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Steve Gifford

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  1. One pair of vintage Acoustic Research AR-3 speakers. All drivers are original and function perfectly. Capacitors and potentiometers have been replaced and original plastic grill and fabric have been replaced with period-correct saran material from Canada and reproduction brass emblems and "3" pins. Cabinets are original but were heavily scratched and gouged so have been sanded down, oiled and urethaned. The result is slightly darker and glossier than original. The finish is not perfect but is a far cry better than when they were rescued from the back of a pickup truck headed for Goodwill! The sound though is stunning. Jazz, blues, instruments and vocals have a presence and reality that makes it seem as if they are in the room with you. Anyone seriously considering these is welcome to come audition them. Cash only, pick-up only in Oxford. Price is firm, I am in no hurry to sell. Feel free to call or text Steve at 812-215-9751 with questions. For some reason I could not get pictures to upload so here is a link to my ad on Craigslist-Cincinnati that has some photos: https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/ele/d/oxford-acoustic-research-ar-3-speakers/6916322763.html AR3 AR 3 AR-3a AR3a AR 3a
  2. Good question! Going back to the beginning of this whole story, I am not an audiophile and knew nothing about these speakers prior to stumbling onto them in the back of my friend's pickup truck headed for Goodwill. I do however enjoy learning new things and am somewhat mechanically inclined from several years spent in automotive engineering so I thought I would give restoration of these beasts a try. Other than struggling a bit with the finish as mentioned above, I am very happy with the way they turned out and with how they sound. I also now have a much deeper appreciation for their history and the part they played in the history of audio speaker design. I have learned a lot through the process about things from capacitors and resistance to types of wood and the differences between polyurethanes and lacquers. For me, the process and the learning were the primary goals, not the finished speakers themselves. With that said, I am finding that even now as I listen to them, I am still learning! A couple of examples: When I first finished them and brought them up from the basement where I had been working I put them on top of the bookshelves in our living room about eye-level with the mid-ranges. They sounded very nice and crisp but not as full and rich as they had when I tested them in the basement. After a week or so of listening to them like this, I read up some more on the ideal speaker placement and how the dynamics of the sound can change depending on the height and angle of the speakers, their placement within the room and the surface they are sitting on. With this info, I moved the speakers to the floor, spread them out a bit more towards the corners of the room and tried them again. Holy smokes! The speakers suddenly came alive with such a deep and rich tone that they didn't sound like the same set of speakers! The mids and highs that had dominated the sound before still remain crisp and clear but are now more appropriately balanced with the deep, rich bass. So then I began to wonder what else am I missing in the overall listening experience? How does the amplifier affect things? More reading and another conclusion... the Onkyo Integra receiver I am running the speakers with is only rated for 6 ohm speakers @ 85 watts/channel. My uncle recently retired as the president and owner a large audio engineering company in St. Louis so I got in touch with him and learned more about nominal vs peak power, THD, damping factors and other characteristics that can strongly influence the sound. The outcome... he is sending me a Sony TA-N80ES that will run the speakers at 270 watts/channel at 4 ohms with at damping factor of 100 and a THD of 0.004% which should provide a much cleaner sound and control the woofer much more accurately, especially at higher volumes. I get it this Thursday and can't wait to hear the difference! I know this is a long answer to a short question, but everyone that contributes to this site comes at things each from their own angle. I do not "need" these speakers but the more I learn about them the more I appreciate them and am in less of a hurry to unload them as I continue to learn and enjoy. - Steve
  3. Since this is the first speaker I have refinished, I really don't have anything to compare it to as far as veneer thickness. If you are interested though, Glenn has a great section on veneer repair which shows several pictures of pieces of cut veneer. Here's the link:
  4. That is fascinating to know the chemistry behind the different finishes and makes a lot of sense after having used the polyurethane and witnessed some of these characteristics first hand. Had I known I probably would have gone different route. The thing that I really enjoy though is the learning process and gaining some of the knowledge from everyone that has contributed to these pages. Thanks for the chemistry lesson! - Steve
