Consoles => RCA => Topic started by: SeniorSteve on May 03, 2017, 02:58:25 PM

Title: 1963 RCA console 3VF446
Post by: SeniorSteve on May 03, 2017, 02:58:25 PM
Last year between Christmas and New Year's day, I responded to a CL ad that had an RCA console for $25.00.  It had the model listed on the ad, so I looked up the unit and found it was from 1963 and had a stereo FM tuner.  It also was a tube console with push-pull output stage.  I figured for that price I really couldn't go wrong, so I picked it up.  Spent some time re-capping the amplifier and tuner assembly.  It was rather distorted and low volume, so started troubleshooting the amplifier first.  Along with the standard re-capping, there were several resistors that had gone way up in value.  It's funny, they were the same value resistor, in the same audio stage, but in different channels.  There was also one of the output tubes that had a slight red-plate, but that ended up being a bad tube.  I replaced all 4 of them so I could get them matched.  There isn't any bias or balance adjustment on the output stages between the tubes.  I also had a few resistors in the tuner section that were open (no FM) and the multiplex sections needed to be aligned because there was lots of distortion on stereo signals.
While on the bench I noticed that this system really did have some nice sound to it, and the low bass notes were substantial.  However, when installed back into the console, it just seemed to be boomy without any bottom end to it.  Pulled one of the woofers and found out the free air resonance was over 70hz.  The speakers were ok, but not that great.  Started looking for some replacements and found some for less than $20.00 each from MCM.  Looking over the specifications, it said they could be used in either bass reflex or air suspension, and the recommended size was very close to what I would have when I sealed up the speaker enclosures.  I was sure I could get the bass frequency down to hopefully 35-40 hz.  The way the cabinet was constructed, it made it easy to do just that.  One of the tweeters had an open voice coil, so I ended up replacing a pair of them to keep the sound balanced.  A little bit of fiberglass in the speaker enclosures and it's basically done.  The sound I have out of this console is absolutely wonderful!  I certainly am impressed with this 54 year old console.  The cabinet on this console isn't perfect as it has water stains on the top and some dents in it.  I can take care of the electronics, but am not that proficient in finishing work.  It's a daily driver now.  Now all I have to do is to find homes for the other two consoles, a 1959 Zenith, and a 1963 Grundig.
Title: Re: 1963 RCA console 3VF446
Post by: TC Chris on May 03, 2017, 08:54:05 PM
Sometimes you can steam dents out.  The steam expands on the wood fibers.  Dampen the dent; apply a wet rag or paper towel over it, apply a hot iron on top of that.  Try to confine all this water and heat to the dent itself.

For water stains, a quick'n'easy fix is Howard's Finish Restorer from the hardware store.  It's a simple approach.  You select the right color and rub it in.  It did a great job for me on an old Sparton radio console that had moisture damage about 1 foot up from the bottom from a basement flood. 

If it doesn't work, you can remove the old finish with paint remover and replace.  Your photos don't tell me what the finish is.  Walnut? 

You can remove dark stains in the wood with a specialized wood bleach, or even household bleach.  Then you'll probably have to use a stain to make the color uniform and to match the rest, and then add a finish over that (lacquer, varnish).

Chris Campbell
Title: Re: 1963 RCA console 3VF446
Post by: SeniorSteve on May 04, 2017, 12:13:52 PM
Thanks for the suggestions.  Unfortunately many of the dents are in the trim on the front.  The console must have been stored in a basement or garage and some pipes or other heavy things have dropped against it.  I just figure it's part of it's "character".  The top does have some stains which I might be more inclined to see if I can lessen.  Here's a picture of what I'm sure was a planter that had been sitting on top and over watered.  I believe the veneer is walnut, and have used the Howards on it a couple of times.  It can only help the finish so much.
The device you see on top is a little Raspberry Pi media player that I put together.  I had the flu in the past couple of weeks so I took the time while I was not feeling good to rip my CD collection to a media server.  I think I added over 325 CD's to it during this time.  I connect this to the tape input on the console and can listen to any one of my CD's.  It is wireless to the music storage server.  How long this will work is unknown as the server that has the actual music on it is a HP Media Smart server and is well past its "sell by" date.  Model of the server was EX490 and it's based on modified Windows XP.  It also does a backup of my computer everyday and is rather efficient about that.  I back up the media server with an external USB drive so I do have a two layer backup system. 
I did overhaul the changer, but it isn't as gentle on records as I would like it to be.  I'll use the phono on some of my less important albums as it does work well.  Overall this is one slick system that sounds very nice.

My only other console I would like to get would be a Zenith with their proprietary changer with the pop up clamshell for 45rpm  records.
Title: Re: 1963 RCA console 3VF446
Post by: TC Chris on May 04, 2017, 10:16:34 PM
You could refinish the top only.  Use a chemical remover, bleach, stain, maybe fill the grain, then recoat with some spray-can lacquer.  Last fall I went to a paint store to get some "brushing lacquer"--lacquer meant to be applied by brush, obviously, and was pleased to find they had some.  But... it was in a spray can.  It's clearly labelled "brushing lacquer" but it's equally clearly in an aerosol can.  Never underestimate the cleverness of the marketing dept. It worked very nicely to over-coat my Magnavox Provincial Serenade's scratched top.  I used the dull variety.  There are other finishing alternatives--gloss lacquer rubbed out; varnish rubbed out. 

Chris Campbell