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What made you start repairing gear?


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I know we all have seen posts on various forums as to what started you down the path for collecting the various pieces of gear we have.  So, what I want to know is what made you start working on the gear you acquired.  My journey down the repair work path is not what I feel is the conventional path so to speak, but one that I find very satisfying.   I started my interest in audio gear in middle school.  While most of my friends were into girls, sports, music (not that I didn't find any of those things interesting), I took an interest in stereo gear!  Always cutting out ads for different pieces of gear to hang on my wall along with the various bands and hot women that I liked, and then started grabbing different pieces here and there.   I thought I wanted to be an electrical engineer so I could go to work for a company and design the stuff I liked.  Needless to say, never thought about a career path that would take me down the repair path.  Needless to say, college ended with a BS in Math, so my interest shifted from wanting to work on stuff to working so I could get a paycheck to afford the stuff I wanted! 

 

20 some years, 2 kids, and a divorce later, I find myself needing something that I can pursue that will give me the happiness in life I am looking for again.   Now mind you, I still have kids, 2 dogs, a house, a girlfriend, hobbies such as hunting, etc that all give me happiness, but was looking for something different.  So a buddy of mine has this Realistic STA-95 with a blown output channel.  So 4 years ago, I say, hey, that is something I want to do!  So many of the first years were spent, learing about electronics, reading schematics (which I admit, I still have a long way to go), learing about the different devices used, how they work....  You get the picture!  I took it on near the final stage of my divorce, so, needless to say, I had a shoe string budget (if you want to call it that), moving into a new house in a totally different area, and adjusting to life on my own again, I say sure, I can fix this.  It has been a long journey, on that I am just beginning, but I am happy to say that I finally finished his receiver (he was never in a rush for it, so it was not a big deal to have it for so long).  The level of satisfaction I have is extraordinary!  I know I have been able to rebuild and modify a C-19, but this is one that always seemed to elude my ability to fix!  Would get it running, the try to test something, and poof, I blew it up again.  I admit a lot of it was me not thinking before testing something, or putting my multimeter leads where they didn't belong, etc.  But that was all part of the learning experience.  Which I am ever grateful that I have been able to learn about the gear that I love so much!

 

Anyhow, I have it up and running on my bench as I am typing this thread!  So please, share your journey!   Everyone's is different, but in the end, we all end up at the same place, repairing gear we love so it doesn't end up in the scrap yard!]

 

 

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Note, I polished up the Walnut veneer with a nice wax and repainted the metal screen!  Tested it out at 49WPC!  (Rated for 45WPC per the manual!)  I have to say, sounds fantastic, especially to me!  And I think I did a good job poishing her up.  I did replaced the lamps with LED's, but decided to keep them white like the original!  I plan on giving it to my buddy when he comes to my son's HS graduation party this coming weekend!  Have a great day!  I know I am!  Looking forward to reading everyone's tales!  

Neil

 

 
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I've never tried my hand at repairs can barely solder speaker wire but I can see the satisfaction one could get from making things work again or making them "better." Congrats on finally getting the repair work done I'm sure your buddy will be very happy!

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My motivation to fix things?

 

High on that list would be: my love of the gear massively overwhelms my ability to pay someone to restore all of it. MASSIVELY!! $$$

Also, I do love knowing how things work and I have a curiosity that drives me to take things apart. Also, I'm not terribly patient when it come to wanting something repaired. These days it can be months or YEARS to get something restored. Who the F has time for all that? I might die while one of my beauties is sitting on a tech's incoming shelf somewhere. No one would even know I had 5 pieces of gear out there... nope... gonna learn to do this myself so now I have my own incoming queues of projects. Besides, I'd miss the gear terribly. I think I have separation anxiety.  There's probably meds for this condition but that would take money away from buying more gear. Oh cruel world, why do you test me so?!?!?! 🤧

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 My experience is much like yours when you mention the curiosity of audio. I did repair here and there out of necessity, since I had no money at that age. Even when I did start to make some money it was at a low wage. 

 I have had a varied experience with the satisfaction of repair, building, or even buying audio. The idea of a project is just fine in many cases, but a never ending project is hell to me. This is especially true when a customer is involved. I tend to forget all of the very satisfied customers and remember the few problems that have coma about. 

