A Pioneer CT-F1250, A Rebuild, A Saga

tumblr_o9i0uyRjH01upt4oto1_540

Blake Donley
Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 2:06 PM
To: Tim

Hello Tim!

I was referred to you from the fellas at Pacific Stereo.

I have a CT-F1250 that was finally diagnosed by a local vintage audio repair shop as having a bad motor. My local shop tried to replace it with one that would fit and found it was not a perfect fit. I know these motors can be rebuilt, but I am not confident enough to undertake that task in a DIY manner. Do you offer any type of service in regards to CT-F1250 motor rebuild or replacement? If so, do you accept units shipped to you (I’m in Minneapolis). If so, what’s a ballpark on the cost of such an undertaking? Thanks for your time.

~~BlaKe~~
Tim
Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 11:33 PM
To: Blake Donley

Yes, I can repair or replace that motor if you ship the unit to Music Technology.

To do that repair would be about $250 .

The cost could be more if it needs new belts (3), new pinch rollers or an idler tire.

Also, the heads in theses decks often have some wear and that means it may not be 100% as far as specs. New heads are not available. The record calibration system on this deck is not well designed so if you want to record on this deck, it’s best for me to set the deck up internally for a tape so you don’t need to use the cal system.

-Tim
Blake Donley
Wednesday, July 06, 2016 3:06 PM
To: Tim

Tim –

10,000 thank you’s for your reply!

So I had this deck serviced three separate times by the same techs up here at Alex Audio & Video. I believe they replaced belts and rollers and rebuilt the idler. That said, you come highly recommended, so I trust your judgement.

Basically, I want this baby as close to new/spec as possible for a 40-year-old deck. As long as you give me a head’s up as to what the repair and cost will be after you give it the once-over, I’ll be happy to have you work on it.

I will likely never record on this system, so no heroic measures are needed along those lines.

My next questions is: so how does the process work? Do I just mail you the deck, you assess it and send me an estimate? I’m cool with whatever your preferred approach. Just let me know.

This deck is the sound-loop anchor of a stack of Pioneer silver I’ve been collecting for six years. Plus I have over 400 cassettes that I can’t currently play. I really just want is serviced and serviced by someone that knows what they’re doing. I’m quite excited you will work on it.

Thanks!
Tim
Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 9:32 PM
To: Blake Donley

You just mail it in with a $75 deposit check. That 75 gets applied to the repair bill once the deck is finished.

And as I mentioned, that deck will very likely have a fair amount of head wear, so it won’t be “like a new deck” when I’m done.. It will sound decent, however, and be reliable As long as you are ok with that. New heads are not available.

Pack it well! No hard styrofoam or peanuts. Lots of soft padding.

-Tim
Blake Donley
Sat, Jul 9, 2016 at 10:11 PM
To: Tim

Sounds most excellent.

It’ll be in the mail Monday morning.

Thanks Tim!!!
Blake Donley
Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 12:49 PM
To: Tim

The unit shipped today UPS Ground; they said Friday it will arrive. I told them no Styrofoam. It is insured in case they goof up the shipping. There is a $75 check enclosed along with a printout of the page with your instructions.

If you needed to officially enter my information as a customer, it is as follows:

Blake Donley




Just let me know the grand total for getting her back to fightin’ condition—thanks Tim!
Tim
Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 7:21 PM
To: Blake Donley
Sounds good. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

-Tim
Tim
Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 9:53 PM
To: Blake Donley

Estimated total is $530 with an estimated balance due of $455 (since you already paid 75).

-new reel motor
-2 new pinch rollers (they are 100% shot)
-3 new belts (they are the wrong size)
-repair tape guides (deck is damaging tapes)
-you would have to buy the belts from Marrs for $30 (not included in estimate)
-playback only

Let me know if you want to proceed.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 10:41 PM
To: Tim

So if I buy the belts would I have them shipped to you?
Tim
Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 11:01 PM
To: Blake Donley

Correct. Have the belts shipped to the shop.

