Part 1 – The random email that started it all!

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Jump to  part 2 – The loading of 7 tons of equipment!

 

**** NOTE –  ALL PICTURES POSTED ARE PART OF THE INCOMING SHIPMENT! ****

Ampex ATR 102

As many of you know, I have spent my life and career working on electronic equipment. This started early in elementary school, and I  was selling CRT televisions out of my parents’ basement by the end of high school in 1981. That continued throughout the 80s, until the bottom dropped out of television pricing, and I subsequently transitioned into pro audio installations and servicing.

I’ve had what I call an ‘unhealthy obsession’ with reel to reel tape decks since I was a toddler, and no one knew why. My parents were both accountants, and while we had a mono tube reel to reel in the 1960s to send tapes back and forth to my grandparents in Europe, we didn’t have a stereo until I built up my own around Grade 6. I was fascinated by the turning reels and the overall high sound quality of tape decks.

In 1991 I purchased Vancouver Audio Clinic, one of Vancouver’s largest consumer and pro audio repair shops.  This was the place that I took equipment in high school when I didn’t have the skills to repair them (yet). Every time I set foot into Vancouver Audio, I wanted to work there. Back in the late 70s when I’d go to Van Audio,  the place was filled with large power amplifiers, receivers, guitar amps, cassette decks and reel to reels. Sadly, by the time I bought it, most people were abandoning the old large vintage receivers and reel to reels, in favor of 5.1 surround receivers and compact ‘BPC’ (black plastic crap) stereos, as home theatre was all the rage in the early to late 90s.

I ran Vancouver Audio for  3 ½  years,  then sold it, and it shut down in 1995.

Studer A807

What I did take away from Vancouver Audio Clinic however, was the knowledge to repair and more importantly, to calibrate reel to reel tape decks. I learned the importance of MRL calibration tapes, azimuth and bias, things that I more or less guessed at during the 1980s. Van Audio had a great tape deck tech, and he taught me what I didn’t know.

One of the things that kept Van Audio going is that I’d repair and sell abandoned repairs as used equipment at the front counter, with a small display area. Occasionally I’d buy used equipment from people looking to unload unwanted equipment, and that’s something I’ve continued to this day.

Fast forward to 2017, and the Reel to Reel Tech website was launched. I continued my interest in reel to reels while doing large commercial audio installations, and for the last 10+ years, I  advertised refurbished decks on Craigslist. My running joke was that in the 2000s, the only people that wanted reel to reel machines repaired were people over 50 that had one in their past, and needed a deck to play their old tapes on. Once the website launched and hit Google searches, the emails and calls increased exponentially, and I found that about ½ of the website inquiries came from musicians that were discovering.. or rediscovering good old analog sound. To date, the demand for multi-track as well as consumer decks remains high, and I buy, repair and sell a lot of decks every year. My youngest client was 18 years old, who had only worked with ProTools, and wanted to try reel to reel recording. He bought an entry level Akai reel to reel, but was back a year later to buy a 4 channel Teac 3340s for multi-tracking.

Technics 1500

As a result of the website visibility, I receive numerous  emails from people wanting to sell me tape decks. These range from tube mono machines from the 1950s and 1960s, to high end 24 track studio machines. While every machine that comes through the shop needs servicing, I find that most of the long abandoned studio machines need a ton of work. This was due to  maintenance was not kept up on these machines, as digital started taking over in the late 1980s. It’s not uncommon for a 24 track machine to come in with 9 or 10 channels being dead. The working channels would simply get reduced in the studios as preamp modules would fail, and years (sometimes decades) later, I’d buy the machine for restoration.

I generally get a couple of emails a week from people wanting to sell me decks, and I never know what the client has. Sometimes it’s a single machine that came out of the seller’s home stereo, other times I get calls from recording studios that have several decks, plus parts, plus a ton of associated equipment.

This long preamble brings us to March of 2022, when I received a random email from a seller wanting to ‘sell off a large collection of machines that his dad had collected over a series of decades’.  Of course, this piqued my interest. The person emailing me was the son of the owner of the decks. He lived in Portland, his father lives in Texas, and the son had to make a trip to  Texas to take inventory and to capture some pictures. He told me that he’d make the trip at some point in time, with Covid of course making travel a bit more complicated as well.

