Vintage Hi-Fi

I grew up in the 70s and one of the things I always lusted after was proper hi-fi - separate boxes of electronics which could play, amplify and reproduce music from vinyl records in high quality.

I bought my first proper hi-fi with the earnings from my first summer holiday job and I still remember the excitement of opening the boxes, connecting it all together and putting on the first LP. To me, this wasn't just about the sound of the music. I thought that good hi-fi rigs were also attractive, with their brushed aluminium fascias and illuminated dials and meters. Often made in Japan, but also in the UK and other countries that used to manufacture things, they were beautifully designed and made to last.

This quality came at a price and, translated into today's money, the 1970s hi-fi cost thousands of pounds.
The kind of thing I aspired to - but never achieved - in the 1970s
Of course, my original 70s kit has long since gone, a victim of progress and the urge to continuously upgrade and improve.

Fast forward 40 years and I'm looking for a new indoor activity to keep me amused during the lockdown. While watching a YouTube video I glimpsed a vintage hi-fi unit which was only in shot for a second - and the idea was born.
The inspiration for my new lockdown activity
I decided to buy a vintage receiver to add to my current, modern system. Mostly for show, but I also wanted it to work.

We now have eBay and other easy sources of antiques. After some initial browsing I decided I wanted an item which would look good next to my existing setup and complement the aesthetics, whilst clearly coming from a different era. I decided against the wooden cabinets that were popular in the early 1970s, in favour of the cleaner look of the all-metal box. And I wanted something that basically worked: I'm not an electronics expert and didn't want to be replacing components and soldering.

I enjoyed my internet-based journey down memory lane and after some short-listing I settled on the Sony STR-242L which ticked all the boxes. Better still, there were two good examples on eBay which, together, cost hardly anything, so I ordered them both, figuring that I could take the best parts of each and produce a near-perfect example.
The Sony STR-242L as presented on eBay
Both duly arrived, one from Essex and one from Holland, and the project began. After a short time inpecting and testing them, I concluded that one was fully working but with some small scratches on the casing, while the other didn't work so well but had a more pristine appearance.

While waiting for the deliveries I even managed to find and download a PDF copy of the Sony service manual which shows me exactly how to dismantle the receivers, even down to the correct order to remove the screws and which screwdrivers to use.

The plan was obvious and now I'm spending a few enjoyable hours with a screwdriver set, some rubbing alcohol and some very carefully applied acetone. My aim is that the hybrid near-perfect item will soon be sitting proudly beneath our television alongside far more modern equipment.
The project in progress in our attic
I've had to promise not to do too much of this, however, as it can become addictive. Well, maybe just one more.
Things mustn't go too far