Instead of doing my own introduction, I quote from the intro to Robert Baumbach's new Book:

The Incomparable Capehart

"The fabulous Capehart Deluxe home radio-phonographs of the 1930s and 1940s. These instruments used a wonderful record changer designed by Ralph Erbe, and this changer was unequalled for features in its time. In addition to being able to play 10" and 12" records intermixed, this ingenious changer would also turn each record over. It could turn each record over immediately, so that the B side could be played following the A side, or it could turn the record over as it returned it to the stack, thereby placing it in position to play the opposite side the next time the record came through the stack."

Also check out scans of the 1938 Capehart catalog here:


Movie Sightings

The Capehart as a symbol of urbane luxury can be spotted in many movies. Often as a simple furniture prop in the background.

1939 INTERMEZZO with Leslie Howard and Ingrid Bergman

This remake of the 1936 Swedish original features a gigantic Capehart 500 in Leslie Howard as Star Violinist Holger Brandt's home. His daughter is playing a record of "Intermezzo" (beautifully recorded by Toscha Seidel, available on a 10" Victor) repeatedly on this machine, and it is rather poignant when she turns around and complains: "We will need a new copy. This one is worn out."

1945 AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Rene Clair with Walter Huston

Rene Clair's captivating mise-en-scene of Agatha Christie's thriller "Ten little Indians" takes place on an isolated island. To get the plot started, the recorded message of the absent host is played on an early 1930s Capehart. You will see part of the repeat cycle of the changer.


Homer Capehart and the Turn-Over De Luxe Record Changer

Founded by Homer Capehart, salesman extraordinaire, the Capehart Corporation and its automatic phonograph with the turn-over mechanism was the epitome of luxury phonographs, technical excellence and supreme electronics in the 1930s and 40s.

Homer Capehart was the first to promote the idea of a home entertainment system: In addition to the Capehart radio-phonograph console, the whole home could be wired with auxiliary speakers and amplifiers, and cable remotes (the size of a shoebox) could be used to operate the Capehart from any room in the house:

- Phono on/off, start, record change
- Radio on/off, remote station selection/volume
- Operate loudspeakers in the whole house remotely.

In addition, plain, undecorated consoles were available to be hidden in a closet, while the home installation was exclusively operated by remotes.

These luxurious phonographs and installations left nothing to be desired for the affluent, and it is known that large Capeharts with extensive home installations could run up to $5000.

The Capehart De Luxe Turn-Over Changer Radio-Phonograph

- Exquisite cabinets of the highest quality, rivaling the art models of earlier Victrolas. Lush veneers, carving and excellent workmanship.


Cabinets came in 5 configurations:
- Capehart 100: a waist-high top loader 800 - 1000$
- Capehart 200: a waist high front loader, only produced for a short time.
- Capehart 300: An upright combination with the radio above the changer, only produced for 2 years.
- Capehart 400: The deluxe model: A chest-high front loader with elaborate electronics, separate amplifiers for bass     and  treble, and two big 12" and 14" dynamic loudspeakers. 1500$ +
- Capehart 500: The model of conspicuous consumption for the ultra-rich: A chest high cabinet, but even longer than the 400. Three separate amps for low, mid, treble, 12", 14", 18" dynamic speakers. Prices $2500 and up, remote installations $5000 and more. Easily the most expensive standard production phonograph. A monster. Only 6 examples are known to survive.
  Also, the stand-alone changer mechanism (for use in PA systems or in a custom-built SCOTT radio) was available for a steep $495.

More cabinets shown at Bob Baumbach's site:

How to read Capehart Model Numbers

This Capehart is Model 112M FM2 

100 - Type of Capehart (see above)
12 - Cabinet Style (in this case George II)
M - Model Year (1941/42)
  (first year: when it came out, second year: model year)


 Dating a Capehart by Model Letters
 The Capehart (no letter) - 1931/32 
   A - 1932/33 
   M - 1941/42 
   (no production) 
   N - 1945/46-47  
   P - 1948/48-50
FM2 - Type of Radio and Amplifier - FM Radio and No. 2 Amp

Another Example: Capehart 114N2 = 1946 100 Model, 14 Early Georgian Cabinet, No. 4 Amp.

Demonstration of the Capehart Turn-Over Record Changer

-The turn-over changer, developed in 1929 by Ralph Erbe for Columbia, left nothing to be desired: Continuous playing of 20 (later reduced to 16) records, 12" and 10" intermixed. Once the stack is through, it starts again.