Studer A820

Because of the large number of emails I deal with daily (generally 20-40 a day), if something isn’t happening immediately, I end up forgetting about it, as I did with this seller’s email. I received another email in July 2022, with the seller telling me that trip hadn’t happened yet, but it would be. Finally in November 2022 early on a Sunday morning, I  received an email with an Excel spreadsheet attached of the equipment for sale. Up to this point, I wasn’t given brand names, or even  whether the decks were consumer or pro, or a combination thereof. With literally 100-200 decks coming through the shop every year, I’ve seen a lot of the common consumer and pro models, along with various ancillary equipment, and I see multiples of many brands and models of decks every year.

Tascam BR20

It therefore takes a bit for me to sit there, open jawed, looking at a list of equipment. Well, this was one of those times where my jaw sat on the floor of my office while I was staring at the spreadsheet. Ampex ATR, Studer Revox, Technics, Studer, Studer, etc. There was a total of 105 items, with only two decks being consumer models, and all others being semi pro or professional makes and models. On top of that, there was service manuals, spare parts, high end test equipment, and a bunch of equipment that I’d never seen in person.

I quickly emailed the seller back, saying I’d need 24 hours to do some research on the equipment, and to study the pictures, to come up with pricing for all items. The seller replied that he wasn’t in a rush, to take my time. I spent the rest of the day cogitating on what I should offer for the long list of gear, knowing that I’d have to bring everything back through customs to Vancouver to work on it all.

From the pictures, I could  also tell  that this wasn’t a scam of random pictures gathered from the internet and  simply put  on a spreadsheet. I could see that all pictures were taken from the same area, and I’d see the corner of one piece of equipment in another picture. This was definitely legit!

I decided to approach this two ways.. to provide a purchase price if I bought absolutely everything on the list, and another price, more expensive per item, if I was allowed to cherry pick. I also would have to fly down to Texas to inspect all equipment before committing to it, and then  coordinate logistics to get all  of the items to Canada. Fortunately I have a logistics whiz that I have been working with, shipping electronics all over the globe for the last 20 years, and he was on it.

To make matters more interesting, the seller lives on a 70 acre lot, with a ½ mile long driveway in the middle of nowhere, with a couple of hairpin turns, making it impossible for a semi trailer and truck to arrive at his property. Instead, we’d have to hire a smaller 5 ton truck to drop off pallets, find a few people to pack up the equipment, and then drop all of the pallets off at a local truck dock so that a 53’ semi trailer could make the drive to Vancouver.

Ampex ATR3 Preamp Modules

As I went through the list, I realized that it would be foolish to cherry pick as I wanted it all. Then there was the matter of finding a place to store all of this equipment without paying insane storage locker charges. I therefore made an offer that was fair to both parties, and taking into account that everything was sold ‘as is’, and the cost of trucking it to Vancouver, the customs clearance charges, along with flight and accommodation charges, and hiring labor at both ends to pack and unpack the equipment.

My logistics guy advised that a 53’ trailer would fit 26 pallets, and to try and keep the load to those 26 pallets. Spending more time poring over the spreadsheet, I figured that with careful packing, I could indeed keep the load to 26 pallets, but some would be stacked high.

I’d then also need packing material, as I’d bring nothing with me. Off to the Uline website to place a large order for packing material: Boxes, some double walled, so they could be stacked without the bottom boxes collapsing under the weight. Tape gun, tape, shrink wrap, box cutters, Sharpies to label each box, moving blankets, ratchet straps, etc etc. The bill from Uline alone came to $2,800 USD. The estimated shipping cost to Vancouver, not including customs clearance costs is in excess of $10,000 USD.

Crown 800

The seller accepted my offer, and I sent him a deposit to show that I was a legit buyer. When it comes to online transactions like this, trust and communication is everything to keep both the buyer and seller happy.

As of January 12, I have the bank draft drawn up for the balance, and there may be more pieces apparently that were not on the original spreadsheet. My flight leaves Jan 18, and I’ll spend 10 days taking inventory as well as serial numbers for the customs paperwork needed, and to oversee the packing  of all of this sensitive vintage equipment.

All equipment should be in Vancouver in the first week of February, then the long process begins of unpacking, and servicing equipment that may not have been turned on in years. I do not know the backstory currently of how the buyer managed to acquire this equipment, but I will find out, and will expand this find of a lifetime post as things occur.

Studer A779 mixer

Most of the non reel to reel related items are at www.vintageaudio.ca, and not at ReeltoReelTech. Feel free to reach out to them if anything is of interest to you, however keep in mind that their skilled technicians also need to run through each piece of equipment before it is for sale.

