A thank you to Gareth for his Donation to my Macaroon stash!

I didn’t charge Gareth for my perambulations (didn’t think I knew that one, eh?) through his Cornell Romany Pro amp. If I charged folks for not fixing things I would be very well off. Anyway, it turned out that his problems with the amp were not faults, it just didn’t do what he wanted it to, so I didn’t actually fix anything, but spent a lot of time working out how it worked.

Make no mistake, this is a beautifully made amplifier; but I got the feeling in my water that there was some faulty thinking gone into the design of the amp.

Gareth turned up for his amp with a couple of packets of Macaroons! Chocolate and plain. Bliss!!!

So as a small “thank you” I offer this little piece of history of the origination of the macaroon thing.

A long time ago, when I was up to my neck in an industrial apprenticeship, I worked for some time with a hilarious cockney gentleman named Cyril Haffenden. If a problem reared its head, or if he just felt a bit stressed by it all (or any other reason, for that matter) he would pronounce in a loud cockney accent “THAT’S IT! BAGGER IT! A CAPPA CORFFEE AN’ A MACAROON!!!!

That’s where it came from, tempered by poetic license of my own.

Thank you, Gareth.

 

Cornell Romany Pro……had me going for a minute there.

This amp knocked a year or two off my life expectancy, and foot or two off my hairline.

A schematic is the most valuable attribute to repairing an amp; with a working brain cell running a close second. I’m saying nothing about the latter, but the Romany Pro does not subscribe to the former. I found an owner’s manual (for the Romany) which told me where the knobs and switches were, but not much else. Back to the Secret Society again, then.

Nearly all valve amps have a working topography of:-  preamp stage(s) (usually ECC83 based valves) into a phase splitter (if it’s a push-pull class AB amp) and into a push-pull output stage. The phase splitter arranges the signal to the output valves so that one half goes positive while the other goes negative. This results in the push-pull of the output stage.

This Romany Pro was different, and it took a while for me to figure out how it could work. Everything I tested, from the phase splitter on, was in phase. Without going into too much detail, that can’t work because the output transformer tries to sum two identical in-phase signals the resultant of which is zero. A zero watt amp is never going to catch on.

Then I noticed that the phase splitter, isn’t. It doesn’t (as the usual arrangement does) split the phase, it just puts identical signals to the output valves. The only way this can work is by reversing one of the secondary windings of the output transformer. I’ve no idea why people like Mullard spent years developing the phase splitter design. Unless it’s a lot better, of course.

I think a pallet-load of macaroons might be appropriate in this case, to go with my tea and oversized toupee.

 

What to do After You’ve Written a Few Sensible blogs.

In the interests of staying insane, or at least becoming normal, one has to get away from the ‘sensible blog’ syndrome.

So don’t expect this to help you to fix anything that a couple of aspirins won’t sort out.

So here it is…………….

                                 The Allen Invasion of the A5 Services

                                                                                          

            Wailingpolice sirens belly-ached into the night as half the motorway cop cars in the county picked out the A5 Services outside Bromfield in their strobing beams. This was all highly irregular as the belly-aches were usually inside the cafe.           

                          #

            “It still looks like a burger in a bun to me” said the prone cop sighting at it down the barrel of the .45 calibre automatic pistol. Slamming his stomach down on the tiles after a bagful of chicken nuggets had not been a wise move, the sergeant quickly realised. The officer sprawled next to him raised his Heckler and Koch and dug around in his shirt pocket distractedly.

            “The bloke on the phone said they all look like burgers; ‘there’s hundreds of ‘em’, is what he said.”

            “There would be; this is a burger bar,” said the sarge; he didn’t take his eyes off the burger, though; “but it’s dead in my sights if it tries anything funny.”

            “If that bloke was right, we’re outnumbered, sarge” said Algy, with a nervous twitch. There were, indeed, hundreds of them dotted around the floor like acne.

