When my paternal grandmother died in South Africa in November 1973, my father didn't inherit very much, but with the little money left over in his mom's estate, he acquired new technology that committed our old Garrard radiogram (similar to this one, but with darker wood and the older, "ball-and-claw", style legs) to my bedroom. To fill the space in the lounge he bought a state of the art hi-fi which comprised a Bang & Olufsen (B&O) Beolab 1700 amplifier, a Beomaster 1700 tuner, a Beogram 1202, a top-loading Sony TC 131 SD cassette deck, B&O speaker and Beyer Dynamic DT 100 studio headphones. At the time this was cutting edge gear and it opened up a new world of audio exploration for me and my family. With the rise of CD's in the 80's, the system was rarely used. My father passed away in 1990 and I moved it into storage in Pretoria when I relocated to Europe.
In 2014 I brought it across to the UK and have been trying to figure out what to do with it. This is because I also brought over my 21st birthday present from my parents, namely a Micro Seiki MB-14ST turntable, Technics SA-D10 AV Control Stereo Receiver and the monstrous 6-speaker B&W rig that Debs bought me for my 40th birthday in Prague. So I don't need to replace anything. As the Beolab and Beomaster need a fair amount of work (i.e. the slider rheostats need cleaning and the internal strings that these sliders rely on have perished and need to be replaced) I decided to recommission the Beogram 1202 turntable and to add it to my current system. After months of internet research, things were not looking promising. Official B&O agents seem to want nothing to do with 70's gear, despite there clearly being a cult following on eBay. And it was there that I found the guru I was looking for! Steve Callaghan (trading as calasthe1st on eBay) is a self-professed Beogram 1202 Repair & Service "anorak" - an electronics engineer who loves the 1202 and has specialised in resurrecting these beautiful turntables. We liaised, I confirmed that I wanted to proceed and drove to Steve's place to drop off the turntable.
A few weeks later it was ready, and looked absolutely immaculate. Steve serviced the turntable's mechanics, rebuilt the motor and made sure that everything operated smoothly and silently, and worked like clockwork. He also calibrated the unit and it's probably in better condition than when it left the factory in 1973! I was amazed to hear that the runner drive belt was still perfectly serviceable after over 40 years and the scarce (and expensive) SP14 stylus and cartridge were still working just fine. The latter is unique to B&O and is somewhere between the moving magnet and moving coil cartridges used by other turntables. Bottom line - they're hard to find and I don't want to break it! While the unit was being rebuilt, I bought an all metal 3-port 3-way stereo audio switch with phono input and output connectors, so I can simply switch between the two turntables without the need for an additional pre-amp for the B&O. Suffice it to say, I am over the moon to have my father's old pride and joy fully functional again, and it plays like a dream. On my next trip to SA I will bring back some of my father's albums, and look forward to playing his personal favourite from 1973, namely "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" by the Temptations. Damn - I miss the old man. Thanks to Steve Callaghan for bringing a little piece of his world back to life :-)