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If MOST of it ain't boke should i fix it?

Discussion in 'Vintage Analog Gear' started by kmetal, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Or, should i have said TRY and fix it. lol. I recently acquired a Tascam M-30 mixer, 34b reel to reel, and Rs-20 spring reverb unit, for a storage space. I got the whole setup for $100 and bought it in the spot, after checking to see if they fired up. I was glad to see what the setup was going for on flea bay when i got home, in case i don't end up using it much.

    After cleaning the 2" of dust off of the mixer, i a mic/cd player into each channel to confirm that they work. they do. The problem was a staticky sound on all the knobs. so i broke out my contact cleaner and just worked the knobs back and forth until the dust from underneath them came out, and they were silent. This worked on about 3/4 of the mixers knobs, leaving some of them a bit noisey towards the extreme rotations.

    QUESTION: Is it s huge undertaking/take a high level of expertise/worth it, to get these pots cleaned, and quiet. I've done a few system 'rewires' and built a couple studios professionally. However i haven't dabbled yet into finer electronics work. If i had to replace the pots i will learn soldering. From what i can dechipher i would have to slide the knobs off the pots, and unscrew the screws holding the mixer top on.
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Don't know what product you used to clean those pots. Personally, I always use a Deoxit product called FaderLube from Caig Laboratories. Some cleaners can actually do more harm than good, and it also depends upon the construction ofthe pots as to what will work well.
    IMHO, I wouldn't spend much time on that mixer. Those Tascams do not have a good reputation regarding their performance,
    mainly issues with mic pre audio quality, channel EQ, and output headroom. Modern day mixers, even the lesser quality models, will easily outperform the M30 in most instances.
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I got so mad at a Tascam product of that vintage once, that I poured gasoline on it and gave it an undeserved viking funeral at Dog Beach in San Diego. I would rather have hit it with a Willie Pete 40mm but didn't have time to go to Camp Pendelton.

    In the FWIW:
    TASCAM M-30 M30 manual in pdf - Home Recording forums
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    hehe John!

    I got so pissed at a Takamine Acoustic cutaway (real pretty with all the electronic for about $1600.00) but sounded like crap. After ten years of never being satisfied I calmly lifted it like an axe and smashed it into no return. Looked at my wife and she said, looks like I'm going to buy you a new Taylor.

    We've been happy ever since.
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    used the contact cleaner from an auto supply store, forget the brand, but it's surely aresol+alchohol. i didn't remove the knobs yet, so i had limited access to the pots. This mixer isn't my only one, my thinking upon purchase was to use it for it's color. I need to be able to achieve a degraded sound, and want to do it on the way in. that said, i think i'm gonna get rid of it, and put the money/space towards something else. The mixer was surprisingly more clean sounding than i hoped for, and much less upfront than i'd like. Plus the cost of 4, or 8 phantom power units cost more than the mixer is worth. The tape machine is staying for more toying. Thanks for the link, i'm gonna check it out anyway.
  6. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    BE CAREFUL ! ! !
    I have used all kinds of spray cleaners over the years, DEOXIT is the only one to use on audio pots and switches! The alchohol-based cleaners for cars are not good on these, they ruin the "guts" of the pots, being cheap on this can cost you big time down the road...
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Good advice. I will pick up some DETOXIT it after some research. Thanks!!!! Curious tho, as to how acholhol based cleaners can degrade audio pots, and the like. Is it the alchohol itself, Or the additives?
  8. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Contact cleaner is meant to remove oxidation from switch contacts not POTS! Inside the pot there a few types elements:

    *conductive plastic (alcohol reacts with these and the heat cause warping and subsequent non linearities in the resistance of the pot)

    I would suspect you have conductive plastic in there....