-Tim
Blake Donley
Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 8:25 AM
To: Tim

Sounds like a plan. If you can get me the info on which belts to purchase and the website where I am to purchase them, the rest sounds good. I am already invested in getting this deck to work, so let’s do it.
Tim
Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 6:43 PM
To: Blake Donley

Go here:

http://www.marrscommunications.com/pioneer-supreme-cassette-belts-10-year-guarantee

Now in the box that says “brand/model” enter Pioneer CT-F1250 and then hit “buy”

Hopefully they can ship direct to my shop. Perhaps email them first about that.

-Tim
Blake Donley
Sun, Aug 7, 2016 at 12:21 PM
To: Tim

I ordered them to be shipped to:

… c/o Blake Donley


Hopefully you will receive them this week or next.
Tim
Sun, Aug 7, 2016 at 8:13 PM
To: Blake Donley

Sounds good. I have the new reel motor on order.

-Tim

Tim
Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 9:19 PM
To: Blake Donley

Still waiting on the belts.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 10:04 PM
To: Tim

I know they were having issues with flooding down there. I’ll ask for a status.
Tim
Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 10:11 PM
To: Blake Donley

The new reel motor has arrived, but not installed or tested.. I’m going to wait for the belts before I do that.

-Tim
Blake Donley
Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 10:13 PM
To: Tim

Sounds good. I sent them a request for status. They did update their site to say as of 8/30, orders were taking 7 days. I assume mine got lost in the chaos, but I forwarded them the paypal transaction. Hopefully you’ll get the belts soon.
Tim
Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 9:53 PM
To: Blake Donley

Have they received payment form you? As in your CC or Paypal has been deducted the cost of the belts.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 10:52 PM
To: Tim

Yep, I paid with PayPal and have the receipt. I have sent them the receipt each time I have inquired (which is not five times). Today I simply asked them to email back and acknowledge the receipt. I have not heard anything as of yet. I’m assuming I won’t until they finish their move.
Blake Donley
Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 5:42 PM
To: Tim

I finally heard from Marrs today via email. Someone there forward my inquiry to someone else there and copied me. I have not heard from the someone else yet…
Tim
Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 6:46 PM
To: Blake Donley

If you want to just get your money back, I can install belts from another company. Or you can wait for Marrs. Either works.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 12:41 PM
To: Tim

I’ll wait…for now…only because it took them six weeks to acknowledge the order. Lord knows how long a refund would take…

I’ll let you know when I hear from them–nothing as of yet.
Tim
Sat, Oct 22, 2016 at 9:22 PM
To: Blake Donley

I have the belts from Marrs now. Will proceed with the repair. Perhaps a week to finish it all.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Sun, Oct 23, 2016 at 7:52 AM
To: Tim

Thanks for the update!
Tim
Sun, Oct 23, 2016 at 10:21 PM
To: Blake Donley

BTW, the new reel motor modification works great. You will have the first CTF1250 with a brand-new, higher-quality reel motor installed. It is not NOS (new old stock). The original reel motors were very unreliable and rebulding them often did not work at all or it was something that would eventually fail again. It was not a good-quality motor to begin with.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 7:44 AM
To: Tim

I’m giddy! I have over 800 cassettes just waiting to be heard again. Thanks for all the hard work and patience!
Tim
Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 7:03 PM
To: Blake Donley

Another first for this 1250 repair is that it will have new Teac pinch rollers. Previous pinch roller options were poor: 1 recover the original rollers at Terry’s. Those did not work well due to the small size. Option 2 was new rollers from Germany. Those are poor quality and super-expensive. These new Teac rollers are very high quality and have a good price.

-Tim

Tim
Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 11:37 PM
To: Blake Donley

It is done, but I should test run it for two days before you pick it up. I will let you know.

Recommend you keep Dolby off and EQ switch set to STD. This is to compensate for the play head wear issue that I told you about (that all old 1250 decks have). It will give you more highs (treble).