  I will say this, that in repair, building and some custom designs, you may be allowed to set your standard of quality and be pleased by that.

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4krow - I agree.  Never ending projects are hell!  For anyone, I believe this is the case!  I am not in this to make money either.  Maybe as a way to supplement myself when I finally do retire (if I don't die first!).  This is more about being able to get a piece of gear I have wanted for years, but never could have afforded new, and since it most likely will be near its life cycle, be able to repair it and enjoy for a period.  Then sell it!  Maybe, if my obsessive audio gear collecting disorder doesn't get the best of me!  Also, if I can help a buddy out here and  there, great, as long as they realize it will get done on my time and can accept that!  I mean, yeah, maybe if I get better and have strangers approach me, then I could consider it, but for now, it is mostly about the love of the gear!  I'm no where near the level as many of the members on the forum, it will take me many years to get there.  But at least I know now, in my mind that I have some capabilities in the electronics world!

 

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 It seems that only a short time ago, I grew from an example of an audio engineer friend. Yes, he will have failure, and then he will try again, and maybe again until the goal is realized. You know that feeling that you get when something actually goes up in smoke? It was time to analyze and try again. This sort of thing stopped me in my tracks. Maybe I would revisit after I had forgotten the experience. The symptoms are easier to find than the cause(s). 

  On the bright side there are components that I have built over the years which will remind me of my best capabilities, both sonically and aesthetically. Attempts that have worked out so you could show off your work as well as listen to it. Others may best off on the mantel.

 

FWIW,  I have a C-9 on the way. It's been awhile since I have done one, so the mood becons.

Edited by 4krow
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I'm with @jjptkd, only likely worse.  I have a (dangerous, yes, let's call it that) fascination with electronics, but sadly not the knowledge or ability to do much about it.  My soldering is bad enough that people take soldering irons away from me (literally), but that may be more a matter of practice than anything.  I hope to learn enough to do more than test if a fuse is blown, but time (if there is any) will tell.

 

That said, my real reason for answering this is to tell those of you who are able to do any of this that I really admire and appreciate what you do.  Keeping this classic equipment, not only alive, but often in state of the art (or better) condition is a truly worthy endeavor.  Thanks for what you do - keep doing, and enjoying it!!!!

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1 hour ago, Brian_at_HHH said:

I'm with @jjptkd, only likely worse.  I have a (dangerous, yes, let's call it that) fascination with electronics, but sadly not the knowledge or ability to do much about it.  My soldering is bad enough that people take soldering irons away from me (literally), but that may be more a matter of practice than anything.  I hope to learn enough to do more than test if a fuse is blown, but time (if there is any) will tell.

 

That said, my real reason for answering this is to tell those of you who are able to do any of this that I really admire and appreciate what you do.  Keeping this classic equipment, not only alive, but often in state of the art (or better) condition is a truly worthy endeavor.  Thanks for what you do - keep doing, and enjoying it!!!!

 

I also appreciate those that are better than me, and I always am willing to listen and to learn!  That is why this place is one of the few that I frequent most.  Never ending volumes of knowledge and experience here!  And everyone is super patient and willing to help everyone else!

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In 1984, I had zero interest in going to college. Found out how much college cost and how much I loved partying and decided it was a bad combo.  When I found out how much college costed, I could not wrap my head around how you could pay back $15k… kind of a shocker now.  After high school, I applied for a job stacking shelves at a grocery store. Manager told me he was looking for someone with 2 years experience…. I laughed and told him I would have it figured out in 2 nights.  That was the end of the interview.  
fast forward a couple weeks and I’m at the navy recruiters office and signing up to be a Fire Controlman which is Navy slang for RADAR and associated equipment for gun and missile guidance career field.  Navy sent me through about 18 months of electronics training.  Components, tube theory, electro-mechanical, computers, etc…. At the end of that training, I was assigned to a ship in Japan.  After a couple years, I went to a second RADAR school, MK92 MOD2. This was a fairly advanced system.  A couple more years and I found myself back at the MK92 school teaching RADAR to the “younger” guys.  Did this for 3 years. 

After my 10 year stint in the Navy, I got a job with the FAA working on air traffic control automation systems doing component level repair. As systems were replaced and modernized my job started changing to software support. We got rid of the old and started using computer based systems that ran software.  
over the years, I have helped people repair their guitar amplifiers and guitar wiring but never really got back into the component level work as a hobby.  Getting ready for retirement now and am considering getting back into it as a hobby.  
 

