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An AR-2 Project


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I picked up a set of AR-2’s recently and figured I’d document my progress here. 

All original parts and no one has been in them before. Today I removed the grill cloth and the cardboard grill that was glued and stapled to the baffle. I plan on making removable grills with Masonite leftover from my Model Five project. 

The most noticeable flaw with the pair is that someone with even less cabinet knowledge than even me attempted to varnish over the original oil finish I think. The varnish is flaking off everywhere and the cabinets have a sickly greenish hue. I’m hoping to get these sanded down this week. 
IMG_4922.thumb.jpeg.1b001d618cf56d083ba2262290a11b37.jpeg

Tomorrow I’ll take out the drivers and look at the crossover. Hoping to see oil capacitors. 

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1 hour ago, RickB said:

More pictures please!

Here’s a few more photos of the cabinets before I remove the drivers. IMG_4930.thumb.jpeg.a6c1200287c7c81af5ad99c5162d7727.jpegIMG_4931.thumb.jpeg.6e42971b6ff1895701e72d2487933726.jpegIMG_4932.thumb.jpeg.b177ab0e4345d428bc3b13c15e42920d.jpeg
 

15 hours ago, genek said:

If all the varnish is like this, try a scraping knife first. It might just fall off with a lot less sanding.

I’ll try that. Likely it will be effective since the varnish is just rubbing off on my hands while moving the cabinets around. 

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2 hours ago, meta_noia_fot said:

Sanded down today. This is walnut, right? I’m second-guessing myself.

It appears to be the typical walnut veneer. The varnish/lacquer type of finish of the earliest AR (and KLH) cabinets is more difficult to deal with than the later oil type. It is not unusual for it to become blotchy as it is sanded. The front trim piece is solid wood and will be easier to deal with.

It would be prudent to wait for Gene to weigh in before proceeding. I see he posted as I was typing. Edit: and so did you. :)

Roy

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I thought one of the end faces looked a bit like pine, but AR-2s didn't come with unfinished short faces unless the entire cabinet was pine. The long faces are definitely not pine. The color of the wood under the flaking makes me think it's possible that it could be cherry. Those dark pockmarks on the left speaker in the last photo are also more common in cherry than walnut.

If you're thinking of staining, I'd say just pick the color you prefer. :)

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Thanks @genek

I think I would prefer a cherry stain personally. I decided that I’m going to stain these, but I haven’t done that before (Danish Oil is what I’m most familiar working with). I saw another poster in an archived thread had some really nice results with a gel stain and poly over it. I’m still early in my research on this. Do you have any recommendations? 

In the meantime I need to replace the caps and clean the pots. No luck on oil caps for me; they were wax blocks in mine. Tomorrow I’m going to try to replace a small missing piece of veneer on a top cabinet edge. I recently saw one of Glenn’s threads and how neat his repairs are cutting out spare pieces of veneer. I have a busted pair of Classic-era walnut cabinets I can steal a little veneer from. 

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My preference is an NGR (non grain raising) dye stain. This is an alcohol-based aniline dye that doesn't obscure grain the way pigmented stains tend to do. I dilute the stain with reducer so it adds color lightly, then do multiple applications to get the color the way I want it. Once it fully dries, then it can be coated or oiled. Whether to coat or oil depends mostly on whether you want a gloss. Most of my refinishing these days is dye stain followed by a tung oil finish (tung oil and citrus-based solvent blend). 

You can also use dye stain to tint an oil finish, but you'll have less control over the color that way.

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I mix one part dye to three parts retarder. The usual instruction is 50/50, but I prefer to build color up much more gradually. This is especially important if your wood is cherry (we're still not sure), because stain on cherry can get blotchy if left on. Wipe it on and right off, don't leave it sitting there and soaking in. You'll get a very light tint that will darken slowly with repeated applications.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So after removing some walnut veneer from an old 3a cabinet, it didn’t match well. I decided the cleanest way to do this patch would be to buy new veneer. I got a sample pack that contains Cherry, Mahogany, Maple, Red Oak, Walnut, and White Oak. Of course they aren’t labeled so I’ve been trying to figure out which is which. Could anyone confirm I have this correct? Photo is of the 6 samples laid on top of the AR-2. I arranged them in what I believe to be the order above from left to right. The veneer on the left is the one that most closely matches the cabinet in both grain and color. 
 

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