            “They don’t look armed, Algy.” A silence descended on the deserted restaurant, broken inconsiderately by a waitress diving for cover behind the cutlery trolley. “But would I know what sort of killer weapon a burger in a bun might carry in its, er, pocket?”

            “Don’t that one look bigger than all the rest? What do y’ think, sarge?”  

            “Of course it’s bigger. It’s a Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger. What would you think if you ordered a Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger and a sausage roll turned up?” A cleaner lady with a power floor washer walked in without looking up and plugged it into the wall.

            “Are you mad?” said the sarge.

            “I’ve been doing this job for twenty years, what do you think?” She pushed things in and pulled things out of the machine with the efficiency of a robot. Algy’s face turned puce and he looked up her rumpled stockings from the floor.

            “Look, madam, we’re on a..a…stakeout for this… er…just a minute.” Algy pulled out a crumpled reporter’s note pad triumphantly and flicked through its tacky pages; “Allen Invasion!”

            “A what?” said sarge, his eyebrows standing well clear of his forehead.

            “That’s what it says here,” said Algy.

            “You’re telling me we’ve surrounded the Blastoff Burger Bar with sixty men on the whim of a bloke who can’t spell ‘alien’?”

Just then a disembodied voice shouted something that sounded like

            “’Ten…Shun!” and the burgers that had been scattered randomly about the floor of The Blastoff Burger Bar shuffled around willy-nilly before clicking into several ranks behind the Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger. A floor-washer started up behind them and a thoroughly spooked Algy redesigned it into a cheese grater with his Heckler and Koch while surfing the soap bubble waves cascading across the tiles.

            “Help” said Algy, careering towards the ranks of the Allen Invasion Force as they opened fire with ketchup and Worcester sauce.

            “It’s ok Algy, I’ve got you covered,” shouted sarge.

            “There’s no need sarge, I’m covered already,” said Algy.

            “And you think I’m mad!” said the cleaner, formerly of the rumpled stockings and now of the floppy gumboots, as several of the Allens blasted off into the dizzy ceilings of the Blastoff Burger Bar. The sergeant battled to get a grip on his walky-talky as it danced out of his hands in the monsoon of ketchup from above and the tide of ‘Washy-Floory’ suds surging below.

            “The situation is getting messy, sir” said the sarge into the phone that was grotesquely distorting into something more Allen than the Allens.

            “Bring your leader to us!” boomed the Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger, in radical break with tradition.

            “No,” shouted Algy to the ceiling, “that’s all wrong. Your line is ‘Take me to your leader’. I saw it in ‘The Allen Goes to Hollywood’.” Just then the glimmering of dawn was obliterated by an unimaginably vast Super-Dooper-Triple-Quadruplicately-Huge-Whale-Burger that cruised, silent and deadly, over the Blastoff Burger Bar and hovered, its ketchup cannons primed like a million bristling cocktail sticks.

            “Bring us the President of the World!” said Double-Whopper from his ceiling tile.

            The sarge at last dropped his eyebrows as there was nowhere else for them to go.

            “That could be tricky” called up the sarge.

            “What! You refuse! Puny services-ling?” Double-Whopper bristled. “In that case we shall eliminate your silly civilisation.”

            “Psst. Sarge.” Algy nudged the sarge’s elbow.

            “Not now, Algy. I’ve got to think this out,” bubbled the sarge through a mouthwash of Washy-Floory suds.

            “She’ll do.” Algy pointed at the cleaner with the floppy gumboots. The sarge, aghast, looked at Algy as if he was an Allen.

            “They’ll never go for that. Just look at her.” The sarge had another look just to make sure. He shrugged. “Here she is, then;” he called up; “the President of the World.” The President of the World looked up from her ceremonial mop and bucket.

            “No!” A panicky voice rang out from the Ceremonial Ceiling Tile. “You must not invoke the gods. It will be the end of everything as we know it.”  The President of the World stubbed out a distressed fag-end and smoothed down her floral piny.

