Sears All-in-One

Around 2015 we bought another house to use as a rental. It was extremely handy since it is diagonally across the street from where we live and our first tenant was our son. The previous owner had a big garage sale before she moved but left everything that didn't sell to us. This included a full living room set, a dining room set, various chairs, a long, low cabinet/dresser in the master bedroom, and this stereo system, with speakers. After a few years our first tenent moved out and I spent the next year going through the house and doing lots of fixing and upgrading. This stereo system kept me company either by playing the radio or, connected my iPhone 5S, playing BBC radio programs. Once the work on the house we done we found a new tenant and when her own furniture arrived we got rid of the old stuff either on CraigsList or donating to the Habitat for Humanity Restore. I kept the cabinet/dresser and the stereo system.

It works reasonbly well. Right now it is connected to my system where I use it for the rear-channel amplifiers for my discrete quadraphonic media until I get my Sansui QRX-7500 restored. I have also used the turntable to play 45 RPM records. It has the adpater that lets me stack a half-dozen 45s on the spindle and play them in sequence. I've also used the turntable to play/digitize a few 78 RPM records.

Where it has really come in handy is in rewinding 8-track tapes. As I go through all of my 8-tracks and restore them, some are problematic and have tangled, jammed, or are wound too tightly. Regardless, there just comes a time when the tape has to be removed from the original reel, repaired, and then rewound. I could use a reel-to-reel deck for this but most of them pull the tape too agressively ending up with a wind that is too tight. A turntable doesn't have the same speed or torque and winds the tapes just right.

To rewind an 8-track, I use the turntable twice. The first time it is used to move the tape from the reel in the cartridge to a standard, 7" tape reel, as shown in the photo on the left. I place the opened cartridge next to the turntable and thread the tape to the 7" reel which I have placed on the turntable platter. I turn on the turntable, usually at 78 RPM, and let the tape wind onto the 7" reel. Sometimes I have to watch it carefully and undo any snags or places where the tape has crinkled or flipped over. In the case of crinkles or creases, I stop the turntable and take the reels and tape to my workshop where I iron the tape flat using a regular clothes iron set on the lowest setting and a very light touch.

When I am ready to to wind the tape back to its original reel, I place that reel onto to the turntable platter and apply a bit of tape to hold it to the platter. I place the tape on the 7" reel onto a custom stand I made and that sits next to the turntable. I put a small piece of adhesive tape on the end of the 8-track tape and stick it to the inside of the 8-track reel and wind the tape a few truns, oxide out. Then I switch on the turntable, as shown in the photo on the right. I have expiremented with different speeds and I believe that 33 RPM gives me about the right tension on the wind. When the tape is done transferring over I take it back to my workshop and stick the ends together with a piece of sensing foil and place it back in the cartridge. Job complete.

The model number, shown on the bottom, is more like one of Sears' catalog numbers, so it really doesn't have a consumer-type short model number. The turntable is made by BSR which was certainly one of the most generic units of its day. The stereo also came with two original microphones and stands, still in their original plastic packaging. While a pretty low-end unit and hardly one would usually include in a hi-fi system, it is still handy, usuable, and, heck, why get rid of it?

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Updated December 2020.