BIC (B-I-C) 914-C turntable - few problems

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by fxsuperglide, Mar 11, 2010.

  1. Hi all. On the heels of a great "freebie" find (Technics SL-1301), I was working on a real "dud", a BIC 914C turntable for one of the local record store's customers. He said he had a "minor" problem, and I guess he was hoping I'd fix it in 5 minutes AND for 5 dollars (guess he was wrong, VERY wrong). Needless to say, I did have a look at it and tried a few things, if only for curiosity's sake (and now I know I hope to never see one again ...or at least this one, anyways). Sorry for the harsh criticism, but the first thing I didn't like was the mechanical pitch adjust. While it appears similar to the Dual (1237, 1257, and possibly others), it has a cheap looking plastic pulley, held in place by 2 o-rings. On this example, it seems the mechanism for the pitch adjust is non functional (possibly an internal belt?, like the aforementioned Duals - I didn't even get that far before discovering other pressing issues with this turntable). The previous owner lost a thrust bearing washer, so the platter's bearing sleeve was riding DIRECTLY on the bearing, wearing it down quickly and causing the platter to slowly drop (and nearly scrape the top plate). When I informed him of his options (look for a better turntable or at least a parts unit if he insists on a BIC), he said he didn't want to spend much (in Pennsylvania Dutch talk, that's "I want it fixed, and for free"). I kindly replied that he's more than welcome to pick up his (my thoughts: "trash") "turntable", (and I'd be glad to not have to fix it).

    Anyone here have any similar experiences with the BIC 914 c? (or similar?) I was just curious if anyone had information on fixing the pitch adjust mechanism? It is a mechanical type, with a fixed speed A/C synchronous motor, and a 5-split "expanding" (cheap) plastic pulley system. Although I'm not going any further on this particular turntable, I'm half curious if it could be fixed and how easily. As for my opinions on this turntable, I think I already summed it up. I'm not too fond of the build quality, and if it were my choice, I'd rather scrap it than sell it (based on the aforementioned unit). I already "parted out" a Dual 1237 turntable, simply because the "proprietary" belt and the "trial and error" costs involved in "getting it right" would have made it too prohibitive to resell (i.e. I'd be losing money with what the parts cost vs the table's value "as working").

    On a positive note, I'd almost like to keep this BIC 914 turntable and would probably consider a complete used one for dirt cheap, if only for it's dustcover (for my custom builds, since it's just about the right size). My thoughts.
  2. JBStephens

    JBStephens I do not "DROP" NEEDLES.

    Location:
    Western NC
    He wants you to work for Whoopie Pies and Schnitz und Knepp. I'd take him up on that. :D
  3. LOL! or perhaps some Scrapple, or what's the other staple? ....HOG MAW! (and no doubt if he's generous- Chicken Corn Soup and red beet eggs).
  4. .....All jokes aside though. The owner of this turntable was hoping that I would be able to find the correct bearing thrust washer (or hope to find one from a parts BIC turntable ...no doubt, for cheap or free). As mentioned above, I informed him it's gonna need more than that, and it still may not be perfect after all is said and done. I mentioned that the most "cost effective" option is to go with something that will actually work and play records at the correct speed, without extreme wow/flutter (which this unit has issues with). So with all that taken into consideration and the fact he really doesn't want to spend much, I'll end this whole BIC turntable thing right here. A lesson learned.
  5. JBStephens

    JBStephens I do not "DROP" NEEDLES.

    Location:
    Western NC
    Did he say how much he was willing to spend?
  6. Doug G.

    Doug G. Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Rochester, MN USA
    Here is what is supposed to be on the spindle from bottom to top under the platter sleeve:

    O-ring
    Thrust washer
    Ball bearing assy.
    Thrust washer
    O-ring

    The two o-rings have different part numbers so I assume they are different sizes. The top one fits on the end of the platter sleeve. It's been a while since I've had my 912C apart. The two turntables use the same mechanism. The bottom one is probably a larger diameter.

