Repairing gramophones with spare parts he collected from antique shops over a period of eight years, minibus driver Savaş Şekerbay handles a 500-piece collection of historical repair tools, some dating back to the early 1900s, and custom design gramophones with kid gloves. Şekerbay's workshop in Ankara's Mamak district resembles a museum than a repair shop.
Şekerbay discovered his interest in antique pieces while trying to repair broken gramophones, eventually starting this interesting collection. He spoke to Anadolu Agency (AA) about how he everything started eight years ago. Şekerbay said that he wanted to get two of his broken gramophones repaired, but, the repairmen demanded too much. "So, I decided to repair the gramophones on my own. I just sat down and did my best to fix them. I repaired both and became the owner of two working gramophones."
"Once I saw, I was good at repairing gramophones I decided to open a workshop. I did my best to learn the trade myself. I supplied spare parts and bought gramophones whenever I came across one, regardless of its condition. As I could repair all kinds of machines, it didn't matter to me if they were broken or not. Within some time, I settled down in this place now I I call my workshop. After completing my shift in the mornings as a dolmuş [minibus] driver, I come here in the afternoons and get busy with gramophones," he said.
'Let's don't say gramophone man!'
Şekerbay believes that the gramophone is one of the most splendid inventions of the last century, hence he feels uncomfortable with the wording "gramophone man."
"I love my work but I find it a bit simple to call people like me the 'gramophone man,'" he said. I came across the word 'gramophonist' while searching for people who do similar work. It may not be in the dictionaries yet, but, the word was in use in the past. I think gramophonist is the correct word that corresponds to what I do."
Besides repairing them, Şekerbay also produces gramophones that he designs. He said that he designed most of the original ideas in his mind. "I told my customers, 'if you can imagine it, I'll build it,' to my customers. For instance, one of my customers wanted a gramophone made out of a shop-window dummy. I said okay and built it. I have made gramophones out of seashells, violins and guitars. Most Turkish people, however, are not comfortable with extraordinary ideas. Even my own friends made fun of me when they heard I was building a gramophone in the shape of a violin or a guitar. Then one day, I came across a photograph of an American gramophonist who had transformed a violin into a gramophone and I thought I'm on the right track."
He said that he can mend any mechanical problems in old gramophones within a very short time thanks to his antique repair tools. "I found it strange to use the latest repair tools to fix a machine made in the 1910s. I thought there were not cordless screwdrivers and cordless drills back then. These gramophones were handmade and I decided to do so as well, from a nostalgic tendency. Eventually, I started to develop an interest for antique tools," said Şekerbay.
"In today's world, if someone needs a screwdriver they go to a hardware store. But, I do not. I looked for antique repair tools, screwdrivers and hammers that were used back in the day and I succeeded. Yet, I did not have the heart to use these nostalgic pieces; so, I started to collect them as I was fascinated by their visual integrity. I do not use the hand tools in my collection or present them for sale." Speaking about his collection, which consists of tools like a razor blade grinding machine, a tobacco stripper from the 1920s, a scythe blade, German adjustable pliers from the 1920s, Şekerbay said that he finds the tools very aesthetically pleasing.
"There are art, visuals and beautiful engravings on these tools," Şekerbay said, adding that he is planning to open a museum to exhibit his collection.