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                                                                 The Victor-Victrola Page 

Victrola Design Details

1. Cabinets

2. Cranks, Brakes and Speed Controls

3. Soundboxes and Keys

4. Lid Supports, Record Albums and Needle Trays


Pictures and details on some of the design features of Internal Horn Victrola phonographs. Each sequential page covers one aspect of the evolving designs. Advance to the next page via the link above or at the bottom of each page

Design Details: Cranks, Brakes and Speed Controls

All Victrolas had a basic crank, a brake to stop the turntable, and a speed control to adjust the turntable speed

Cranks (Victor referred to these as "Winding Keys").

Early Victrolas used Flat-Shank winding keys. Most of these cranks had female threads. The thread sizes vary, depending on date of manufacture

Later Victrolas used Round-Shank winding keys. These cranks used either a male or female thread, depending on date of manufacture. Thread sizes vary.


The earliest Victrolas used an external Bullet Brake to stop the turntable, identical to the system used by the external-horn Victor machines. This design appeared on many Victrolas up until 1912, but was replaced with the Tab Brake on the more expensive models as early as 1908. 

The next iteration of brake design was the Tab Brake, which remained in use (with and without automatic brake yolks) from 1908 through the late 1920's. The tab brake had the leather "stop" pad mounted inside the turntable rim, invisible from the operator's view. The tab brake was introduced on the Victrola XVI in late 1908, and eventually became standard equipment on all models. 

In 1913, Victor deployed a new Semi-Automatic Brake design on premium models, which allowed the user to manually preset a shutoff point at the end of the record by moving the yoke, so that the brake would be engaged by the tonearm extension rod when the record had ended. This feature became standard on most models (excepting the low-end machines) by the early 1920's. It can be readily identified by the adjustable brake yoke mechanism under the tonearm. The tab control (shown at bottom) continued to be used with the semi-automatic brake system for manual control of stop/start functions. 

An advanced Fully Automatic Brake system was introduced in late 1925 on some of the new Orthophonic Victrolas. This system required no user settings, relying on the eccentric groove at the end of the record to trigger the brake. Note the slotted brake actuator that follows the tonearm extension rod and triggers the brake mechanism. The brake tab control continued to be used for manual control of start/stop functions. 



All Victors had some type of control on the motorboard to vary the motor speed to match the record being played. Early record manufacturers would record at speeds varying from 60 to 90 RPM. All Victor records are intended to be played at 78 RPM

The first Victrolas were large floor-model machines (such as the "VTLA" or "VV-XVI") which used a Round Speed Control Bezel design. This configuration had been introduced in 1905 on the deluxe external-horn models, such as the "Victor VI". It was eventually included on many other models up until 1916. There were several variations of this basic configuration. It allowed the user to adjust the turntable speed to align the pointer with the speed markings on the bezel.

The lowest-priced Victrola models (such as the "VV-IV" and "VV-VI") used a Simple Speed Control Knob to adjust the turntable speed (left). Many years later (in the late 1920's) many Orthophonic models reverted to this basic design.

Around 1912 some of the lower-priced machines used a Semi-Circular Speed Control Bezel design for a few years.

In late 1913, some of the premium models such as the "VV-XIV" and "VV-XVI" began using the Exposed Speed Indicator, which was the predecessor to the glass-covered speed dial that was in-use for many years. This speed control system permitted the user to monitor the actual turntable speed as it was being adjusted (using the control knob), making adjustments much easier. The Exposed Indicator had no protection for the fragile indicator needle, making damage quite easy. In addition, it tended to get bumped out of calibration. It was replaced with the Large Glass Indicator (below) very shortly after introduction, and many machines that originally came with the Exposed Speed Indicator were retrofitted with the newer control.


In 1914, Victor redesigned the Exposed Speed Indicator to provide protection for the delicate needle. It was now covered by a transparent, flexible "eisenglass" material. The first iteration of this new design used a Large Glass Speed Control and a separately mounted control knob. Notice that two bezels are used, one for the dial and another for the knob. This design was used only on the more expensive machines (XIV, XVI and XVIII) for about 2 years. 

The speed control design was simplified in 1916. The Small Glass Speed Control  used the same principal as the Large Glass version, but integrated the two bezels into one assembly, and reduced the size of the dial indicator. This configuration was used on many models up through the late 1920's.

Some portable "suitcase" models use a simple pointer-adjustment to control turntable speed.


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