Barn finds 2 & 3

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Barn find #2 – Feb 2023 to April 2023

So it seems that the Texas barn find somehow triggered an avalanche of reel to reel and vintage audio caches, two in the Washington state area, and one down in Georgia. Because 250 decks in stock wasn’t enough, we had to buy them all. In sequential order..

We saw a post on Facebook about an estate sale of sorts, where the owner had passed on last year, and his daughters were selling off  his shop. The owner ran a pro and consumer audio repair shop in Tacoma, Wa, and was warranty depot for many many pro audio brands, including the Harman group (JBL, etc), QSC, Crown, etc. Apparently in the heyday, he had 5 technicians running full time, although in the last couple of years, I believe he was down to himself and another tech. According to the post he had a  bunch of reel to reel decks in stock, amongst a TON of other equipment. We drove down twice, and filled a van each time with various pieces of equipment and components. The interesting thing was his shop though. Relatively nondescript from the outside,  the shop was in a deep building, with a full basement, and the basement carried over to the shop next door.

Two Phase Linear 400 amps
Pioneer 707 RTR plus a Crown amp that we didn’t pick up.

It was filled with all sorts of consumer and pro audio equipment, a ton of dead/defective parts stock, and 100s of speakers, complete and baskets, power amps, test equipment, etc. We picked up about  8 reel to reels, all in rough shape, but most cleaned up nicely, including a Pioneer 707, a Tascam 22-4, and sundry other decks. We also grabbed a couple of Phase Linear 400 power amps (both blown), about 8 other assorted power amps (Crown, QSC, etc), a couple of which were in pieces, and a number of other pieces.

A small cross section of the ton of speakers and frames they had

With the second trip, I grabbed a bunch of test leads (can never have too many of those!), a Carver preamp that he had on his workbench, and a few QSC modules, designed to fit into powered speakers. There was TONS of stuff I had to leave behind. A lot of equipment simply wasn’t worth repairing, or had too many components removed already, and scrap chassis is the last thing I need in my limited shop size! From memory, I picked up:

 

– 2 Phase Linear 400 power amps

– 1 Dynaco monoblock tube power amp

– 1 Crown K2 power amp

– 1 Carver PM 1.5 power amp

– 1 Carver C2 preamplifier

– Carver single rack space power amp

– Tascam 22-4 reel to reel

– Otari 5050 MKII reel to reel

– Crown 11 band per channel equalizer

– 4 Nakamichi M1 and M2 rack mount cassette decks

– Teac 2340 reel to reel

– Otari 5050 MkI and MkII in rough shape.

 

His workbench, with little test equipment that was worth taking, but I did take all of the test leads.

 

 

 

About ½ of this equipment has already been run through and sold, or parts ordered for it. The Phase Linear amps are on the back burner, as they need some serious rebuilding. The Teac and Otari reel to reels have been sold, as have the Nakamichi cassette decks.

Barn find #3 – Estate Sale, Washington State

OK, here’s the details on barn find #3. At the end of March 2023, there were a few postings on Facebook regarding an estate sale in Washington state, which more or less ended up being a hoarder’s house. According to the estate sale company, you couldn’t walk through the house, let alone see the floor. The owner was apparently wheelchair bound, and ended up going into a care home, at which point the estate sale company was brought in.

 

The cream of the crop of this find- Sansui AU-22000, the second from the top of the line receiver, with 220 watts per channel into 8 ohm

 

Most of the receivers are in this picture, just a staggering amount of equipment

This estate sale company did things a bit differently than others. They told us that they would price out everything in the house (a VERY daunting  task in this case, due to the sheer volume of equipment and household goods), and then would let buyers in, 2-3 at a time, to spend 20 minutes in the house, grabbing what they want.  With the interest in the contents of this property, including a TON of vintage audio equipment and some test equipment),  this meant that 100s of people could potentially show up, and that meant a lot of waiting time possibly, before I’d get into the house. In addition, on the first day, the pricing was 100% of the tag on each item, on the second day, 75%, third day, 50%, and on the 4th day, everything was 25% of the asking price.

