1954 Rock-Ola 1442 Restoration

The Rock-Ola 1442 was made in 1954 and was the "junior" jukebox compared to the 1446. It played only 50 selections but utilized many components that were similar to the 1446. The record magazine held 25 records, the remainder of the magazine was blanked off. There was no rotating program window like the 1446, rather, programs were selected via a 50 button keyboard. Some say the 1442 looked a lot like the Seeburg 100C.

The jukebox had been brought in by a customer. It had been in his family for a long time and he wished to get it working again and repair some damage it had incurred. The jukebox was complete and unmolested. Unfortunately it had incurred significant damage due to water exposure, including significant delamination of the right side and damage to a metal side panel, grille bars, grille lower panel, and casters and caster box. There was also signficant damage to the grille mesh where someone ripped a hole through it to get at the cash bag. It's almost like they knew exactly where that cash bag was!

The following three pictures show the condition of the jukebox upon arrival.

The first order of business was to deal with the caster situation. Like many other jukes of the day, the casters are worn/wobbly or just plain missing. In order to lay it on its' side, I decided to "gut" the cabinet, since many of the individual components needed servicing/restoration anyway. The following pics show the empty cabinet:

Once on its' side, it could be seen the caster box was in rough shape. The casters had rusted completely away. I decided it would be easier to just replace the entire caster box. The following pictures show the before and after:

The cabinet work was going to be done later but it only made sense to do it now while the juke was empty and laying on it's side. The first order of business was to repair the busted up back edge, likely caused by someone trying to pry the back lid off (this person likely didn't know where the cash bag was!). The side consisted of wood slats glued together with a two-ply veneer glued on top of that. The veneer was not finished, it was that "photofinish" that does not wear well and is a bear to repair. I removed the damaged veneer and used a router to carve out the wood necessary to install a repair patch to the underlying wood.

I then removed the damaged veneer on the rest of the side, glued the underlying ply back on the base wood, and installed new veneer. The only veneer I had that was wide enough had a reddish color. So it looks like the right side will get the two tone treatment! It should look OK, and besides, who can see the left and right sides at the same time? Here is a picture of the right side, repaired.

On to the gripper mechanism. It was locked up as usual due to hardened grease. I sprayed the joints with WD-40 and let it soak overnight. A little twisting on the input shaft with a pair of vice grips the nex day got the mechanism loosened up nicely. I then checked the gripper motor and the news was not good: there was a significant groove worn in the commutator and the brushes were worn to nothing. I chucked the armature in my drill press and with a small flat file, I re-ground the commutator until it was flat. I then undercut the segments with a .015" cut-off wheel in the dremel and installed new brushes. The following two pictures show before and after. Later upon initial power-up, the gripper motor worked fine.

Next up was the selector unit. In order to ensure selections are played properly, the unit must be disassembled and the brass tracks cleaned. When a selection lever bridges these tracks, a ground path is created that energizes the control relay and initiates the play sequence. The following two pictures show the disassembled selector unit:

Following the rebuild of the power distribution panel (new diodes), amplifier (electrolytic and paper capacitors replaced), accumulator (new diode, electrolytics replaced), tone arm (new grommets and P51 cartridge), turn table motor (rebuilt idler wheel and grommets) and the control panel (paper capacitors replaced) I was ready to power up the set for the first time. All three of the fluorescent bulbs fired up and flipping a selection lever manually placed the proper record and side on the turn table. Initially there was no sound, requiring some amp troubleshooting and subsequentreplacement of an open 270k resistor in one of the plate circuits of the 6SN7 phase inverter. After fixing this, the juke played well!

On to the keyboard unit. This keyboard consists of 50 push buttons that move sliding switches in 5 banks, 10 push buttons each. I felt lucky and simply sprayed the switches with contact cleaner and worked all the push buttons. I powered up the set and...nothing! I wasted about 4 hours checking out the accumulator and wiring harness only to come to the conclusion my shortcut of simply cleaning the contacts was ineffective. In this design, a total of 50 sliding switches in series must make good electrical contact in order for a capacitor to charge properly in the accumulator. When a push button is depressed, the switch places the charged capacitor across the reset coil in the accumulator, which then draws an armature that removes one credit and momentarily closes two switches that allows 25 vac to energize a selector coil via another set of contacts in the keyboard assembly. No continuity, no selection, period. So, the keyboard switch assemblies needed to be disassembled and each switch slider thoroughly cleaned (all 50 of them). It turns out they were pretty grimy and the contact cleaner did little. Who knows what the grime was...tar from cigarette smoke? Grease from a nearby kitchen? These jukes were probably exposed to a lot of this. The following two pictures show some switch sliders (dirty and cleaned) as well as the keyboard banks themselves. Following cleaning, the juke selected flawlessly!

The last major cosmetic issue was the grille. It had been bashed in and badly damaged undoubtedly in an attempt to get at the cash bag right behind it. Finding a replacement was futile and I couldn't find something that I could simply patch over with. I decided to push all the rips and tears back into place and using some small diameter wire, I was able to stitch everything back together, reminding me a little of something Dr. Frankenstein might have created. I then sprayed the entire grille with silver paint to provide a uniform color. There is no doubt it doesn't look like new but it looks a lot better than it did. Here are before and after pictures of the grille:

And here are pictures of the final product. The customer was able to find some good used grille bars so I installed those. There is an angled panel at the bottom of the grille bars that was badly rusted and the customer was able to find a solid one, albeit a little rusty. I sanded it down and painted it silver. There are metal panels on the sides and the right side one had the bottom third completely rusted away. I fabbed a new one from thin galvanized sheet metal and painted it silver. I sanded and painted the left side panel to match. The blue panels on either side of the mechanism were cracked in half so I put them back together with fiberglass cloth and resin on the underside. The cracks are barely visible. The "corrugated" panel behind the dome lamp was rusted so it was sanded down and painted silver. The broken side glass was duplicated by a local glass shop and installed. And lastly, the turn table was reflocked with brown felt.