From time to time, I get the urge to buy a car of a model I had as a youth and slowly begin a learn-as-I-go process of restoration. I scour the eBay ads and local newspaper for a ’64 Chevy pickup, ’70 Chevelle or a ’72 Cutlass.
I imagine the solitary fun I’d have, slowly taking my time in the garage to disassemble the engine – tools scattered about, Chilton’s book of detailed drawings open wide and some Boston or Three Dog Night playing in the background. In the old days, repairs were made hurriedly and no joy was expected or received in the process itself.
But now, the process – not the finished result – would be the elixir. No need to rush. Savor the experience.
Three days ago, I heard arcing in my AL811. The plate voltage meter danced in rhythm to the arcing as I quickly hit the Power Off switch. After a visual inspection (which yielded nothing), I powered it back on. No problem until 20 minutes later when I heard the arcing again (while receiving) as a puff of smoke exited the amp. Prior to these 20 minutes, the amp operated fine.
Last night I got around to opening the amp to begin troubleshooting – schematic in hand, Fluke on the side and the Stones’ Time Waits For No One playing in the background.
You’d think the smoke-letting component would be visually obvious but there was no indication whatsoever. I did find one of the four filter caps in the power supply to be internally shorted so I ordered all four to replace as a set, then buttoned the amp back up after poking around a bit more and finding nothing else indicating a problem.
Whatever fix I imagine myself getting from tinkering with an old V-8 seems to be present in grappling with an amp…with its big clunky components that are missing from all other aspects in today’s modern transceivers.
Component-level work sans magnification.
Tubes instead of pistons, big band switches instead of carburetors (remember those?) and a heavy transformer instead of a distributor - but the feeling is similar. But unlike modern cars and modern radios, an amp is something I can actually get my hands into and work on.
Those old American muscle cars command a steep price these days – sure is good to have an alternative…