First record slides out of the bottom of the stack

(click on the first photo to see a video of the Capehart in full change cycle)

(If your browser does not play the full video file, right-mouse click the photo and "Save target as" on your computer. The 10 MB video file can then be played from your own computer.)

Side A playing

Record playing, note the True Tangent zero tracking error tone arm:

Turnover arm swings around, lift ring brings the record in vertical position (arm is not swung over in this photo, sorry)

Record slides down guided by turn-over arm: record is turned over to side B

Record playing side B
Record is returned to the magazine, new record drops from the bottom of the stack and cycle begins again:

The changer, even though unchanged in its original design, was continuously improved:

33 rpm Transcription speed added in 1932 for 3 years.
True Tangent zero error tone arm added.
Feather Weight pickup (at the then astounding light weight of 1 1/2 ounces) added in 1941.
This 1942 changer is the most sophisticated example of the pre-war changers.
Play Control added: Pre-set a certain number of sides to play after which the whole machine shuts off (great when you fall asleep on the sofa)

- Electronics were always of the finest: Multiple powerful dynamic speakers, well done amplifiers, and up-to-date radios (FM radio available 1941) guaranteed excellent fidelity and plenty of volume.

Some Details about the Capehart 112M FM
MAKER: Capehart Farnsworth
MODEL: Capehart 112M 2 FM in rare blonde bleached Mahogany George II cabinet
SERIAL #:18383
YEARS: Capehart: 1931 - 1951, this is the 1941/42 model year
CASE / CABINET SIZE: 37" x 38" x 22"
TURNTABLE / MANDREL SIZE: 16 E turn over record changer, 16 records/ 32 sides continuous play, with play control (number of sides can be pre-set, turns off after last record).
REPRODUCER / SOUND BOX: Feather-Weight Astatic B2 cartridge 1 1/2 Ounces weight.
MOTOR: Geared Synchronous
HORN DIMENSIONS: two 10" dynamic speakers
REPRO PARTS: Electronics have been expertly restored, otherwise machine is all original.
CURRENT VALUE MINT: $2000 for restored machine
(Not necessarily this machine)
This machine is the last model before Capehart closed production for the war. Advanced features of this machine are the True Tangent tone arm, the Feather Weight Astatic B2 Pick-up and the pre-set play control. Also, FM radio (old band) is available, in addition to AM and Shortwave.)
It is a Capehart !! put in your selection of records, switch the machine on, and just enjoy the music. What I really like about Capeharts is that you start the machine, and then forget about it. It plays reliably records on both sides, does not fail, and switches itself off after the pre-set number of plays.
It works on any record with a run off groove, oscillating or spiral. Once in a while I will even play a batch of Gennetts or acoustic Brunswicks on there, works fine.



Maker Capehart Corporation
Model 112M FM2
Year 1941/42
Owner (at time of publication) Carsten Fischer
Repaired/Serviced by
Roger Morrison,
Carsten Fischer
Repaired/Serviced by
Donald Cochran
Repaired/Serviced by
(Crystal Pick-Up)
Sylvain Vanier


The postwar CAPEHARTS and the LP quandary

Click on the image below to see Capehart turning over LPs:

(If your browser does not play the full video file, right-mouse click the photo and "Save target as" on your computer. The 10 MB video file can then be played from your own computer.)


After having closed the factory in 1942 because of the war, the Capehart dazzled the public again in 1946 with a completely redesigned changer (41-E) and updated electronics. These post-war Capeharts are by many connoisseurs considered to be the finest that Capehart produced:

Complete redesign in 1946: Lightweight pick-up allows playing at 8 - 12 grams.
1949: Two speed changer for LPs and 78 rpm introduced.
Production of the Capehart ceased in 1950.

The 1946 had an embarrassing false start: Capehart used a Pfanstiehl (I think) True-Timbre strain-gauge cartridge, which works like a carbon mike: A carbon coated piece of nylon changes its resistance as it bends.
This cartridge provided great fidelity at low weight, and avoided any hum problems.
However, the stylus was only factory-replaceable, and nylon piece in the cartridges malfunctioned quickly and were factory upgraded to the modern HiFi GE VR (Variable reluctance) cartridge.

The original strain gage cartridge can be recognized by its clear Lucite/edgy head shell. These machines do not have a pre-amp. If you want to upgrade such a machine, you will need the later silver head shell, a GE VR cartridge and someone has to build a pre-amp (contact me for details.) Also, the early two-pole induction motor induces some hum on the GE VR cartridge.

Lastly, the changer had to be retrofitted with two struts stabilizing the magazine holder (again contact me).

