Author Topic: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console  (Read 2558 times)

Larry H

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A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« on: October 31, 2014, 12:55:27 AM »
Guys, I got the bug real bad in 2009 for an RCA Victor New Orthophonic console.  I saw a Craigslist ad for an RCA model HFP over in west central Oklahoma, right on Interstate 40, so I called the guy and made arrangements to drive over to look at it.  He wanted $75 as I recall for it.

I arrived shortly after noon on April 22, 2009 and stopped at a convenience store that had a McDonalds in it and I called him and told him I was there and for him to meet me in the parking lot.  He showed up in an old station wagon and said for me to follow him to his place.  The guy led me down a dirt road that became like a cow trail, and I thought, "I don't know if I want to go in there or not." Eventually the road became just wide enough for one vehicle, and there was no way you could meet another vehicle on that trail.  But I continued to follow him, and he led me out to his barn, and he had the RCA Victor New Orthophonic sitting out in the cow pasture with a long extension cord run to it. Guys, how many of you have seen a a record player sitting out in a cow pasture? I got out of my car and saw cow turds all over the place.  That was the strangest thing I've ever seen.

The case and grillcloth weren't bad, but the RCA changer was the nastiest, filthiest thing I've ever seen... it looked like it had been sitting in his barn for the past 20 years. He put an Elvis Presley LP on it, and I noticed that it seemingly took forever for the tonearm to move over to the record.  It was obvious that the changer mechanism needed a full servicing to work right.  However, after a few minutes I lifted the record up and on the very top of the changer, someone had taken an engraving pen and inscribed their social security number on it.  I asked him, "Who did this?"  He replied, "this RCA was my grandfather's set so he probably did it."  I lost practically all interest in the set right then and there.  I haggled with him for 15 minutes, and would have bought it anyway if he had taken the $25 I offered him, but he wouldn't come off his asking price. I told him I'd go get something to eat and call him before I left town. I called him and told him I'd give no more than $30 for it, and he wouldn't take it, so I headed back home to Little Rock.

This was actually my first wild goose chase in search of a phonograph console. This cow pasture model was as barn fresh as they come.  I'll never forget that experience, and I immediately began an internet search to find a better HFP model RCA Victor to purchase. 

It wasn't a totally wasted trip as there were some antique malls over in that direction that I wanted to visit anyway. The end result was that I got the dog up at 6 a.m. that morning and we made a 12 hour voyage to Oklahoma and back with nothing whatsoever to show for it.  I didn't even find any record players in the antique malls either.   :(

I suppose one lives and learns. I never thought I'd live to see the day when I'd find a 1950s RCA Orthophonic console record player sitting out in a cow pasture.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2014, 01:01:20 AM by rcavictorland »
--Larry

Harbourmaster

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2014, 01:16:07 AM »
That's a fine story Larry but it kinda smells of cow patties.... if ya know what I mean.   ;)
-- Aloha, Ken

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Larry H

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2014, 01:22:26 AM »
In early June, 2009, I found the RCA model HFP I had been looking for.  It was on eBay for $19.99, plus shipping. It is the same identical set as the cow pasture model in Oklahoma.  This set came from the RCA factory painted in black lacquer.  The console arrived a week later by U.S. mail Parcel Post, and it was literally just "thrown in a box" and shipped.  There was no packing whatsoever inside the box, and I marveled that it could arrive in this great a condition. 

The eBay seller assured me the console worked, so I plugged it in and fired it up.  I put on a test record, and to my amazement, the changer worked fine and the console sounded really good.  I played it for about two hours and I didn't detect any problems with either the amp or the changer.  This console has a 5-tube transformer operated power amp with push-pull 6V6-GT outputs, a 6x9 inch woofer and two 3 1/2 inch tweeters mounted on angled horns.

The next morning I played another record.  It played the first cut of the record just fine, but just when it was about to play the second cut, the bass dropped completely out and it sounded like a tin can.  I knew then it would need a total recapping to sound good again and to continue to work good.  I recapped it, serviced the changer as best I could (I was a real novice at servicing these multi-speed changers back then), and she was good to go.  It didn't come with the short wooden legs that the cow pasture model had, but I eventually found a set of legs for it.  Here's a couple pictures:
« Last Edit: October 31, 2014, 01:24:46 AM by rcavictorland »
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Larry H

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2014, 01:25:44 AM »
That's a fine story Larry but it kinda smells of cow patties.... if ya know what I mean.   ;)
Yeah, that entire trip just kinda stunk.   :'(
--Larry

Larry H

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2014, 01:41:48 AM »
I sold that black HFP a year later, and figured that would be the last HFP I'd ever own.  Then, just before Christmas, 2011, while visiting my daughter and son-in-law in Texas, we all went antique malling in Ft. Worth and I didn't find anything but a few restored RCA 45 players that were way overpriced.  We decided to visit a large record store down the street.  I immediately spotted another HFP that was in pretty rough condition in the record store.  I asked the owner how much he wanted for it, and he quoted me $15, so that console followed me home after Christmas.

