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About MainFrame

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  1. Word.. while I would love to fire this stuff up and see(hear) how they perform, I don't want to make a costly mistake and blow something up that was otherwise in good condition. I've always been a big proponent of doing things right the first time. Unfortunately in this situation that means putting it on hold until I have a decent block of time to go through testing everything and replacing components as needed before getting to experience what they have to offer.
  2. Nothing yet. They've just been sitting on my work bench since my last update. I have so many other projects going on right now and these amps aren't time sensitive like a lot of the other things I'm working on. Once I finish remodeling our bathroom, change the timing belt and everything on our Honda, clean up the garage and finish repairing all the drywall and paint it, then I can move the rest of my father in law's stuff in from storage.. after that I should have some time to chip away at getting the amps all fixed up and running.
  3. Will do.. after putting it through its paces for a couple days I think I found an issue with one of those caps coming from the L bass control. I'm gonna have to tear into it a little deeper and see what I can find. Need to figure out why the gain is low on the spare channel as well.. plus there's a loose connection somewhere (I'm thinking around the "loudness" switch). If I jostle the unit around just right it will kick the loudness on/off. It definitely needs some TLC.. I wish I had just like, one whole day that I could work on it rather than 10-15 minutes every three or four days. :/ Agreed about the wiring at the voltage doubler, it's a mess, lol. I probably won't get around to tidying that up until I've got everything up and running at 100%.
  4. Perfect! This is pretty much my exact plan. I was thinking it might be a good idea to just go ahead and replace all the large capacitors at this point as well? I ran some basic tests on the power supply caps in the PAS-3 and they seemed fine, so I went ahead and fired it up. Now that I know it works I can do more thorough testing on them later on (I'll probably end up replacing them eventually anyways).. All of the caps in the amps look brand new, and they've barely been used, but that doesn't change the fact that they're 15+ years old. I know caps can test good, then fail under operating conditions, so if they're not too costly I might as well replace them. I figured if all the tubes are good, the big power supply caps are good, everything is clean, and there aren't any signs of damage I would be ready to start slowly putting power to them. I'm not going to go through the trouble of testing each and every little resistor/diode/cap individually when everything looks brand new. Hopefully if something small has failed while in storage it will show itself at low voltage, then I can discharge the unit and replace as needed. $125 a piece actually seems like a reasonable charge for this type of work. I understand this stuff is vintage, and valuable, but when places are telling me they want a $600 deposit per amp just to look at them.. I might as well take the time to do it myself. My DMM doesn't lie, and as far as electronics go these things are VERY basic. I'm pretty familiar with all the components other than the tubes themselves.
  5. I was talking to my wife about it a little more today and she said her dad rarely used this stuff. He would mainly just fiddle around with it, then listen to a couple records to test it out, then go back to tinkering.
  6. Thanks! I'll get in touch with them.. I may have discovered one issue with the preamp (or maybe this is how it's supposed to be).. I initially had the source on the "spare" channel and it seemed like the gain was a little on the low side. When I put the case back on and set it up on my shelf I plugged into "special" and the gain is MUCH higher on this input channel. Is that intentional?
  7. Opened up the PAS-3 this afternoon. Everything looks great for the most part. There are a couple wires here and there with scorched insulation (looks to be from soldering), but not bad enough to expose the wire. Caps look new, nothing charred/discolored. No residual charge in the unit as I expected. As far as I can tell the tubes are OEM, the caps look new. I wiped down the tubes with an alcohol wipe, ran through the dials and everything with electronics cleaner and compressed air.. then I figured I might as well hook it up and see what happens. It's plugged into a Bose setup I have for watching TV using my cell phone as a source, and I must say, it sounds fantastic! At least as good as can be expected with these speakers.. Everything on it works as expected.
  8. Yep, four pin.. that's good info. My options are expanding.
  9. From what the guy at the shop told me I was under the impression that if a tube is bad it could potentially damage other components in the amp.. is this not the case?? If so then I might forego getting them tested at all.. or just test the $1 a piece ones.
