Author Topic: Console repair (not refinish!) costs  (Read 582 times)

Motorola Minion

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Console repair (not refinish!) costs
« on: November 04, 2019, 09:49:11 AM »
Hello , fellow tube technicians! I need to bounce an idea on repair costs, subject to forces of location and travel, about just what is included. As a side-occupation, of course.

A friend of mine moved to a townhouse from a spec/development house, downsizing his collection before moving of course. I am presently in possession of his RCA SHF-1 (all 3 bulky pieces) for repairs. He has a SS Packard Bell RPC-66 (and a new room for it) that I restored 2 years ago in exchange for a uber-blitz-blank (clean!) Telefunken Console, which I have not really opened up yet :-[.

The same friend also has a Silvertone, picture below, that he is taking to his local guy for repairs. ??? 8) I was really looking fw to the Warwick-made Sears and told him to bring it with the SHF, even doing it for the holidaze, but he could not fit it in his m-van. Now, Im obsessed to see what is included from his local tech and what it costs. :P Is this viable in a much less-metro-y area, lots of questions here.
 
While the Silvertone is a modest set, his guy IS closer to the Washington DC metro where the right furniture commands big $$$, possibly more if restored and working. Worse yet, this repairman may be terribly busy while I have the SHF-1 and RP-205(?) fully operating (minus the R2R ;) thank god) just over the winter, hopefully.

Now thequestion for my fellow technicians and HiFi nuts:

Will the Silvertone cost more to make functional, reliable and safe (like double) than say, a modest suitcase player with the very similar electronics and restoration effort?  I'm thinking radio alignment, handling and storage aside, is there a premium cost for MCM delights that are simply "wurf" more $$$ ??? ::)



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Dave

Bill

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Re: Console repair (not refinish!) costs
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2019, 02:46:08 PM »
Hey Dave,

That Silvertone is nice looking.  It kind of has that German/European look to it.  Definitely MCM.  Does your friend want the Silvertone restored to sell or keep?  MCM in my area will bring moderately big bucks, more if restored of course.  I can't imagine what it might bring in the DC area.  I guess to answer your question, MCM cabinets will sell faster than a portable. At least around here.  There are portables that stay on Craig's list for ever, and the MCM move out fairly quickly.  I find it similar when visiting antique stores.  Portables hang around, MCM console don't last long.  I hope this helps!

Bill

Motorola Minion

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Re: Console repair (not refinish!) costs
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2019, 02:12:17 PM »
Bill,  That helps encourage me to focus efforts on large pieces. At least you can add aux inputs to make them more versatile. Portables often have nice changers that can be used to upgrade a console with a missing original.

Portables are always welcome for repairs but yes, they sit on CL and do not sell even for $25 which is odd, if you consider the alternative modern portables.

The Silvertone is not going to be sold, he is all about its appearance. I did tell him it would not be worth a total of purchase AND restoration costs, especially his time spent rubbing out the finish after a few coats of lacquer.

BTW - The Movers yanked the cord right out of his PB >:(, and he is seeing if he can reverse the damage, but I will probably need to see it again.
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Dave

Bill

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Re: Console repair (not refinish!) costs
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2019, 07:14:34 AM »
Dave,

I'm glad it helped!  It's easy to get discouraged, at least for me, in this hobby.  I can change parts all day long, it's the diagnosing that I still have trouble with.  I tired old brain has trouble understanding how things work.  But, I just keep plugging along.  ;) :)

The movers pulled the power cord out of the chassis.  I don't think I would want those movers again, nor would I recommend them to anyone.

Bill

electra225

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Re: Console repair (not refinish!) costs
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2019, 02:15:11 PM »
They ASK big money on ebay for portable stereos and record players.  I'm not sure they actually GET the big money.  I agree with Bill.  A nice console not only sounds better, but it will wear better with time.  I get all kinds of compliments on my old Magnavox stuff, even if people think they are side stands instead of an old stereo! 
I don't need Google.  My wife says she knows everything.

Motorola Minion

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Re: Console repair (not refinish!) costs
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2019, 03:31:31 PM »
Bill has about the best portable RP with that Motorola Beast-1000. I have worked on enough equipment to realize there are easy fixes and very involved ones. The pay scale is not kind if you do too good a job either.

Just a few hours spent on a friend's '67 RCA VJP-98 stereo portable luggable, for which he could easily get $100, seems like work I can live with. If not for all the other vintage stuff he gave me, the repair bill would have been $65. If he had paid $35 for this portable, that breaks even and not worth if you're just going to sell it. He is keeping it - it was a family heirloom with a story.

Triple the hours were spent on a '63 tube Zenith MP500, for which I charged a modest $200 for repairs. Bought for $60 at an antique co-op, it held no appeal for the owner other than the unique style of this console and a desire to play records again. The power transformer was toast but I had another, the tuner-preamp needed the usual caps and OOT resistors replaced. The V-M 2g changer alone took all the usual parts including a rebuilt idler pulley, and the cleaning and lube taking double the time than would an RCA or average Magnavox changer. If sold locally, $225 would be reasonable, if you could get that.

