Antique Radio Forums

Help restoring a WE 540 Cone speaker
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Author:  tubadon40 [ Feb Wed 20, 2008 11:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Help restoring a WE 540 Cone speaker

I am starting with just a frame and driver mounting. I would like to know from someone how the cone edges are fastened together. I have no orig. or repo. to look at so will rely on answers here to help.
I think I can make the cone halves ok.

Also will a RCA 100A or B driver fit? At first glance it should with only a extension to the driving link.

I will be running an ad in the wanted section for the rear dust screen & ring.

Any help appreciated. If I fail on the cone, I can get one from the speaker people I guess.


Author:  Merrill Bancroft [ Feb Thu 21, 2008 12:07 am ]
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I would contact Buford Chidester. He knows about everything about cone speakers. He has some very good repro cones for that speaker and can probably answer your question about the driver.

Author:  Ken Owens [ Feb Thu 21, 2008 3:44 am ]
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Buford's address is:

He made a very nice cone for my 540AW and a pair of pleated diaphragms for my Victor-Lumiere. They look just like the originals.

He is not cheap, but nobody else that I know of can make authentic replicas of cones even down to the right kind of paper.

Author:  tubadon40 [ Feb Thu 21, 2008 7:07 pm ]
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I was just hoping someone would help me by looking at one and telling me what the edge looked like. I will most likely end up buying one from Buford but have to try my own hand at it first.

I don't think it ethical to ask the chef his recipe and then not buy the soup :roll:


Author:  Alan Douglas [ Feb Thu 21, 2008 8:22 pm ]
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It's glued together. I can take a photo of mine if you want.

Author:  y2k Bruce [ Feb Thu 21, 2008 8:51 pm ]
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Ken Owens wrote:
Buford's address is:

He made a very nice cone for my 540AW and a pair of pleated diaphragms for my Victor-Lumiere. They look just like the originals.

He is not cheap, but nobody else that I know of can make authentic replicas of cones even down to the right kind of paper.

I bought a cone from Buford 2 years ago at the Charlotte meet and IIRC it was for an old Stromberg Carlson 18" 1920's cone speaker. The cone looks perfect and I think it was about $18 or so. I was VERY happy. I had stewed for months over that damaged speaker and what to do.


Author:  jimmc [ Feb Thu 21, 2008 10:44 pm ]
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When I first read this string I made contact with Buford and bought a cone and a copy of his book.

I don’t have the time or skills or printing equipment to make a cone for one of these speakers.

Thanks to the “FORUM” and the sharing of information:

Earlier this past summer I was led to a man who has a small quantity of exact reproduction parts for the RCA 103 tapestry speaker. My 103 speaker now looks original including the loom made tapestry.

Yesterday a perfect reproduction cone for an Ortho-Cone double cone speaker arrived in the mail from Buford Chidester as well as his book for these paper cone speakers that were made for just a few years in the late 1920’s.

People take an interest in a small niche business of reproducing a part for something they are interested in themselves. These providers are not always around and the business doesn’t live forever.

I have another contact that makes perfect reproductions of the tinsel wire cords for early speakers. His business is for the antique telephone crowed but he does my projects on special order and they are exact and complete with pin plugs.

So is there a place on the forum that is a clearing ground for us to promote the source for these items without entering into advertisement?


Author:  tubadon40 [ Feb Thu 21, 2008 11:29 pm ]
Post subject: 

Alan: I sent you a PM


Author:  tubadon40 [ Feb Thu 28, 2008 6:59 pm ]
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Never heard back Alan. Will try again.
Sure could use a Picture of the edge.

Author:  grid-leak [ Feb Thu 28, 2008 7:55 pm ]
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You will need a template or original to form the cone.

I made one for a Tower cone speaker once and it was a pain.
The pattern actually looks like a large thick letter C.
So you would have to make 2 of these and glue the edges together back to back. Then the hole in the back has to be properly centered.

In comparison it is like asking how to cast your next set of tires for your car. Just not worth the trouble.

I would highly recommend Buford as a choice. His hand craftmanship is unparalleled and your speaker will be more resaleable with one of his cones.

He even replicates the Patent stamp on the top rear !
Truely a work of art .

Author:  Alan Douglas [ Feb Thu 28, 2008 8:20 pm ]
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Sorry, I hadn't seen any PM. Will snap a photo tonight if I remember

Author:  Ron in Radio Heaven [ Feb Fri 29, 2008 12:37 am ]
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Buford has done my Metrodyne cone and was planning to bring
it to me at Charlotte, but I got an email from him saying he has
to have some surgery that week and won't be able to attend.
I sure hope he does alright, he and his wife are super nice folks
and I hate we won't get to see them this year. They've been attending the Charlotte show for many years.
His work on replicating vintage cones is unmatched.
I helped a friend make one 25 years ago and it was a mess.
Truly not worth the trouble when Buford makes them SO nice.

73 all,


Author:  jimmc [ Feb Fri 29, 2008 1:12 am ]
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Like I said . . . . . .


Author:  jimmc [ Feb Fri 29, 2008 9:58 pm ]
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I should try and answer your question before spouting off advice.

I haven’t had my hands on the Western Electric 840 but based on others, I would expect the RCA driver to be quite similar to the W.E. I believe W.E. were the first guys to use that type of balanced armature driver motor in a smaller version in their horn speakers. You may have to come up with a mount.

You may be starting without enough parts to make this decent.

Describing the Ortho Cone I just got a cone for from Buford (Same as the Metro Cone) has a cast stand and frame which positions the driver inside the double cone near the front. There is a pin about three inches long that engages a grip at the apex of the cone. The grip consists of a small metal cone inside and outside the paper cone with a threaded piece that is held in place with a nut and another knurled nut to clamp the grip on the driver pin (five separate parts).

The cone itself is attached to the frame with eight small screws, nuts and metal blades that clamp the cone to the frame. Once the thing is all together there is a screen and cloth cover held in the back frame with a snap ring to cover the access to the driver.

I can’t tell if the front cone is the same pitch as the back cone. My Ortho Cone is about two feet in diameter with a single seam at the bottom partially hidden by the geometric design graphic. The outer edge has a cloth material bead that is stitched to the cone, I don’t know how the seam or the edge is glued.

These speakers were designed to have a certain visual effect (Art Deco) as well as sound good without exposed mechanical parts.

Most of these cone speakers have some kind of graphic printed on the front and sometimes the rear of the cone, there were several styles for the W.E.840.

The things that look difficult are:
Printing the graphic would have to be done while the cone is flat on a huge printer
Photographing the graphic would be difficult due to the dark cone. You would need an original to copy.
The graphic on my cone would be almost impossible to draw even if I had art skills (which I don’t).
Gluing the seams and clamping them in place looks tricky. And I didn’t have a way to stitch the outer edge.
Selecting the proper fiber, paper material is probably more critical than going to the art supply shop.


Author:  Ken Owens [ Mar Sat 01, 2008 3:51 am ]
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Buford uses a special paper made for him to have the properties of the original material. He has to buy 2000 lb at a time because it is special order.

I think his wife, Jane, does the artwork by hand.

Author:  jimmc [ Mar Tue 04, 2008 1:15 am ]
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Following all of our help I wonder if tubadon40 hasen't jumped off the cliff yet :)


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