The Fisher Price record player has a device that prevented kids from pressing the needle down and sctratching the record. If you look at the cartridge where the needle is inserted, you will see that it floats up and down. The problem is that this keeps the needle from having enough pressure to play the record. Pennies just make the cartridge recede further into the arm. If you wedge something above the cartridge, the needle won't float and the it will play your records. I've had four of these and none of them worked until I figured this out.
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Re: fisher price 1978 record player
It might be that there is some kind of resistance not allowing the arm to "skate" across the record freely. If there is even the smallest degree of resistance then the arm will effectively stay in one place when it should be moving along with the grooves of the vinyl.
OR - if the needle is does not have the correct tip or is worn severely, it will not fit properly into the grooves and will very easily skip (and sound terrible when playing).
Judging by the age of the unit, look into the first option. Make sure the arm moves freely across the entire range of the album.
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Your cartridge may need cleaning and reinstalling....remove the tone arm and check you wires for any kind of damage or wear.. ..you can use a multimeter to check for resistance in each wire..(ohm's)..you should get ZERO resistance...
What you have is a record changer; and malfunctions today are probably more likely that in the past--even after the prestigious Fisher name and price had been largely supplanted in the post war years--before mfg quality control as a customer fault under protection (for sellers) by Warranty dodges had come to the fore. (In actuality, while record changers would would have been favored by record producers--for the rapid rate at which they destroy records--they would have been looked upon with disdain by pro disc jocks as well as high-end audio equipment producers (including Fisher) in favor of single play turntables that don't destroy records that must be played "on the air," repeatedly, hundreds of times per week in successsion.)
1. Did you unclip the tone arm from its resting post?
2. Remove record and turn off platter (name for a turntable record support) drive motor, and unplug the player machine.
While manually rotating platter in PLAY direction (that's CW), actuate PLAY lever to its extent, release, and watch for tone arm movement as you continue platter hand rotation.
(Oh yes, make sure the record hold-down arm is up and rotated outward to prevent hold-down-arm drop from causing changer to return tone arrm to stow post and dis-actuating START lever...such features once accurately called "self stop,: today inaccurately called "auto stop."
...by the way, could your problem be that you did not lower hold-down arm onto record(s)? ...making the changer mechanism below the platter "think" that all records had been played...so that it swung and stowed tone arm and then Self Stopped the player rather than repeat-playing the top-of-stack record (in order to save changer and record wear and tear)? Is your problem now solved? Just in case not, continue...
As you hand rotate and watch, the tone arm (and release spindle with no record on it) should "recapitulate" its normal, record changing and playing motions--you are simply "handing" in for the platter motor.
If there is a "hitch in the changer's stride" (that means a jam) it will also occur and be felt operating the changer manually. At that point, you will have "set" the changer mechanism in conflict-fault position for facilitating inspection to find the specific problem.
Note that since record-changer-/turntable-type players are permanently confined to level-only use, that means the turntable/changer platform need not be affixed to its base (some are--some aren't) so it might be possible to simply lift the turntable/changer platform assembly up off the base to inspect underneath. Some (possibly most) turntables/ changers, on the other hand, are apt to be fastened to the base (lest the furniture be bumped into...but those typically did little more than prevent tone arms from skating some ot the time) in a suspension arrangement (if not rigidly) that incorporates helical thrust springs and hold-down screws at each hold down point, typically 4 in number. Detaching the platform is apt to involve simply looseing and then over loosening the screws...or by some other obvious or not so obvious means.
Being mindful of any hard-connected wires, unfasten, lift, and invert changer platform to inspect underneath.
Take appropriate corrective action at point of jamming.
Revert and refasten platform and re-run manual-unpowered operation to confirm corrections.
Return power to player and test using a record.
Thank yourself for posting your question...if all or some of the above works.
Under what conditions does it skip?
You adjusted the tonearm (tracking force?) using what procedure and what measurement?
Is it on a solid surface away from sources of vibration (including speakers)?
Regarding the poor sound quality (and possibly the skipping):
check the needle condition, see if exchanging it with a needle (or the entire pickup head) from a working turntable does any good.
Check the pickup connection pins (contacts on the pickup head and on the end of the wires coming through the arm from the unit), see if there is any dirt or oxydation and clean the contacts if necessary, also check for any damage to the wires.
As for the skipping - a heavily worn needle may affect the sound quality and cause skipping as well - if cahnging the needle (or the pickup head) doesn't make a change, try to realign the weight on the tone arm so that the pickup head will become a bit heavier, this could help somewhat (before you actually try to realign the weight, try to put a small coin or a small weight of some kind on the pickup head while it is playing a record, if the skipping goes away, you need to realign the tone arm weight).
This could also be a problem with the tone arm lifting mechanism (may be obstructed by something or damaged so it won't let the tone arm sit properly onto the record and "grab" the groove).
I just mentioned a few things you might want to check, but don't take anything for granted, the problem may as well be elsewhere in the unit.