  5. Thanks again for all the input! So here's what I did today... Rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater by sanding them down and starting over again, I sanded each side down with 220 grit with the grain in areas where there were obvious and ugly drips, brush marks and orange peel. I then carefully but thoroughly sanded the entire cabinet down with a 320 grit sponge. This flattened out 90% of the surface imperfections but left the sheen dull and ugly, but very smooth. I then took a 3M Very Fine buffing pad along with some automotive swirl remover paste and with an orbital buffer on low speed buffed out each side until the dull finish became buttery smooth and clear. The results were very interesting... although still much glossier and slightly darker than original, the process brought out some beautiful, almost iridescent grain characteristics of the wood. Though not a typical look, if you see them in person and walk around and let the light bounce off the grain at different angles it is simply stunning. It is very hard to capture in pictures but I attached a few to try and show the effect. Happy accident... One of the reasons I was strongly considering flipping them is first, I don't really need them, but mostly because I was so disgusted with the finish and frustrated with the process I was about done and ready to let someone else take a stab at them. After reworking them, my wife even commented how pretty they were and nice they looked on the bookshelf. With that said, I think they are now going to live here for a while. Thanks again for all the feedback and suggestions! Steve
  6. I'm glad you mentioned that. Of the entire process of working on these speakers, the finish has been the most frustrating. I brushed on each coat, waiting 3-4 hours between each coat and lightly sanding with 220 between each coat. No matter what I do though, I end up with brush marks, orange peel and areas where the finish is thicker than others. After reading up on how to solve the problem I let the polyurethane cure for an entire week and then sanded lightly with 220 then 320 and then buffed with a superfine 3M pad. This gave a very uneven gloss when I was done so I put another coat on and gave up. It is still bugging me and I am considering sanding it down and starting over again but I don't really have a plan that would result in anything different than what I already have. I have even considered sending them to someone who does antique furniture restoration and letting them take a stab at it. If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears! Thanks, Steve
  7. Thanks Sam! I also uploaded a video to YouTube if you want to hear them. Just ignore the goofy guy talking (me) and focus on the speakers!
  8. I just restored a pair of AR-3s with the DF7002 material and I am very happy with how they turned out. The difference between the two is the DF7002 is white and the DF7022 is cream and from the sample photos on the website seems to have a slightly tighter weave but you may want to contact them to confirm. Regardless of which color you go with be aware that one yard will be enough material to two grills. I ordered two yards and still have over a yard left over. I would be happy to ship it to you for the cost of shipping if you would like it. Just send me a message with your address. - Steve
  9. These speakers were given to me by a friend of mine at church who had them in the back of his truck destined for Goodwill. The cabinets were fairly rough and the grille fabric had been replaced but everything else was original. I had never restored a set of speakers before but thanks to the encouragement of Roy, Glenn, Kent and others on this site, I have spent the last 6 weeks restoring them and am very happy with how they turned out. Here are a few of the details: Year: 1963-4 Make: Acoustic Research Model: AR-3 Serial #s: C21604 & C21611 Restoration summary: - Original dual 24uF and 6uF paper capacitor replaced with new Solen 24uF 400V and Dayton Audio 6.2uF 250V Precision Audio Capacitors from Parts Express - Original 16 Ohm / 25 Watt wire-wound potentiometers were corroded beyond repair and were replaced with modern reproduction wire-wound potentiometers of the same size and specifications from captainfantastic07 on eBay. - Cabinets sanded and hand-rubbed with Watco Danish Oil (Dark Walnut) and finished with four coats of Minwax satin polyurethane. - Woofer perimeter and bolt holes resealed with speaker sealing caulk from Parts Express - Original plastic speaker grill frames replaced with more durable 1/4" Masonite for easier installation and removal. - Masonite speaker grille frames spray painted flat black before wrapping with fabric to prevent frame being seen through fabric. - Reproduction speaker grille saran material from Q-Components in Canada. - 3M automotive trim adhesive tape followed by ¼” heavy duty staples to prevent slipping of material or fraying of fabric edges - Reproduction “AR Inc” and "3" pin from jKent Attached are a few pictures so you can see before and after and some of the steps along the way. I plan on enjoying them for a while and then will probably try selling them locally before putting on eBay to avoid the hassle and potential damage associated with shipping. Thank you to Roy, Glenn and Kent for all of your input and for the wealth of information everyone else has contributed to this site! If you have any questions or comments, please let me know! Thanks, Steve
  10. Thank you for the feedback and the link to the pots on eBay. I read all the information and understand now why it may be better to replace them. I ordered four of the eBay ones and will use them but willl hang on to the old ones in case somebody ever once all the original parts. Thanks again!
