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Lucky Pierre

A pair of AR-3 fell into my lap this week

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Greetings,

I was at a get together with some friends Wednesday night.  I mentioned that I had just bought parts for four speaker projects I have right now.  When I mentioned that I was working on a pair of AR-5 and AR-4x, a new friend said he  had a pair of AR-3 up on a shelf and asked if I wanted them.  I've never really considered looking for AR-3's, considering the prices they fetch these days and the fact that I recently picked up the AR-5's for myself.  He offered them to me for $700.  After a (very) brief inner dialog, I said yes!

He's had them for about 30 years, and they were last in use about 6 years ago.  He said they have never been opened up.  The cabinets are a little rough, but all corners are solid, and as far as I could see, there are only a couple of small chips in the veneer at the bottom of the speakers.  The grill cloth is saggy and falling off the frame and will need to be replaced.  All of the badges are there.  I've read, and re-read the restoration guide in preparation for tackling the AR-5's, so I'm ready for these, too.

S/n are C23418 and C23428.  There is a note on the warranty card stating Oct. 1963.

I'll probably pick them up next weekend.  I'll post pics when I get them home.

L_P

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You are indeed "Lucky". Congratulations!! This stuff never happens to me, but I love reading about others that it does. Sounds like you're all set to do these beauties up right. Can't wait to hear about the endeavor and see more pictures. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, samberger0357 said:

You are indeed "Lucky". Congratulations!! This stuff never happens to me, but I love reading about others that it does. Sounds like you're all set to do these beauties up right. Can't wait to hear about the endeavor and see more pictures. 

 

 

Things do sort of find me.  When these are done I will have and restored:  AR-3, -4x, -5, -7.  The 3's, and i think the 5's, will be too big for my little living room.  Maybe I need a bigger house...

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37 minutes ago, Lucky Pierre said:

Things do sort of find me.  When these are done I will have and restored:  AR-3, -4x, -5, -7.  The 3's, and i think the 5's, will be too big for my little living room.  Maybe I need a bigger house...

Of course you're right in AR's backyard more or less so more likely you'll come across these classics easier then me in the Bay Area. 

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I hope you tested them before forking over seven hundred. If the mids are shot, you will be investing lots of dollars in them to get them playing correctly.

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1 hour ago, Lucky Pierre said:

Maybe I need a bigger house...

We all will be interested in what you find when you get them in your possession. As far as the bigger house, many of my empty nester friends are always talking about downsizing and simplifying their lives. To me a bigger house would mean more room for more stuff, especially AR speakers.

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1 hour ago, lakecat said:

I hope you tested them before forking over seven hundred. If the mids are shot, you will be investing lots of dollars in them to get them playing correctly.

Thanks lakecat.  I plan on giving them a listen before I buy.

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I picked up the speakers today.  They need a full restoration.

These are well loves speakers.  There are a lot of scratches, some deep, but the corners are intact.  There are a few small chips in the veneer that I am not going to worry about.  You'll notice two small screw holes in either side of the pots.  The PO attached a small piece of steel spanning the pot switches.  The holes do not go through.  Nothing that a refinishing won't take care of.

There's no sound from either the tweeters or the mids.  I did find a spot on the mid pot on one speaker where I got sound.  Once I remove the tweeters and mids and verify if they are good, I'll send them out to be rebuilt.

The woofer have cloth surrounds that are still sealed.  They take a good second and a half or so to return after being depressed.

The grill frames are plastic and broken.  I might be able to glue them, but I'll  probably remake them with 1/4" plywood or masonite.  Are there opinions on which will flex enough to install them?

I'll start ordering parts this week.  Hopefully they will be done in a month or so.  I have four other speaker projects going on now, so I won't get to start on these for about two weeks.  I'll post pictures of my progress.

 

L_P

 

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Nice! Those steel straps are puzzling.

Some have recommended 1/8" MDF instead of Masonite.

The grille material is available from a seller in Canada. I'll try to find the info if you need it.

I would advise against removing the tweets and mids until you have determined they are definitely bad. You can run a signal to each using the rivets where they are front wired. The less those fragile tinsel leads are disturbed the better.

-Kent

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On 10/27/2018 at 12:24 PM, Lucky Pierre said:

Greetings,

I was at a get together with some friends Wednesday night.  I mentioned that I had just bought parts for four speaker projects I have right now.  When I mentioned that I was working on a pair of AR-5 and AR-4x, a new friend said he  had a pair of AR-3 up on a shelf and asked if I wanted them.  I've never really considered looking for AR-3's, considering the prices they fetch these days and the fact that I recently picked up the AR-5's for myself.  He offered them to me for $700.  After a (very) brief inner dialog, I said yes!

He's had them for about 30 years, and they were last in use about 6 years ago.  He said they have never been opened up.  The cabinets are a little rough, but all corners are solid, and as far as I could see, there are only a couple of small chips in the veneer at the bottom of the speakers.  The grill cloth is saggy and falling off the frame and will need to be replaced.  All of the badges are there.  I've read, and re-read the restoration guide in preparation for tackling the AR-5's, so I'm ready for these, too.

S/n are C23418 and C23428.  There is a note on the warranty card stating Oct. 1963.

I'll probably pick them up next weekend.  I'll post pics when I get them home.

