1928 Victor Orthophonic Portable Victrola Model VV 2-55



Check out these Videos recorded on the Victor 2-55:

A program of great records made by the Wizard of Camden, Victor’s conductor Nat Shilkret.
El Choclo – Tango Argentino, Tap Dance,
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (with the Trinity Church Organ)
Me and My Shadow (1927 – 1930)

Nat Shilkret and the Eveready Hour Group in a stunning symphonic program (1927)
Goin’ Home (based on the Largo of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, a 5 min 20 sec record!)
Down South (a curious mix of close harmony singing, classical citations and a hoedown)

Charles D’Almaine, one of the first Violin Virtuosos (1903):
Balfe’s Then You’ll Remember Me (demonstrating constant speed on a worn Monarch record)



http://a.imageshack.us/img412/6940/hpim0912.jpgVictor                                      Model 2-55
1928 – 1930                           Price $35






23 ½ lbs


16 1/2"


14 1/2"






Sound:     http://a.imageshack.us/img831/4241/5stars.jpg    


The VV 2-55 Orthophonic portable was Victor’s first fully Orthophonic portable. All previous Victor portables were still equipped with a No. 4 soundbox.


With its large, heavy steel horn and the superb Orthophonic soundbox, the Victor VV 2-55 was not only Victor’s best sounding portable, but the best portable produced in the US.

In 1929, HMV obtained some of Victor’s portables for their next generation model:

They were not liked.”


The timing of the VV 2-55, launched in Summer 1928 and sold until 1930, gives some reason for speculation:


It is known from letters to dealers that Victor stopped producing acoustic Victrolas in the summer of 1928. After the existing stocks were depleted, only Electrolas were available.

One notices that the horn of the 2-55 is made from the same very heave stock of steel plate that was used for the big Orthophonic metal horn (in the 8-9, 8-35 and 10-35.) Also, the case is completely made from stamped metal.
Was the 2-55 designed this way to use up steel stock and use the capacity on the stamping machines?


Also, we can presume that Victor paid a hefty royalty fee to Western Electric for every Orthophonic soundbox sold – after all, the Victor Orthophonic soundbox was not a Victor invention, but licensed from WE. Was Victor able to negotiate a lower royalty, now that the bulk of full-size Victrolas was gone? The timing suggest this, also that the concurrent cheaper VV 2-35 at $25 was identical to the 2-55 at 35$, except for a simplified tone arm, and a Victor proprietary soundbox.



The Victor 2-55 is a truly impressive machine: The heavy steel plate horn wraps tightly around the motor, and the unusual “landscape” orientation of the case made it possible to make a long and efficient horn. The heavy steel is very “tone dead”, and does not produce deleterious vibrations or resonances.

This solid construction however comes at a weight of 23 ½ lbs, which makes it one of the heavier machines.


http://a.imageshack.us/img299/3216/hpim0133.jpghttp://a.imageshack.us/img411/6586/hpim0130.jpg http://a.imageshack.us/img835/2727/hpim1070.jpg


The motor is purpose-designed on a cast base. It is curious that it does not have a bottom plate, but all the gears “hang” from the top base.

The proprietary angled crank not only makes winding easy, it also does not interfere with the horn.
The Victor motor cannot be praised enough: It is one of the strongest and smoothly running motors of all portables. It will play a 5 minute record without slowing down. The total absence of wow and flutter is very impressive.


http://a.imageshack.us/img651/1280/hpim0155.jpghttp://a.imageshack.us/img186/4564/hpim0134.jpg http://a.imageshack.us/img291/1977/hpim0156.jpg 


The tone arm and bracket is a scaled down design from the full-size victrolas: Its ball bearing base and solid drawn-brass construction guarantee air tightness. The tone arm bracket (and the sound box) are the two pot metal parts in the 2-55. Other than the very early examples, the pot metal on these machines is very good, and rarely swells or cracks. However, the wall thickness of the bracket is ludicrously thin, one dropped lid may crack the bracket.

However, broken brackets can be repaired and structurally strengthened.

One annoying thing of late-production 2-55s is the use of rivets instead of screws: The tone arm brake lever is riveted, as well as the spring barrel of the motor, which makes servicing them a challenge. Nevertheless, the ball bearings need to be filled with heavy grease to ensure a full tone.

http://a.imageshack.us/img820/6646/hpim0915.jpg http://a.imageshack.us/img192/3286/portable3jpg.jpg



When new, the VV 2-55 must have been a gaudy affair: All hardware is painted with gold paint, and the interior was covered with a gold crinkle paint.

Thankfully, with time, the hue of the crinkle paint has mellowed down to a caramel color.


The famous Victor Orthophonic sound box was used on the 2-55 for the first time. Later, under RCA management, the soundbox was slightly modified by removing the spider and phasing plug. The face of the soundbox was covered with felt and an additional shield to reduce needle talk. The RCA spiderless soundbox is actually very interesting, especially when used with a large machine like the Credenza: While it produces full range and full bass, the treble is much more prominent, and allows you to get a much more vivid rendition out of “dull” acoustic or early electric records


Victor Orthophonic Soundbox

RCA Spiderless Sound Box

1925 – 1929

1929 - 1933


The portable portable soundbox is a regular Orthophonic soundbox with a felt cover. It retains the diaphragm spider and the phasing plug. Finish is either reddish gold or gold paint.

http://a.imageshack.us/img697/6216/hpim0900x.jpg http://a.imageshack.us/img716/104/265m.jpg


The RCA portable soundbox is a modified Orthophonic soundbox: diaphragm spider and the phasing plug have been removed. The face is covered with a fine brass mesh. Finish is often greenish gold.




http://a.imageshack.us/img834/6991/hpim0751.jpg http://a.imageshack.us/img576/7326/hpim0769.jpg


Except for very early run 2-55s, portable sound boxes usually do not have pot metal problems. They are uncracked and have no swelling. However, the ball bearings in portable soundboxes need to be rebuilt: They were originally held in place with rubber cement, which has hardened and causes excessive friction. The inside of the solder joint in the RCA soundbox should be checked for air tightness.


Apparently, the 2-55 sound was good enough that the machine was used in one full-size Victrola, the 1928 VE 7-11. Here in an usual arrangement, the record player compartment also functions as the horn, with the sound coming through the compartment doors.

http://a.imageshack.us/img714/8523/hpim1225g.jpg http://a.imageshack.us/img820/5299/hpim1224.jpg



Other than the frequent problems with the bracket, the Victor 2-55 does not require any major work.
However, the Victor Fabrikoid cover material is problematic: The material has shrunk significantly, leaving flaps of material hanging loose, and there are usually wide gaps at the corners. Those can be filled and matched with appropriate materials.
Also, sometimes the filler material has started flaking from the fabric backing. Appropriate binders can be used to strengthen the material.


I always welcome your comments and thoughts:

        sgimips1 “at” yahoo “dot” com