  11. Glenn, Thank you for the info and all of the documentation the the Stopped for TP post. I finally started on dismantling one of the speakers last week. As you suspected, both pots were heavily corroded and some of the material at the point where the tab touches the spring has dissolved. I did clean them up fairly well though, got some dielectric grease and they both make good contact and test well now. Pictures are attached. I also inspected the woofers and other than a few minor surface cracks on the damper, they seem like they are in really good shape. More pics are attached. The next step regarding "recapping" has me somewhat confused since I am fairly new to electronics. The restoration guide for the AR-3a talks about the capacitors and their values, however the AR-3's look significantly different inside so I am not sure what to do. I saw in one of your pictures that you had 3 capacitors bundled together but I am not sure what these replace (maybe the little tan box with the coil of wire on top?). If you could please give me some insight on how and what to test to see if mine need the same repair and if so some information on how to do it I would appreciate it a lot. Also, while I have you, how do I know if I need to have any work done on the midrange or tweeter? They both look and sound good but I have nothing to compare them to. Thanks for the advice! Steve
  12. Thank you all for the encouragement and info! I have been looking through all of your comments and reading more of the restoration guide and I think I am going to give it a try. Several of the things I will have to check or do will be new to me but I enjoy learning new things and it sounds like this forum is a wealth of information and good people willing to help if I get stuck. The first thing I realized is I need more power! When I initially tested them I was just using the only thing I have which is a fairly new Yamaha A/V receiver. It is an 8 ohm receiver and does not have the option or ability to properly power a 4 Ohm speaker. The great news though is that I had contacted my older cousin who used to be a sales rep for Bose and just retired from a marine audio engineering and development company he started and owned for decades. He mentioned that he is moving to a new house he just built and was cleaning out his basement and came across his old Bose 1801 power amp that he used to demo speakers for customers back in the 70's. He says he remembers that the AR-3s are very power hungry and that the tweeters were often blown by people over-driving them with an under-powered amp. He said it is in perfect condition and I could have it but I have to come pick it up (St. Louis) since it weighs in at 82lbs! I hope to go pick up the amp in the next 2-3 weeks at which point I will retest the speakers and start the restoration process. I am going to try and keep everything as original as possible so I'll clean or fix what I can and replace with vintage when possible. Thanks again for all the input and encouragement! Steve p.s. - I attached a link to a .pdf of the Bose 1081 for those interested in checking it out. Bose_1801_Power_Amplifier.pdf
  13. Last week, I had an older gentleman at church who knew I liked tinkering ask if I wanted some old speakers he had in the back of his truck and was about to drop off at Goodwill. The speakers are both AR-3's, serial numbers C 21604 and C 21611. On both of the speakers, the woofers work when power is connected to the rear terminals but no mid-range or tweeter. If I connect power directly to the bare wires going to the mid-ranges and tweeters on the front of the cabinet, both mids work and one of the tweeters. The cabinets are pretty scratched up but could be cleaned up and both grills are present but the fabric looks darker to me than others I have seen online. My question is, are these worth restoring? I do not have any need for them but after researching them a bit understand that they can be somewhat valuable if restored properly. I have seen the AR3a restoration guide and am thinking about trying to follow along and restore them myself. I do fairly well with mechanical things but have never tried anything electronic. I am sure you see posts like this all of the time but I am new to this and would welcome an opinion from someone who has been down this road before. Thanks! Steve Gifford Oxford, OH USA
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