Type Brand Model Comments
Analyzer Crown RTA-2 with case
Analyzer Crown BDP-2 two of these, maybe a manual on top?
Asst PCB Ampex zoom in to read not sure what this is?
Asst PCB Ampex  record/playback boards for a 440
Case Revox empty, no idea what it’s for- me either!
CD Control Sony CDS-3000  Should be sold as a package with the CDP3000s
CD control Studer D739
CD Player Studer D730 4 of these
CD Player Studer D731, D732 3 of these
CD Player Sony CDP-3000
CD Player Sony CDP-3000
Connectors? Ampex
Controller Crown DL-2 five of these
Docs Asst
Docs Studer
Docs Ampex
Flutter Meter Ampex TU-40 with manual
Harddisk Player EMT 986R two of these
Heads Ampex 2 sets
Heads Ampex
Heads unknown
Heads Ampex
Heads Ampex for ATR-100?
Heads dunno unclean
Local Control Studer TLS 4000
Meter box Studer
Meter box Studer with speaker
Meters Ampex 4010098-01
meters/electronics Ampex seven total
meters/electronics Crown for 800?
meters/electronics Crown for 800? also, lots of Crown DC300A and D150A amps…
MicValve Studer mic preamp
mixing console Studer A779
mixing console Studer A779
Monitor Revox PR99
motors Ampex? two
Noise Reduction Dolby 363
Noise Reduction Dolby 363
Noise Reduction Dolby 363 two more
Noise Reduction DBX 400XG in box
Noise Reduction DBX 224X-DS in box
Noise Reduction DBX 4BX
Noise Reduction DBX 3BX
not sure Ampex six, some with boards
Parts Ampex for ATR-700 box contains items in photo
Parts Studer for A820 two near-side rests for Studer
Parts Studer  & Revox
Parts Studer for A810 box, my Dad is anal about labeling
Parts Ampex for ATR-102 timer lifter solenoid it says
PCB Ampex Reel Servo two
Remote Ampex for ATR-700
Remote Ampex 4020405-05
Remote Ampex 4010264-03
Remote Ampex RC 204
Remote Studer for A820
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-100 with stand & meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-440 with stand & meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-440 with stand & meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-100 with stand & meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-100 on stand with meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-100 bare, with cards in pic 3&4
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-100 no heads
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-100 on stand, no meters, no heads
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-100 On stand, missing meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-700 with stand
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-700
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-700 no heads?
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-700 I think heads are in the tupperware, but not sure
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-700
Reviox B77 reel to reel tape deck
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-800 with stand & meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-800 no stand, but has meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex ATR-800
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex AX-300 in case
Reel-to-reel Deck Ampex AX-300
Reel-to-reel Deck Crown 700 transport only
Reel-to-reel Deck Crown 800 transport, electronics, counter
Reel-to-reel Deck Crown 800 This was the family RTR from early 1970s onwards.  transport, electronics, counter
Reel-to-reel Deck Crown 800 transport, electronics, SA300, and XLR all in travel case
Reel-to-reel Deck Crown 700 in the case Is actually a 700 series, head cover is 800
Reel-to-reel Deck Revox B77
Reel-to-reel Deck Revox PR99
Reel-to-reel Deck Revox PR99
Reel-to-reel Deck Revox PR99
Reel-to-reel Deck Studer A807 on stand with meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Studer A810 on stand but missing meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Studer A810 on stand with meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Studer A810
Reel-to-reel Deck Studer A812 on stand with meters, TLS 4000 synchronizer on bottom
Reel-to-reel Deck Studer A820 on stand with meters
Reel-to-reel Deck Studer A820 on stand with meters, missing near-side pad
Reel-to-reel Deck Tascam BR-20
Reel-to-reel Deck Tascam BR-20 in case