            “What you got against dogs, then?” enquired the President of the World, rolling up her sleeves and bridling her bosom.

            “PSSST!” pist Algy at the President of the World. “It said ‘gods’: not ‘dogs’.”

            “Don’t you ‘pssst’ me mate. I know my rights. That’s oppression of a Pet Owner’s Society member. I’ll set my god on you.”

            “Aaaiiiieeee! The President of the World invokes the dogs yet again.” The Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger wailed pathetically. While outside, the Super-Dooper-Quadruplicately-Huge-Whale-Burger pulsated as it sent down a majestic silver stairway through the ceiling of the Blastoff Burger Bar; along which a crowd of Allens stepped equally majestically, each Allen carrying a majestic mop and tin bucket and primrose yellow rubber gloves. They raised their majestic plungers in salute.

            Things had become very confused by this time; so they might have praised their joss-stick slungers in palute. It was hard to say.

            “No; leave all that bowing and scraping stuff out” said the President of the World, “it’s embarrassing.” The plunger-gesticulating crowd of Allens looked shamefaced, their plungers drooping to an impotent half-mast.

            “What is it that you want?” said the sarge having strung together a couple of brain cells.

            “We are collecting for ‘Uranus in Need’ and doing a bit of market research on the side” said the Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger, grandiosely.

            “It seems like a good cause, sarge” said Algy. “Nice to think somebody is collecting for mine; even though it’s not in need, so far as I know.”

            “On what terms do you do the market research, Mr., erm Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger?” enquired the sarge.

            “Oh, the usual; you get to fill out a questionnaire that takes a mere twelve hours a day for six months and get a fluffy badge for it.”

            “It’ll never catch on, here on Earth.” The sarge looked dubious.

            “According to our market research it’s what everybody does for a hobby when they’re not shouting at a computer.” The Double-Whopper-Angus Burger looked as smug as one might imagine a burger in a bun could be.

            “So,” said the sarge, tentatively exploring the limits of lunacy, “if we have a whip round and donate a few quid, you go away. Is that about it?” The burger-boss clicked its crust impatiently.

            “Don’t forget the market research!”

            “And the market research; yes.”

            “Then we must move on. One of the little moons of Mars next, I think.” If it could have smiled it probably would have. “Nice spot, Phobos.”

                            #

            To cut a short story to about the same length; i.e. tedious; in the wake of the exit of the Allen invasion force of the A5 services, (it having collected £1.52 and given out several hundred thousand market research leaflets), a month or two later followed a queue of brave politicians and journalists, both of whom were writing a blow-by-blow, fly-on-the-wall account of the event; in the same way that a duck-billed platypus did of the invasion of Greenland by aquatic camels. These intrepid seekers of truth descended on said cafe, having first taken the precaution of booking into the Dorchester for lunch.

                         #

            The leaflets from one section of the archetypal activists read:-

 

              Politician Does Something    

The Conservative party candidate for Crackbracknel, the Right Honourable Mouthmore N. Getplaces single-handedly sent people to quell an Allen invasion at the A5 services near Bromfield. He says.

 

He also says that his bravery in sending people to quash this intergalactic attack far outweighed any previous bravery as reported by any of the other parties. Whichever they were.

Sporting an open mouth and a megaphone he modestly described his battle as ‘Heroic’. Some spectators erroneously interpreted this as ‘diuretic’, which was about when it hit the fan.

The report from the police department was somewhat different.

                      #

            ‘We didn’t see hide or hair of Mr. Mouthmore N. Getplaces. We did get some fluffy badges though.’

 

                   The End (is in sight).

 

That was definitely worth tea AND a macaroon. I feel so much better. I mean, there’s nothing actually wrong with normal………..?

DBX 160xt …….under pressure….as Freddy would have had it.

