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.