Continuation of the main receiver picture.

Even though the sale was taking place around 90 minutes from Vancouver,  the thought of standing around for hours on one or more days didn’t interest me at all. Now, when it comes to large lots of vintage audio equipment, Gordon, the owner of www, .vintageaudio.ca and I have had a gentleman’s agreement for the last bunch of years that I would get all of the reel to reel equipment, and he’d get everything else. Sometimes there’s a bit of crossover, as in the case of the Texas find, but it always works out great for both of us.

Opposite side of the room showing more receivers, one of three Nakamichi 1000 cassette decks, and the Nakamichi Dragon.

So in this case, I alerted Gordon, who called the estate sale company. They sent him a spread sheet of all of the stereo equipment, and while almost all of it was great equipment, the pricing in most cases was beyond retail, which made it worth no one’s time. I did however jokingly say to Gordon, to ask if they’d be open to an offer on the entire lot, as that would save them a bunch of time trying to sell it. Normally estate sale companies don’t entertain a bulk sale, but in this case the sellers were interested. I let Gordon deal with the estate sale company, and we agreed that I’d get the two Teac X2000R reel to reel tape decks. Time was of the essence as well, as the estate sale started on April 12, and we were at the beginning of April by this point. The sellers wanted all audio equipment gone well before the sale started, as they’d have to pull all of the pictures from the sale website as well.

A day went by, and Gordon called me, saying that he made an offer, however the estate sale company wanted a bit more for it, but given that all of the equipment was very much as-is, and it didn’t look like any of it had been serviced in decades, he passed on the lot. I asked for his permission to  make an offer, and Gordon was fine with that, as I’d probably bring some pieces over to his store to sell on consignment anyway.

I then called the estate sale company ,and made my offer, adding that I could hire a couple of friends out of Seattle to come up and pack it up, and I’d rent a 3 ton truck to bring it all through customs. The sellers and I came to an agreement, and here’s what the lot consisted of:

Marantz  Turntable Model 6300
Sansui Model  9090DB
Teac  Equalizer EOA-10
Sansui  G-2000
Sansui  QRX-9001
Sansui  Speakers SP-X-X8000
Advent  Speakers Pair
Klipsch  Speakers Pair
Nakamichi  1000
Advent  speaker pair
Sansui  Speakers SP-X9900
Nexxtech  Ultimate Speaker selector
Sansui 4900Z
Sansui 5000X
Klipsch  Speakers KLF10
Sansui  9090DB
Sansui  9090DB
Sansui  9090DB
Sansui  9090DB
Sansui  9090DB
Sansui  9090DB
Sansui DW9  Double Cassette
Sansui  TU-S55X Synthesizer
Sansui SE-77 Equalizer
Sansui AMP  AU-D55X
Sansui 5000A missing  1 knob
Sansui 5000
Sansui  G-7700
Pioneer  Speakers CD-F7001 Pair
Alpine CHM-5620 Shuttle M-S620
Sansui RG-7
Fisher  CR-W34H Cassette Player
Sansui  G-7500
Sansui  AT–20
Sansui  RA-990
Sansui  G-8700DB
Sansui SS-20  Headphones
Sansui SS-20  Headphones
Sansui SS-20  Headphones
Sansui SS-20  Headphones
Sony  mdr-v100 Headphones
Sansui  G-22000
Sansui SP-Z7  Pair Speakers
DBX  200XG
DBX 224
DBX 400X
DBX 400X
DBX-BX3
DBX SNR-1
DBX 224X-DB DS
DBX 3BX-DS
DBX C-X3
DBX BX-2
Sansui  RA-700
Sansui  RA-500
Sansui  RA-500
Sansui  RA-500
Sansui  G-8700DB
Sansui 4000
Sansui  G-9700
Sansui  2000-X
Sansui G-9000GB 000DB
Sansui 9900Z
DBX II 128
DBX 3BX-DS
DBX 4BX
GE 11-2004A
Pioneer  CT-F1000
Pioneer  CT-F1000
Pioneer  SC-9500
Pioneer  SC-9800
Pioneer  R-1000 Laser Vision Noise reduction unit
RCA VR622HF
Marantz 5010
Sony  TC-FX-420R
Sony  VTX-1000R
Sansui  G-8700DB Parts only including cabinet
Sansui  9090DB Parts only
Symphonic  SA-1035
I/O Magic  Lightscribe external DVD
Klipsch  Belle Pair Speakers
Sansui  G-8000
Pioneer  CT-F1000
RCA  RP-8055B 5 disc Player
Marantz 6300
Sansui P-L50  Turntable
Klipsch  KLF-10 Pair Speakers
Teac  X-2000-P Reel to Reel
Teac  X-2000-P Reel to Reel

