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AR 1 restoration


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Recently, a pair of AR-1's were at an estate sale where many items (Brunswick 1990's pool table, many works of art, and others) were available, but the fascination or a pair of AR's stacked one on top of each other  against  the wall in an entertainment room captured my fancy. Having described that, and purchasing a small wall mount antique shelf, I left the sale to start my drive home 45 miles south on the Connecticut shoreline. However, curiosity intrigued this "old man" to wonder if the sale had disposed of the AR's. This morning (early Sunday) a quick run back up the coast seemed a decent departure from a usual AM on the beginning day of the week (7:30 AM). With an arrival by 8:15 AM at the estate, I waited for the household to wake and gather themselves for a continued sale of their parent's estate. Once one of the daughters emerged, I asked if contents in the home could be looked at again. An affirmative brought me to the "game room" where the AR's remained against the wall as in the day before. After a quick offer ( I Felt $10 each was fair rather than saying $10 for the pair), we closed the sale. Now it's time to clean these up!!!

My question is, " These units appear to have been painted white. Nevertheless, it seems that some photos on line show white covered AR-1's. I am wondering if these are the "Birch" option of choice when ordered from AR in the '50's. If not, I am prone to strip the "white" and make these cabinets more of a walnut or other of choices which were offered by AR at that particular time (1955-1959). So, should these be "stripped" to accommodate an "original finish, or left "as is"? Looking  forward to guidance on these questions.

Best to all!


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Welcome to the forum, NN.

Because these are rare and valuable AR-1 speakers, I am going to suggest that you post several photos (front, side, rear) of these specimens before you even reach for the chemical stripper or sandpaper. Whatever you do, please do not try to make these "more of a walnut" if, in fact, they are not actual walnut veneer to begin with.

Also, what do you wish to do with these speakers? Use and keep them for decades, or put them up for sale in the online marketplace?

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Thank you for your comments.

Plans for these speakers are tentative. I had not planned to act (work) on these cabinets or open the units up for examining components (ohm testing, etc) until receiving adequate information from participants in the AR Classic Speaker forum. Ultimately, I want to connect these to my audio power units (MAC 240 and McIntosh MX110) to determine if these may remain in my speaker collection. 

Previous to moving to Connecticut, I had a large property in the Monterey Bay area of California. I had a collection of numerous speakers (older AR's, JBL L series, and individual JBL and Altec speakers/transducers). Anyway, the entire lot shared space in my farm shed and in the walk in attic storage room of our house. However, with so many projects on board and having my McIntosh system disconnected, i spent little to no time interacting with this collection. As we sold the property, almost all of the audio equipment was sold (AR's, JBL raw speakers, Dynoaco amps, receivers), and I brought only 2 JBL pairs (L-100 and L-166), MAC units, a vintage Pioneer receiver (SX 950), CD player (Sony CDP-707 esD), turntable/tonearm (Thorens TD 124/Shure SME 3009) out to CT. The latter have not been hooked up as work needs to be done on the tonearm wiring. So, in arriving here, I got the "LetGo" bug as we started to refurnish our home. In doing that, a number of audio units have crossed paths (once read a woman's posting of "Four older big wooden speakers from parents house for sale/AR 3a"...she wanted $50 total...but I hedged!!!), but  now have a couple of JBL L series pair of speakers for rehab plus a pair of Dynaco A-25's found at Habitat for Humanity Restore for $20. Lastly, my friend (who I was with when the AR-1's were located two days ago) has given me his L-56 pair of which one is speaker-less and the other with high and low frequency units. Once those units are removed, the speaker boxes will be used for an active crossover 3-way speaker system....another "thing to do".

As you can see, a number of "projects" are back in place, thoughts of what to do with the AR-1's just has added to it all. Most likely, I will test the speakers out (hook up an play), then try to think where and who would make the pair a good home. For sure, I do not want to affect the vintage integrity of these "classics" by breaking factory seal on back or disturbing the grill cloth. Paper labels on back are in fair condition (age darkened and stained,  crinkles with cracks from humidity, but entire). However, concern about the AR potentiometers may prompt servicing these on one or both AR-1's. But, since this is an exhaustive process, it may be best to defer this to a "new owner" if the AR-1's are to be sold, and simply disclose operable quality of the potentiometers (scratchy sounding, clean, or inoperable) once the AR-1's are hooked up for testing on an audio source .

I will post photos of these units with special attention to the "white" finish, particularly any white that appears on the grill cloth. My thought is that the previous owner (original owner) purchased these as the "unfinished option" and proceeded to apply a finish for completing the units. In looking at the "finish", it appears that a second coat (or other coat) of "off-white" was applied over the  "Pure White finish. This "Pure White" may have been the "Birch" option...but not sure about that option. If it were an "unfinished option" , this would seem logical since so many audio items were offered to individuals during the late 50's and 60's as "kit" or DIYS options (Dynakit, Heathkit, other). Serial numbers for the units are: 15062 and 14304. Before I take photos, perhaps folks may want to provide input to that photos are taken of specific aspects of these speakers.

Looking forward to folks input!




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As ra.ra has mentioned, front, side and rear photos would be helpful. Try to show any sort of damage like dents, deep scratches, or dinged corners, as well as the condition of the grille cloth & panel on each system. Beyond supplying the serial numbers, the labels are not usually a big deal. 

If you intend to sell the speakers, the less you do to them, the better.

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