The DBX 160 compressors are definitely a cut above average. They use a chip called a VCA chip. These have been used in analogue synthesisers, more or less from their inception.

You might be wondering at this point why I might want to use the word ‘inception’. Apart from it being a wondrous bullshit word, it reminds me of the Jenson Interceptor, a car with more carburettors than sense. I always thought of it as a sort family saloon AC Cobra. A great way to get rid of your ears, as it would rip them off at the first dab of the gas.

The VCA chip stands for ‘Voltage Controlled Amplifier. There were also, of the same ilk, the VCF and VCO. They were/ are respectively ;Voltage Controlled Filter’ and Voltage Controlled Oscillator’. They all worked in basically the same way. A dc voltage (the control voltage) is applied to the control pin of the chip (Before the advent of chips there were….fish. No, no! Come on, get a grip.) Let’s try that again. Before the advent of chips these devices were built up from discrete transistors. Before that, they were built from valves.

I remember a valve analogue computer at Chesterfield tech college. It had six operational amps and they shifted it from room to room on a fork truck.

The output of a VCA is proportional (I don’t know a car of that name…..wait a minute…..a pro Porche…nal. That’s relief, I thought I was turning sensible.) to the input dc control voltage. In other words, its output amplitude goes up as the dc control voltage increases. On a VCF the filter effect frequency rises or falls according to the voltage, and with the VCO the oscillator frequency rises or falls similarly.

What has any of this to do with the DBX 160xt? Well, this compressor has a VCA chip in it. The control dc voltage is sensed from the input level, and also from the setting of the compression level.

This probably won’t help to fix it, but might help a bit to understanding it.

Here’s a practical fix it bit. The DBX160 xt compressor uses a six pole push switch to bypass the compressor. If this goes bad, it won’t work, and you can’t buy one. I have heard there are plentiful stocks on Calisto, but DHL don’t ship from Mars. But you can get four pole push switches (alps switches). You can use these if you know how to a) solder and b) not panic when tracks peel off.

Take the original, bust, switch out. Tricky, but not impossible. A good desoldering device is advisable. Put the new switch in so that it occupies the 12 holes furthest from the front. Solder it in. Get a piece of heat shrink sleeving, and cut it so that the front bypass switch will push the switch operator forward. I also used a bit of the pipe from an aerosol can inside the heat shrink to make it more solid to the touch.

This will work and also switch in/ out the bypass function. What it doesn’t do is switch the led on the front which remains on. If you can live with that, you’ve fixed it.

I’m now going to phone somebody on this macaroon. It is, of course, my hermit-o-phone for the week. Last week it was a Tesco radish.

Tea…..ahhhh!

 

 

Supro Thunderbolt Reissue (well, the box is pretty close anyway.)

When is a ‘reissue’ patently not a reissue?

Taking an extreme view, anything in a Vox AC30 box, would be unlikely to be called a ‘Fender Twin reissue’. I would be, I would guess, in serious trouble if I was selling a goldfish on ebay that was actually a rhinoceros. You can’t do that sort of thing because it must contravene a trades description thing. Mustn’t it? You surely see my point, even if it does emanate from a cynical old git. That’s me, in case you were in any doubt.

And so, on to the Supro Thunderbolt ‘Reissue’. Apart from the fact that in the original had the power amp in a completely different place (bottom of the case), a quite different preamp arrangement, totally different biasing circuit…..well, the reissue is just the same.

But this was a repair job, so I should be at least a bit more useful than that. It (the reissue) has three power settings on a four pole three way rotary switch. This switch, in the one I had in, had fallen to bits. It effects the power levels in two different ways, and there are two different biasing arrangements associated with this switch. The first position, 60 watt setting switches in a 270ohm 15 watt resistor into the cathode circuit of the 6L6 output valves, so this is cathode (or automatic) bias, and much like the original circuit. In the other two positions (5watt and 1watt if I remember right) the cathode resistor is switched out and the control grids of the 6L6′s have a negative bias voltage applied, which are the other two functions of the power switch.

