For all of you who share my affection for the Seeburg Symphonola 146/147/148, nicknamed “Trashcan”, this writeup will give you some details on this remarkable Jukebox. It will also provide a “guided tour” through my Trashcan Model 146 while telling the restoration story. For those who haven’t had a chance for a closer look at the details of a Seeburg 146-7-8, the photos may give you some interesting insights.
When I got the box, it was not really operable. It had allegedly “played” before but it didn’t do much in terms of generating noises. It was also pretty dirty.
First thing to get was a repair manual. Mine is a re-print from Victory Glass. Invaluable!
After a preliminary cleaning, I started looking for all that was wrong (on the outside of the box). The initial list was impressive (but it could have been worse):
1) all plastic parts were either shrunk, warped or cracked.
2) there was water damage to the front door
- most of the blue mirrors were lost
- part of the bottom had corroded away and had been “repaired” by a
previous owner with some type of cement that crumbled out of the holes
- the front grill had some surface corrosion in the lower third
- the chrome trimmings were “blind” and dirty and had significant pitting in the lower third
- the fabric on the speaker panel was too dirty for further use
3) the key for the front door was missing
4) the cover glass for the credit and selection dial was cracked
5) one of the clear plastic selection buttons was chipped in one corner
6) chrome trimmings at the side and top were matte
7) some minor scratches and chipped paint on the wood and metal parts
All records were removed from the trays (and it turned out later that most of them were unusable). The records I removed were 45’s, the record changer had been converted from 78 rpm to 45 rpm by a previous owner.
The next thing was to inspect the inside of the Jukebox. I was pleased to find the wiring in a really good shape and decided not to exchange any wires (if possible). Coin gear was complete, so seemed to be the turntable and changer and the electrical selector. The master amplifier was obviously shot. This was the only explanation why the speaker, which requires 200+ Volts DC for the field coil from the master amplifier, had the voice coil jury-rigged to the remote speaker amplifier. The idea was great for a makeshift fix, the way it had been done, however, made my hair stand up: a 2-wire cable was connected to the remote amplifier on one side and twisted around the wires coming from the voice coil through the speaker membrane, creating enough mechanical stress on the speaker membrane to cause it to tear around the feed through for the wire. Darn!
A closer inspection showed that the shaft connecting the selection receiver and the changer was missing, a part I was fortunately able to find through Victory Glass.
Ok now, where to start?
Since the new home for the Jukebox also happened to be the place where the repair / restoration was supposed to take place, a thorough cleaning and “cosmetics” made it to the top of the list – who wants a box in that shape to be sitting right in his living room?
Reproduction plastic parts are available (at a price!) and I needed the upper and lower side plastics on both sides, the dome, and the 3 plastic inserts in the vent hood. That’s what I purchased from the folks at Victory Glass. At the same time I ordered a replacement key for the front door. The locks for front and rear doors are identical, now I would be able to have full access to the “guts” of the Jukebox.
The new plastics were an almost exact fit and required only very little trimming to make them fit perfectly at the designated mounting positions. All related chrome parts were polished and look almost like new. While the old plastics were out, the lighting assemblies were also removed, cleaned and all the old bulbs replaced with new ones.
After this first operation, the box looked nearly presentable – wouldn’t it have been for the front door.
Therefore: let’s get the door fixed!
Removing the speaker revealed the previously mentioned damage to the membrane. To re-cone or not to re-cone – that was the question! Since the membrane looked perfectly good (except for the – small – tear), I decided to try a repair first – re-coning could still be considered if the repair failed. First thing to do was to re-connect the wire that had broken off the voice-coil. It was a comparably easy fix and involved some soldering close to the coil, then gluing the wire feed-through back in place and mending the tear with glue. To make a long story short: the repair worked and the speaker operates perfectly fine.
After the speaker had been removed from the door, the illumination kit was removed as well, and then the door was taken out of the jukebox and disassembled into its individual parts and pieces.