I guess you can only charge what seems reasonable but you cannot low-ball it, assuming doing a less than thorough repair results in a callback >:(, well-deserved if you know better.
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Dave

electra225

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Re: Console repair (not refinish!) costs
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2019, 04:59:33 PM »
I quit doing repairs for other people when I got jammed up behind a guitar amp 20 years ago.  I have taken in a few very select jobs for people who want to be reasonable.  How much you charge is not the final arbiter of a successful repair.  How long is stays gone is the thing.  I don't want the lifetime guarantee routine, either.  I have my "clientele" sign the same agreement I had when I restored a car.  I point out safety considerations, point out that many original components are still in use and can fail without warning.  And, finally, the "client" understands and agrees that what I am repairing belongs to him.  I have a "crack" warranty.  As soon as it goes over the crack outside the garage door, the warranty has expired.  We work together to negate any misunderstandings and to find a reasonable resolution to any disagreements.  So far, so good.


I charge $30 a tube, plus hard parts, to work on tube devices.  Hard parts are knobs, speakers, transformers, that kind of thing.  The $30 per tube covers labor, caps, resistors, small amounts of wiring, light bulbs, stuff like that.  If you need a tube, that's a hard part.  My way is not the most consumer-friendly way, but my main goal is to save old stuff while not being responsible for fixing "stupid" or being subject to a lifetime warranty.  I try to scare people off with a ridiculous price.  If they are still breathing, we go from there.  I don't charge the ridiculous price, by the way.  I give them a "worst case" scenario with emphasis on "worst".  If price scares someone off, I figure I'm better off.  I fix it the way I think it should be fixed, not how the customer wants it.  I learned a long time ago, that if I only do half a job, I still get ALL the grief when it backs up on me.


I quoted a guy with two Zenith console radios $1000 to fix them, after I told him I did not work on Zenith for any amount of money.  He laid the cash on my bench!  I got them fixed, they stayed gone, so I got lucky.  I won't do that again.  I believe the final bill was less than $400.  I had fixed a '53 Buick radio for him and had done one of my dual-voltage automotive electrical systems for him.  He brought me the two Zeniths as part of his "thanks".   ;) ;) :) :)
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Motorola Minion

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Re: Console repair (not refinish!) costs
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2019, 11:40:14 AM »
Music-producing equipment scares me. I would do a guitar amp only for a friend with no expectations other than safety and function. Most of the people I know with this equipment do their own repairs and I only just hear about them.

Table radios can often be found on CL for $30-40 locally, but only after someone did the repairs. I know of at least 3 sellers, and its only because of the excess supply of radios and a desire to preserve and move them along to new owners rather than accumulate. It seems to be a non-profit operation even if its a thorough cleaning and a few caps in an AA5. The only way someone would spend over $100 on a table radio is for an heirloom that had to be Concours-perfect, including OEM parts and even finishes.

Even if you can fix anything, you should know your personal limits. Even juke boxes and SS receivers/turntables belong to certain types of customers who are willing to pay the rate while vintage televisions are best tackled by their owners as you will never be able to recoup that time. I may look into an agreement before taking a TV restore job. I only trade TV's with my other TV-servicing friends who are all 2-6 hours away.

I get $20 and hour plus parts, because Id rather use time to fix my own stuff and do 3 jobs a year maybe. It will vary between $30 for a basic AA5 to $300+ for a console radio of any kind, as time need is similar.

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Dave

electra225

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Re: Console repair (not refinish!) costs
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2019, 05:55:55 PM »
TV is still above my pay grade, so fixing one for someone else would be out of the question for me at this time.  TV repair might actually be the "safest" from a customer satisfaction standpoint.  People who owned an old TV would just be thrilled that someone would be willing to help them out.  Audio of any kind is not something I'd mess with for somebody else.  The guy with the guitar amp could "hear" the fact that whatever I did "killed"  his sound.  What kind of sound could a P-P 50L6 amp have, exactly?  Probably sounded like TWO clock radios on at once?  Audiophools can "hear" the difference in rectifiers and coupling caps, and black plate/gray plate output tubes.  Then the getters.  You gotta have certain getters.  Bilgewater, I say.  Life is too short.  Let that nonsense be somebody else's concern.   ::) ;)
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Motorola Minion

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Re: Console repair (not refinish!) costs
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2019, 12:46:00 PM »
Amen! I will not deal much with the folks who are "educated" about getters, black plates and such. The few customers I have are grateful for anyone in lower east Pennsyl-tucky that still knows where to get tubes, to make something merely work reliably again.

I can tell you one thing, many pieces of gear (and my worn ears) cannot tell the difference between tubes. I verified this with a SE 6BQ5 Zenith amp that needed new tubes or at the ey least its original Amperex-sourced ones to sound good. I very similar RCA amp of the same vintage seemed to sound as good on a tired Sylvania as a new EL84M.















































































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Dave