Reel-to-reel Deck Technics 1520
Reel-to-reel Deck Technics 1500
Stand Revox
Stand Ampex
Tape Quantegy GP9 4 boxes
Tape Electronics Innovonics 375 six.  Manual found here: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/master/mbrs/recording_preservation/manuals/Inovonics%20Model%20375%20Instruction%20Manual.pdf
Test Crown Intermodulation analyzer
Test Crown Intermodulation analyzer.  Not sure what PCPs are for.
Test gear Sound Technology asst see photo for details
Test System Sound Technology 1510A
Reel to Reel Crown sx724 shrink wrapped
Amplifier Ampex AM-10 in box
Amplifier Ampex ATR 100 2 amplifier- parts
Amplifier Ampex ATR800 2 amplifier- parts
Amplifier Crown OC996 Amplifier
RTR PARTS Ampex N/A RTR parts
RTR PARTS Ampex Ampex RTR parts
Amplifier Crown DC-300 Amplifier- dc300
Amplifier Crown ic-150 Amplifier IC-150
Amplifier Crown dc-300 amplifier dc-300
Amplifier Crown dc-150 amplifier dc-150
Test equipment McCurdy Mccurdy RTR parts ATS-100 2 of them
Test equipment hp 334a Distorton Analyzer
Test equipment Tektronix 2235 Oscilliscope
Reel to Reel Studer A807 tape recorder
Reel to Reel Pioneer RT909 tape recorder
Reel to Reel Studer parts box of assorted parts
test equipment hp 5345A Test Euipment
Test equipment Soundtech 1500A Test Euipment
Test equipment hp Test Euipment
Amplifier Roland SRA-1200 Amplifier
Amplifier Crown 460CSL Amplifiers- 2
Amplifier Crown 800CSL Amplifier
Speaker AKG K702 Speaker
Turntable Hitachi HT-860 Turntable
Turntable JVC QL-A7 Turntable
Amplifier Conrad Johnson PREM-4` Amplifier
Turntable Pioneer SF-850 Turntable
Tape recorder Sony TCD-D3 tape recorder
Sony CD player CDP-777ESA CD player
VCR Sony SLV-R5 VCR
Turntable Technics SL-10 Turntable
Speakers Cambridge PSW-1 Pair of speakers
Speakers Mackie HR824 Pair of speakers
Turntable Nitty Gritty Mini Pro II Turntable
Turntable Denon DP-A100 Turntable
Amplifier Crown PSL-2 Amplifier
Amplifier Crown Straioghtline 2  pair of amplifiers
Amplifier dbx 120X-DS
Turntable Sony PS-X555ES Turntabnle
Tape recorder Sony DTC-87ES Tape recorder for parts
Tape recorder Sony CDP-X7ES Tape recorder for parts
Turntable Revox B791 Turntable
Amplifier Crown D75` 3 x amplifiiers
mplifier McINtosh MC7270 Amplifier
Turntable Kenwood KD-670 Turntable
Amplifier Pioneer SG-9800 Amplifier
Turntable JA Mitchell Gyrodek Turntable
Turntable Empire 215 Turntable
Test Equipment Nakamichi T-100 Test equipment
Turntable Nitty Gritty Mini Pro II Turntable
Amplifier Crown D-75 Amplifier
Amplifier Crown IC150 Amplifier
Tape deck Pioneer CT-A9X BK Tape deck
Speakers Bose 901 Pair of speakers
Speakers Martin Logan Sequel II Pair of speakers (defective)
Amplifier Rane RC24 Amplifier
CD player Tascam DV-RA1000 CD player
CD player Tascam CR-RW401 CD player
CD player Sony BDP-S5000ESCD player
Amplifier Crown PSL-2 Amplifier
Tape deck Tascam DA-30 tape deck
Test Equipment dbx 120x-DS Test equipment
Test Equipment dbx 4BX Test equipment
Amplifier Crown EQ-2 Analyzer
Stereo receiver Sony TA-E9000ES Stereo receiver- pair of
Amplifier Crown PowerLine 1 Amplifier
Amplifier Quad Quad 66 Amplifier
Amplifier Crown D-75A Amplifier
Amplifier Crown D-60 Amplifier
Amplifier Crown D150 2 x amplifiers
Amplifier Crown PoweLine 1 Amplifier
Amplifier Crown Straight Line One Amplifier
Turntable VPI HT19 Turntable
Turntable Thorens TD-320 MK II Turntable
Turntable Technics SL-1300 Turntable
Amplifier APT APT-1 Amplifier
Stereo receiver Marantz 2285B Stereo receiver
Amplifier McIntosh C34V Amplifier
Tape Deck Akai GX-F66PC Tape deck
Amplifier Carver C-19 Amplifier
CD player Sony CDP-CE525 CD player
Stereo receiver Crown FMII Stereo Receiver
Amplifier Crown StaightLine  Two Amplifier
Amplifier Crown Power Line 2 Amplifier
Amplifier Crown EQ2 Amplifier
Amplifier Crown OC150 Amplifier
Amplifier Crown DC-300 Amplifier X 3
Amplifier Crown D-75 Amplifier
Amplifier Rane AC22 Amplifier
Amplifier Bose 901 Amplifier
CD player Sony S-5000ES cd Player x 2
Speakers Klipsch Khorns Pair of speakers
Tape recorder REvox Assorted 5 boxes of parts

Finally!  Some pictures for you to enjoy!!!  Click here to go to part 2!

 

 

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