Friday, 24 August 2012

Technics 1200 Gets A Makeover, Part 1.

I picked up this Technics 1200 MKII a couple of months ago from a guy I know at a local flea market. I did not pay a lot as these tables go, but it needed a lot of work to get to a point that I would be comfortable either keeping it or selling it.

Technics 1200

It was quite scratched up especially around the front edges, the platter has corrosion most noticeably the strobe dots. The tonearm has a dent just ahead of the cueing lifter and the cueing "foot" on the side of the arm is broken off. Other incidental marks, no lid or hinges. It came with a generic headshell and a Shure cartridge, though the model escapes me right now. Maybe an M95?

Functionally it was pretty good. Bearings and pivots seem ok, speed a bit off but not much. It will not switch back to 33 rpm from 45 except when you turn it off, but that might just take cleaning.

Technics arm

I had no intention of doing a half-assed job of this. I might not be going full audiophile on it with tonearm rewiring and other tweaks, and I am definitely not pimping it with extra LEDs, smoke and mirrors. I want it to work as well as originally intended and to look as good as new or better. Not too much to ask, right?

I ordered from ebay a tonearm, a lid and hinges. They were all new and unused from a vendor with lots of similar items. Having them shipped to my USA depot meant free shipping so the total was about $100. I've had them waiting for a month or so now.

Technics 1200 1

The great thing about the 1200 series of turntables is that it was simply the most popular turntable ever made (I read that somewhere) and there are vast amounts of parts available. There are also many resources around on tricks, modifications and how-to articles. No new ground here, but I have taken lots of pictures to document the disassembly and other steps.

Technics 1200 2

This darn thing has lots of pieces. And this particular table was also a mess inside. Looks like spillage and maybe a mouse nest!

Technics 1200 4

Technics 1200 5

Technics 1200 6

I eventually got it completely stripped down to the point that the top of the plinth was ready for the next steps, cleaning and sanding. The box of parts and tonearm were set aside for now, but will get some work while I wait for the plinth to come back from paint, or rather powder coat.

Technics 1200 10

Technics 1200 11

I am lucky in that I know someone with a machine shop and sand blaster, using walnut shells specifically. He also lets me use some of the equipment sometimes. I did some sanding to get the worst of the scratches reduced with a medium grit sanding sponge. Then it was off to Toby's today where it took me an hour or so to get everything off the top. I also took most of the finish off the non exposed surfaces but was less fastidious about it.

Technics 1200 8

Technics 1200 9

Technics 1200 7

It looks pretty good at this point. Toby, Robert and I talked about the best way to finish it. There are spray paint options plus powder coat, and one I had not thought about until today and that was anodizing. I thought that would look great but one issue with that is the fact that it hides nothing. Any imperfections would be glaringly obvious and touch-up impossible. It also turns out to be quite tricky if the alloy is not exactly right to take it. That last fact I found out when I took it to the anodizers. However my second choice of powder coat was also something they offer so I took it to their other shop down the road.

There it will stay until at least next week, and will come back to me with a finish type called SandTex black. This should not only be somewhat unique, but a good finish that won't show finger prints.

Monday, 6 August 2012

2 Hour Dynaco Speaker Refinishing

I picked up a pair of Dynaco A25 speakers in a yard sale a couple of months ago. They were quite beat up but are a quite desirable and still highly regarded model from 1969. Even though they were made in quite high numbers and sold for just $79.95 each back then, they hold pretty good value but they don't seem to pop up very often around here. Even so, when I saw them I instantly thought I knew what they were and I was right.

Dynaco A25 1

Chipped veneer, serious water stains from plants, scratches, stained and torn grill covers. At least the drivers looked fine and "they work" claimed the seller. The drivers were also dirty but thanks to rubber, not foam, for the surrounds they looked intact.

I am no expert at refinishing and I did not think that without a real effort and possible re-veneering that these would look show-room quality again, so I did a quick power-tool enhanced job on them today. I just wanted to make them good enough for me.