I had planned to just part it out and set the empty cabinet out by the curb.  Then, I decided to dig out my mahogany stain retouch pen and see if I could improve the looks of the cabinet.  The more I retouched, the better the thing looked.  It started to look real good after I retouched all the flea bites, and after going over it with Restor-a-Finish, it looked darned good.  I then decided to keep that one, restore the electronics and changer, and resell it.

Here's some pictures of the poor ole cabinet after I received it (it looked far worse than these pictures show it).

--Larry

Larry H

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2014, 01:45:46 AM »
Here is the finished $15 mahogany HFP. It turned out looking much better than I originally thought possible.



« Last Edit: October 31, 2014, 01:47:19 AM by rcavictorland »
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Pat L

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2014, 11:04:55 PM »
Larry, you have a magic touch! You just know how to make these instruments beautiful.
You could probably put a shine on those cow pies out in that pasture if you had to  ;D  But seriously, that's a great story. My guess is you still haven't come across your last HFP. Pat

Larry H

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2014, 12:48:10 AM »
Larry, you have a magic touch! You just know how to make these instruments beautiful.
You could probably put a shine on those cow pies out in that pasture if you had to  ;D  But seriously, that's a great story. My guess is you still haven't come across your last HFP. Pat
The HFP isn't a console I want to collect, since it is really nothing more than a wooden box.  However, if I find another one on the cheap, I'll pick it up, restore it and resell it.  I got $200 for each of the other HFP's on Craigslist locally. 
« Last Edit: November 01, 2014, 12:50:00 AM by rcavictorland »
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Larry H

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2014, 01:03:53 AM »
The HFP actually was a part of RCA's "modular series" of phonographs for 1958 and 1959 (the 1959 Victrola was a different model number and was stereo).  Matching furniture was available for the Victrola, a matching speaker system, and a television.  Maybe it was the world's first entertainment center.  The bottom picture has custom grill cloth.  I like the way the furniture lets you vary how you display the various components.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2014, 01:11:36 AM by rcavictorland »
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Larry H

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2014, 01:06:49 AM »
In 1959, RCA installed a stereo changer and amp in a cabinet very similar to the HFP, added a second speaker system for the other channel, and RCA called it the "stereo twins."  I came close to buying a wonderful example of the "stereo twins" at an antique mall over in Alabama, pictured in the bottom photo.  I was making plans to go over to Alabama to get the set, then another console came up that I liked better.

« Last Edit: November 01, 2014, 04:59:03 PM by rcavictorland »
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Harbourmaster

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2014, 11:19:08 AM »
Those Stereo Twins are pretty groovy, they look like a couple of speakers without even a hint that there are components lurking inside them.

What sort of specs did these guys have Larry?
-- Aloha, Ken

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Larry H

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2014, 11:53:47 AM »
Those Stereo Twins are pretty groovy, they look like a couple of speakers without even a hint that there are components lurking inside them.

What sort of specs did these guys have Larry?
I have been unable to even find a model number for this set, and don't have a clue about the electronics inside.  I'd like to know the specs too.
--Larry

Bill

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Re: A "Cow Pasture" RCA Victor Mono Console
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2017, 09:30:35 PM »
Hi Larry,

I know this is an old topic but I was just looking at some of the older stuff and came across this one.  When I was a kid my parents purchased the exact RCA Module you show.  Base, record storage, TV and New Orthophonic record player.  It was in mahogany.  Base was painted gold. TV was in a wood look metal box. It had the same changer and controls and the same stereo/mono slide switch.   I was not sure what year they purchased it but your story has now told me.  There's must have been 1958.  My Dad passed away in 1959 of brain cancer.  He loved music, played the drums and would drum to all the big band records.  He got to enjoy the RCA Module Unit before he died.  We all did.  Thanks for helping me remember a part of my past.

Bill