Stella Discs Must Be Lubricated Every Playing
By Don Shenbarger
[ Gary Randall wrote in 031123 MMDigest:
> I was told not to use oil because it can get gummed up inside.
> The gentleman who serviced my Stella said just a little bit of
> WD40 sprayed underneath the disc is all that is needed. ...
> I have also been told to use only oil on the discs. Do I need
> to oil them every time that I play the disc? Could somebody
> pass on some good information as to what I should do?
From what I have been able to find out, Reg Smith is correct about
oiling Stella discs. I asked someone I trust and who has owned and
restored Stellas for an opinion. This is his reply:
> The word is that the underside of the Stella music discs are
> to be lubricated with a light weight, non-gumming oil. I once
> received a sample of "Turbine Oil" and that product did a good
> job of lubricating the music mechanisms.
> To apply:
> 1. Use a chalk board eraser cut to approx. 3" x 3"
> 2. Play only clean steel discs - NO ZINC DISCS!
> 3. Clean each disc before re-lubrication
> 4. Apply a very thin film of oil to the disc - Less is better
> as long as there are no dry areas.
> That is about all I know about Stella disc oiling.
I continue to feel WD-40 is not appropriate as a lubricant for antique
machinery. If I recall correctly, turbine oil is a synthetic product
and would have the advantage that it would not become thick over time
as there are no volatile components to evaporate. This would probably
be better than conventional oils.
In reading various articles from my library I see recommendations
against using lubricants that contain graphite. I also see warnings
about ensuring the stars are in correct position before placing a disc
on the machine as a misplacement can drive the star down deeply
breaking treble teeth.
All of this is with regard to Stella type discs only. Most disc music
boxes have projections below the disc to snag the stars. Such discs
should not be oiled. The Stella is unique in that the discs have no
projections and the stars are under pressure from below against the
disc. When a star encounters a punch it rises up through the disc
somewhat and one point is pulled through to play a note. If you have
a mental picture of what's happening, you will appreciate that the
stars are sliding on the bottom of the disc where they can knock off
any dirt or rust and why they need cleaning and a light coat of oil.
(Message sent Mon 24 Nov 2003, 21:36:46 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)