The rear panel was an easy fix, the old fabric was taken off, some surface rust was quickly removed, and then the panel was primed and painted. Afterwards the new fabric (from Victory Glass) was installed.
The front grill was a little more involved. First, the chrome trims had to be taken off, then the remaining mirrors had to be removed, then, in a tedious process, the original carrier material for the mirrors and the original glue had to be scraped and sanded off. Next, the corrosion in the lower part of the grill was taken care of (sanding). Afterwards, the grill was ready to be primed and painted. For an authentic look, a hammered effect gold bronze paint was used (Victory Glass). After the paint had thoroughly dried, new blue mirrors (from Victory Glass) were installed to the grill.
The chrome parts were polished and turned out to look very good – for the most part. The pitting on the lower trims could obviously not be polished away, but re-chroming was never considered. The trims look very good the way they are and the intention was not to create a piece for a Jukebox museum, but a nice looking and useable piece for a living room. The box is over 60 years old and some imperfections make it look more authentic. The chrome parts were then installed back to the grill.
The front frame turned out to be the most work. The bottom metal was essentially corroded away (invisible), visible parts of the frame had corrosion damage, too. First thing to do was to remove the cement stuff from the cavities (whatever was left of it). Since the cement had never bonded with the metal, this was an easy feat. Next, all corroded areas were thoroughly sanded and then primed with a rust inhibitor. New parts for the bottom of the door were cut out of sheet metal, and then riveted to the frame. These parts are non-essential for the appearance; however, they give the door assembly its original strength and stability. The next step was to remodel the original shape of the lower front frame. All gaps and openings were covered with fiberglass patches and resin (the stuff used for automotive repair). After the patches had cured, plastic filler (again from the automotive department) was applied, then sanded, then applied, then sanded… for approximately a dozen times. After the correct shape had been accomplished, a spray filler was applied to close any remaining pores. And there was the $64,000 question: how to handle the surface finish? The metal frame of the door features a faux wood finish that matches the veneer of the box. The idea was to keep the finish as authentic as possible, therefore, just painting the door black or whatever other color was not considered an option. After some experimenting, I found the two “right” shades of brown to simulate the original effect. After applying the paints, a final coat of a semi gloss transparent spray paint was applied. Afterwards, all parts were assembled back together and the door installed in the Jukebox. What a difference! If you don’t know about the repair and don’t really try to find imperfections, you will never notice!
During the external “body works” the box had to be turned and moved a lot. That’s when I figured that the casters had their best days behind them. Next step was to replace the casters (available at any well assorted home improvement store).
After the Jukebox looked good, it was time to do something about the mechanics and electronics. First thing tackled here was the electrical selector (because it was also kind of “external”).
Some of the pushbuttons were stuck. Since everything needed a good cleaning anyway, the selector was completely removed from the box and taken apart. The cracked cover glass for the credit and selection dial was left in place (in hindsight, I should have exchanged them right then, I’m definitely planning on doing it one of those days…). The reason for the stuck pushbuttons was soon discovered: the diffuser plastic behind the buttons, installed to equally distribute the light from the light bulbs for the button illumination, was warped and pushed against some of the buttons. I simply enlarged the openings in the plastic to allow for free movement of the pushbuttons and – presto – everything worked like fresh out of the factory! A quick bench test with the selector connected to the coin gear and the selection receiver (both previously removed from the box) showed that everything in the selector was working fine. It was ready to be installed again.
Next position on the list was the coin gear. It was carefully cleaned and worked perfectly fine without any adjustments necessary.
The next task was to check out the changer / turntable. For this purpose it had to be removed from the box. No big deal, a few bolts and screws later, the changer was ready to be pulled out of the 146. It was transferred to a workbench (make no mistake, that thing is heavy) and some pieces of lumber were used to elevate it high enough to allow the turntable lift arm to fully rotate. After some careful testing whether any of the mechanics were stuck and moving the tone arm to the rest position, the motor cable was plugged into an extension cord and the first cycle began. In this configuration, the record will be picked randomly. It turned out that everything worked just fine (impressive!) and only needed some cleaning and lubrication. This was exactly what I did before transferring the changer back into the box.