I think if I owned this amp, I would be wary of switching the power settings without first switching off standby. Just a thought. And now another thought. Tea and a macaroon. Nice thought.

 

Messages from the Virtual Idiot Dept

My partner has a phone. It looks like a spaceship. I have a phone that looks like a loofah. The difference between these ostensibly similar devices is that my phone does not work well in the bath either as a backscrubber or an underwater communication device; whereas I can’t make my partner’s do anything at all even standing next to EE’s gargantuan mast.

That’s because I’ve never worked out how to switch it on. By the same token I’ve never figured out how to switch it off either. She says it will make movies, take pictures, recite Shakespeare, jump up and down to the rhythm of the latest 007 Theme, act as a life raft in extreme circumstances. But I can’t ring anybody on it. Meanwhile, back at my loofah-phone, I can’t ring anybody on that either. I am told by nauseating folks at Vodaphone that it’s because I don’t put money in it. I bought it for ten quid twenty years ago; what more do they want?

I drool after those phones in the black and white ‘B’ films that people whir around with a middle finger, talk into a black stick-looking trumpet thing, and say something like “Give me Whitehall 1212, please operator”. Now, I have to key in a 54 digit, digitally secured code (that turns out not to be secure because some flea bitten company like Norton or Avast or somebody, wants to charge me a mortgage to ensure that I am secure) and after doing that I find I’ve straightened out the National Debt while waiting a day and a half in a queue for somebody from the phone company to come back off holiday to tell me how much I owe them.

So I now employ a completely revolutionary device called a ‘Hermit-o-phone’. By using this I don’t have to ring anybody at all. The first Hermit-o-phone I had I came across accidentally. I picked a banana up in Tesco and, lo and behold….it didn’t  ring! This is the phone for me, thinks I. There was also, I soon found, a bonus. I couldn’t ring anybody else, either. Another big advantage is that nobody has sent me a bill. For anything. I’ve tried this with various ‘apps’. A stick, a dog biscuit, a JCB tyre; they don’t ring you on them either.

So I’m stretched out on my blow-up mattress watching the rain outside my shed, banana on the one hand, tea and macaroon on the other.

I might have a peaceful conversation by macaroon, shortly. You’re never alone with a macaroon……..

In Praise of People we Pay Good Money to Break Things For Us

The latest in a long line of parcels that arrived as a shovelful of bits in a box that was once square-ish and had metamorphosed into some distant cousin of the arthropod species,  convinced me that sending anything to climates more distant than next door is seriously questionable. And if you got through that sentence without retching, you are made of stern stuff, and I doff my hat.

I would have to say, in the interests of fair appraisal, that my curiosity in any place more distant than arm’s length, on the Richter Scale of zero to ten, is about minus five hundred and seventy three. And you can multiply that by a lot if it’s raining.

Even taking this into consideration, I have toyed with the idea of stowing away in one of my parcels booked in for shipping (pick your own company; in my experience their records of losing/ breaking/ delivering to people I’ve never heard of, are remarkably similar), with my trusty machete and Heckler and Koch automatic. Unfortunately, I would have to be built of sheet stainless steel to survive the journey. So I shelved that plan.

So what is the most effective packing for a piece of valve equipment? Bearing in mind that there are few materials (in this Universe at any rate) that will stand being run over by a fork truck, this gets to be a problem that Einstein might balk at. So I phoned him.

“Is your name Einstein?” I asked.

“Yes” said Einstein.

“Would that be Albert Einstein?” I asked.

“It’s actually Einstein Trimblestrop; actually” said Einstein.

“I’m sure you’ll do” I said hopefully. “How would you pack a parcel to be delivered by courier to Spain? Or anywhere, really.” I asked.

“I wouldn’t send it at all” said Einstein. He thought a bit. “I did send a Victorian cast iron commode to Venezuela once. They said it looked like a toilet when it got there. I suppose that was near enough.”