    * Wire-wound (Alcohol may eat away slowly at the varnish used to insulate the windings causing shorts)
    *Carbon (not bad on the element itself watch an gasket or sealing materials particularly rubber)
    *Cermet (not bad on the element itself watch an gasket or sealing materials particularly rubber)

    For pot I use Dexoit F5 spray with fine nozzle. For fader I clean with distilled water and a qtip, and dry with filtered air. If I need lubrication I use a tiny bit of faderlube grease and apply a skim coat with a qtip.
  9. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Well put , Link. BTW, I have always been told that , in the case of isopropyl alcohol, its' water content would cause corrosion on metal parts, and is really bad on tape heads, as well.
  10. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Yes sir --Thats why you never use anything but 99% pure isopropyl alcohol
  11. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    DeOxit rocks for cleaning pots and old connectors.

    Alcohol or other more harsh chemicals are likely to wash away the lubricants that are necessary inside the pot. It might sound OK (for a short time), but it won't take much knob turning to destroy the thin conductive traces inside if it's bare metal on metal.
  12. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    The best switch lubricant I have used is Cramolin.
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Didn't Caig merge/takeover/repackage Cramolin into the DeOxit line?
  14. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Not sure Cramolin is red, Deoxit faderlube is blue and DeOxit F5 is clear....could be though...
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Okay, everybody thinks I'm some kind of nutcase. Well, you'd all be correct. However, there is something that I need to share with everybody regarding these noisy potentiometers & switches. I'm going to make a couple of very unbelievable controversial suggestions. Now in this respect, for a change, I'm not joking.

    Having been in the pro audio manufacturing business with Scully, API, MCI, ITI, UPI (I'm only kidding about the ITI, UPI). Although most controls and all of the switches do not come in with any kind of material that touches the contacts, within, with any kind of chemicals or lubricants. Contacts are not lubricated! Don't lubricate contacts! Albeit, with most faders there is frequently some kind of lubrication on the mechanical moving parts. But nothing on the contacts. And the only kind of spray contact cleaner that could be effectively used is now effectively unavailable, Freon. No residue & completely inert. So inert that one can spray the living daylights out of any components even with the circuit active. We don't have any cleaners like that anymore. Everything now has an electrically interactive element to it so most of these you don't want to use on any equipment that is switched on.