What amazes me is as a group, there are some highly skilled people on this site that are definitely willing to help with some really sticky problems with this 30+ year old equipment.  The depth of knowledge here is pretty awesome.

 

Bottom line for what got me into electronics was that I was not qualified to stock shelves at a grocery store… most beneficial interview I ever had. 

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OTOH, I was qualified for shelf stocking, but that thinking ended rather quickly. I upgraded to factory work for a year, and then started with the phone company. 

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Hmmm, I did the stocking thing too, along with 3 other hourly jobs in fast food, auto mechanics, and farm work - all at the same time.  Wore me out to the point where I succumbed to going to college a year later than my High School friends.  I graduated in 3 years, catching up with them.  Studied Geophysics/Geology - lots of math and physics..., then got into 3D design software in the mid 80's and got lucky in Silicon Valley for about 20 years.  Had money then to get my first Carver system (2 TFM-35 amps, CT-23 preamp, SD/A 360 CD player and a Technics SL-202 with a pair of Infinity speakers).

 

It wasn't until I had wants (all those shiny Carver components that I never could afford while raising a family) that exceeded my funding, (the last 15 years) that forced me to think about repairing things - but it's a fact, I can only do the simple stuff..., the hard stuff that has to be right, goes to the experts.

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I think I was about 10 years old and my uncle came to our house to do some wiring in a couple of new bedrooms. So being the kid I was I tried doing a little work myself after he left. Well that was the first time experienced pressure. After that electrical work always was an interest of mine. I got away from some types of electrical work and learned others. House wiring, automotive, appliances, and then into the stereo cult. 

 

Automotive is my mainstay and probably always will be since the hybrid and electric vehicles are on the march. I am still going to college and taking as much electrical classes as I can before retirement. I guess its something I am addicted to.

 

Oh, and then I joined this group and all hell broke loose. xD

Edited by Rob
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What got me started in repair was a Radio Shack 200-In-1 electronics kit that my parents got me when I was very young. I was fascinated with that thing and from that point it was over. Also when I was 12 my parents bought a Pioneer SX-650 receiver and I fell in love it. I couldn't get enough of listening to it had to know how it worked. I never opened it up because obviously I didn't want to get my butt kicked but that receiver was what sparked my interest in audio gear.

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This is really a good idea for a topic. Sure did enjoy reading all of your responses so far. I'm in the camp where I wouldn't know how to open the hood on any of my equipment.  I am damn thankful that I have all of you.

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2 hours ago, RPA-1 Man said:

What got me started in repair was a Radio Shack 200-In-1 electronics kit that my parents got me when I was very young. I was fascinated with that thing and from that point it was over. Also when I was 12 my parents bought a Pioneer SX-650 receiver and I fell in love it. I couldn't get enough of listening to it had to know how it worked. I never opened it up because obviously I didn't want to get my butt kicked but that receiver was what sparked my interest in audio gear.

I had the 65 in 1 kit. A little smaller but I was always playing with that kit. ~^

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 I vaguely remember my first electrical experiment. It involved putting a railroad spike into a live lamp socket. Very successful. I was 3.

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8 hours ago, 4krow said:

 I vaguely remember my first electrical experiment. It involved putting a railroad spike into a live lamp socket. Very successful. I was 3.

 

As a 5-year-old, I had this 2-conductor piece of telephone "wire," I played with...

 

I recall putting one end in the electrical socket in my bedroom, and getting the bejeezus shocked out of me touching the other end...

 

Another successful experiment with electricity!

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1 hour ago, 2chGearBuff said:

Yamacarver???  Not sure I know that Pat Adams said and not getting into political things!  Did you get hacked?

I’m thinking Yamacarver is saying that the manager of the store was threatened by my 18 year old cocky self that I felt I could master the job in 2 days.  He removed me from competition before I had a chance to depose him.  
what he didn’t know is he did me a huge favor, my life would have been totally different and I don’t think better.

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1 hour ago, RPA-1 Man said:

I may be wrong but I'll bet for most of us our first dive into audio repair was a "shocking" experience.

 

Yup, Everyone experiences what "releasing the magic smoke" means, at least once or twice 😉 

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