A beer in time

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Beer is for mouths, not amps!

A friend of mine got a really great deal on an amp.  It’s a Traynor YCV40, of which I am a big fan.  In fact, I have a Traynor YCV40WR, and I love it.

The YCV40 is a 40 watt tube combo amp with a single 12″ speaker.  Like a lot of combos, the amp brain is mounted “upside-down” at the top of the cabinet, with the tubes pointing down and the controls at the top rear of the box.  The front of the amp is rounded slightly, which means the speaker points up a bit, which means it projects sound a bit higher, and that is useful.  It also means that the top of the amp is NOT flat.

This amp was used, but it seemed in pretty good shape. The speaker is fine, the amp sounds great, all appeared to be well.  My friend had the amp for a little while, and we noticed that the channel switch on the top of the amp was pretty sticky.  It was obvious that someone had spilled something on the amp, and some of the something had run into that switch.  It was hard to change channels with the switch on the amp, though the remote foot-switch works just fine.  There was also some rust under the paint on the top of the amp brain.

Then the carry-strap on the top broke.  I said “No problem!  I’ll fix that for you.”

I tried to unscrew the handle.  It became clear that whoever owned the amp before had indeed spilled something on the amp–my best guess is that it was an entire beer. He had probably tried to sit it on top of the amp, probably with the bottom against the strap, which is in the middle, right where the channel switch is, it had fallen over and dumped all over the amp.  And then he had just left it.

There’s no sign that anything was done to try to clean or dry the amp.  Maybe the top was wiped off.

The liquid had run into the handle, and along the top of the amp brain itself. The bolts holding the strap in place had rusted, and then had come loose, and someone had stripped them by trying to tighten them and/or remove them with the wrong screwdriver head. Then they had been left a bit loose, so the strap, which was rusting, worked back and forth against the threads every time he picked the amp up, and eventually wore away. It had broken on one side, and he had driven a screw into that side of the handle.   And finally the whole thing had given up, and the amp had been dropped when the handle broke.  After that, the channel switch on the top of the amp had given up completely, so you can only switch channels with a footpedal.

The bolts were far to stripped to get out any other way, so I had to use a tapping screw puller.  And both of the bolts broke off halfway with very little pressure.  I am not a strong man. In fact, I am widely known for my utterly laughable physique. Those bolts were rusted all to ratshit.

I ordered a replacement strap from Direct Pro Audio here in Omaha.  It cost five dollars for the strap handle (which is steel sandwiched with vinyl) AND both of the shiny metal mounts that hold it on.  Yes!  Original parts, from the manufacturer, reasonably priced–ANOTHER reason why I like Traynor.

I took the back plank off the amp, took out the bolts that hold the brain in place, along with the RCA jacks to the reverb and the plug for the speaker, and pulled out the brain.  I opened it up and checked to see if there was any other damage inside, and I was pretty sure there would be.  Nope. Traynor had done a good job of designing the amp so that the top is pretty well-sealed.  Apart from the little opening around the switch, there was nowhere for the liquid to go in.

The top of the brain was covered with rusty gunk though, and all the bolts in the top of the brain were rusted. I cleaned the top of the brain, then took out all the rusty bolts, cleaned them off, put them back in, and then wiped all the rusty gunk off the top of the amp brain again.

And there were a couple of very dead beetles inside the brain.  Very dead, very dry beetles.   By the time I found those, I was starting to really dislike the old owner.

I measured for what I would need, and bought a couple of T-nuts and new bolts. Traynor had done a nice tidy job of putting the mounting hardware under the Tolex covering, so I would have to lift that off to replace them. Sometimes that can be a pain, because the tolex is glued down so hard that it tears. That wasn’t the case though, because this dude had spilled so much liquid in there and left it that when I picked up a corner of the Tolex, it all just popped off.  What luck.

Underneath, the surface of the wood was a disgusting mess of rot and mold. The beer had to go somewhere, and where went was into the wood.  The bolts and nuts were rusted into a single piece, which had rusted to the plywood as well.  When I tried to take out the T-nuts, a whole bunch of the top two plies of wood came out as well.   I took the picture above so that you can share the beauty.

The rest of the wood is solid–luckily, Traynor uses good-quality plywood to build their cabs. If this had been MDF, like a lot of amps, the cabinet would have been a write-off.  I cleaned stuff up a bit, put in the new T-nuts, mounted the strap and bolted it on, and then glued the Tolex back down with some spray adhesive–You know, like in the Blues Brothers. Strong stuff.

The amp works and sounds great, and the handle is solid as new, but I’ve got replacement channel switches on order (~$2 each for factory replacements!  YAY TRAYNOR), and then I’ll open up the brain and replace the channel switch on the PCB.

All because of one beer.

There’s a moral to this story, and it’s s simple one: Kids, PLEASE don’t be like this guy–give your gear some basic care and attention.

A small thing, like trying to sit a beer on an amp that is NOT FLAT ON TOP can lead to a small problem, like spilling a drink on your amp, and if you do nothing, that can lead to big problems, like rusting and rotting an otherwise perfectly good amp.  It takes five minutes to get this amp apart and dry it out. You don’t need anything more complex than a Phillips screwdriver and a towel to do the job, and you don’t need any more brains than it takes to vacuum under the floormats of your car.

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