Repairing a Vortexion WVA

Repairing a Vortexion WVA

In 2000, I was in a band called Betika with Dave Purse and Carolyn Evans, and we had a record label called Earthurtling Music, and after finishing the first album 'Your Soul Against The Weekend' (soon to be reissued by Dave), we decided to record an EP called 'One Mic Wonder' on a 1950s Vortexion WVA reel to reel that Dave had found somewhere in a cupboard.  Foolishly, we ignored the failed PAT test labels and pressed record.  Within a few minutes the room was filled with smoke and a removal of the face plate revealed a transformer with shellac bubbling out like a volcano.

FFFast Forward to 2018, after spending 18 years in his Dad's loft, Dave brought the machine around to the studio (N.B.: the machine spent 18 years in the loft, not Dave... although he may have done as I didn't see him very much in that period)

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Vortexion WVA

The left hand power / amp module with the original circular meter, measuring Microamperes. In the later stereo machines, rather than build a stereo version, they merely replicated this module to the right of the tape deck.

On removal of the face plate of the power supply and amp module, the hardened shellac globules were all still there.   Surprisingly, there was very little damage apart from that.  Dave had had the good sense to cut the power as soon as the smoke appeared.   

Two shellac lozenges, made in 2000 - almost good enough to eat!

Two shellac lozenges, made in 2000 - almost good enough to eat!

It looked like a fairly straightforward, but tedious scenario inside - it needed a new mains transformer (T1) and all the electrolytic and wax HUNTS capacitors replacing.  Also, some of the rubber coatings on the wires had turned brittle and were flaking, so I replaced all of them.  

The underside of the vortexion power amp prior to fixing

The underside of the vortexion power amp prior to fixing

I repaired and restored an Ondioline a couple of years ago, and had been assisted in really technical stuff via email by Dan Wilson of Hideaway Studios.  I had no proper schematics for the WVA, and only the old transformer and its connections to work out what its ratings were

It had a Primary of 

0 - 205 - 225 - 245 v (for voltage selector - for motor speed adjustment presumable) with the L N E connection going into the transformer via separate wires. 

The secondary was:

0 - 5v 2A for the GZ30 rectifier tube filaments

0 - 6.3v 2A with a centre tap (to ground, not to either side of the heaters) for the 3 x EF86s 1 x 6BW6 and 1 x EL84 filaments

and an unknown dual winding for the HT.   

Dan advised me to contact John Wilkinson at and after he had had a look at the schematics too, we went for a 250-0-250v 80mA winding in the end, which proved to work .  

The motors were lightly oiled and everything given a gentle clean with a fibreglass brush.  The tape path was cleaned with isopropyl alcohol and now it works good as new(ish). Sounds very cool indeed for tape echo with the newly fitted replay head and the output from this head running through our Vortexion 15/4/M mixer.