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Re: [ARSCLIST] Ediphone Cylinders

Hi Jack,

Looks like interesting material.

The dictation cylinders are a different animal when compared to the
usual " 2 minute" and  " 4 minute " cylinders.

Edison decided that he wasn't gong to allow compatability between the
business and entertainment cylinders , so the grooves per inch and
groove size were altered to attain this . The pitch of the mandrel
remained the same.  Because  the top plate of the business machines had
the control for the governor exposed, the machine coild be set for
whatever speed the owner desired. And believe me ,they can vary
substantially !   
If the business practice cylinder is celluloid- probably blue if of
Edison manufacture- windex or will clean it well. Keep liquids away from
the white plaster core as it can cause the plaster to swell and crack
the celluloid. 
I never clean wax records with any forms of liquid.  A soft velvet
cloth is used in these cases, turning it very often. The record is
supported on a mandrel of the correct size for the record while this is
If the mold has progressed beyond a certain point, removing it will
leave a pit where the mold once was and will make playback even more
noisy than it would have been if the mold were left alone.     

Insofar as my experience shows, the correct size of stylus is the one
the record plays back well with . Generally, a 2.0 to 2.5 mil works well
with "4 Minute"  Blue Amberol cylinders. 7.4 mil , with variation , for
" 2 Minute" cylinders. But even then , variations do occur. Lateral
shrinkage of celluloid makes the groove smaller than it was originally,
making a range of styli even more vital.
Because the groove is generally smaller than 2.0 mil , with variations
cause by recorder anomalities having a range of styli is necessary-- 

Because dictation cylinders have by design, as the cylinders were
designed to be shaved and reused, a smaller, more fragile groove due to
wax hardening and embrittlement caused by evaporation of volatile oils 
and  a lower level of signal by design of the acoustic  recording heads
used by most dictation machines of that era   , I would not recommend
using a dictophone to play them back.   

Whatever method you decide to pursue for playback, I'd highly recommend
that an electronic method would be best. 


Robert Hodge,
Senior Engineer
Belfer Audio Archive
Syracuse University
222 Waverly Ave .
Syracuse N.Y. 13244-2010

315-443- 7971

>>> jraymond@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 10/8/2006 7:48 PM >>>
Recently I acquired a few 6" Ediphone cylinders in an original box (on

the top of which is scrawled "Hands Off - 4/29/29"). One of the 
cylinders is Dictaphone Business Practice Course, Record 2, in
new condition.  The others have some mold spots and dirt and need to be

cleaned.  How best to go about that - with Windex?  Also, what speed
they play at, and with what size stylus?  There's probably nothing very

special recorded on them, although it's not business dictation.  Slips

with the cylinders read --

"Announcer for Edison Radio Orchestra"
"World War #2"
"Philosophical Talk 1929"
"White House Coffee radio show announcer 1929"
"WJZ NYC chimes 1929"
"Intro Announce to Edison TAE Inc Show dedicated to Henry Ford"
"May 1929 - SGL - CH - WHC" - the White House Coffee show

-- Jack Raymond

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