Author Topic: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration  (Read 5535 times)

electra225

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Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« on: June 01, 2016, 10:28:04 PM »
Now that I have my garage painting project all done, I should have time to get started on this little stereo.  This is the second from the bottom in my Magnavox collection comparing selling prices when new.  This stereo was about $325 new, plus $35 for an MPX adapter. 

I was hired to help clean up after an auction some years back.  This stereo was a part of that auction.  It failed to get a bid.  It was headed for the dumpster.  I asked if I could just junk it in my pickup.  The auctioneer stated that he could not let me have it free gratis, but that, if I wanted to pay him something for it, I could buy it.  I offered, and he accepted my bid of $1.  I owned myself a Magnavox stereo.

Someone had attempted, for whatever reason, to refinish the cabinet.  There is a large water ring on one of the sliding lids.  The entire instrument is a mess.  I have been using it in my garage since I got it, totally original, down to the dust.  The radio works well.  The changer actually still changes records, but the speed is uneven and it makes lots of racket as the platter turns.  The drive tire is hard and cracked.  This instrument has the "Feather Touch" tone arm.  It has an 88-02-00 amplifier and the little 6-tube tuner (model unknown), the one with two dial strings.  My only concern with operation is that the tuner knob is very hard to turn.  There is no MPX adapter, so I will need to find one of those.  This particular model is one with the tuner at one end of the cabinet and the turntable at the other.  Not horribly handy, but this is the only one I have like that.  The finish color is "NWAL" and it has black grain filler.  The sliding lids are veneered tempered Masonite, versus photofinished.  It appears that the front and sliding lids are darker than the frame.  I'm not sure if this is right or not, but it looks nice like that.  I'm going to do the work downstairs in my garage so I don't have to drag this entire thing up stairs to my bench.  This may take all summer, as I'm sure my wife will find plenty for me to do as well.

If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

Larry H

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2016, 07:50:46 PM »
I look forward to this restoration thread.  That will be a decent looking cabinet when done.  You might get by with wiping it down with Minwax stain the same color.........  Howard's Restor-a-Finish is another good product to use.
--Larry

Harbourmaster

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2016, 09:42:25 PM »
If it was going to stay in the garage you could just paint it to match your tool box and put a Snap On logo on it!
-- Aloha, Ken

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electra225

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2016, 10:31:19 PM »
The only practical choice I have is to do a total refinish.  Somebody partially stripped this cabinet and almost half the grain filler is gone.  I considered something simpler. believe me, but I'm not gonna get that lucky.

Snap-0n red, eh?  I had not thought of that.
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

electra225

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2016, 03:08:41 PM »
I have the stereo on my new table, made just for this project.  I have some disassembly done.  This instrument has the traditional hardwood cabinet, but does not have one thimble full more of "hand-rubbed oil finish" than was absolutely necessary to cover just what of the cabinet that you can see.  They even taped off to the cabinet back.  There is no finish under the back at all.  I have also learned that they put the black grain filler on before the finish, which was sprayed on.  Stain and finish at the same time.  This thing is a real mess as far as the cabinet finish is concerned.  Somebody almost ruined it beyond help.  I have pics, and will post them when I get a chance.
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

electra225

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2016, 11:07:45 PM »
I Googled "Hand-rubbed oil finish" and got all kinds of good advice, none specific to Magnavox.  I'm trying to find out what " oil" was used for the "up to ten coats of hand-rubbed oil finish" that Magnavox used specifically.  My guess is either tung oil or teak oil.  Certainly it was not lacquer.  My furniture refinisher, which is a 50-50 mixture of lacquer thinner and acetone will barely move the old finish.  Denatured alcohol is nasty stuff to work with, but I'll bet that is what I'll need to remove what is left of the old finish.  I do not want to use stripper. 
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

electra225

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2016, 11:32:02 PM »
Here are some pictures of this project so far.

