Sunday, September 20, 2015

Updates and Such

It's been a little while since I have been here. It's funny because I have been busy doing various restorations. Just been a little lazy on posting some of that stuff on this blog site.

The poster sign I blogged about a few months ago was sold to a gentleman looking for some cool stuff to fix up his new 'Mancave'. It was just sitting in my basement in storage and doing nothing for me.

Since that happened, I bought another jukebox. This was a CD Playing unit made by Rowe built in 1991. I spent a little time trying to repair the overhead door on the unit and various electrical issues with the lighting. If you look in the top left of the photo, you can see the big crack in the door. I tried to repair the crack, but it kept cracking again and again. In the end, the cost to repair far outweighed what the machine was truly worth. So, I stripped it for it's parts, repaired and lubricated any of those parts that needed some TLC and started putting various parts up on eBay. I have already made my money back on what the unit cost me so any funds after that, go to financing any other projects I have going on.

If anyone is looking for parts for this machine, drop me a message and I will let you know if I still have what you are looking for.

In June, I picked up a third Jukebox. This was a Seeburg Mardi Gras which was built in approximately 1977. The unit looks like something the Bee Gees would have put in their hangout. This unit is also not without its issues. Mice had gotten into the cabinet and eaten the subwoofers and most of the insulation. Surprisingly though, they didn't damage any wiring.

The mechanism is also seized in the back and will require a complete tear-down and lubrication. It's a big undertaking so I suspect it will be a slow and careful process.The front middle bottom glass is also missing but otherwise, the unit is mostly in need of some cleaning up and adjustment. And new speakers.

 My Rock-Ola 484, which was the first unit I bought and what started my love for fixing more of these things is working great. I have been slowly buying new parts for it as I can find them and afford them. A few weeks ago, I sourced a new back access door for this one. All that's left in that project is to replace the locks and two small cosmetic pieces that are missing. Otherwise, the machine is working fantastic and I may eventually put it up for sale once I have more working units in my collection. Right now, it is kind of like my demo model as I have no way to show off my work if I do not even have a working model in my house.

I also picked up an old Marconi radio from the 1930's that I intend to work on, I have a Cuckoo clock from the 50's to clean up and repair for my Grandfather and just finished restoring a Sony Turntable from the 80's for a coworker who pulled it out of storage recently and found it was in need of some repair and calibration.

I will update this Blog in more detail as I go along with each of the above-mentioned projects. The hardest part is remembering to take pictures and to get them moved to this Blog site.

Till I Post Again!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Commercial Movie Poster Sign

About 5 years ago now, I got my hands on this big commercial movie poster sign left over from a local Video Store that was closing down. I actually got two of them, but sold one soon after to a neighbour after giving it a once-over.

I haven't looked at this one in a while and decided to pull it out of storage. The unit is in good working order and the actual condition of the sign is also in pretty good shape. This thing stands at least 5 feet tall, 3 feet wide and a foot deep. It probably weighs about 40 to 50 lbs. The marquee lamps around the outside are custom to the sign, unfortunately, so I suspected that it would cost a fair chunk to replace the burned out ones. It has two industrial hooks on top and the sign is double-sided (so it can take two posters). However, the marquee lamps are only on one side of it.

So, instead of buying new bulbs, I replaced them with cheap LED's and the substitute worked pretty well for a while. They looked good and I was able to fill all of the sockets. The problem was that the LED's are not authentic and they tended to burn out quickly. I still had a handful of the original bulbs and replaced about a quarter of the LED's with what I still had in original bulbs. I admit that the original bulbs still look better.

I haven't decided yet if I am interested in putting the money into getting new bulbs for this thing or not. The company that manufactured it is still in business and still makes signage (BASS Industries located in the USA). You can still get the bulbs from the manufacturer, I'm sure. I figured this sign is almost 20 years old.

Without a poster in it, it is REALLY bright to the eyes and would probably make a good ceiling lamp if mounted sideways. That would probably make a pretty unique feature to a Man Cave or Rec Room. I am on the fence about selling it as is to pool my money towards things I am more interested in. In my last house, we had it hanging in the family room with it's own custom light switch on the wall. But we hardly ever turned it on.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cycle Race Pinball Toy

A friend of mine picked up this little tabletop pinball toy manufactured by Marx Toys. I figure that it is probably from the late 70's to early 80's, just based on the 'Atari-Like' font they used on the front of the box. However, it is not affiliated with 'Atari' in any way from what I can tell.