Capehart-upgraded and later machines have a silver-Lucite head shell with a large, chromed GE VR cartridge, and a separate preamp chassis in the changer.

(Note to the cartridges: The original large, double cased GE VR cartridge was only factory repairable: A new stylus has to be soldered in.
Your best bet is to replace it with a GE RPX cartridge with the L shaped stylus. Your capehart will sound even better, if you use a two-speed double ender GE RPX and replace the T bar with one that can accept clip-in styli. These have a much better compliance and high-end than the L shape styli. You just saw off the first 1/2" of the T bar post, and make the T bar stick with a piece of clear tape around the post.

Do not use the GE VRII cartridge, since it has only 50% of the RPX output)

Otherwise the machine was simply fabulous: Advanced electronics using improved military circuits and components (unfortunately, the carbon resistors have drifted over time), a coaxial 15"/ 5" Jensen dynamic speaker on the 100 model, and a great Western Electric 12" edge-wound dynamic speaker on the 400 model.


Radio is modern FM band, AM and shortwave, and of astounding sound quality. The radio dial is a beautiful back-lit dial (there is a problem with the brown paint flaking - I have an easy solution).

In 1948, a beautifully improved changer - (41-MP, with double separator knife, standard GE VR cartridge in a double suspension case, three mercury switches, a quiet four pole motor, and a new improved one chassis radio/amp, and a push box with 4 buttons for phono noise reduction came out.


Maker Capehart-Farnsworth
Model 114N2
Year 1946
Owner Carsten Fischer
Repaired/Serviced by
Roger Morrison
Repaired/Serviced by
Donald Cochran
Custom Conversion to 78/ 33 rpm speed by Carsten Fischer

Adapting the Capehart for the new Long-Playing Microgroove record

1948 also marked the introduction of the LP and the eventual demise of the Capehart:

If you had paid $800 for a superb Capehart, you were all of a sudden burdened with a machine that could not play 33 rpm vinyl LPs.

Capehart, unfazed, developed a beautiful new, astonishing changer: 41-E-2
To accommodate LPs, the changer had two tone arms that clipped in at the base. Clipping in the right tone arm change the speed to 78 rpm or 33 rpm automatically, and the separate tone arms always insured that you played your LPs at 6 grams, whereas 78 rpms play at ~12 grams. A ball bearing at the trip mechanism ensured that the tone arm would track and trip reliably with playing weights as low as four grams.

These rare 2-speed changers were the last stand of Capehart against the LP - but it seems that people did not see the necessity to have a changer for 20 minutes a side LP records.
Capehart closed the production of the turn-over changer in 1950, after a basically unchanged changer production of over 22,000 changers since 1930.

This should be the end of the Capehart Story, but not quite:

Too many people had these gorgeous and highly engineered, reliable and great sounding Capeharts sitting around, that could not play LPs.

What to do?

Two answers:

On the West Coast, Sherman-Clay, purveyor of phonograph and fine musical instruments, would take the old Capehart, drill a hole into the head shell to accommodate a double ender, two speed GE RPX cartridge, and would replace the motor with a Voice of Music Three Speed assembly.

And voila, all of a sudden you were able to play 78 rpm and 33 rpm records in changer cycle, and 45 7" records in single play mode.

(The changer you see here has an original Sherman-Clay drilled head shell, but it is my own conversion: In the place of the Capehart motor, I fitted in a Garrard RC88 motor with a two speed (78/33rpm) selection. Nothing was harmed, the speed switch is discreetly hiding at the side, and the machine could be reconverted to original status in less than 1 hr.

And anywhere else (not in Sherman-Clay territory):
The good people at Lincoln Engineering, which in 1949 started to produce their own pneumatic turn-over changer (see my Lincoln Series 50 write up), provided a Capehart conversion model, which was 2" shorter than a regular Lincoln. You removed the old changer, plugged in the Lincoln, and you were done.

But alas, because of the Lincoln configuration, this was only possible on the front loader 400 models, but not on the top loader 100 Capeharts.


More Special Capeharts

 The Capehart 500 Ultimate Luxury Changer
 Capeharts with Custom Cabinets and Art Finishes
 The Steinway Capehart


Well, the Capehart - the ideal record changer for any record lover. More Gentle than the Human Hand - true: You will break more records on your Victrola, than the Capehart ever will (none on my two machines so far).
Do you realize that during the whole change cycle the records are only handled on the edges, and record-to-record rubbing (kept in a vertical stack) is absolutely minimal?