“How did you pack it, Mr. Einstein?”

“I dropped it on the courier’s foot and he packed it in his plaster of Paris splint.”

So that’s solved that one. I’m now looking for my brand new packet of Macaroons shipped from Venezuela.  Easily mistaken for a box of nails when shaken.

Reconstituting smashed Venezuelan macaroons is an extended project, I can tell you. Almost as bad as repairing a new Studiomaster Powerhouse.

Now, where’s my brand new packet of tea from Venezuela………?

 

Extra terrestrial messages from an endangered species

Well, alright, it’s me really. But I am.

“What is that daft old git talking about?” You would be well within your rights to make that comment, even if it is fairly disrespectful. “So, explain yourself!” you ejaculate (?).

Alright, I will. On your own head be it. Whatever ‘It’ is.

There are few weeks go by that I don’t look inside an amp and wish for x-ray vision. Or at least an electron microscope. You can at this point visualise me (not a pretty sight) squinting at a piece of circuit board with 574 components on it. That will easily fit in my tea cup. It’s about at this point that I go to the many sites on the Wonderful Web that stack up schematics. An hour after that I’ve pulled all my hair out and am just starting on my toenails. Shortly following that, the innocent-looking pcb is in the fire bucket and I’m stomping off kettle-wards.

I started my apprenticeship in 1963. It lasted five years but I had expired well before that. (“In your dreams, mate”). It was intended to be an electrical engineering apprenticeship at the outset, but fate stepped in and after two shakes of a dead lamb’s tail it became an industrial electronics apprenticeship. This was in spite of the fact that industrial electronics and electrical engineering are as mutually compatible as bulldogs and arses.

The reason for this metamorphosis was pig ignorance by those leading the way for the electrical department, coupled with my own brand of pig ignorance. Not forgetting that electronics gear was flooding through the doors like a blizzard and there was nobody in the factory knew any more about it than how to fit a plug on the end. So I finished up at Chesterfield Technical College for seven interminable years.

So how does that equate to anything relevant to the topic? In 1963 valves (which had been around for, say, forty years plus) were being gradually supplanted by semiconductors. At the time transistors were mostly germanium and blew if placed near a stiff breeze. Whereas, valves had evolved about as far as they were going to. (The duodecatron valve was about the most complex and the mercury-arc rectifier the most powerful. In a darkened room the mercury-arc looked like something Frankenstein might have relaxed in.)

The point being (There’s a point?) that the folks who had the misfortune to be involved in electronics at the time, and also throughout the following sixty years or so, found themselves on a technological ice flow whose shape and constitution was changing almost week to week. There was no way anybody could usefully design a course to accommodate electronics servicing, because for the next decades it was changing in ways that few people could guess the direction of.

And the motivation for these technological changes was largely the pursuit of excellence. Most pursuits currently in vogue are running after greater and greater….errm…profit margins. And compared to those decades just mentioned, the changes that happen these days are painfully slow and usually restricted to being able to put more pins on a chip you can scarcely see. The ideas don’t change much at all.

I have designed a spectacularly useful electronics service course though, for current electronic repairs. I’ve called it ‘How to Plug In a New PCB”. You can do an endorsement to this which I’ve called “How to throw it Away and Buy Another One.” To keep abreast of current new ideas, we have the course entitled ‘How to Paint it a Different Colour’.

It’s very obvious that the situation will never again exist that involves living and learning through the changes that had so many ideas developing at such an extraordinary rate. The digital age has solidified like grease in a chip pan and its developments (personal opinion) are shams of convenience. But we can always expect something faster; and paint it a different colour.

There must be a kettle round here somewhere. And….a macaroon?

 

 

 

 

 

Put the ‘Cuffs on, Mate, I did it….!

This is a layman’s guide to how to get away with murder. Or close to it, anyway.