    Now here's the horrifying part. My recommendation with noisy volume controls & switches is to wash them. Wash them almost like your hands with soap and water. Although you don't use soap in the typical sense of soap. Completely restoring a 36 input 1970s Neve console is no easy task. The difficulty is ramped up especially when dealing with something that is so metric in a nonmetric society. Specialty switches that are no longer available, metric volume control shafts, etc.. Now the process I'm going to describe may also be doable even if you can't afford my suggested item? In my younger years in the 1970s, I was fortunate enough to be directly involved in manufacturing of some of our legendary analog tape recorders & audio consuls. Many of the circuit boards in fact most all in today's manufacturing world, utilized wave soldering. This is where entire circuit boards are basically dragged through a vat of molten solder & still by hand. To make the solder flow properly a rosin-based flux is utilized. Well this stuff is nasty, dark, sticky and stays that way if you don't clean it off. So everything that you currently own has generally been washed in some manner. Whether it has been washed with inert Freon, other chemicals or just plain water. I had the advantage of having had access to and still currently own a tube driven, early 1960s vintage Bendix " Ultra-Sonic" cleaner. This small 3 ft.³ metal box had an even smaller stainless steel sink. Having investigated some easily available chemical cleaners back when I worked for Scully, we discovered that certain popular cleaners worked better than others. We found the brand name of Fantastic (its original formulation manufactured by the originator Teksize, later Dow Chemical, now SC Johnson) not only removed contaminants, sticky lubrications, dust, we also discovered it had this ability to bleach aluminum knobs & recorder deck plates. One must only be concerned about specific parts that cannot survive moisture and there aren't many. One might want to try and fill up their bathroom tub or basement slop sink with some kind of grease cutting cleaner or dishwashing liquid. The attempt here is only to make the depths of said chemical & water bath to only completely submerge the volume controls and switches and not necessarily the entire device. This technique is being utilized now by a lot of other guys rebuilding old Neve & API desks. And when you're going to spend that much money for an audio console even used, you wouldn't want to kill it just by giving it a bath. The important thing here is to remember that if one should use any kind of liquid that can conduct, you're going to have to let your device dry out for as long as a week or more. There are those parts that cannot survive a washing. At the MCI factory in Fort Lauderdale Florida they used a water soluble flux and all of their circuit boards went into 3 of your family kitchen KitchenAid brand dishwashers!! They only had a couple of water sensitive capacitors that were not on the circuit boards and added after by hand. After washing my Neve, which by the way was a process that took me much more than a month to complete given the over 100 modules, virtually every switch & every potentiometer came back working virtually like new. I turned a friend on at Maryland's largest recording studio & one of our nation's largest recording schools when they were going to get rid of their original rare gold colored API board because it had gotten so intermittent and parts can not physically all be replaced. Well my chief maintenance engineer friend dumped entire 550A's into their ultrasonic cleaner with specifically made ultrasonic cleaner chemicals. They were completely overjoyed! He told me not only does the console work virtually like new, he believed it actually sounded better. Now that sounding better part...? That's the only thing I'm having problems with. Although I believe that is possible since any kind of contaminants on any contact points can have an insulating/resistive effect. I really don't think it was that. I actually think that they may have caused some shorting out in some of their Transformers. They might be more direct coupled than they realize now? When I worked for Scully, we have a large vat stainless steel slop sink with a pool of heated Freon with a high pressure wand like your use of the self-serve car wash. I dropped an entire dirt, dust, and gooey mess REVOX A77 that I got for $50 into it. Needless to say the president of the company that owned Scully wasn't happy to hear what I was doing since everybody on the production floor, all the managers, etc. were all running around laughing and talking about it. One of the reasons they were all laughing about it was because after washing the machine (this is not an incorrect use of English as I'm NOT talking about a "washing machine"), I had it on the test bench. Not only was it on the test bench but after I got finished milling the rust off of the capstan shaft, with a razor blade, along with a rather hardened rubber pinch roller, adjusting the servo to bring the machine back up to speed since so much of the capstan shaft had a rusty layer shaved off with a razor blade, it still exceeded the specifications of a brand-new Scully 280B! Now this is not hearsay. I did this. It works. It works very well. Of course the stupid friend of mine, after telling this story to, decided to try and fix their dirty keyboard on their nice expensive HP laptop. Unfortunately, Terry didn't wait but a few minutes to let it dry out. Which of course it didn't. And therefore, it didn't do anything again except LEAP into a trashcan.

    So remember even when it comes to your equipment as well as recording, cleanliness is next to godliness even if you are an agnostic like me. And that goes for both your recordings & equipment itself. Spray cleaners which had been used extensively by NBC maintenance on my console was merely a couple of day Band-Aid and nothing more. So I really don't believe that most of these awful spray contact cleaners. All of the manufacturers of the switches & volume control manufacturers, which I got to speak to on the phone when you are quality control manager for a major manufacturer, will tell you there is no lubricants or anything on the contacts, anywhere.

    Just remember boys and girls you don't wash anything electrical that is plugged into anything electrical. What people generally don't know and history is that when they invented Freon, the demonstration for this miracle chemical was to demonstrate its completely inert qualities. This was done with a giant aquarium filled with Freon. A television that was turned on and operational was then lowered into what looks like a tank full of water. Everybody knows what happens to a television when it's on if you put into your bathtub! Lo and behold, the television remained operational. So this is another reason why they also called having your clothes " drycleaned". Your clothes were literally being washed in a washing machine with Freon instead of water. Other chemicals or utilize this day that try to mimic Freon but nothing ever will. Better we should kill the ozone layer so we can all get better tans since we spend so much time in those dark little boxes we call control rooms.