-Tim

Blake Donley
Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 5:18 PM
To: Tim

Awesome! Thanks for everything!
Tim
Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 8:56 PM
To: Blake Donley

Also, it depends on which type of tapes you are playing. If they have Dolby B encoding, they may sound better with Dolby off. If they were recorded with CrO2 EQ, they may sound better with STD EQ. Again, this is due to play head wear.

-Tim

Tim
Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 12:52 AM
To: Blake Donley

It’s ready for pickup. See hours below.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 9:47 AM
To: Tim

Thanks Tim!

If you recall (and it’s been forever, so you probably don’t), I shipped the unit into y’all from MN. I will need it shipped back…

Blake Donley

Just let me know the balance (plus return shipping), and I can call in and pay it.

THanks!
Tim
Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 8:48 PM
To: Blake Donley
Yes. I forgot it was mailed in.

It is packed and ready to go.

Kat will call you for payment.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 2:24 PM
To: Tim
Hey Tim,

I got the deck back today and put it back into the stack. When I went to fire it up, nothing much worked on it. Here is a video of FFWD/RWD/Play

I just hooked up the RCA cables and plugged it in. Was there something else I needed to do?
Tim
Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 9:20 PM
To: Blake Donley

Make sure the tapes are good. If you put a Bic pen in the tape hub and verify that the tape turns freely.

If the tape turns freely, then the deck must have been damaged in shipping. Unfortunately, that happens one or twice a year when we ship things out.

I test ran the deck after repair for about 20 hours with many different tapes and they all played flawlessly, so it was 100% functional when packed.

If your tapes all test good, then ship the deck back. Use a much bigger box with more packing this time. The box and packing you sent the deck in with was marginal.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 9:30 PM
To: Tim

I tried about a two-dozen tapes in hopes it was a bad cassette. All the same…

I too noticed the half-assed packing job. I walked into a UPS store (with the bare deck) and said: “This needs to make to VA w/o a scratch on it. Please pack it carefully.” I paid for them to pack it. What I got back, which I can only assume is what you received and sent back to me, made me ever so sad. I’m going to pack it myself—so much for leaving it to the “professionals” (a pair of college kids on summer break from the looks of them).

I’ll be in the mail on Monday. Thanks!
Tim
Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 9:40 PM
To: Blake Donley

I found a brake lever was knocked off it’s track. A strong jolt during shipping likely caused this. I have fixed it so that won’t happen again. Deck plays tapes perfectly now.

I want to test run the deck for about 5 days to be sure everthing else is good and stays good.

I will not ship it back to you it that box and packing. I will see if we have a good shippng box for it in our shop

-Tim

Blake Donley
Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 9:53 PM
To: Tim

Awesome! Thanks so much!
Blake Donley
Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 10:00 AM
To: Tim

Just an FYI. I am leaving for vacation on Tuesday 11/22, and I will be gone for 14 days. If possible, could you ship it in time to arrive on Monday 11/21. I’ll sacrifice a full 5 days of testing for having it arrive before I depart.

Thanks so much!
Tim
Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 8:02 PM
To: Blake Donley

Sorry. Can’t do that. It needs a full 5 day test and then another full bench test before I ship. Also may take a while to find or buy a new shipping box.

I don’t want you to have another defect show up when you get it back. This is a very old deck and they must be checked carefully.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 2:31 PM
To: Tim

OK, I appreciate the diligence. Is it then possible to delay shipment until 11/30? I’m just worried that the unit will be delivered when I am not there and after three attempts they will send it back.

Tim
Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 8:46 PM
To: Blake Donley

Yes, I can delay shipping till 11/30.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 9:55 AM
To: Tim

Thanks!

Tim
Sat, Dec 3, 2016 at 8:14 PM
To: Blake Donley

I was test-running the deck and it ate one of my tapes for the first time ever.. It has not repeated that, however. I have run about 12 tapes through it with zero problem. I need to run it some more to find the problem. May take about a week to find the problem because it is very intermittent.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Sat, Dec 3, 2016 at 8:25 PM
To: Tim

Sounds good. Thanks for the update.
Tim
Wed, Dec 14, 2016 at 12:22 AM
To: Blake Donley

I could not duplicate the tape-eating incident. I lubed and adjusted some items, but never did see the deck eat a tape again. Played about 20 tapes in a row with no problem at all.

