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Vintage NuTone Door Chimes  

Since NuTone was built on a foundation of Door Chimes, it only seems fitting that we feature and honor them on these pages. 

 

 

Tuesday
Jul262016

How the "Volume" Adjustment Effects the Sound of the Chime

Since the "Volume" adjustment regulates how hard the striker hits each bell (tube), it is an important adjustment and a balance must be achieved between where the volume adjustment is set and how the bell are adjusted on the chime base.

The first consideration in setting the Volume is to make sure that the chime can be heard throughout the home. If you have a very large home and the chime is located at one end, it may be difficult to hear the chime everywhere.  In these cases it is best to make sure that you can hear the chime in the areas of the home where you spend the most time.

When the Volume is set to a lower level, the strikers will hit each bell with less force.  If this causes there to be missed notes, readjust the bells closer to the striker to correct the problem.

When the Volume is set to a higher level, the strikers will hit each bell with a greater force.  This can cause the bells to "Bounce" when they are struck.  Bouncing means that when the striker hits the bell, the force of the striker pushes the bell forward (away from the striker) and then the bell "bounces" back and hits the striker again, before it has withdrawn into the solenoid.  Bouncing creates a "double-note" when the chime is ringing, readjust the bells away from the striker to correct the problem.

When adjusting the bells on the hangers, you may find that not every bell will be set to the same distance from its striker as the other bells are.

In many ways, setting up your chime is much like setting up a musical instrument, the goal is to create the best possible Chime Sound, patience will yield the best results.

Wednesday
Jul202016

Servicing a NuTone 8 Note Long Tube Chime Base

People love their NuTone Door Chimes

I get lots of call from people who just love their NuTone Door Chimes.  The common thread in these conversations always has something to do with how they acquired their NuTone Chime.  Often it was a gift when a new home was built or purchased, or a wedding or anniversary gift, or it's in a home that someone grew up in.

In today's throw-away, replace it with something new society, I think that these NuTone Chimes provide a connection to a time when things were meant to last and have more meaning than new products that are made today.

Nostalgia is a very powerful force and the familiar sound of a NuTone Chime brings back many fond memories.

To help people who own these fine quality, early NuTone Door Chimes, I've started a new series of Videos that will help you service and maintain your beloved NuTone Chime.

My first Video in this series shows how to Service the mechanical parts in a late 1980's NuTone 8 Note, Long Tube Chime base.  This style of NuTone Chime Base was in production from about 1970 through the mid 1990's.  

I know that this is a very long Video (almost 54 min.) but you can't really show how to service anything in 4 min.  I hope you find this Video helpful.

 

Wednesday
Apr012015

NuTone Concerto Programmable Musical Chime Model LA60

The fabulous Concerto --- plays any tune you can whistle, sing or hum!

Let there be music. . . whenever someone comes to your front door!

NuTone's beautiful Concerto is virtually a musical instrument. . . with a charming talent for announcing your callers in more exciting, innovative ways than ever before!

It plays any tune for which you have music, 16 fixed tunes or any tune you care to compose!

'Play' any musical score!

Concerto's computerized musical key-board gives you two octaves of 24 notes including sharps and flats. . plus six note-lengths, from 1/8 notes to whole notes.  Using any standard musical score you can program Concerto to play any melody (up to 36 notes) that has a special meaning for you. Like your school songs!

Plays 16 fixed tunes!

16 different tunes are preprogrammed in the Concerto.  You select any one you wish to play simply by pressing four keys.

Compose your own tunes!

With NuTone's advanced electronics at your fingertips, it's easy as 1, 2, 3 for the musically-inclined to compose an original tune.

 

This NuTone LA60 Concerto suffered from a common problem, after 25 years it simply stopped working.

The common failure points for all NuTone Electronic Chimes are the power supply circuits and the tactile membrane key-pads.  When a device like an electronic chime is powered up on a continuous basis for 25 years, it will accumulate 220,000 hours of time on its electronic circuits.  Eventually something will fail, usually the failure is a long slow process that begins with just a little hum that you hear from the chime all of the time.

Over time the little hum will become louder and louder and finally one day, the chime won't ring.  Sometimes the failure is more dramatic and without any warning the chime just stops working.

That's what happened to this LA60, one day it worked fine, the next day it didn't.

The LA60 is a single circuit board design that featured some reasonably advanced electronics for its day.

The heart of the LA60 is Z105, the Microprocessor (blue arrow) that contains the preprogrammed tunes that are built into the  chime.  When you program you own music into the LA60, Z105 stores the programmed code for you tune.  The LA60 has a 9-volt backup battery which keeps the programmed code in Z105 safe in case of a power outage.  

Another common problem is Z106 (red arrow), which is the keyboard encoder IC.  These encoders tend to become problematic over time and finding replacements can be difficult.