  10. I totally agree (although I wouldn't really consider plugging a tube in and seeing if it works or not a lot of work). That's precisely why it makes so much sense for me to do the vast majority of work needed (if any IS needed) myself at home. A skilled tech will certainly have more experience, but not necessarily more skill, and likely no greater attention to detail. The main difference I can see is that it will take me a good deal longer to get it all done (depending on said technician's work load.. the guy I took them to week before last said he was backed up for months). I'm pretty busy myself, so I expect it to take some time to make sure everything is done 100% right. How did you know?? lol My wife said she remembers seeing at least two of the speakers that went with this setup in the storage container, so I've got my fingers crossed.. I feel like I saw the turntable somewhere as well. Austin, TX.. I talked to a friend of mine in the recording business and he referred me to a guy who specializes in vintage guitars/amps, so hopefully he will be able to check the 811 output tubes. If not I'll probably end up footing the bill to have them tested at the place that quoted me $50 over the phone.. although I'm not positive that the lady I talked to really knew what I was asking about. I don't want to end up blowing a transformer or anything in the off chance that one of these tubes is bad. As far as my wife goes, she is by far the most intelligent level headed woman I have ever known. Not a day goes by that I don't feel grateful to have her in my life. I have set myself a goal to have the PAS-3 opened up, photographed, and tubes pulled by the end of the day today, have all the tubes from it tested, and barring any issues have it all back together and fired up by the end of the week. Then I'm going to move my attention onto the home brew amp with the VT4C tubes. If all goes as planned hopefully I'll have something hooked up to speakers and making noise within the next two weeks.
  11. Thanks! I'm willing to bet he tore the preamp apart and upgraded a lot of stuff in it too.. I'll post photos when I get a chance to open it up. I'll definitely take that into consideration. Not trying to blow a hole in my hand (or worse). I did not, though I wouldn't be surprised if it's mixed in somewhere. He wasn't able to pack any of it away himself, otherwise I'm sure everything would still be together.
  12. They have been in storage since he died 18-19 years ago.. although the owner of the shop who looked at them said everything looked all up dated and ready to go. He also said the caps will discharge themselves withing a few days, couple weeks tops. I was going to go ahead and test the charge and drain them if there's anything left... I'm unfamiliar with vacuum tubes, but I did take a couple electronics courses in college and done a lot of various electronics repair at home in the past so I should be able to prevent killing myself.. hopefully. Thing is, money is tight right now. If we're talking paying someone $600+ to have someone else work on them then I'm afraid they're getting boxed up in the attic for the foreseeable future. I have a few sacrificial speakers kicking around that I was planning on using to test them.. somewhere we should still have my father in law's speakers and turntable that went with this stuff but we haven't gotten to finding those yet. I already have a variac that I was thinking I would use to slowly bring them up carefully and see what happens when the time comes. I have no intention of selling any of it. My father in law died before I was able to meet him and I feel like these amps he built are a way to have a connection with him (other than my wife of course ).
  13. I was recently going through some of my father in law's stuff that my wife and I pulled out of storage and I came across this preamp and three tube amps. Tube amps are something I've always had interest in but figured I'd never have the spare cash to start up a new hobby. Now that I've got these amps I really want to get them all fixed up and running. My father in law was an electrical engineer at Boeing and from what I'm told would go way over the top whenever he would get into a new hobby. I took all of this stuff to the local vintage stereo shop, but the owner there told me because the two Heathkits are so modified, and the other one is home brew I should fix these up myself at home. He said they looked to be in good shape and suggested I open them up, clean and inspect everything, pull the tubes and he'll test them for $1 each (but he doesn't have the equipment to test the four Class A tubes). After that he said I should just throw some speakers on, fire them up and see what happens. There is one other place in town who said they would test the Class A tubes for $50, but that seems pretty steep to me. If anyone has the time, would you mind walking me through what I've got here? From what I've gathered I have two mono amps that have been converted to single-ended Class A tubes, then another homemade two channel amp, also single-ended with two matched 811 output Class A tubes. The owner of the shop kept saying they were "exotic", but I'm not sure if he just meant it's an unusual way to go about doing things, or if he meant something else by that. Either way, he didn't want to mess with them.