rare Rockola jukebox amp hum problem

Rockola 1426 jukebox "O" amp

I wanted to write about a unique problem in a Rockola model “O” jukebox amplifier (from a Rockola 1426 jukebox, vintage 1946).  The amp is a very primitive design: class A, 4 tube operation consisting of 5U4 rectifier, push-pull 6L6’s, and 6J5 preamp tube.  An interstage transformer drives the P-P 6L6’s instead of a more modern phase inverter tube circuit.

The amp was recapped but had a hum problem.  The hum was not a single frequency, such as the common 60-hz or 120-hz hum that you would expect in a typical amp.  The hum was a combination of 60hz with a strong 3rd harmonic of 180-hz.

The problem turned out to be that the interstage transformer was inductively coupling hum from the power transformer.  This problem would have existed in this amp from the day that it left the factory.  Often it is necessary to carefully position and orient interstage transformers so that they will not inductively couple hum into the amp.  In this case, remounting the interstage transformer at a 45-degree angle from original mount, as shown in photo, “magically” eliminated the hum.  Trial-and-error (rotating the interstage transformer) is the only way to find what mounting orientation will cancel the hum, and each case would be unique.  In this instance, the hum cancelled best at the orientation that you see in the photo.

I wonder whether other Rockola model “O” amps were shipped with this problem?

The amp also had somewhat slightly reduced power output, which was tracked down to a resistor/capacitor combo from grid to ground on each 6L6 tube.  Scope analysis showed that these components added no benefit but did reduce the power output a little more than preferred, therefore the parts were removed.  Finally, the amp had poor reproduction of treble notes, and this was tracked down to a plate-to-plate capacitor on the 6L6’s.  This cap was probably intended to prevent oscillation in some circumstances.  Removing this cap dramatically increased the frequency response of the amp and without any oscillation.

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