He asked me to look at it as it wasn't working all that well considering it's age. So, I cracked it open on my home bench and discovered the simplicity of the toy. Basically, there is a metal ball bearing inside the table that is fired around like a real pinball machine. The bumpers on the surface have two contacts in them, one is a sprint to bounce the ball and the other contact is on the bottom under the spring. So, when the ball hits the contacts, it triggers an electromagnet inside that strikes a bell and also moves a mechanical points counter. Basically, that's all there is to it.

The flippers are moved manually with hand-grip levers that you squeeze. The ball launcher is also mechanical and works from the center of the table.

The ball and the contacts have become somewhat corroded over the years so the ball striking the contacts does not always trigger the electromagnet. I was going to pop the table open to clean up the contacts but found that the table is actually assembled in such a way that you would have to break it permanently to get it open. So, unfortunately, this is one old vintage device that is better off not being messed with.

So, I basically just cleaned it up and oiled a small lever connected to the magnet and bell. The bell is louder now but the contacts are still flaky. That's okay, it isn't the real deal and I doubt the owner is very concerned about that anyway. He just thought it was a neat toy from the days of his childhood.

It would make a better decoration on a shelf or hung on the wall I think than anything else.

The Rock-Ola is Cleaned Up Now!

It's exciting that I have managed to clean up my Rock-Ola. After replacing a few obvious problem components and lubricating some easy to access mechanics, the machine seems to be in amazing working order.

I put some good favourite tunes into it and we set it up in our front office. So, intimate enough that if you turn it down, you can privately enjoy some tunes or that it can also be loud enough to be heard across the main floor of the house.

I think that in the not too distant future, I will actually strip the machine right down to be repainted and to grease and oil even the things I didn't get the first time. But for now, it's working really good so I will just let the family enjoy it for a while.

A good friend of mine has been coaxing me to make some offers on more machines that have been appearing online so I can start restoring them and flipping them. He is interested in being a silent partner, so to speak, and to help me out financially if I am serious about making this kind of thing into a more professional hobby. It's something I have to think about as I don't really have the best facilities to work on these things or to store them. My basement is ideal and where my main workshop is, but hauling those machines up and down the stairs could be asking for disaster.

I do have a garage, mind you, but it is small and not exactly secure. I will have to think on the idea a bit more. My heart tells me 'Yes' but my brain tells me to keep my feet on the ground.

Update for the Sony Receiver

Well, I cleaned out the Sony receiver. Mostly just what looked like a bit of sawdust material throughout the inside of it. There was nothing wrong with any of the components so that was a plus. So, I cleaned it out and greased the tuning controls as they were really dried out. I also pulled the tuner display off and cleaned out all the dust that was in behind it.

Then I sprayed contact cleaner into all of the control knobs and switches to get rid of the crackly noises they were making. After making sure the controls were completely dried out after a couple of days, I plugged it in and took it for a test drive. Still sounds amazing. Even better now that the controls have stopped crackling.

A little furniture polish on the wood cover and it looks really good. I might keep it around for my workshop to test audio equipment that I am working on (turntables and such) or just use the radio to keep me company while I work on other things.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Healthy Sony Stereo Receiver

A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me an older Sony Receiver from around 1981 possibly. The unit is not a high-performance amp by any means but sounds amazing when combined with other analogue equipment such as a record player or old cassette deck. So, since it was already in working order, I decided to use it straight from there for exactly the above mentioned reasons.

However, recently, my Rock-Ola investment kind of pushed the other receiver and turntable to the sidelines for a while because the jukebox had to go in the place where the other setup was. That's okay because it gave me time to finally pull the unit apart and get a look at it.

The only obvious issues it seemed to have is crackly control knobs and some obvious dirt and debris trapped in the tuner display area. Both are not a surprise with a vintage electronic. I opened the chassis and was pleasantly surprised that every thing inside is in good shape and there are no failing caps or signs of overheat. Just what looks like a lot of sawdust.

So, I should be able to clean the controls really easily and clean the dust out of it. Not a difficult task. I did find one part of the circuits that looked a little questionable but not an issue for performance. I may put some shrink tubing on those connections. I took a picture of what I was referring to but I am not sure how well it will translate in the photo.