    The variable speed assy. has two belts with a pulley between them. The second one turns an expander that goes up through the middle of the pulley that drives the belt, making the diameter larger or smaller depending on which way you turn the control.

    With the platter off, turn the control to see if the expander is going up and down as you turn the control. If not, there is probably a belt broken.

    Usually on these, the plastic pulley that drives the belt is broken at the bottom and this can be fixed with a twist tie with the ends trimmed off after installation. If this isn't fixed, the variable speed won't work and actually the pulley will fall off the motor pulley too.

    Doug
  7. wildchild

    wildchild Active Member

    Location:
    phoenix,arizona
    BIC is the biggest piece of s*** tt on the planet. The only thing it doe's correctly is regroove your record collection! Has no suspension,cant maintain correct speed YEESH!
  8. coopmv

    coopmv Newton 1/30/2001 - 8/31/2011

    Location:
    CT, USA
    Yeah, I remember those cheap looking BIC TT's from the late 70's. Was that the same company that has been making cigarette lighters (and pens) for years?
  9. Doug G.

    Doug G. Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Rochester, MN USA
    Well, Mr. wildchild, you're wrong because I have had a 980 since 1976 and my records are in perfect condition.

    The two companies are/were NOT the same. In fact, you don't pronounce BIC bick. You say the individual letters B-I-C, Bee-Eye-Cee.

    Doug
  10. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC USA
    I don't know how accurate this is but here is a breif histiry of the audio BIC brand.

    BIC web site (July 23, 2009): BIC, originally an abbreviation for British Industry Corporation, was established as an American corporation specializing in British products. We were among the earliest pioneers in the audio industry, distributing products including Garrard turntables, Luxman amplifiers and Wharfedale loudspeakers during the 1960's.

    In 1973, BIC introduced its own brand of loudspeakers and the industry's first belt drive turntables. By the mid 1970's, BIC Venturi loudspeakers were among the top 5 best-selling brands. Eventually, the original corporation began diversifying
  11. Greg1954

    Greg1954 New Member

    Location:
    .
    I don't think that's accurate, at least, the Linn Sondek was belt drive in 1972.
  12. and the AR and Empire turntables from the 1960s were belt drive as well (no doubt, there were probably others before that as well). Interestingly enough, the Linn Sondek LP12 idea was basically copied from the Thorens TD150, which itself is said to have been basically the same idea as the AR "XA" turntable.

    He was willing to spend "as little as possible". That's why I ceased all work on it. Perhaps if it was under my ownership, I'd at least try to see if I could fix it right, if only for curiosity's sake. Otherwise, if I try to fix it and end up breaking it worse, then I'll end up "owing him with my life" (since after all, it is his turntable, like it or not).
  13. Doug G.

    Doug G. Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Rochester, MN USA
    The BICs were not the first belt drive turntables. They were the first belt drive AUTOMATIC turntables.

    Doug
  14. Fortunately, he made a wise decision. He ended up buying my Technics SL-1301 turntable (my intent wasn't necessarily to sell him one of my turntables, but for him to at least get something that was already good to begin with, regardless of where he bought it).

    He's keeping the B-I-C, just in case he's able to fix it in the future (either with another "parts unit" or if he manages to find what it needs)... Better he keeps it than me (If I had it, I'd use the dustcover and "part out" the rest, using what could be used and scrapping the rest).
  15. coopmv

    coopmv Newton 1/30/2001 - 8/31/2011

    Location:
    CT, USA
  16. I think they're selling home theater speakers nowadays. They're known as BIC America www.bicamerica.com Not sure where things were sourced since the B-I-C branded merchandise was being offered in the 70s (and to this day), but the B-I-C company apparently started out as an importer of British audio equipment before that (under various brands, as noted in another post here on this thread).
  17. Doug G.

    Doug G. Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Rochester, MN USA
    The BIC company of the seventies that sold BIC turntables and speakers originally did import audio equipment from Europe including Garrard turntables.

    In the early seventies, Garrard decided to sell their turntables themselves in the States which left BIC without their major supplier (and which ended up being a major mistake by Garrard).

