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ScuzzBlog: Diaries 2018

March 03: Entry 1801: scuzzblog: Post: 1

Philips EL 3585/15 - Frozen in time

This was probably a week I would prefer to forget in truth. Sadly
the south coast was hit by the 'Beast from the East' which also
smacked straight into the after flow of some hurricane and so
we were treated with yet more abnormal weather. Evidently the
coldest for this time of year on record. The upshot was that the
house was enveloped in a thick layer of ice. And I mean covered.
What happened is that it rained and then instantly froze all over
the house. And so my windows turned into obscure glass making it
impossible for me to see out. We had a deep layer of snow which
lay over a solid sheet of ice. The place became inaccessible and
the local village store was fast running out of supplies. Days
and nights were bitterly cold and I have to say it made life
quite miserable.

For me, though, I always have a project so I set too cleaning the
little portable tape recorder type Philips EL 3585/15.

First though a bit of retro history. In 1970 I was set to go to
Adventure Camp at school. I had been let down by my best school
chums who decided to drop out when they saw that the school
bullies were going. These guys were thugs, even then. I was so
dreading going and did pray for a kinda miracle to prevent me
from going. Anyway, the Sunday before I was playing football
and fell on my arm breaking the thing which instantly stopped
the trip. I recall that night lying in bed with a cast all the
way up my arm kinda thanking the big guy for intervening but
questioning whether breaking my arm was really necessary. The
problem was that it was my right arm and when I returned to
school I was called into the heads office and told I had to go
home as they were not insured to cover pupils with busted arms.

Each day for the next 8 weeks I was given daily school homework
but unable to do any of it as I couldn't write. Interestingly
I did become ambidextrous in the time but didn't tell the
school that as I was enjoying my free time.

In those days I was mad on the Apollo moon missions and the
previous year man had for the first time landed on the moon and
I recall sitting on my bed with the sun streaming through the
window sorting out all my newspaper cuttings, when my dad burst
in and gave me one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.
The tiny Philips portable EL 3585. This little wonder became
my closest friend during my days at home and served me so well
for years to come.

The year was 1970 and no internet, magazines to read. No technical
manuals or anybody to talk to about how the thing worked. So
all I learned was from the doing. What I discovered was if
I placed a piece of paper behind the first head on the tape
it did not erase what was on the tape. This meant that with a
little bit of practice I could record several voices one over
the other. Additionally because batteries ran out I could use
a used battery which would cause the recording to go slower and
when played pack would go faster. And so with my own voice I
could play the part of several characters.

I wrote a series of short stories and featured myself doing all
the voices. Because the tape was portable I was able to go
outside with the tape machine and record all kinds of sounds
for the plays. I recall being lost for the sound of a car driving
away. I then visited the greenhouse where there was hanging a
whole load of canes. I found that by recording with an underpowered
battery and hitting the canes faster and faster, the play back
was very similar to a Model T Ford. Amazing really.

I still have all the tapes and in truth I would love to play
them again. Sadly the little machine has been sitting idle for
a couple of decades. My father had the tape when I left home in
1984 and he hacked around with it. I am guessing from the oily
dirt all over the machine it had been sitting in his metal working
machine shed amongst all the car engines and tools. The thing
was black with grime and the smell was very much of oil, the
kind you drain from your cars sump.

So the week was spent cleaning as best I could the grime from
the little tape machine and I managed eventually to get all
the moving components to actually move and do what they were
supposed to. Unfortunately dad managed to snaffle a few parts
from the machine so I am missing the battery cover, the microphone
and a few screws. He also cut the wires to the speaker. You have
to remember when looking at this tape machine it was hammered.
It had already seen eight years of service before it got to
me. So the Philips and been thrown about, squashed behind piles
of boxes. Sat in damp oily shed and generally neglected. So
the case has taken a battering. I do recall seeing the label
strip from the front which may be in the loft. I have more tapes
but would have to dig them out.

For now though she is missing a drive belt and I believe a
large rubber drive grommet. I also need to reconnect the speaker.
What is so funny is that the main drive is held off a component
by a white bit of card and insulating tape. Inside that card is
a Rotring pen nib. Could only be me that did that as they are
the trade make tool of an Architect, which I am. I could hardly
see anyone else using a Rotring pen case to do such a modification.

And so to the rather worn and weathered Philips EL 3585 from the
inside out. Born into my world in 1970 which makes the tape machine
just 48 years in my keeping, though more like 56 years old. So
marvel at what was state of the art for 1962. Not bad in truth.

Philips EL 3585 made in Holland in 1962
Uses 6 x 1,5 V batteries at speed - 1 7/8
Utilising 2 tracks and 4" reels

Battery operated tape-recorder with EL 3755 microphone.

