Sunday, December 26, 2021

My vintage stereo receiver collection .... WARNING. Snowflakes shield your eyes-!!!

 Over the last three years or so I've been bitten by the vintage music reproduction device bug.  My Dad had a nice tube amp and tuner when I was a little kid in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Every time I hear some classic Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Sinatra, Perry Como, Four Freshmen, takes me back to getting Alberto VO-5 smeared in my hair while my mom got my brother and me ready for first grade/kindergarten...and an album filling our small house with music.

Later in life, after I was off to college, my Dad eventually gave away his tube equipment. Cassettes and later CDs were the latest technology, and albums faded away.

I only have one "tuber"....a 1959 Sherwood S-5000 amplifier (20 watts per channel, but over a high efficiency speaker it sounds like 40 watts).  I've had it recapped and serviced recently. I also have the S-2000 Sherwood tuner, but probably need to have it cleaned, aligned, and serviced. It's on a shelf.

Everything else I own is from the 1970s....the Platinum Age of receivers, before receivers fell in quality to bigger corporate profits and everyone chased power and watts for more bass and LOUD playback. The way they rated the wattage output changed somewhere around 1980/81 so everything seemed way more powerful than it truly was. (Kinda like the way our fearless leaders have changed official inflation calculations for us dumb sheeples)

Most everything I've collected has been from EBay which is very risky due to 2 possibilities.  First and most likely is a seller that doesn't understand how to properly package a 30-45 lbs vintage receiver. I've lucky for most purchases. Secondly is a misleading seller, that describes the item one way, and says they've checked it over, lightly, but it ends up not exactly as described. Words and descriptions are at times vague and variable in interpretation. 

I've got a couple receivers via craigslist in the DFW area. 

Initially I was chasing the big popular name brand stuff. ...Marantz, Sansui, Pioneer. But the demand for these names has driven the prices too high for me.  I've been looking at Realistic for awhile, but Radio Shack (based in my hometown of Fort Worth, TX) made a ton of different models over the years. Some crummy, some mid-level quality, and a few very good quality and great sounding models. Most hard core stereo-philes wouldn't even consider a Realistic unit, just because Radio Shack was focused on the lower-middle level consumer. And do have some crappola models out there.

Other brands I have been drawn to that are lower priced but excellent quality builds and very good sounding are.....SoundCraftsmen, Rotel and Sherwood from the 1970s.

Most of my collection is around 30 to 35 watts in output. I do have a 60 watt (recently recapped) Realistic STA-2200 that has a MosFet amp. Not sure what that is, but supposed to be very good, and kinda rare in mid-level receivers. It's a 1980 model and that's beginning to creep up into crap-tastical newer electronic equipment era. It's the newest receiver I have....for good reason.

Replacing all the capacitors in these 40-45 year old receivers is always a good practice, but only if you demand music amplification to sound just like the receiver sounded when it was brand new.  Some just sound fine as-is, but a recap job and servicing to clean switches and controls of 40 years of dust, grime and possibly nicotine .....really provides the optimum sound quality.

Capacitors all age, and performance diminishes after 20 or more years.  Usually gradually.

The guys that do this type of reconditioning and cleaning, that are skilled....are slowly vanishing. Most, but not all, are in their 60s and 70s. And many have 6 month backlogs to get to your job. And it's not cheap, these skills are not common, and valuable, especially in this higher demand time with folks becoming more aware of the value of vintage equipment. Expect to pay $350 - $500 for full recapping, servicing, and internal cleaning. And this with a unit that seems to be working fine when you bring it in for refurbishment. Higher end units usually have more capacitors to replace. 

I'm no expert, and my years of whiskey soaking my brain almost every night has, I believe, impaired my abilities to comprehend newer, complex things. But I do read alot online, so a little bit somehow soaks in.

My area is 50 miles west of the edge of Fort Worth, so without a tall FM antenna, I can't get much in the way of FM signal. Primarily using 3 Denon CD players in various groups of receivers. (All same model 1930CI)....a couple low/mid level turntables (I have 700  old albums I bought from a craigslist seller).....and a few powered Bluetooth gadgets that I use with my phone or tablet.

I have a couple of commercial grade computer rack tower shelves that I use. Just finished assembling one in my man cave listening area. 

My next ADD hobby topic is Vintage German sewing machines.  I've never stitched anything on a sewing machine. Just love these long life, amazing, all metal machines.

Monday, May 17, 2021

North Texas Garden . Quick Update

                                         Squash, cukes, and zukesWe ate three           zucchini last night, not in this photo.