    BIC decided to have a turntable designed and built here in the US and utilized engineers from the failing VM company.

    The result was the BIC 980 and 960 released in 1974 and the 940 in 1975.

    The present day BIC America company has no relationship to the original.

    Doug
  18. kwadguy

    kwadguy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    The BIC line went from total crap at the low end, to a few decent tables at the high end. The 914, 920 and (to some extent) 940 were pretty crappy. The 960, 980, 1000 and variants on those, were pretty good, especially for the time and for their relative cost.
  19. Thanks for the info - I thought it might be the same company because the logo appeared the same. I guess the only relationship they have to the original is the use of the B-I-C logo (no doubt, the same has occurred with other names, such as Maytag, which are all but rebadged Whirlpool and a few rebadged Amana appliances).
  20. gary7

    gary7 New Member

    Location:
    Huntsville, AL USA
    I know this is an old thread, got a question. I just picked up a 914C at thrift (paid $5 for it, had an ADC cart on it. My first thought was "cheap". I had the 960 & 980 and liked them. But 914C does have a removable arm tube, adjustable head shell angle, fairly hefty platter. Not bad. And yes the pitch control did not work. Took the top of and was surprised that it look fairly substantial under the skin. The 2 belts for the pitch control were broke and laying on the bottom pan. Was able to adjust the pitch pulley with my finger. Got it working. Popped a Grado on and it doesn't sound bad. Now the question, If I get new belts, how do you raise the top pan to get clearance to install the new belts?
  21. These were the first two speed cassette decks. B.I.C found a loophole in the Dolby Labs or Phillips licencing which stated that the decks must run at a 1 7/8 i.p.s. Apparently, no other manufacturer realized that as long as the deck ran at 1 7/8, there was no reason that they could not also run at double the speed-- 3 3/4 i.p.s. Allowing the recording tape to have more headroom and performance.

    I worked there back in the day, and on those decks specifically. I had to train folks on how to run quality control on those decks. Eventually, moved into the R&D lab when the T-3 model inorporated a new formulation (metal tape) and got rebranded as the T3M, and the T-4M was being designed. I remember having to measure and evaluate different record/playback heads for the new units-- the material that comprised the core of the heads couldn't sustain the hiher voltages needed to get the bias levels of the new tape, and the cans had to deal with increased abrasion from the new tape. A facinating gig.

    I seem to remember the engineers in the tape deck group were not exactly fond of those turntables, handled by a different group. Turntables were manufactured in Mexico by a plant that was in the habit of if they ran out of a part, might substitute something of close tolerance. After a few years of this they had a pretty high failure rate.

    I also remember having to demonstrate a BeamBox antenna at a Hi-Fi show one block away from the Empire State building in NYC where every FM signal came in like a ton of bricks. A tough demo for a selectable direction passive antenna.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013
  22. coopmv

    coopmv Newton 1/30/2001 - 8/31/2011

    Location:
    CT, USA
    I did not know some US manufacturing was already done in Mexico for the US market back in the 70's ...
  23. Tape decks and I believe Beamboxes manufactured in Japan, Later turntable models in Mexico, while earlier models may have been manufactured at the VM plant in Benton Harbor, Michigan, as of 1976 or 7.

    Don't remember where the Venturi speaker line came from, or the "B.I.C. Jumped the shark" product, The Beamscope, which amounted to a giant magnifying panel in a nice wooden frame and stand meant to make a 19" TV look like a 40".
  24. JBStephens

    JBStephens I do not "DROP" NEEDLES.

    Location:
    Western NC
    Heathkit sold BIC turntables, and when I built Heathkits for friends, they always got the BIC turntable to go with it, and they were always pleased with them.

    Those Fresnel lens things were terrible. Scanning lines were like 1/16", and the room had to be absolutely dark.
  25. coopmv

    coopmv Newton 1/30/2001 - 8/31/2011

    Location:
    CT, USA
    I bought the DUAL CS-721 at the time when BIC was flying high. After some 35 years, this only DD turntable ever made by DUAL, is still functioning properly - impresssive German engineering ... :righton:

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