The selection receiver was the next item on the to-do list. My 146 is equipped with a Master Selection Receiver, i.e. it “understands” the electrical signals from the electrical selector (the local pushbuttons), from “wired” wall boxes (“remote controls”) and from “wireless” wall boxes. That’s the reason why there is some more electronics involved than would be required for local operation only.
Since I did not have access to a vacuum tube tester, I simply checked the tubes for continuity of the heating wire and could sort out three bad tubes that way. Since all of them were only required for the part of the circuitry necessary to connect a wireless wall box, I decided to wait with ordering new tubes until I might really need them. I nevertheless replaced all the capacitors in the selection receiver and verified resistors, coils, etc. The selection cancel solenoid was burnt through. I removed the old wire and re-wound the solenoid with new copper wire, matching the impedance specified for the original part. This was – except for a thorough cleaning of the whole assembly and some extra cleaning of relay and stepper contacts – all I needed to do on the selection receiver.
The only remaining item was the amplifier (or, in this case, the amplifiers: my 146 came with both the Master Amplifier and an additional Remote Speaker Amplifier). The most important fix now was the master amplifier, which I completely cleaned, re-capped and verified. All vacuum tubes seemed to be in good condition. After the work on the master amplifier was finished, it was installed in the box together with the selection receiver.
It was time for the big moment: the first record was to be played. After flipping the main switch, all the lights came on. Insert coin – select record – play! It worked! I found out that the pickup and the needle had to be replaced. Another order to Victory Glass! After that, there were only some minor adjustments to be made, such as the exact position of the tone arm rest.
The box sounds great, considering we are talking vinyl records – not CD’s. It is amazing that a sound reproduction system that was designed over 60 years ago can still produce a sound quality that is more than satisfying.
After finding a wireless wall box, the Master Selection Receiver is now fully equipped with all vacuum tubes. The Remote Speaker Amplifier will be restored as soon as there is a remote speaker with the right impedance available.
This was the first Jukebox I ever restored – but it will surely not be the last.
Top of page
The Trashcan has been manufactured in the years 1946 - 1948 (hence the model numbers Symphonola 146, 147, 148). The first model year was based on a wood cabinet; model 147 was available first with a wood, later with a metal cabinet with faux wood finish, the cabinet for the 148 was always made from aluminum.
Generally, the Trashcan models were available in a number of different versions. While the numbers indicated the model year, the trailing letters showed how the Symphonola was equipped.
The "M" at the end ("146M") indicated the presence of a Master Selection Receiver, i.e. the capability of being connected to both wired and wireless remote selectors ("wallboxes").
The "W" indicated a Wired Selection Receiver, i.e. the capability of being connected to wired wallboxes.
The "S" version was only equipped with a Solenoid Drum Unit and offered no remote operation.
All versions had a master amplifier installed, a remote speaker amplifier was available as an option for the "M" and the "W" versions, but - due to the lack of remote capabilities - not for the "S".
The above said applies to the model year 1946. For the production years 1947 and 1948, the "W" version was discontinued. In 1947, both the "M" and the "S" versions could be ordered from the factory with animation kits installed, they were then named "MA" or "SA", respectively. In 1948, the "A" option went away (animation was standard) and the additional versions "ML" and "SL" were available. These were basically the "M" and "S" versions with a different cabinet finish ("light", often referred to as "blonde").
Although a Trashcan can always be easily identified as a Trashcan, there are distinct differences in appearance between the model years.
The 146 had a very simplistic wooden front door as a standard and a red smooth plastic dome. As accessories, an illuminated front door was available (a metal design, like a shadow box, that would have 2 colored lightbulbs installed, one at the top, the other at the bottom), and an animated dome assembly, consisting of a smooth white plastic dome with a rotating color cylinder inside. Later, a front door with color animation and the rippled white plastic dome from the 148 was available as well.