It is as though they realized that they needed to put two components into one space, so they bridged the parts together in a 'V' formation to make it work. I definitely found that odd as I have never seen something like that before. You would almost think it would have been better to put part of it underneath, but, whatever.

There is also a big Red plastic enclosed piece in the middle of the board with no identifiable appearance to it. It just has a model number and says it is 'Patent Pending' by Sony. I'll have to look that one up.

Well, I just started on this project out of boredom of waiting for the other parts to come in for my Rock-Ola. Besides, I don't have much else going on in the cold and dreary Canadian winters.

The Parts Are Rolling in for the Rock-Ola

I had to order many of my new components through eBay, mostly because I found that the local electronics suppliers charge way too much for small parts in some cases. I'd love to buy locally instead of overseas, but I blame that on the local merchants. I have to wait a lot longer for things to arrive, but the time I wait patiently for parts still pays off in the long run.

Anyway, this was not a rant about economics so I will move on. I replaced the obvious parts in the power supply and was able to put it back in the Rock-Ola. I suspect that the caps I replaced there will affect the bad humming sound I was getting whenever the audio kicked in to play a record. I also recapped about half of the amplifier, again only replacing the visually obvious parts first. I did poke around and test other components and really only found a bad diode otherwise that may also contribute to the hum probably I was noticing.

So, the unit powers up again with no issues but part of the electronic selector circuits are still located in the amplifier that I haven't put back in yet. I greased or oiled as many mechanical parts as I could and those parts are moving much smoother. I even solved a record retrieval issue the unit was having just by updating the grease.

So hopefully I get the last of my parts this week and can put this machine back together. And if I am satisfied with the audio quality and overall performance of the machine, then I will look at the cosmetic issues like chipped paint, scratches and such.

But so far, so good. This is very exciting!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Can You Call It Furniture? A Rock-Ola Restore!

I haven't posted anything on here in a while. So, since I am currently very pre-occupied with my latest acquisition, I am going to count it as a blog topic.

I picked up this 1981 Rock-Ola Jukebox (Model 484) from a guy on Kijiji who had it for sale for $200 and said that it was in working order. So, the evening of New Year's Eve 2014, I travelled across Edmonton to get a look at it and see if it was going to be a worthwhile investment. Sure enough, the previous owner powered it up and demonstrated that it was working.

He had originally picked it up through a liquidation sale of an old business (bar) with the hopes of having the time and the energy to fix it up himself. Instead, it was sitting in his dining-room where his family should have been eating. So, I decided to buy it.

The irony of this was, it wound up sitting in my dining-room for about a week before I found a better home for it. I was pretty quick to get it open and start poking through it to see what needed to be done. It was really dirty and smelled like a cigarette which isn't that surprising if it sat in a bar for 20 years. I noted that the flourescent tubes were due for replacement, it was full of badly worn country music 45's but I left them in there for testing purposes. It definitely needed some new lubrication, a few minor alignment adjustments and the left channel was not working. It has LED digital displays on it and they seemed to suffer from a weird flicker pattern. I took a guess that this was probably going to need further investigation.

As I had expected, I pulled a few of the modules out of it (yes, everything is in modules for easy repair - amplifier, coin selector, record selector and so forth) and found a number of bad capacitors and one darkened circuit board, due to overheating. I was not at all surprised at the capacitors. I was glad that the record stylus was still in great condition and all of the mechanisms are still functioning.

So, currently, it is partially sitting in my living-room (the hull) and other components are down on my work bench awaiting ordered replacement parts. So far, replacement parts are going to cost me around $60.00 including shipping and a few hours of my time. Most of the issues were located in the amplifier and power supply modules, nothing in the computers and digital parts. I did find decent prices on whole modules available on various Jukebox parts resellers, but many of those parts are almost as used as the ones I have and will probably need the exact same work anyway.

The photo with the orange capacitor shows you what condition many of them were in. There is a little bit of tar popping out of the right side of this one. The fix? About $3.00.

I figure this entire restoration may cost me no more than $100 on top of what I have already paid for the machine. I would say that this will be worth the time and labour, especially when I can sit back and enjoy my handiwork.

I haven't decided yet if I plan to flip it after I am done restoring it? It would be awesome to find another one that is just a bit nicer and do this all over again until I work my way up to one of those nice old Chrome jobbies from the 50's or 60's. Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves, I guess.