But be extremely weary: A Capehart will only play standard size 11 7/8" records. If you load it with 12" records (I had to discover that Victor Grand Prize, and Deutsche Grammophon up to ca. 1930 are true 12" records) it will crunch the records savagely.

Also, misloading will result in instant retribution.

If you make all the proper procedures, the Capehart will play reliably and indefatigably records without skip, error or damage (right now the whole Potted Walkuere is delighting me as I write).

Also - it is not true that there has to be a compromise between a great changer and a great turntable:

The postwar changer can be made to track at 4 grams with a modern Pickering stereo cartridge, which is great for mono LPs and still ok for stereos.

Since the changer is completely separate from the turntable, it would be not much effort to change the turntable in a postwar changer to a modern truly hifi turntable, a modification to a touch less trip would allow tracking at 2 grams or less, and some slight modifications would allow you to play 16 LPs at a time reliably one at a time, and without the least damage to the records.

Well, that's it.

A word about acquiring and restoring a Capehart

As always, DO NOT plug a vintage piece of electronics in. That must be left to the restorer.
Even if the machine is playing, some old capacitors are already getting hot and melting. A flash-through with a ruined power transformer is waiting to happen.

On these old sets, the capacitors must be tested and replaced. Also usually some resistors have drifted and will distort the audio.

Capehart mechanisms are extremely reliable (except  1942 all pot metal changers with serial numbers greater than 20,000- unrestorable), and will probably work right away. On both pre-and-postwar changers, there are gear boxes that need to be filled with motor oil, and if the changer is stuck, DON'T force it - it will need to go to the Capehart Doctor.

There is a Capehart doctor in Philadelphia, and one in the LA area. If your Capehart exhibits problems that a simple oiling cannot solve, or is stuck, the mechanism MUST go to the doctor. They can also help with fun things like a broken turn-over arm (I told you not to put 20 records in the magazine !!!).

Electronic restoration of a Capehart is important, and Chuck, the gracious host of this website should be your first stop. There is a great guy in Virginia, another one in the Mid-West and I have a contact in the Bay Area. The problem is that your usual radio restorer will not like to work on these big multi-chassis electronics, and you really want to find someone who knows how to repair Capeharts (and the repair will be a couple hundred dollars.)

BTW: If your post-war FM radio goes quiet, and it is not a tube problem, it is probably the inter-stage FM transformers which have tiny PVC tubes supporting the hair-thin copper leads. Those tubes sometimes corrode and snap the transformer lead wires. (happened here on two machines within two months)

So, that's pretty much it.

As always I am very interested to hear  from you.

Some notes:

The following quality reproductions are available:

- 1941/2 Capehart 100M  user Manual
- 1941/2 Capehart De Luxe 400M  user Manual
- the pre-war 16-E changer service and repair notes
- the post-war 41-E changer service and repair notes.

I have some electronic schematics for post war changers, but the graceful host of this site, Chuck, can probably make copies for you for any model Capehart.


Pls note that this site is dedicated to the CAPEHART TURN-OVER changer.
I may be able to give you some information on the Capehart Panamuse DROP CHANGER .
I have no information available for later Capehart-Farnsworth sets.
If your set has stereo, cassette or solid state circuits, I will not be able to help you.

Contact me at: sgimips1 "at" yahoo "dot" com

And thanks so much to the excellent electronic restorer Chuck, by whose gracious help I am able to publish these pages.
ALSO: After having my 1946 Capehart for 2 years, I feel like upgrading to a '48 model.
If you ever see a Capehart with a chrome tone arm and a silver head shell on Ebay or in a local antiques store, please send me an email. I will be eternally indebted to you.


  Again my great thanks to Chuck Azzalina for his great help in creating these pages.
Pleases check out his
other web pages with even more fascinating early audio and TV tube electronics. One level above this page, you can find more fascinating changers with video clips.

  My thanks also to Robert Baumbach who provided many pictures, and many other people that always helped with their advice and expertise to make these fascinating machines run again as reliably and beautifully as the day when they were bought.


Robert Baumbach's seminal book about the CAPEHART COMPANY and the CAPEHART CHANGER. A great source of models, chronology and repair notes for the classic Capehart models.

Also check out Robert Baumbach's video of one of my stand-alone Capehart changers as demonstrated at the 2007 California Antique Phonograph Society show.

(As a side note, if you would like to have the full benefits of a Capehart changer without the encumbering cabinet and complicated tube electronics, the post-war 41-E changer can be easily operated as a stand-alone turntable)