Let’s (just for a minute) consider the terrible repercussions of my stealing a box of matches. Not a robbery, you understand; just a slight misappropriation of funds. Call it creative accountancy, if you like. I did not (yer honour) waft a firearm about with abandon; neither did I threaten bodily harm, nor even the slightest suggestion of a frown did pass my forehead. I just nicked the box of matches. Displaying a certain skill, I might modestly add.

Now let’s consider the Countess of Canterbury’s diamond necklace. Using similar levels of skill and identical nonviolent techniques, I nicked it. Yer Honour. Is this a more serious felony than my nicking (in exactly the same circumstances) Cyril Crabtree’s box of matches? If the long plonker of the Law comes down harder on the diamond necklace felony than on the box of matches felony, surely the Law is more concerned with the irrecoverable nature of the knocked off goods than the crime. Will I get six months in Dartmoor for the theft of a fiver and ten years for the theft of a hundred quid? If not, why not? Which gets us to my theory that most folks on the internet should be doing time, in a big way.

“Why” quoth the affronted internet population “should’st thou level that one at us, o varlet?”

It goes like this. The real reason that the diamond thief might have got strung up in days of yore, and got a mere ducking in the village pond for half-inching Cyril’s box of (damp) matches, is relative to the ease that the contraband would be replaceable.

The most irreplaceable possession any of us has? TIME. TIME. TIME. You just cannot get it back if somebody wastes it for you.

So the next time you read some brain-dead Tweet, twitter, twatter, facebook, bong, don’t just suffer it. Send ‘em a bill. Or better still, a summons of court.

If dealing with official bodies? Send ‘em a bill. Multiply it by a few thousand.

Better still, accumulate a load of their pamphlets, circulars, polls, customer reviews, opinion polls, and post them to a deserving cause. The council, say. It doesn’t matter which one, just steal their TIME. They can’t touch you for it; sadly.

I need that cup of tea. Preferably cold , to dowse the steam blasting out of my ears.

The Unfortunate Case of the Roving Vox AC30TB

There is a short but entertaining story to this, which deals with a range of matters from lack of respect for quality to wanting to kill people from a distance to destroying irreplaceable artefacts to dealing with insurance companies to fixing the unfixable to boldly going where……you get the idea.

This little story, although sort of entertaining, was definitely not so for Marc; who shall otherwise remain anonymous. He sold his lovely old (mid sixties) Vox AC30TB to a bloke in Spain who desperately wanted to buy it. My own involvement up to that time was that I had rebuilt the output stage for him a couple of years earlier. Although you could have bought one of these new in 1965-ish for a hundred and twenty quid or so, you certainly can’t now. So, the deal was done and the lovely Vox sailed away to Spain having been packed and cased by Marc, who is the soul of conscientiousness. So it would have been very securely shipped.

After a week or so, the Spanish bloke decided that he wasn’t actually as keen on buying as he had been, and took this up with Paypal. He had a full refund, and sent the amp back. All this, although a sad indictment on honourable dealings seems (to the modern mind, at least) alright. But it didn’t stop there. The lovely Vox AC30TB came back in the in same box without any packing. I did mention ‘lack of respect for quality’ did I? It was, unsurprisingly, very much the worse for its journey, with the front baffle and casework badly damaged. It also appeared to have had less than expert hands inside it, than it deserved. It’s about here where I get involved again. Marc needed an estimate for repair for Paypal as he was making a claim for damage in transit.

The big problem with an estimate in this situation (i.e. major accidental damage) is that you need to do all the repairs to find out what it will cost. There is so much in an amp that might look (and test) alright, that actually isn’t. Not reliably so, anyway. The valves would all need to go, for a start, whether or not they tested ok.

The result of this was that the amp was a write-off, mainly because the speakers  (original Vox Blues) were damaged, and therefore it would not have been possible to bring the amp up to original spec.

What a shame. These amps should be treated with kid gloves, not hobnail boots.