Thanks to two good friends from Seattle, we loaded up the 3 ton truck within a couple of hours, and everything was brought back to Vancouver.

I’ve worked on a few pieces from this lot, and yes, every single one of them needs servicing, whether control cleaning, belts or a full teardown and service. Since I have over 350 reel to reels in stock now thanks to all of these new finds, never mind all the receivers, cassette decks an speakers, etc that are also here, I will be working through all of these finds over the next few months, and will be listing them on Reverb, Facebook and (if I really have to), ebay.

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Repairing the motorized tape tension levers in the Akai GX-747

While many say that the Akai GX-747 flagship deck was too complicated, and that users should look for the lesser GX-635, 636 or 646 (and they’d be partially right!), a properly working GX-747 is an excellent performer, and will last many years.

The most common fault in the GX-747 are belts that have stretched within the mechanism of the automated tape tension levers. When they are working properly, tiny motors and gears move the tension levers to a rest position of 9:00 for the supply, and 3:00 for the take-up, making tape threading easy. Once a function is pushed after the tape is threaded, these motors and gears move the tension levers into place, to tension the tape.

Once the belts stretch even a little bit, or the tension lever assemblies stiffen up due to hardening white lithium grease, the tension lever arms will never trigger the micro-switches that are at the ‘load’ position, and the arms will continue to move back and forth, non stop.

If the belts are stretched to the point where they don’t move the tape tension levers at all, the deck transport won’t function at all.

Fortunately the cure is simple..replace the belts, and lubricate the tension lever assemblies.

Tools needed:

  • metric Allen key set
  • metric socket set
  • Philips screwdriver-very long thin needle-nose pliers, or long tweezers
  • tiny straight blade jeweller’s screwdriver
  • can of DeOxIt D5 contact cleaner
  • cotton swabs
  • 2 new SBX 1.9 belts
  • 1 new SBX 5.25 belt

 

Remove the plastic tape head cover by removing the two Allen screws:

 

 

Remove the pinch roller screw on cap, and undo the 8mm nut underneath the cap. There’s likely a very thin washer under the nut/bolt assembly, as well as one under the pinch roller. Put those aside. If you put all the small parts on a white paper towel, they’ll be really easy to see once it’s time to reassemble everything.

 

 

Remove the escutcheon that holds the tape head cover by removing two Allen screws as well as the two Philips screws. Since it’s difficult to grab the two plastic knobs with the cover in place, just wiggle the cover off, and the knobs will come with the cover. Make sure the knobs don’t shoot off as they come off the control shafts!

 

 

Remove the top cover, taking off the 6 Allen screws that hold it in place. Make sure you don’t lose the plastic washers under the screws, they are impossible to find aftermarket!

Take off both wood side panels, as you’ll need those to access the sides of the tape tension lever assemblies later.

Remove the back cover of the deck.

Put the deck on its back, facing up.

You now have access to the two tape tension lever assemblies. Both are identical, but are mirror images of one another. They are held in place with two Philips screws and one 5.5 mm nut.