The 147 came with the illuminated front door as a standard and a white smooth plastic dome with animation. It could be retrofitted with the animated front door and the white rippled dome.
The 148 finally had the animated front door and the rippled white dome as standard equipment.
Based on the internal workings of the 146 through 148 models, a version for remote operation only was available, the so-called "Hideaway". This Jukebox was in a not in any way attractive cabinet (basically a box) and was installed somewhere out of sight and operated with remote wallboxes. Local operation directly at the jukebox was not possible as it did not have the electrical selector (the push buttons) and coin mechanism. The main differences between the model years are not very obvious and are basically the technical improvements implemented during the production period (such as modifications to the amplifier schematics,...). All Hideaways can be recognized by the leading "H" (example: H146M). Available model numbers: H146M, H146W, H246, H147M, H148M. H146M and H146W featured wood cabinets and could be retrofitted with a metal cabinet (H246), the same that was standard for both the H147M and the H148M.
Unfortunately, there are no exact figures available for the total number of Trashcans manufactured. Estimated figures are (including Hideaways; these figures are according to Tom DeCillis, see his website in the "links" page):
This makes the Trashcan the Jukebox with the highest production quantities of all times.
Number of records: 20 (78 rpm, often later converted to 45 rpm)
Number of selections: 20
Output power: 18 Watts (with remote speaker amplifier: 2 x 18 Watts)
Number of speakers: 1 (15" diameter)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 57" x 36" x 26.5" (146), 57" x 37" x 26.5" (147 and 148)
Weight (lbs): 355 (146), 317 (147), 325 (148)
Top of page
A number of external speakers has been available for the Trashcan. Some of them were for recessed mounting, however, the most popular and widely spread speakers were the "Teardrop" and the Mirror Speaker (often called "large Teardrop").
They were used for better sound distribution in larger rooms, for sound distribution into multiple rooms and often in combination with remote selectors.
The small Teardrop speaker (note: "Seeburg" logo across speaker grille is missing)
The large Teardrop
Wallboxes were used to remotely control the Jukebox. They accepted the coins, provided the credit, and allowed the applicable number of selections.
The following wallboxes were available for the Trashcan:
W6-L56The versions beginning with "3" are 3-wire wallboxes. This means, they are connected with 3 wires to the Jukebox they control. They receive power through these wires and provide the selection information to the Jukebox. The difference between these three is the coin operation: the 3W2-L56 only accepts 5c coins and gives 1 credit each, the 3W5-L56 accepts nickels, dimes and quarters, providing 1, 2, or 5 credits, the 3W7-L56 accepts the same coins, however, it can be configured to either give 5 or 6 credits when a quarter is inserted.
Additional power supplies were required, if more 3-wire wallboxes should be connected than the Jukebox could provide power for (typical limit: 6 wallboxes). These additional power supplies would provide energy for an extra 6 wallboxes each and install inside the Jukebox. Multiple power supplies could be combined if a large number of wallboxes needed to be connected.
Remote volume and play cancel control
For easier volume and play cancel control, small remote enclosures were available that held a volume potentiometer and a cancel switch. Rather than reaching behind the Jukebox, adjustments could be made during play from a more convenient location. These controls were also available as "dual" controls with one volume control each for the master and the remote speaker amplifier.
A remote switch assembly allowed power on/off control for the Jukebox remotely through a low voltage control current. The same reasoning applies as with the remote volume control: no reaching behind the Jukebox or no handling of the Jukebox at all (particularly important for Hideaways).
If the built-in amplifier(s) could not provide enough power or a more convenient location for an amplifier was required, an Auxiliary Remote Amplfier was available to feed additional speakers. This amplifier had the same 18 Watts output power and basically the same schematics as the master amplifier inside the Jukebox.
Top of page
DIY Animation Kit