Photos

 Black Chassis now     Waiting for Tonearm       Front View

 

DIY Scroder Tonearm (Beginnings)

     Basic Parts                   Arm Wand             Base Plate (Fortal)

   

  Arm/Magnet Pillar           Support Pillar             Basic Parts 2

   

  Top & Bottom               Left Top View              Top View             Front Left View  

    

     Back Right View

 

DIY Schroder Tonearm (Progress)

    Rear View                   Front View                Plan View

 

DIY Schroder Tonearm ('Final' Version)

Well I suppose you should never say 'final' in any DIY project as the tendency to tweak never really stops, but I have to say that I am more than pleased with the end result in terms of aesthetics and sound quality, and can't see myself changeing anything much in the immediate future.

With the addition of the Benz L2, I can finally say that the deck has been transformed from it's humble beginnings, into a force to be reckoned with.  Obviously without an A-B comparison, I can only describe what I'm hearing from a single viewpoint, but if I remember the performance of my LP12 correctly, the Lenco easily equals it in most areas, and beats it in terms of bass level.  I also think that the deck and arm combination have a neutrality which is somewhat unique, with none of the mid-range colour inherent in the LP12/Ittok match.

Anyway, enough of that, on with the photos:

  Lenco/Schroder      The Eagle has landed    Scroder/Benz L2        Bearing Detail

  Lenco/Schroder 2       Headshell Detail

End of Project ......... I don't think so

 

 

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This site was last updated 07/09/05