The codes are "61-39" on the tubes.  The 6V6's say "Japan" and are likely Hitachi sourced.  The large speakers are coded "61-35" and the four smaller speakers are coded "61-37".  Using those codes, this instrument was built in the latter part of September, 1961.  The 6CA4 rectifier is coded "61-39, 274" which would make it from the 39th week of 1961, RCA sourced.  The three 6EU7 audio tubes are coded "139, 312" which would make them from the 39th week of 1961, Sylvania sourced.  I have not gotten to the rest of the tubes at this point.

If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

electra225

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2016, 11:44:07 PM »
My wife made me clean the inside of the cabinet before I could take pictures.  "You are not going to post pictures of that filthy thing on my watch!.  People will think we live like beggars."  My wife.  Ms Neat.  I told her you guys EXPECTED it to be dusty and dirty.  She would not hear any argument.  So that is why everything looks fairly clean.  And, I can see the codes better this way.

You can see the black grain filler and places where it does not exist.

If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

electra225

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2016, 11:53:52 PM »
The closest I can find to "NWAL" is "American Walnut".  Regular colors of walnut are too brown, not red enough.  Mahogany is too red.  Cherry is too pink.  I tried mixing walnut with cherry and or mahogany and was not thrilled.  American Walnut most closely matches the front panel, which is in reasonably good shape.  I want to only sand it and put on a new finish.  The rest of the cabinet is a mish-mash of whatever is left over, and the lids are a total disaster.  I'm not sure I can even save them.......

The grille cloth appears in good condition.  It is fairly wavy and needs restretched.  It is felony filthy.  I'm not sure that "Mr. Grillecloth" could clean this stuff.  It looks like generic guitar amp cloth might work acceptably well....

Furniture refinishing is not my kettle of fish.  I have sanded some old radio cabinets down and squirted them with poly, but this is my first real effort at returning a cabinet back to its semi-original state.  We will be taking this little adventure and I will be learning as I go along.   :-\
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

Larry H

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2016, 12:11:13 AM »
Your wife had a good idea there.  It looks a lot better cleaned up.  Looks like the fun is just beginning!!!
--Larry

electra225

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2016, 08:59:49 AM »
Although worrying about grille cloth is a tad precipitous, what would you do, Larry?  It is not rotten, but I'm not sure I can talk my upholstery guy into "fixing" it.  Put it into the dishwasher, maybe?  It is EXTREMELY dirty.  If you look at the picture with the pilot light and the "Magnavox" emblem, there are actually cobwebs between the weaving.   :'(

This instrument should probably be a legitimate candidate for a parts set.  It works so well, I just could not dump it.
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

Larry H

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2016, 12:54:21 PM »
I would probably just replace the cloth.  They make some plastic weave cloth for guitar amps that works well in these sets.  I used some in my Magnavox Berkshire and you wouldn't know it isn't original.  I got a dark solid color burgandy cloth.
--Larry

electra225

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2016, 02:13:57 PM »
Thanks, Larry.  That may be what I do.

I have determined by looking in hidden spots that the cabinet on this instrument is actually two shades of "NWAL."  The front panel and lids are darker than the frame, no doubt about that. 
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

electra225

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2016, 11:10:56 PM »
One end of the cabinet appears more faded than the other.  It is possible that sun damage has occurred at some time.  I'm trying to figure out what is on this cabinet for a finish.  Lacquer thinner and acetone will not float it off.  I do not want to strip the cabinet.  I would like to leave the stain, at least at the start.  If I cannot identify the finish, I may have no choice but to use stripper and start from scratch.  A color picture of this model Magnavox would help, but the only picture I have is in the 1961 brochure and it is black and white.  The finish has to be some type of oil....tung oil, Danish oil, linseed, something like that.
If it ain't broke, call me.  I can break it....

Harbourmaster

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Re: Magnavox 1ST616 Restoration
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2016, 01:53:47 PM »
My best guess is that it is probably Tung Oil and if so your only real choice at achieving an even finish is going to be a complete strip and refinish.   


I recently refinished an old dresser from the early 1900's and after a number of attempts at removing the old finish without destroying the original toning and grain filler it became apparent that the only way to get an acceptable finish was a complete Nuke & Pave!
-- Aloha, Ken

No Console Left Behind!