I have started a new project. I’m bringing back to life a Loewe Opta stereo/record changer, built in 1959 in West Germany. Just by itself it’s a great piece of furniture, currently serving as a sideboard in the dining room – but pull down the front panel, and you get a beautiful old AM/FM stereo receiver, and in the cabinet on the right side, a nice automatic record changer.
In restoring an old radio such as this, your first move is to successfully get the chassis – the electronics – out of the cabinet! Ten screws and bolts later, here it is. Looks in pretty good condition for being 56 years old or so!
Among my restoration “toys” is a Sencore tube checker, given to me by an old-time radio/tv repairman. Because the vacuum tubes in this model are European, I had to go online to get a conversion chart to tell me their American equivalent. Once that was done, I was able to find the correct specifications and test them in the tube checker. I found that only two of the seven tubes had issues. These were replaced out of my stock. So far, so good.
And yes, you can still buy vacuum tubes. I remember the days when they were carried in grocery stores and drug stores, as well as the old mom-and-pop electronics stores.
Nowadays, you just go online and order them. They are still being built in Russia and China – and actually, many high-end guitar and other music amplifiers are still being made today that use vacuum tubes.
A maze of old capacitors and resistors. This stereo has dozens of each. All of the capacitors and nearly all of the resistors will have to be replaced with their modern, flame-proof equivalents. But how in the world do you know where to start?
There is no room in here for error. And if you put something in backwards….good luck finding it later!
The only way to do this is with a schematic – the electronic roadmap that guides you through this maze.
But where do you come up with a schematic for a West German stereo built in 1959?
Fortunately, there’s this thing called the internet. A bit of casting about, and here is a portion of the schematic for said stereo. Of course, it’s in German, but that’s what Google translate is for!
So now I have the roadmap to where I want to go. All I’ve got to do is take it nice and easy, work carefully, and with a few Saturdays at the bench, this vintage machine will be back up and running showroom fresh.
I wouldn’t dream of starting a project like this without a roadmap. Yet, that’s what many people do when they set out to dig. They go without a roadmap as to what’s underground. That would be like working on one of these old tube radios without a schematic, and worse, leaving it plugged in while you work.
Your excavating roadmap is at Texas811. One call to 811 gets utilities located in your area of work. It’s a free call, and a free service to locate those buried lines. And it’s good for homeowners as well as excavators – for anyone putting a shovel in the ground in Texas!
Meanwhile – the big Texas811 Damage Prevention Summit gets going in San Marcos on Monday, February 22! Join us at http://texas811.damagepreventionsummit.com/
I’ll let you know when I get that radio working again. Meanwhile, for those of you keeping up – I promised to update my weight loss program right here every week. I started at 219 pounds on January 4. Today’s weight is 211.4. Last week was 214.4. Down three pounds!
Until next week, safe digging!