    Now I have not described my entire process in my precise technique of washing a Neve. This required numerous passes in the Fantastic chemical bath. Numerous removals during the bathing process to work the switches & volume controls. And then the numerous multiple passes with clean water along with the above technique. Then a week's worth of drying. Of course the anticipation that nags at you to plug it into see if it works can yield a blown up piece of junk if you are impatient. Forget about your hair blow dryer, you might want to use that also but you still have to wait the week out.

    If anybody wants to discuss this with me in more depth further I am happy to since I don't want you to destroy your own equipment and there are certain things to consider when one does something as radical as this. You will have to lubricate some things but you must also use the right lubricants. For instance, Penny & Giles recommends only a drop of pure silicone. Try and find yourself some pure silicone. You're not going to. But Penny & Giles will sell you little bottles of it. All other silicone lubricants that we can get here all have some mineral oil elements in them which you don't want. That stuff will help to attract & capture airborne contaminants, any mineral-based lubricant will. So before everybody starts getting De-Oxit happy or any kind of other aerosol ambitions, FUGETABOUTIT.

    Remember to listen to your mother
    Mx. Remy Ann David

    It brings a new meaning to the lyric " I'm going to wash that, man, right out of my hair".
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  16. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Contact chemicals like Cramolin protect the switch by coating in a thin film. This protects for oxidation and provides so surface lubrication. It is not a cleaner.
  17. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    tut tut tut

    You don't want anything on the contacts but clean. Anything that creates a film later becomes an insulator. So I highly disagree with that. Fine in theory but in practice a losing proposition. Everybody is trying to make money on something and having the convenience of spray contact cleaners is like relying upon the drive-through at McDonald's for all your sustenance. It doesn't make sense and it's not healthy. That's why you need those fruits and vegetables to clean you out otherwise you end up looking like you are in possession of 1200 1/4 pounders. I mean occasionally, we all need Band-Aids. Unfortunately, Band-Aids rarely work on large wounds. On vintage equipment, you're dealing with large wounds. I have my Neve console because all of those spray cleaners and other crap was utilized by the maintenance technicians at NBC-TV ad nausea. After a while, the console was no longer reliable enough to use on-air and no spray contact cleaner would make it reliable. It would for a day or two. It's just hard to spray every freaking thing in a large frame console all at once. But you can't rely upon that inconsistency. So you either have to replace parts that can virtually not be replaced or you have to figure out how to clean it up. You don't clean your room by just covering up the garbage. You remove the garbage. I'm describing how to take out the trash. You're covering up garbage. Of course, some things are just completely impractical to do and one is left with crucial decisions & financial situations to consider. So when you need that quick fix that lasts about as long as creating the fix, its drive-through. That's fine once in a while but not as an overall solution to a continuing problem. Then of course some parts fail mechanically and the only thing your spray will do is pollute the environment in those situations. And of course we will have to deal with those kinds of catastrophic failures from time to time. No spray necessary. Or is that nose spray?

    Mx. Remy Ann David

    Go to your room. No TV tonight until...
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  18. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    it does not insulate. And yes there are many snake oils out there , Cramolin works well for me. Ask you techs at work.....
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    As if nobody picked up a can of that stuff at NBC and tried to keep this console going. I was there, I was using the board, we all tried to keep it going in that kind of conventional way. Band-Aids all of them. Not a long-term fix. But then you probably didn't use this console for almost 20 years like I did at NBC before I purchased it. Every spray contact cleaner on the planet was used including your favorite. I'm not saying not to use these they have their place. But when you need to make something reliable, it requires some actual effort and that's what the younger generation is missing. Everything has to be convenient, fast, quick, everything has to be fast. You have important rock 'n roll to record and no time to waste on maintenance so spray it. It's not easy to clean some of this crap, it actually takes work. It's okay, you can fix it in software. Right.

    Underarm deodorant spray works well
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  20. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    LOL! That had to be one of the most satisfying crunches of your life. I hope you grabbed a snickers afterwards!

    YouTube - Snickers Cruncher - Telemarketer

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