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AR-2ax Restoration


LorneG
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I have one Early and one Late edition AR-2ax and am restoring the pair - these have never been use until a few weeks ago just to test - both woofers, mids and tweeters produced sound with coaxing of the crunchy pots.  If you want to hear the story of how this odd couple got lost together go over to https://community.classicspeakerpages.net/topic/16072-ar-2ax-time-capsule-mystery/

So the foam looks shot on one the Late, which is no surprise but the cone and cap look great.  The Early with the cloth surround isn't so bad with everything seeming to be still glued tight, except the dampening ring appears to be deteriorating?  Is the dampening ring an issue?  I don't see anything on it in the restoration guide or past topics?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is an update on my progress, albeit slow.  I applied one coat of sealant to the cloth surround of the Early speaker while still in the cabinet, as it first didn't pass the push/rebound test.  I also applied a thin coat of slightly water-diluted tacky glue to the top of the dampening ring to try and stop that deterioration (thanks RoyC for that advice).  After sealant it did pass the push test, so I moved on to taking the woofers out.

I got them out, but it does take a lot of patience getting the putty out and prying them up.  I used a small flat screwdriver/putty knife to take some of the putty out around the woofer and then a larger flat screwdriver and paint can opener worked best for removing the driver.  The Early woofer was much harder.  I had fiberglass insulation in the Late, and rock wool in the other.  I think I will replace the rock wool?  New Crinoline fabric has been ordered to replace the fabric protecting the woofers, which had completely disintegrated.

The Late woofer has been re-foamed, which was all really straight-forward except cutting the dust cap - I hated to doing that.  I did a lot of research on this aspect, and used a 1.5 in. diameter guide for cutting with a brand new X-Acto blade.  I think the 1.5" is a bit too small, and I would go a little larger next time.  Shimming was done and new surround was glued into place, then the dust cap was glued back down.

New caps will come next and then onto the pots.  I was fortunate to get four "Inspection Department" stamps on the Early speaker!  BTW the wood grain inside the Early is just beautiful and much more detailed than the late.  The quality of wood used on these, especially the Early, amazes me. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've pretty much finished everything up this weekend.  Here are some notes and learnings:

  • Capacitors were very easy to replace - I used Dayton Audio grade
  • Old pots were a mixed bag - one from each speaker were in pretty good shape, but the two others were very bad and I don't think they are salvageable (see pics). 
  • I ordered new pots, but I had two issues with those:
    • the tabs didn't fit into the existing slots in the masonite because they are larger than the tabs on the old pots, and trying to create new slots caused me to put a hole into the back - really bad but tacky glue to fix it.  The cure was to flatten the tabs and use a large lock washer around the base of the shaft.
    • the threading on the shaft doesn't extend far enough to get the inside rubber washer and the outside washer/nut on to secure it.  It's not even close.  The solution was to sans the washers and use some of the putty for sealing the woofers to seal the base of the shaft on the inside.  I could then secure the nut and gave it a healthy tighten.  It seems to be air-tight.
  • Rewiring the new pots inside the cabinets is hard and sometimes confusing.  Take your time, double-check your work and take breaks.  I made a color coded drawing which helped.  I did not extend the original wiring or solder inside the cabinet, but used butt-end crimp connectors instead.  This is not the easiest route in some ways, but also avoids additional wiring in other places like the terminals and doesn't add more wire connections.  I tested the speakers at this point to make sure everything worked - all was good!
  • Re stuffed the Later version with it's original fiberglass insulation but used new Crinoline fabric.  The early version speaker had rock-wool insulation that I decided to discard and replace with fiberglass insulation.  The Later version had 21.75 oz of fiberglass, but the rockwool weight was much more, so I went with about 20 oz. of new fiberglass insulation. 
  • Used putty to reseal the woofers and tighten them up.  The push test worked on both. 

