Author Topic: 1961 Zenith SFF2570E1 Find and Restoration  (Read 2019 times)

83glt

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1961 Zenith SFF2570E1 Find and Restoration
« on: November 30, 2015, 03:26:14 PM »
Here is a 1961 Zenith console I picked up earlier this year at a Restore for $45. It's a model SFF2570E1 - in oak finish. This was the second best console available that year with a retail price of $750 in 1961 - that's over $6,000 in today's dollars!

It's currently undergoing a complete restoration. I've gone through the changer which is one of the Zenith-made designs with the clam shell 45 adapter. I believe it's the model 169-128/129. It's been disassembled cleaned and lubed. All it needs is a new belt. Incidentally - does anyone know the correct size turntable belt for this model? According to the record changer service manual the belt is a Walsco part number 41-050.

Another cool feature is the reverberation tank and circuit. I'm familiar with these from my guitar amp and effects collection, but didn't realize they came on these consoles.

Currently, I've almost finished re-capping and replacing drifted resistors on the power amplifier. All 4 of the power tubes (EL84s) test weak on my calibrated Eico 667. So those need to be replaced. Then I'll have to move on to the tuner/preamp which is quite the bird's nest. It'll be a challenge but I'm up for it.

Personally, I'm not so much of a fan of the oak finish. It looks like the finish is cloudy and peeling in a few spots. Plus the original owner must have been a heavy smoker as there is quite a thick coat of nicotine on everything. So I'm inclined to refinish the cabinet with a fresh golden oak stain and lacquer. We'll see. I'm eager to put it into service, and with little kids around, I may just get it working electronically and hold off on the refinish as it's not terrible as it is.

Here are some photos from when first brought home. Note that inside the cabinet was an envelope that included the service manual, correspondence from the owner dated 1964 requesting said manual, and a Lafayette tape R2R manual!













picard

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Re: 1961 Zenith SFF2570E1 Find and Restoration
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2015, 06:15:34 PM »
Very nice find. We have a Restore where I live also. They had a gorgeous Philco console for 20 bucks one time and I passed on it because I really wasn't collecting them at that time. It still haunts me to this day.

Harbourmaster

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Re: 1961 Zenith SFF2570E1 Find and Restoration
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2015, 06:48:08 PM »
Good looking console!


I would try cleaning it with Go-Jo hand cleaner first before deciding if it's really bad enough to need a full refinish.


Not sure how to clean the caning over the speakers though.
-- Aloha, Ken

No Console Left Behind!

AlexanderMartin

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Re: 1961 Zenith SFF2570E1 Find and Restoration
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2015, 11:06:51 PM »
Good looking girl, interesting to see that type of horn, didn't know Zenith incorporated horn tweeters in their sets but that is a big boy model. Look forward to seeing the restoration.

Pat L

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Re: 1961 Zenith SFF2570E1 Find and Restoration
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2015, 06:50:09 AM »
From 59 on all totl Zenith's used the Jensen horns. They sound wonderful.

83glt

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Re: 1961 Zenith SFF2570E1 Find and Restoration
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2015, 12:41:53 PM »
When we first saw the console at the restore the radio was on and there was reception. The face plate appeared to have a bulb or two out. Someone else looking at it at the same time tried to play a record. It eventually worked, but clearly everything had gummed up and it took a while for the record to spin at the proper speed. It was Hey Jude if I recall. Sounded ok, but clearly needed work which is why I haven't plugged it in since getting it home and starting the restoration.

As for cleaning the finish, I tried using a similar product to gojo - I forget the name - but it also does not have the pumice. It did a good job of removing the nicotine and the finish lightened somewhat, but it's still cloudy and hard to see the grain. I feel like whatever the original finish coat (polyurethane or lacquer) has faded and become cloudy - presumably from whatever environment it was exposed to for 50+ years. Anyway, the gojo stuff is good for cleaning the finish but it's hard to see the grain and I'm not a fan of the color it's become.

As for the cane grills - I love that they are cane and not cloth. That strikes me as less common which I like. They are quite golden, and if you put your nose up to them you can smell the nicotine. I originally planned to just pull the baffles out completely and scrub away, but as you see they are glued into place with block supports, so the best I could do would be to pull the speakers and scrub away. That might risk getting cleaning fluids/chemicals splattered about between the grill and baffle and might stain or otherwise make a mess. I'll probably just leave them as is and if I decide to refinish the unit mask them and make sure the new stain/finish is a good match. The light colored spots you see on the grills are paint drops that do rub off.

Harbourmaster

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Re: 1961 Zenith SFF2570E1 Find and Restoration
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2015, 02:01:10 PM »
One thing I will say is be careful cleaning the "chrome" faceplate of the tuner.


I did one last year and got a little too aggresive in my quest clean all the smutz off of it, even rubbed off some of the lettering around the controls, and I think it actually looks worse now than when I started.


I just ordered some Kramers Antique Furniture Improver to try on some cane grill-work I have here. I'll be sure to report back on my results after I have tried it out. 
-- Aloha, Ken

No Console Left Behind!

83glt

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Re: 1961 Zenith SFF2570E1 Find and Restoration
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2015, 04:16:39 PM »
One thing I will say is be careful cleaning the "chrome" faceplate of the tuner.

Thanks for the tip! Sadly, it's a little too late.  :-\  I did the exact same thing. One of the first things I did was clean the faceplate. I feel like I didn't have a choice. You can see in the photos there are a couple spots where you can see the difference between the bare shiny chrome around the knobs, and the thick gunky layer of nicotine tar everywhere else. It literally stank as I cleaned it off. Cleaning around the lettering became very difficult and unfortunately there was some loss. I guess I could have left it but it was smelly and gross. I'm sure this was 50 years of cigarette tar. So gross. I'm in the process of figuring out options to fix it with Radio Daze, but it will probably mean decals. Not the end of the world. 

83glt

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Re: 1961 Zenith SFF2570E1 Find and Restoration
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2015, 09:46:48 AM »
Finished the restoration and this unit sounds amazing! Blows my modern stero away by a mile. I've since realized that this is a top of the line model for 1961 with all features offered. Only one other console cost more that year and that was for the Georgian finish or whatever, not any electronic differences.

Two questions:

1) I'd love to find the compatible radial speakers for "surround sound". Anyone happen to have a set kicking around or know where I might find a set?

2) is there a way to connect a tape deck for recording off the console? This has an audio "in" connection only. I have some high end nakamichi equipment that could make killer recordings off this console.

HiFiFun

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Re: 1961 Zenith SFF2570E1 Find and Restoration
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2015, 10:22:18 AM »
Happy Holidays !
Quote
1) I'd love to find the compatible radial speakers for "surround sound". Anyone happen to have a set kicking around or know where I might find a set?

I know now why I kept this set of  Zenith MR-105 radial sound speakers!
Send me a PM with email, and we can talk a deal, if you like.
HiFiFun