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.

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