This one color mixed squash...another one growing on this same plant.

Tomatoes and blossoms galore...just need more growing time

Cucumber vines from two plants. Harvested first 3 today. May 17

Tomatoes are outta control.!!!

Zuke and squash raised bed.

Cantaloupe wicking tub. Got a late start with this tub, but it's doing good.

Dang, it's been a WET SPRING, and our forecast is saying 3 more inches coming over the next 5-6 days.!! My plants love the rain....but need SUNSHINE.

I've been fighting some Powdery Mildew on a few squash plants, but I think I caught it early enough.  All these wet, overcast days don't help it though.

I'm really salivating waiting for a tomato sandwich.!!!!


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Wicking garden. 56 days later.

 Survived 2 surprise freezes. Most recent was April 21 when it dropped to 28 degrees in my backyard that morning at daylight. The previous one wiped out nearly all my box garden tomatoes and 3-4 box garden zucchini. I had everything covered in plastic, but not well enough, apparently.

                                                     Squash and zucchini box garden
                                                           Tomato wicking tubs
                                                      Cucumber wicking tubs
                                                              Teenage zucchini
                                     Summer squash ....already harvested about five

       Recently planted these bell peppers and cantaloupe seedlings into wicking tubs.

Monday, April 5, 2021

My Wicking Container Garden set up. Looking great!!

 Cabin trip. Mighty windy some days. Couple of days it was windy AND dusty. Musta been the Chi-Vi blowing in from Mexico about 25 miles to the South. I'm popping my zinc, D and C so not too concerned. Temperatures were nice by late morning. Had some freeze damage, but didn't bring exactly what I needed to fix the damages. Not much variety of parts available in South County. Next trip I'll bring what I need.

I'm trying out a new way of container gardening, and so far it looks mighty promising.!!

I spent about $100 for some soil, peat moss, and composting materials to rejuvenate the existing box gardens from last year. And to get the "Wicking Containers" set up. It's a little bit of work to set up these containers....but you only do it once and can re-use for a few years. Look up "container tomatoes by Leon" on youtube. Good Ol' Country boy gentleman in Oklahoma has a slew of videos out on this method. Oughta be real good in the summertime to avoid watering a couple times a day. 

Big purchase of soil materials

Tilling up with a shovel and adding fresh soil to old box gardens

Easiest way to mix up the soil is on top of a tarp in the  yard

Got this bed loaded (too close together) with Cukes, Zuchs, and summer squash.
Mother Nature ended up wiping out about half of these with an end of March light freeze one morning (even though I had covered them the afternoon prior)

Wish I had taken more pics of the process for the wicking containers. I used water jugs with 1/2" holes drilled around the bottom edge, and a few up higher near the handle level. Next you place some good quality filter fabric over these jugs and press the fabric down to the bottom in those void areas. (about 20% of the bottom area that the jugs don't cover) . Then carefully fill with your nice, fluffy, soft dirt. Can't use just any old soil. Too much clay won't wick.

Oh, one critical MUST drill a hole in the side of the tub, about 5" above the bottom of the tub or container. I did it on both ends of my tubs. About a 3/4" diameter hole. This is the overflow hole. As you add nutrients and water, once it starts running out of this hole. Stop filling. I use an old wooden dowel to check the water level every 3 or so days. When the plants are small I only needed to water every 2-3 weeks. But as they grow it might get to once a week
Don't forget to insert a length of PVC pipe with the bottom edge cut on a 45 degree angle, into one side of the tub, This is where you add your water and nutrients. Notice the white pipes on one end of each tub. One had a small funnel in the top that I move from tub to tub while filling.

My yard slopes so I have to set one end on a block of wood to try to keep it generally level.

I planted these small seedlings on March 10, this pic was from April 5. Not even 4 weeks and I pinched off the first blooms, this gives plants a better root system to get started with. I planted other tomatoes at the same time in a box garden (These in the tubs are doing WAAAY better). But that frost got most of the box tomatoes anyway.

I left out a few critical details related to the fertilizer you add as you are filling the tubs with soil. Also there are two specific water soluable nutrients that are mixed with water for each watering time. All this info can be found on Leon's youtube channel.

I bought some lumber today to rig up some overhead frame braces to support the tomato vines. Five boards of 2x4s was over $50

And with the unrestrained govt spending going on....You Ain't Seen Nuthin Yet..!!          Unbelievable Inflation is just around the corner.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

I'm still here.....a few pics from the last several months.