First though my frosted glass. Frozen
over by the icy weather on the south coast

And yes this is actually clear glass

The inside of the Philips EL 3585/15

Not just giving out the recording
level but advised on battery health

Two of the major drives plus the
top bracket of which one is missing

Head restraints with springs
removed. Trying to clean this
has been a mammoth task and I had
to remove most items so I could
get to the components

Eventually I got the buttons working

You cannot believe how much dirt
and oily greasy grime came off
the head section alone

The slides and spring below the
switches are a work of art

The stem with the red spot
is depressed to record and
stays down when the middle
button is pressed

Note middle button and red stem depressed

To release you actually pull the
middle button toward you

And the red stem plunger activates
this sliding switch inside the tape

It is so busy inside the tape machine

And there is that Rotring pen
case that I was discussing

The speaker wires have been cut
There were wires to the speaker
coming out of the case and I sense
dad had been using the speaker with
some other electrical equipment

I mean where would you start replacing
transistors and capacitors

Note the spring plungers to the buttons

A city skyline of electrical components

The microphone housing

The model label of the tape recorder

There was a foam cover to this
circuit board which had turned
into a dust blanket of brown ... stuff

Generally all the wires were intact

The main drive belt is missing
Well actually, not missing, but broken

I replaced the two springs

Put the meter cover back on
and fitted the volume control

And then placed the innards back
into the plastic outer casing

Placed covers back over tape heads

Note the missing label strip

Also the missing battery cover
and microphone.

All cleaned as best I can

The amount of times I stuffed a
bit of paper over the head to record
several voice takes.

One of my plays on tape called
Lonely Life... and the my signature
name ' talent ' which is what I called
myself in those days. Never my real name

And there we have the record buttons
working as intended

The very badly damaged plastic top cover

The right silver stem here is a
dummy by the way. Does nothing

Carry handle reattached

The very wonderful Philips EL 3585 from 1962

My next tape machine was a Prinzsound RTR16
which was a load of junk. It really was

It spent more time at Dixons repair shop
than in actual use. In the end they gave
me pretty well my money back and told me
to go away. I don't have the cassette player
which my dad probably took to pieces

The ITT on the other hand is a real beauty
of a machine. This is not mine as dad still
has my original. I did buy another and this
works just as well. I used the recorder
whilst composing guitar music and it was
extraordinarily efficient. I like units I
could carry around and visit friends with
my compositions. The ITT is classic

My next recording beast was the SONY
which I still have albeit sits at my
sisters house. All my kit I left at
home when I left in 1984 and gave to
dad. Over the years it has found its way
back to me. Just need to collect the
reel to reel which is a heavy bit of kit

There seriously has never been a better
recording device than this. With the four
tracks and stereo output it seriously
blows your mind as to the definition

I played all this through a Realistic amp
Which I still have this very day and use
it as a radio. First time I hooked this up
a friend of mine turned up the volume and
blew up my brand new GB3 speakers. Again
just an incredible bit of kit that I could
plug so much into. The coloured dial and
the tuning stem that turns bright red when
you find the station brings back happy memories
of me pulling all nighters in a cold bedroom
when I was at School of Architecture

I also still have my 5" National Panasonic
TV which I had sat on the amp in the bedroom
With this I would have watched Faulty Towers
Hitch-Hikers Guide and Neil Innes and the like
which I recorded in sound only to the SONY
No video in those days, but fortunately shows
were so well written you could imagine the
scenes by simply listening. I currently use
the TV with a Spectrum 48K

I still have all my cassette tapes from that era

Mostly chart shows from Radio 1, Kenny Everett
Sunday afternoon shows and Neil Innes.

Plus my 4" tapes

And my SONY tapes

I'll mention a couple of other items
that I used a lot. Whilst the telescope
could just about see the craters on the
moon, it was more useful for inverting
the lenses. Lenses were so important to me
Because with them I could make projectors
and microscopes. By inserting into home
made devices I was able to use home made
picture slides of architectural models and
project onto paper and then draw trace before
drawing in and painting as art work

To take pictures I used the trusty Zenith
and then develop my own films and also
create my own black and white slides.
I used various lenses and extension pieces
to create macro images of items and pictures

Also by sitting the camera on the very
tripod I am still using today I could
set the camera to 30-X which allowed me
to take pictures longer than the refresh
rate off the 5" TV and photograph picture
sharp images.

Remember that in these days there were no
computers and no videos. No internet and
a very limited source of graphical information
And so using any methods possible to create
your own graphics helped greatly in projects

Generally all my films were developed
and printed by myself. Great fun.

And I still have all my manuals for the kit

So there you have it... More from the era
before the computer. Just one thing I would
add.... If you are blessed with your hands
and your eyes then marvel at what you can
achieve. There is so much anyone can do with
just a tiny fraction of imagination. Life is
about time. And this is your time, you only
get the one. So if you can, you should make
use of your eyes and hands to make the most
of your time. I certainly have, and still do

There you go ... frozen in time. But not forgotten

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Last updated 03/03/2018

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