The 'key-board' used in most NuTone Programmable Electronic Chimes, including the LA60 and LA61 is another source of trouble for these chimes.  The tactile "bubble" switch panel was made by Texas Instruments and was most often seen used with inexpensive pocket calculators.  The problem with these panels is that they loose their "bubble".  The metal bubble under the decorative overlay tends to go  flat, which then interrupts the use of adjoining bubble and the keyboard stops working.

These panels are no longer made and finding replacement can be difficult.  Since the same panel was used on all NuTone Chimes, with somewhat different overlays for the button operations, replacements can be salvaged from other chimes models.

Here's a short video with an overview of the repair of a LA60 and it's final testing after the repair was completed.

 Use this link to contact us about problems with your NuTone Electronic Chime

 

Monday
Jan192015

Polishing the Brass Tubes on a Vintage NuTone Door Chime

Many of the finest Door Chimes that NuTone ever produced were made in the late 1930's through the late 1950's.  The most sought after model have 3 or 4 long brass tubes and a variety of different decorative covers.

The outstanding sound these chimes produce is unrivaled by later designs.  The source of this fantastic sound are the long brass tubes, also called "bells".  These bells are made from instrument quality brass tubing, which is specially formulated to produce a long and clear note when they are struck.

We once performed a test on a set of bells from a early 1950's NuTone Chime. Once the last tube was struck, that tube resonated for a full 1-1/2 minutes, which allows the sound to carry throughout the home.

We often rebuild the chime mechanisms for customers; however they usually don't send in their tubes since it would be expensive to do so.  Recently I had a project that came in with the tubes and they looked like most old tube sets.  They were tarnished and discolored, especially on the bottom ends where they have been touched and bumped into over the years.

While this set of bells sounded great, they looked bad.  I thought it would be interesting to see if they could be brought back to their original finish without ruining their value.

There is a lot of advice available about cleaning and restoring the finish of brass items, but it seemed to me that this is a "less is more" project.  I went in search of some Brasso  brass cleaner.

There's nothing like some old-fashion elbow-grease to get a project done, and that's exactly what you'll need with the Brasso.  You will also need lots and lots of cotton cloths, rubber gloves and about 1 hour per tube.

I tried several different methods to clean the tubes including letting the Brasso "soak" on the brass for a while before the rubbing started (it didn't seem to help much).

The best method is to simply apply some Brasso to the cloth, rub and polish the tube until the cloth is covered with a green residue, repeat many, many, many, many times.  It a good idea to do this in a well ventilated area or outdoors, since the Brasso gives off a strong Ammonia smell.

As you can see, the end result is amazing.  I've never seen a Vintage set of NuTone long tubes look like this.

The time spent cleaning them is well worth it.  Time for everyone who has one of these excellent quality vintage NuTone chime to buy some Brasso and make their chime look as good as it sounds.

 

Monday
Jan192015

NuTone MelodyTime Electronic Chime Model LBC55

NuTone Electronic Chimes sound through your Radio-Intercom System!

 

 “Electronic models connect to NuTone Stereo and Intercom Systems to relay chime tones to all rooms in which speaker are located. Chimes can be heard clearly above music or intercom; also within normal hearing distance if system is not in operation.”

LBC-55 Electronic MelodyTime with Digital Clock

 

 “In addition to providing a selection of 25 tunes to play when your front door pushbutton is pressed, MelodyTime also incorporates a digital clock. It can be set to strike the hour, half hour and quarter hour. Choice of Dark or Honey Oak finish frames.” (NuTone catalog 1983 price $199.95)

 

This LBC55 MelodyTime Chime was sent in for repair due to a constant hum that had grown louder and louder over time. This is a common problem on older NuTone Electronic Chimes. This LBC55 is from 1979, which means it has accumulated 315,000 hours of time on its electronics since it was installed.

If this type of problem is corrected when it's first noticed, the repair is simple and straightforward. If the problem is ignored and left un-repaired, it can cause more extensive damage to the chime.

The worst case scenario will be that the Microprocessor will be damaged and the chime will simply not play. The Microprocessor is a priority NuTone part that is no longer available. Since the Microprocessor contains the “songs”, it is a vital part of the chime.

The “55” series of chimes were made for a long period of time and in many different configurations. It is sometime possible to substitute a Microprocessor from another “55” series chime, however the song list may be different, shorter and not correspond to the songs listed inside the chime's door.

 

As you can see, the darkened area of the circuit board is caused by excessive and long term heat radiating from the power supply area of the chime.

 

The LED Display Board is separate from the main chime board and there is little that will go wrong with it.

 

The “keyboard” uses “bubble switches” like the type that were common on calculators of the same time. Since the buttons are rarely pressed, the bubble switches don't often cause many problems. The plastic keyboard covers do tend to come loose, so a little adhesive from a glue stick will reattach them nicely.

 

After the repair is complete, this LBC55 is ready to for many more years of greeting guests to this home.