Unit is packed in a new, larger box with better packing.

Re-boxing fee is $60. We will pay for return shipping.

Kat will call you for CC payment very soon.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Saturday, December 23, 2016 9:25 PM
To: Tim

IT WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can’t thank you enough for everything. So I have a wonky CT-F900…interested?

cdcover


Copyright © 2018 – ∞ Blake Charles Donley

 

Advertisements

Status Update: Upper Midwest’s Most Dangerous Pioneer Silver Stack

It has been a while since I got the upper Midwest’s most dangerous silver stack assembled.  I am not sure how many blog entries or blogs of mine you read on a regular basis, but it is likely none.  Anyway, assembling this monster was quite a process.  I was an odyssey of near-biblical proportion across eBay, Craigslist, Alex Audio & Video, The Needle Dr., my dad’s storage closet and back again.

I just blew the woofer on one of my speakers, and it got me to looking into the current prices of the various pieces to my wall of componentry.  Hey, if you don’t blow a woofer every now and then, you are clearly not putting much gusto into your music listening, right?  Anyway, here is the market price for guaranteed working components on eBay now-a-days:

  • Pioneer PL-400 Quartz Turntable – $150
  • Pioneer DT-500 Digital Timer – $100
  • Pioneer RG-2 Dynamic Expander – $175
  • Pioneer SG-9500 Equalizer – $350
  • Pioneer TX-8500II Digital Tuner – $125
  • Pioneer SA-9500 2 Channel Amplifier – $450
  • Pioneer CT-F900 Cassette Deck – $175
  • Pioneer P-D70 Compact Disc Player – $500
  • Pioneer CS-703 Speakers – $250
  • Pioneer ST-001 Logo Speaker Stands – Priceless

Grand Total – $1,650!!!

I think I have actually seen an appreciation on my investment of about 15% since my initial purchase.  Not bad at all; I wish my other investments were clocking in at 15% annually.
Anyway, once I get my woofer fixed, I’ll be back in action…fully!

silverstack


Copyright © 2013 – ∞ B. Charles Donley

Let Us Begin Where It All Ended

Your very own musical innocence—do you remember when you last possessed it? Probably not, as innocence lost is innocence long forgotten—such is the nature of innocence. I do, however, recall the days when my musical vernacular consisted of an endless stream of little ditties that were sung during my vocalist heyday: second-grade choir. These ditties were generally sung during holidays like Halloween while sitting cross-legged on a gymnasium floor, while the lyrics echoed across the cement block walls and basketball backboards—200 cherubic voices singing Have You Seen the Ghost of John by the glow of a toasty overhead projector.

Musical innocence, like a steadfast belief in Santa, is hard to hold. As your jackass yet somehow-cooler-than-you’d-ever-hope-to-be friends are trying to convince you that your parents are actually Santa, you plug your ears and close your eyes and remember last year’s wonderful Santa gifts. Hmm…how in the hell did he know that you wanted a 12″ Chewbacca? That was a truly fucking amazing guess, right?!

And then all-at-once, it all ends with a loud, thunderous, and rhythmic series of thumps—you notice your parents listening to actual, real, authentic music. Not the music that you clanked out on a triangle in elementary school, but music made by fabulous people who somehow figured out how to get paid to clang cowbells, shake tambourines, and sing from their very souls. When it happens, all of the musical notes chaotically careening around in your head suddenly align, and you begin to comprehend the greater cosmic significance (and sound) of music. Music becomes so much more than just a rote exercise in chanting lyrics projected onto a screen halfway across the gym.