Dynaco A25 2

With my sanders, both belt and orbital, I soon had the finish completely removed from one. On the other one the water damage went quite deep and I ended up going beneath the veneer or into a flaw in it at least. Too bad about that but I can use some filler and colour matching to hide it.

I did what would also probably be considered really bad form by not even removing the tweeters and woofers. Since they were dirty anyway I was not too concerned, but had to be careful. I found the terminals were soldered anyway and did not have my soldering gun nearby.

Dynaco A25 3

I went over all the veneered surfaces with walnut stain that was already nearby but had to run out to the Despot and get some MinWax oil finish even though I was sure I had some around. So the 2 hours actually became more like 3.

Dynaco A25 5

After cleaning the drivers and faces with damp cloths, and a bit of buffing and wiping down the results are very good. I will still do a bit more work partly because it started to rain a bit and before I noticed I got more water marks! The few tiny spots will come out easily though with a bit of gentle sanding and more stain and/or oil.

The grill faces will get re-covered soon. Linda looked at the fabric and said "transparent linen, they should have some at the fabric store". It was too hot and being a holiday we do not want to risk driving to the nearest big one to check, but she will tomorrow. If they don't have it I can check out the local electronics store.

Dynaco A25 6

So I think they look pretty darn good so far! Too bad I sanded too deep on the one side. Be careful with that belt sander, Eugene.

With the combo of the dark stain and the oil finish I probably did not have to take out the entire water stain and it would have been masked. So it goes.

I'll bring them inside soon and check out how they sound. Eventually I will get around to replacing the crossover capacitors and maybe the binding posts. That will be another day and post.

Edit: A day later...

Linda stopped at a fabric store today to get some grill cloth. I was hoping for something more like the original linen, somewhat coarse and a bit like cheesecloth but that is not what she brought home. It's a bit stretchy and synthetic and much whiter. However I think it will turn out fine after all and might just grow on me. Only done one so far though.

Before grill cloth but sounding good:

Dynaco A25 7

After cloth, I think the contrast is good:

Dynaco A25 8

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Marantz System is up for sale! $650...I mean is SOLD!!!

I decided to sell my Marantz 140 power amplifier along with the 3200 pre-amp and the 112 tuner. The trouble is, when I hook up something to make sure it is all working fine and so that I can demo it to prospective buyers, I end up with cold feet!

If you would like to buy this system, you can use the PayPal button below but I would rather do this locally and in person. Please note that I will ship, but it WILL NOT BE CHEAP and will be calculated later. Shipping weight will be close to 40 kilos and ideally in 3 boxes.

I don't need it for sure as I have several other more-than-capable receivers including another Marantz. It  is the only system of separates though and it does sound pretty darn good The looks are not bad either.

I want $650 for the system as you see it. If you don't want the LED bulbs, I will change it back to incandescent fuse lamps and knock $50 off the price. The displays will probably look cyan green if I do that.

edit: SOLD!! In one day!

Maybe I should have asked for more money??

Marantz 4

The amp puts out a conservative 75 watts per side and in my space the needles barely flicker. The 3200 preamplifier is the period and model specific mate as is the tuner, model 112.

All the pieces are clean inside and out and the meter fuse lamps have been changed to LEDs, as have the tuner back light bulbs. The LEDs restore the Marantz blue that typically turns to green as the vellum paper ages and yellows with the conventional bulbs. That is if the bulbs still work as they burn out eventually anyway. The meters came out a different sort of blue, maybe partially because of the LEDs being done at a different time were from a different source. Or possibly it is because they deflect into the meters, rather than directly back light the face plate in the tuner.

Marantz 2

Marantz 6

Some people are purists about the old gear though, so LEDs are verboten. Incandescent only, even though it generates lots of extra heat that deforms and yellows the plastic surround the bulbs, and burns out readily. LEDs are much cooler running and will last practically forever but may not have that "original" look. Whatever...the LEDs look good and work well.

Marantz 5