 Last spring I terminated the indoor growing and started a couple of outdoor, raised bed garden plots. Many bags of compost, peat moss, vermiculite, and gardening soil later... I had some decent soil made. I tried to use rain water from my two rain barrels as much as I could. In spite of mosquitoes arriving in late spring, about the same time the rains dwindled away in north TX. Switched to garden hose water, but our water source has a heavy dose of Chloramine.  I can readily smell it when I run the tap water in the kitchen. We filter all our water for consumption in the house, and chloramine ain't great for plants either IMHO.  So I bought a filter and attached it to the hose for watering.

I thought I had a bunch more pics of the garden progress, but they're all on my phone...and I'm not able to easily move them to this tablet....but I did get a good amount of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and banana peppers until mid-summer when the heat shut down most fruiting, and the grasshoppers did the rest. Many tomato sandwiches, a few batches of home-made hot sauce (I've always called it "hot sauce" , but now folks call it "salsa"). And a few zucchini and squash casseroles. 

My cukes hardly did anything, they dries up and faded pretty early.  But they weren't underneath the partial shade cloth that I suspended across both garden boxes. You can keep the tomatoes going a little longer with some shade filtering, but eventually the TX heat gets them. We hit 111 here on one afternoon for a couple hours (in the shade!)

Made a trip out west for Spring Break. Both my kids and their children made the trip. We hauled the golf cart down for easy nearby transportation fun.

I can never get enough of these sunrise and sunset pics from the far West Texas Desert Region. Not EVERYDAY do these occur, but at least half the time they do.

Well, so much for uploading a video. It looks like it's there....but doesn't seem to work. Whatever. New Blogger ain't easy for this old non techie.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Transitioning from indoor to outdoor gardening

I'm somewhat dissatisfied with my indoor LED gardening this time around. Great for lettuce and kale, not bad for smaller, compact cherry tomato species. But the other regular tomatoes just grow HUGE, but don't produce as much as I'd like. My two bell pepper plants popped off a few blooms, growing very large... but zero peppers.
I have had a few  tomato and mayo sandwiches, guessing their value at around $50 each.....HA.!!

I started a couple of outdoor, raised bed box garden areas in the back yard. So far everything is coming along nicely. I've been studying various YouTube videos, trying to learn the best tips for soil prep, fertilizers, pruning, and pest control. The difference with outdoor and indoor gardening is....pests, weather issues, birds, and heat stress in the Texas summers. I did learn online that tomatoes stop producing above 94 degrees. They can be kept green and healthy...but they stop flowering until it cools off, usually late September around here. I had already experienced that with previous gardening, but didn't know the magic temperature maximum. (Never have that issue in an air conditioned indoor grow room).



And....I've been gradually putting a window film on my old church bus. I was considering, initially, putting standard dark window tint on the several windows around this van... but I couldn't envision my 320 lbs fatass, long-legged, non-flexible self doing all the contortions required to properly clean all the glass interior sides, then meticulously measure, then carefully cut, and squeegee down this window film. I've done it on a few vehicles in years past. 

I did get some estimates from a few auto tint shops.....anywhere from $450 to $1,200.!!!  For a $3,500 van?? Nope.!!

(I distinctly recall putting dark film on the glass of my white 1975 Caddy Coupe de Ville in 1980, at night, sitting in a carwash bay, using their lights to allow this work, with a 20 mph gusty wind blowing in from Galveston, 10 miles south of Houston).  I had tinting loooong before anyone else was sporting tinted glass in their vehicle. I was just trying to hide the abhorrent pumpkin-orange dashboard and plaid factory seat covers from view.... the low mileage Caddy was a steal at $3,900....Doctor's wife's car...during the first oil shortage.'s the Wino-Bago van.

 But first my Caddy from 1980 when I was working in Clear Lake City, south of Houston, helping build an apartment project.

Dual exhaust, perfect paint, tuned for optimum fuel mileage... 11-12 mpg.  But what a ride!!!

Van film used was a vinyl, micro-perforated adhesive film. It adheres to the OUTSIDE of the glass.  A little tricky to install, but I got better the more windows I did. Amazingly good vision from inside looking out during daylight.

This is looking through the perforated film.


Looks good from 20 feet away. We'll see how well it holds up.

And I installed a Queen sized bed and frame in it a couple weeks ago. Had to shorten one leg that was over one wheel well. 

Little by little..... progress is being made.

It's truly amazing how I'm more able to DO THINGS, since I quit boozing.