I hooked them up and they sound pretty good.  Certainly not an overwhelming or precise speaker but very warm.  Grills will get Velcro'd on tonight and cables will be fabricated.

 

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It's a wrap on these two.  I finished the cabinets off with boiled linseed oil, which made them look amazing.  Then I re-attached the badges and velco'd the grills back on.  now I just need to figure out stands, I do plan to play them horizontal, and where to put them.  I think they are gorgeous.  I'm building a new system around them and have picked up a McIntosh MA5100 integrated amp to run with these.  It's just a little bit later vintage (1975) but will pair better than my late 70's early 80's Pioneer and Yamaha receivers.  I am also starting to restore/refurbish an AR XA turntable (1961 or 1962) that I saved from being discarded.  It's in great shape, so I will do a Marc Morin restore.

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Nice job on the speakers! I love the 2ax and along with the XA 'table that will be a really nice system. Maybe keep an eye out for an AR amp 😊

I keep meaning to get around to restoring my own XA, purchased new in 1970. There's a guy here in NJ, Steve Frosten, who does beautiful work. I bought a tone arm from him. He takes the stock arm and attaches a Technics S arm. Looks the same but you can then use an SME type universal headshells. He also rewires the arm with fancy wire and adds sapphire bearings. I thought the price was reasonable. Sometimes I think I should just take him the whole 'table and let him restore it. His wood bases are beautiful. He also replaces motor, springs, etc and will install a fancy tonearm if desired. At some time I suppose it stops being an AR but they are beauties.

Be sure to post info and photos of your rest.

Kent

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Kent - thank you, I really enjoyed my first speaker refurbish.  I really shouldn't add anymore amps, but you're right, if an AR comes up, at this point I would have to buy it!

Yes, I am emailing with Steve and am going to have him do the tonearm.  I am going to take on the new motor, pulley, suspension and dampening.  I am also going to paint the top plate, then I need to get a some feet and a new dust cover.  I decided not to mod it by cutting the sub chassis and top plate, in order to fit a Rega, although I really like that look.

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I have an XA sitting in a box in pieces that I haven't gotten round to. If I was in NJ and was considering mods vs restoration, I would definitely take it to Steve, because making the cuts in the T-bar and top deck needed for a different arm is not something I'd want to try doing with the tools and equipment I currently have access to. You can tell him how much or how little of the original AR "look and feel" you want to preserve.

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Depending on the ‘newer’ replacement arm’s weight, and if the new arm is going to sit on the plinth’s surface or mounted lower and sit on the table’s chassis as the AR arm did. Measurements will matter if mounted on TT’s triangular chassis, you certainly want a balance there.

As this tables dimensions are compact and smaller than most other tables in many respects, a replacement arm’s length is an important consideration. When I purchased a “Jelco” arm with possible intentions of going on my originally purchased in 1972 AR table I had to ponder the plus and minus aspects. This consideration must also be measured regarding the dust-cover clearance of the tone arm fitting.

I believe forum member “Der” did the same modification using the same Jelco arm so, you possibly could benefit by emailing him.  I’m assuming once a situation like this is created, one must also do critically attentive listening tests in regards to the results of T.T.'s noise, any acoustic feedback, etc. That is something you could also ask of member Der.

In terms of a replacement motor, I have no idea though, I don’t foresee much difficulty in selection though motor mounting might be dicey.

My personal experience going back when I first bought the AR table were mixed at best. From the very first moment, I was so pleased. I was thrilled and very impressed by it, especially that shiny platter. Its sound was worlds above anything I had previously owned. Then again, it was replacing a Garrard 40B (my first table purchase in 1967) which was nothing to speak of, much less consider. The AR table was simply beautiful in a spartan-way. It wasn’t until I got-into high power that this sweet little AR table betrayed me with a deafening dose of acoustic-feedback. This problem lasted until 1974 when I first bought a direct-drive table and never had to look back except in a learning curve sense. I proceeded to focus on cartridge selection and listening only.

