1956 BAL-AMi Junior
The first BAL-AMi manufactured especially for the UK market's smaller locations. Judging by the numbers that still survive, these seemed to be extremely popular and it was clearly a smart move by Balfour to manufacture these smaller jukeboxes.
It appears that there were some subtle differences to some features of the Junior as the production run progressed.
I am indebted to Simon Edy for providing the following analysis, which he has been able to produce having restored numerous Juniors over the past few years.
There are quite a few changes that have been made to the J40 during its production. If you could guarantee that each model still retains its own identification plate and mechanism, it might be possible to fathom out the rationale behind these changes. Or, could it have been simply what happened to be available at the time?
The serial number for the Junior was stamped on an identification plate which was affixed to the mechanism base plate. Providing it is still in place it can be a useful guide to where the jukebox may have been in the production line.
Later machines also have a four digit number stamped on the front edge of the base plate casting.
BAL-AMi designed two cabinets for the J40 each altering the appearance of the record player mechanism. Judging by the examples submitted by guests, the lower mechanism variant (see photo ref 1) seems to be the most common.
The shelf supporting the mechanism is recessed which results in the turntable being lower and almost level with the dress skirt.
Because of the limited head room in the amplifier compartment, the credit unit is situated above the amplifier instead of behind the coin mechanism.
The mechanism shelf in the alternate cabinet (see photo ref 2) has no recess so the record player sits approximately 50 mm higher. Although more of the turntable cover can be seen, some of the back display is obscured.
Unlike the other model the cream dress skirt has a return on its front edge.
A thin laminated sheet depicting musical notes was usually stapled to the back of the cabinet. Typically these were either a gold or silver background.
Another variation was horizontal lines alternating between mirrored and diffused.
All of these were fairly flimsy and often fell forward and were damaged as the gripper assembly traversed.
An example from a later model shows the use of a slightly more solid and funky back display. The gold ‘Junior’ graphic has also been added to the chequered decal on the dress skirt. Although this looks quite ‘professional’ it may just be customisation by a previous owner?
On the earlier versions a push button was housed to the right of the coin mechanism inside the lower cabinet. This allowed the carriage to be moved from side to side to load the latest 45’s.
A modification to the base plate casting on the later machines saw the introduction of a small box which housed the mech and motor sockets and incorporated both an on/off switch and the carriage push button.