The first “adult” song I can remember consciously experiencing was the Spinners classic medley, “Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl”.  That song first appeared on the Spinners LP: Dancin’ and Lovin’. There is a vision that I can recall at-will, like some sort of a reoccurring dream, where my old man—impersonating Deney Terrio with every fiber of his being—is slicing and dicing the brown/yellow shag carpet in our family room like a combine harvesting wheat as “Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl” banks off every inch the gold foil and faux-cork wallpaper that adorned the walls. In this Felliniesque vignette, I swear I could see actual carpet fibers being thrown into the air—screaming in horror—as the razor-edged 1″ heels of his navy blue alligator loafers separated them from the rest of their fibrous family.

For me, that was the moment when it all ended: my musical innocence.

I was forever ruined from that moment on. Renditions of “Row Row Row Your Boat” never sounded the same, even if performed (as they always were) in a round. For I knew, that the great wide world of music had oh so much more to offer than a gaggle of cherubic vocalists belting out the classic Sesame Street anthems of the day. Plus, the grass sounded a hell of a lot greener coming out of the old man’s Marantz 33/330 speakers—that was for DAMN sure!!!

Charles “Chuck” Donley, my old man, would nary discard anything that could potentially yield some future purpose. Along those lines, he saved—bless his quadruple-bypassed heart—not only the the entire stereo, but the the flippin’ receipts from this first component stereo system through which the Spinners popped my musical cherry. Just as he may have been unaware of how significant it was that he passed on to me an appreciation of music, he will never comprehend how important it was that he somehow managed to preserve these historical artifacts which spawned my love of music. 10,000 thanks dad! It is one of the most amazing things, however inadvertently, you have ever done!

Here is what he preserved from the time I was eight years old until the eve of my 39th birthday, when the eventual stewardship of these historical artifacts was passed on to me in a mind-blowing exchange chronicled in my second forthcoming novel:

Pioneer SX-780 Receiver

Silver Stack 2010_03_02c

Silver Stack 2010_03_02d

Pioneer PL-400 Turntable

Silver Stack 2010_03_02a

Silver Stack 2010_03_02b

Marantz 33/330 Speakers

Silver Stack 2010_03_02e

Silver Stack 2010_03_02f

By mid Halloween 1980, my old man had replaced his sketchy Sylvania Hi-Fi console—it was destined to become a over-sized combo: buffet/coffee table/Christmas knick-knack staging area—with a real live stack of shiny silver stereo components. And, as far as I know, the Spinner’s “Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl” may have been the first song to pass through the Marantz LS-33-330s. I would describe my memory as “solid”, not photographic.

With my musical innocence lost, my fate as a music infatuationist was sealed—forever! I believe every new experience in this life impacts everyone with a different degree of cosmic importance. For some, seeing their first in-person sporting event injects an unquenchable lust for their favorite sports team into their very blood—they bleed their favorite team’s colors. For some, their formative experiences with a family pet fosters a love of animals that borders on the hysterical. For me, there would be no event that would ever hit me in quite the way watching my old man give his new component stereo hell by way of the Spinners’ “Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl” would.

Everything about the six minutes and two seconds of that memory is seared into my psyche. First, there was the way my old man could move, like REALLY move. Thinking back, he didn’t dance like any Midwestern white dude I’ve ever seen. He was literally possessed by the rhythm of the song. He shocked me—he was dazzling! Next, the grandeur of the music—the beat, the harmonies, the guy with the really low voice who’d solo a line or two every other verse. I’d never heard anyone sing that deeply, soulfully. Finally, about halfway through the tune, my old man cranked up the volume to a level my young ears had never been subjected to. I could not only hear the utter awesomeness of this moment though the Marantz 33/330s, I could not only see it in my father’s dancing, I could feel it at my core. It was fucking fantastic in nearly every sense!

Soon after the stereo purchase, Chuck added a pair of Koss K/A6LC Dynamic Stereophone Headphones into the mix. And with that addition, I began to realize that enjoying music could be accomplished on a singular level. Jamming to the Spinners did not require group participation and serial carpet-fiber murder.