Now that I brought it up, what are your phono-cartridge plans as the original tone arm is rather limiting compared to the Jelco or other arms.

Other than that, if this is your first venture into AR restoration, I think you’re doing a beautiful job.

Check out Y--T--e: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=modifying+the+AR+turntable

FM

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, JKent said:

Nice job on the speakers! I love the 2ax and along with the XA 'table that will be a really nice system. Maybe keep an eye out for an AR amp 😊

I keep meaning to get around to restoring my own XA, purchased new in 1970. There's a guy here in NJ, Steve Frosten, who does beautiful work. I bought a tone arm from him. He takes the stock arm and attaches a Technics S arm. Looks the same but you can then use an SME type universal headshells. He also rewires the arm with fancy wire and adds sapphire bearings. I thought the price was reasonable. Sometimes I think I should just take him the whole 'table and let him restore it. His wood bases are beautiful. He also replaces motor, springs, etc and will install a fancy tonearm if desired. At some time I suppose it stops being an AR but they are beauties.

Be sure to post info and photos of your rest.

Kent

I can vouch for how good an AR-Xa turntable restored by Steve Frosten can sound. He's done some work for me. He swapped out the AR arm with a generic Technics S-shaped arm that accepts the universal SME headshell on my original Xa. He also refinished the wood base and added an extension on the bottom of the base to solidify and add mass to the base. (Photos attached) It sounds wonderful. Incidentally, I have it paired to a Fisher 500B and AR-2ax speakers that were restored with a great deal of help that I got here at Classic Speaker Pages. I also have an AR EB-101 with a Jelco tonearm that he put together for me that also sounds wonderful. 

Looks like you have a very early two motor verion of the Xa that has a solid walnut base, before they started using walnut veneer. You may want to switch over to a single motor. I'm in the process of converting a similar two motor version to a single Hurst motor. I dont know yet whether I'm going to replace the arm. I may stick to the original AR arm since I have about 3 AR headshells that I can swap carts with. The biggest issue with the original arm is that the headshell mount starts to wear and get stripped with constant headshell changes. You have to be very gentle with it and not overtighten so they don't get stripped, and even that may not be enough since the tables and arms are usually close to 50 years old.

If you decide to use Steve Frosten for any of your process, I don't think you can go wrong. He knows his stuff, does first rate work, and his prices are very resonable and fair. He'll probably be willing to help you with advice even if you don't use him. He posts regularly at the VinylEngine forum.

Good luck!

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Thanks Norman that's a beautiful restor.  OMG my wife will be very displeased if I buy another amp or receiver.  I just picked up a McIntosh MA5100 from the late 60's/early 70's to go with the speakers.  I got it at a very good price, as the seller is a friend who is an audio engineer who was trying to get rid of some equipment.  He was the second owner, and it's in great shape.  I have a friend who is trying to sell his Fisher 500-C which has been restored, but I keep saying no.  He also has a Fisher 600-T which is solid state and an amazing receiver that most people don't know about.

The tonearm is going to Steve today for "the works".  I'm excited to get it back and then do a few other restorations.

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Please post photos when you get the Xa back from Steve! The other advantage with Steve is that his turnaround time is not that long, at least it wasn’t when I dealt with him a couple of years ago. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with his work. 

I have a 500C, and a 400, in addition to the 500B. The 500C is the favorite of my Fisher tube receivers. I’m not sure that you can extrapolate anything from that preference. You can get two 500C’s and two 500B’s, listen to them all, and realize that each unit has its own sound, so you really can’t make a judgement on which is better, the 500B, or the 500C as an original model. They each have their proponents. I think what’s important to the way a vintage tube receiver sounds today has more to do with the condition of unit, it’s history and it’s care over the years, and the quality of the restoration. Having said that, if you like the sound of the 500C being offered for sale to you, that should be enough.

Good luck, and please post again when you get the Xa back!

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