THORENS

TD 160 PLINTH

 

The Thorens TD 160 Plinth By Electric Warrior Retains The Original Dimentions In Hardwood and Birch Ply By Larry Twoomy.

 

The minimalist design of the Thorens TD 160 plinth was inspired by modernist notions, derived from Bauhaus school of design, espousing mass production for the edification of workers.  It isn’t the design, but the enduring quality of the Thorens TD 160 that ensured it would be come the people’s turntable.   It was originally targeted at professionals with eye for genuine quality.

The brushed aluminium echoes notable classics in the professional audio world of the 1970s, such as the Studer J37 4 tracks used on Srg. Peppers and the revolutionary, Narga field recorders, that became the standard in the cine and television industry, also Swiss design.  

The veneer chipboard plinth, however, was not up to that standard.   It’s use for the plinth is probably, simply, in keeping the early 1970’s  fashion for veneer furniture.    It is completely inadequate structurally and cosmetically .  It might even be seen as a gimping element.  It made a high quality piece of equipment appear mid market.   That may well have been the idea.  

Now everyone, regardless of means, can enjoy records on a high quality instrument.

Thorens TD 160 Plinth

Thorens constructed the The TD 160 with components from TD 125, their high end market leader.

That might have been the most profitable way for the Thorens brand to straddle the market. It could also have been the Thorens’ designers need to express, the radical and very laudable influence of their modernist schooling, by making a peoples turntable. Whether it was market savvy, socialist leanings or an enlightened union of left and right –  

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The TD 160s is a modernist classic for more than its, radical, minimalist styling. It is also made of such durable materials that the second market would, ultimately, enjoy their music on as good a quality instrument as there was to had.  – that is truer today, almost fifty years later.  The plinth, however, should be replaced.   It was never adequate for the quality of the machine.  That might have been so as not to put it in direct competition with their top end TD 125, 

Thorens TD 160

Plinth in Birch Ply 

 

Birch ply was perfect material to house the turntable.  The material was beloved by Eileen Grey and Le Corbusier for its versatility, strength and beauty.   That was our inspiration for our TD-160 ply.  We trust the original designers would approve our choice.

The Thorens TD 160 plinth is a modernist design classic because it has delivered on its modernist principles – design for use, form follows function and mass production in the service spiritually elevating the worker. Thorens TD 160 is a child of radical thinking.  It continues to serve the philosophy that forged it.  It continues as the peoples turntable by remaining an outstanding instrument that is affordable and accessible to all.

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Restoration Of Original

Thorens TD 160 Plinth

The original Thorens TD 160 plinth doesn’t retain its colour – exposure to light penetrates the  teak veneer bleaching  right through to the chip-board.   Exceptions to this are rare and well worth retaining as collectables.  However, they can be lightly sanded and coated with tung oil – resurfacing them is unlikely to improve their appearance or their value.

 

 

 

Now what will we do for timber,
With the last of the woods laid low? There’s no talk of Cill Chais or its household

And its bell will be struck no more.

Irish Oak Plinths

For me the perfect solution is Irish oak.  It is so redolent of myth it can be both true and false at the same time.  They say the English striped Ireland of her precious heritage – the finest oak grown anywhere in the world.  It was used for the masts of there great ships and then they conquered the world. Who says?  Who are they?

Others claim Irish oak was no good for engineering because it is chaotic in structure. Some say Irish oak was burned for charcoal but more say it was burned in front the freezing dispossessed for the sake of watching them shiver –

Now what will we do for timber,
With the last of the woods laid low?

 

Nobody argues that this wasn’t a managed  environmental catastrophe from which the Irish landscape and built heritage has never recovered.  The flicker in its grain is very distinctive and it lacks nothing in rigidity for a roll-top desk – even in Ireland beautiful Irish oak furniture is rare and appreciated.   It is exotic and protected by law. So, there no oak for building except what wind brings down.  That makes it sustainable.

Whatever it may lack in rigidity it makes up for in spirit.   That’s why my plinth is Irish oak.

Shellac has been in used for a thousand years.  It survives in the world of high quality wood finishing but there is nothing like it.

Shellac naturally dries to a high-gloss sheen which we soften by buffing with wax.

 

Shellac Finish

Shellac’s defining property is that it dissolves in alcohol allowing us to extract the beetles transparent shell to coat precious timber.  Even though it protects like armour it looks like a polish.

I’m using amber shellac to finish darker hardwood plinths.  It is base for nail polish, french polish and a cornucopia of other applications.  It has numerous attractive resonances for Electric Warrior, not least,  shellac was was the material used to make phonograph records until vinyl superseded in the 1950s.

 

Shellac is a resin secreted by the lac beetle as a by product of their tree bark diet.  It takes as many as 300 000 lac beetles to make 1 kilogram of flakes.  The beetle sucks the sap of the tree then excretes “sticklac“.

It is dried flat and comes in the form of broken shards, which can then be dissolved in mentholated spirits to form a kind of sticky varnish.  Applying it in many layers of dilute varnish results in a beautiful, long lasting wood finish that illuminates and reveals the natural grain.  It does scratch more easily than synthetic finishes but it can be easily repaired.  It can be repaired indefinitely.