Manual for 1950s MSS disc cutting lathe.


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18th March 2016. In the past couple of years, we have done quite a bit of research into the MSS company, and above all Cecil Watts, its founder. In fact, we were honoured by being asked to give a presentation last October, on Watts and his accomplishments, at the Annual General Meeting of the C.L.P.G.S., which is, de facto, the British national society for cylinder phonographs, disc gramophones, and the media played upon them.


We have in the course of preparation, a web page on Cecil Watts. He is, these days, mostly remembered for his Dust Bug, Disc Preener &c.; clever but essentially simple devices for cleaning microgroove records, and inhibiting static charge on them. But his whole story is far, far greater than that, believe me. Much more on that, anon.


The immediate purpose of this web page is make available on line the manual for the MSS disc cutting machine, type CLED/3/3. This was on sale at least until the late 1950s, and probably beyond that date. It was not a cheap machine; a 1959 advert prices it at £187, far beyond the means of the average audiophile of that era. At that, there was a matching amplifier, which would have greatly added to the cost for anyone ambitious enough to set up their own tape to disc recording facility. Here is the 1959 advert:


mss disc cutter - ww - november 1959


It is curious that the American spelling ‘disk’ is used; but there we are.


Mike Thomas, an old friend of mine, possesses one of these machines, and I was able to help him in getting it up and running again. In return, he generously sold back to me at a low price, a much earlier (but essentially similar) machine that I had sold to him 30 years ago! It was this older machine that I demonstrated, after considerable rebuilding, on a YouTube video that has attracted a surprisingly large number of views.


One or two people have emailed, asking for help in kick-starting MSS machines they possess, which won’t work because of long neglect, and I have tried to help. However, one big step forward in this direction, is that Mike Thomas has very kindly agreed to allow me to put up on line, the manual for his CLED/3/3 machine, which is extremely similar to the one in the above advert. It may indeed be the same; but for various reasons, which will be gone into in my web page on Cecil Watts, there are often small variations in the various MSS machines still in existence. But their underlying design is essentially the same. There is a close similarity in this variation, as is found in the classic Ferrograph tape recorders: they are notionally grouped into Mk III, Mk IV, V, VI and so on, but there are often machines that have some characteristics of the Mk IV but some of the Mk V as well. It is exactly the same with the MSS disc cutting machines.


But enough preamble.


Below is the complete manual. If you have the patience to download all the images, you will have a complete copy of the manual for the CLED/3/3. Most of the engineering drawings were ‘fold-outs’, so you’ll have to stitch them back together again. The pages were 10" by 8" – the old English quarto size. They weren’t cropped, so they have wide margins.


Wishing you the best of luck, and again emphasising our indebtedness to Mike Thomas for his generosity in making this resource available to all.


































Page written 18th March 2016.