So, at the ripe-old-age of eight, I had been inadvertently converted to a music infatuaionist by my father. And there were three LPs in heavy rotation during that initial formative year:

  • Juice Newton – “Juice”
  • Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show – “Greatest Hits”
  • Beach Boys – “Super Hits – As Seen on TV – a Ronco Records Production”

All of a sudden, by way of the of Koss K/A6LC Dynamic Stereophone Headphones, I had musical freewill—it was immensely liberating! Around that same time, my old man seemed to have become more interested—at least in an aesthetic sense—in acquiring the aforementioned stereo components than actually enjoying them. His “musical” taste had inexplicably shifted to the talk radio (WCCO) that was constantly blaring out of the cheap transistor radio in the kitchen. Coming from the man that once played records and danced around the family room with the grace of a shadow-eyed ninja, the man that took lessons on how to dance “the Hustle“, the man who vigorously clanked his heavy gold ring on the steering wheel to the beat of any song on the car stereo, this was sort of a confounding shift.

The happy accidental upshot of Chuck’s shift in “musical” taste, was that I basically had his spanking new component stereo system to myself. This was a magnificent turn of events to be sure! I had a pair of Koss K/A6LC Dynamic Stereophone Headphones, a Pioneer SX-780 Receiver, a Pioneer PL-400 Turntable, and all of my old man’s LPs at my disposal. It is akin to inviting a man who has just completed 40 days and 40 nights aimlessly wandering the desert to Thanksgiving dinner. And so I began to consume as many LPs as I possibly could. I would quickly devour anything that existed in the old man’s record collection.

From there, as life unfolded before my very eyes, musical media, formats, and styles evolved as well. I would frantically fold all of these musical developments into my own coming-of-age story. But is was not until the eventual stewardship of the musical artifacts of my youth was passed on to me, that I paused and once again contemplated raw, organic, analog musical enjoyment.

Just like every other digital drone, by the late ’90s (my late 20s), I was immersed in a minutia of a musical bits and bytes. I was more concerned with acquisition than experience. I fell victim to all of the conventional “improvements” in the arena of musical enjoyment to such a degree, that enjoyment of music had actually become tedious, a chore of sorts. I had become prodigiously jaded toward music. I had completely lost track of the joy of watching goosebumps rise off my arms as the initial notes of aural excellence whizzed past my eardrums and beyond.

When my old man gave me the old stereo, I realized it had been a long time since I had had any ear-shattering aural sex—a sad realization, indeed…

So, after some (significant) procurement and juggling of vintage stereo equipment, I assembled the world’s most dangerous Pioneer Silver Series stack this side of the Mpls./St. Paul border.  I paired it with a set of Pioneer CS-703 speakers acquired from some dude in Ohio by way of eBay.

vol_01_issue_01_07

With the [ confl (uence conv) ergence ] =  conflergence of three events:

  • Stewardship of the musical artifacts of my youth
  • Realization it had been a long time since I had experienced ear-shattering aural sex
  • Journey of assemblage of the world’s most dangerous Pioneer Silver Series stack this side of the Mpls./St. Paul border

It felt essential to go back to the future and retrace the steps of my musical journey in a effort to give music a chance to once again recapture my imagination. In the spirit of that notion, I walked into a thrift store and began flipping through the LP bin. In 2010, I bought my first LP in 17 years, and I once again discovered the sheer joy of musical nirvana. With that, I decided to go back to the beginning and acquire the LPs that heralded the onset of the end of my musical innocence.

I will listen to each intently, and in future episodes, provide my thoughts on said LPs.  With each new LP that I procure, I will perform a similar exercise of discovery and review. And in the process, I hope to seamlessly weave together the two great loves of my life—music and writing. I figure if I can’t create art (music) in the same manner as the musicians I admire, I’ll create art in the manner I can (writing) and hopefully provide a few moments of joy for anyone soul who takes the time to read this rambling.

Ramble on…


Copyright © 2012 – ∞ B. Charles Donley