The take-up tension arm has a small rubber belt that goes between the optical rotating disc and the back of the tape tension arm. Remove that belt, and put it aside. That’s the 5.25” belt. Replace it, most of them are still fine however, as there’s no tension on that belt.

 

 

You can start on either side of the tape deck by removing the two Philips screws and the hex nut holding the tape tension lever in place. There are two C shaped washers under each Philips screws that will drop to the chassis when removing the tension lever assembly. Fish those out, and put aside. There’s a spring under the nut, underneath the tension lever assembly. That can stay in place, you won’t be moving the deck from its face up position.  The tension lever assembly is now loose, and can be lifted upwards so that the motor case that goes through the chassis on each side clears the chassis.  That’s about as far as you can bring the tape tension levers out of the chassis. The motor and microswitch wires that go through the chassis will limit your ability to take the tension levers from their mounting position, but it will be enough to replace the belts. The picture below shows the loose tape tension lever assembly.

 

 

The first thing to do is clean off as much yellow grease as you can from the plastic portions of the tension lever as shown below. I generally squirt some DeOxIt onto the cotton swab tip, so that it puts some lubrication on the plastic while cleaning off the old grease. Or, use a clean cotton swab to clean off the grease, then give a tiny squirt of DeOxIt onto that plastic track to re-lubricate.

 

 

The tape tension motor assembly is held to the main tape tension frame with two Philips screws. Take out those screws to expose the gears, motor, and offending belt. Note again that the motor wires run through the chassis. Too much stress on them, and they will break, meaning you’ll need to re-solder them back on.

 

 

There’s a tiny washer/clip that holds the topmost gear in place. Using a small flat blade screwdriver, gently pry that washer off. Careful, it can spring off and shoot into the depths of the deck, and you’ll never see it again!

 

 

Put that washer aside. That allows you to pull the two gears out, so that you can access the belt. Replace the belt.

 

 

Reassemble the gears. The easiest way to put the washer back onto the top gear is to wet your finger, as the washer will stick to your spit, then press it down on top of the shaft, clicking it into place.

 

 

Reassemble the motor assembly back onto the tape tension lever.

Now, manually move each tape tension lever as to the 9:00 position for the supply reel, or 3:00 for the take-up reel, and let go. The tension levers are spring loaded, and should rotate around the idler wheel, in well under a second from end to end. If they move slowly, or if they are stuck completely, that means the white grease has partially seized up the mechanism, and will put excess stress on the new belts.

There’s a gap in the plastic parts of the tension levers as shown below. Look into that hole, and you’ll see two sections of the plastic tension lever that you can shoot some DeOxIt into, through that hole. Work the levers from side to side, and you should see the tape tension levers free up.

 

 

The die-hards will say that the proper way to lubricate the tension levers would be to completely disassemble them, and I agree, however since parts for the GX747 are very hard to come by, and since a lot of the plastic parts can get a bit brittle due to age,  do the disassembly if you wish, but at your own risk. Break a part of the tension lever assembly, and you’ll be out of a working GX747. I’ve found that the lubrication method works great, and I have yet to see a deck come back with the same problem.

Start putting the tape tension lever back in place. The hardest part is getting the C shaped washer in place under the tension lever metal, while putting the screw through the metal into that threaded standoff. Here’s the least frustrating way to do it:

Place the tape tension lever in place, and put in the two Philips screws, but only by a thread or two. That allows you to lift up the tape tension lever, with enough room to slide the C washer under it. Use the needle-nose pliers or tweezers through the side hole of the chassis to maneuver the C washer into place:

 

 

The nut that has the spring under it is to adjust the tape tension lever to be level, and so that the tape falls directly in the middle of the tape reel. With the top cover still off, load a tape, and confirm that the tape tension motors are working the way they should. Assuming they are, hit play on the tape, and adjust that nut so that the tape tension lever assemblies are flat, and that the tape hits the take-up reel equally between the flanges in both the forward and reverse play directions.

Once you’ve confirmed the proper operation,  reassemble the deck, and enjoy!