L_P

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I believe the serial number for this one is C 23638, not 438.  You got a great find, particularly if all drivers are functional, which is very likely.  Those cabinets are rough, but the drivers look good and have not been removed, which is a definite plus.

--Tom Tyson

 

 

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Whew!...those cabs looked like they lost in a bad cat fight!...lol. If you are not familiar with it, there is a wet towel...steam iron trick to lift the scratches...but your work is cut out for those.

If interested, I have the grill material that matches the AR3 old stuff. I had order more than I needed recently for AR3 work I am doing...and their minimum was enough for extras. Just PM me if interested. This material is fairly easy to work with and used contact cement for top and bottom with excellent results. I left sides alone so it could flex into cab.

If grills are not broken too much, I have glued those with gel super glue with good results.

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Thanks for the great advice.  Yes, the cabs have seen better days, but it's mostly scratches with little lost veneer.  I will have to ponder whether I want to try lift the scratches or just sand them and love the patina.  I might try the iron method on the bottom of one to check out the results.

The steel strap covered the pot switches with little pieces of foam wedged between them.  I think he just wanted the pots to stay where he liked the settings.  He is an interesting fellow--I am not going to wonder his motives beyond that.

LC, I'll PM you when I am nearing the grills.  I'll try gluing them.  If that doesn't work, I'll take Kent's advice on the MDF.

Tom, I will definitely test the drivers before I try to take them out.  I would rather not have to remove them.

 

Peter

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LP

Glad to hear that you were able to acquire these.

Those look like lacquered mahogany cabinets, and would be good candidates for refinishing with new lacquer. They would look great!

 

 

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You'll probably end up sanding and putting on a new finish, but if you do the steam iron trick first, it may reduce the amount of sanding needed to level the scratches. 

You can "restore" the patina of aged mahogany by "aging" the sanded wood with a potassium dichromate solution prior to refinishing.

https://www.sawdustzone.org/articles/tutorials-how-to/824947-potassium-dichromate-chemically-coloring-wood

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Thanks genek.

I think Jeff is correct that these are lacquered mahogany.  I don't intend to re-lacquer them.  I am thinking of sanding, then finishing with multiple coats of Watco Danish oil.  I think that with the amount of scratches I probably won't try to iron them out.  I'll just refinish and be happy with the patina.

I have a pair of AR-7 in mahogany.  Their veneer was in worst shape than the 3's, except without the scratches.  The Danish oil gave them a beautiful finish.

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Mahogany only came lacquered. Applying lacquer yourself without the right equipment (spray guns and a booth) and getting a good finish is both difficult and annoying, not to mention potentially dangerous.

I was suggesting ironing simply as a means to reduce the amount of sanding you'll need to level out the surface. There's no chance you'd be able to only iron.

Depending on how the sanding goes, it might be best to apply a sanding sealer before you do the finish coats.

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3 hours ago, genek said:

Applying lacquer yourself without the right equipment (spray guns and a booth) and getting a good finish is both difficult and annoying, not to mention potentially dangerous.

I usually defer to Gene on things like this but I've been very successful with Minwax Gloss spray lacquer in a rattle can. Spray outdoors. It dries very fast so you can apply multiple coats quickly.

-Kent

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I've not had good experiences with rattle can lacquer. The spray droplets are too large to lay down really thin coats, which is what you need to build up a mirror gloss finish. Though I suppose if you're determined you could rub it out the same as brush on lacquer.

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15 hours ago, Lucky Pierre said:

I don't intend to re-lacquer them.  I am thinking of sanding, then finishing with multiple coats of Watco Danish oil.  I think that with the amount of scratches I probably won't try to iron them out.  I'll just refinish and be happy with the patina.

I have a pair of AR-7 in mahogany.  Their veneer was in worst shape than the 3's, except without the scratches.  The Danish oil gave them a beautiful finish.

LP,

Your decision to not iron is a good one since you plan on sanding the cabinets anyway. Scratches always look worse on lacquer and most should go away with sanding. Any deeper gouges, and the need to use steam heat, can be assessed at that point.

It sounds like you know what you want to do, but I'll make one more appeal for lacquer. My suggestion to re-lacquer is based on the rarity and value of this finish on AR-3's, but it would involve removing the drivers (which you'll likely do anyway to get at the pots and capacitors). Kents method is low cost and could do the trick, or, possibly have a local furniture refinisher do a professional application.

You say you have a pair of AR-7's in mahogany?

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Thanks again, Jeff.

If I do decide on lacquer, I would have take them to someone that can spray.  I trust myself to rattle can lacquer something small.  Not these.

I  have a pair of Realistic Delta 12 speakers with a lacquer finish.  It is really pretty when the veneer is not all beat up.

I mentioned earlier that I probably won't start on these for a couple of weeks.  I'll post on my progress.

Peter

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Another option you might  consider is padding lacquer,, which as the same suggests is applied with pads in much the same way shellac is used for French polish. I've used a Behlen product called Qualasole, which works well, though not on anything as large as an AR-3:

 

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I’m purchased a stunning pair of  AR-3’s from a dear gentleman who has owned them since the 1960’s. They will be cherished. My JBL Rock and Roll  L-96’s need a cool jazz brother. ️ Family heirlooms. Peace and love to all.

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Those look nice....congrats. I saw those on Ebay as I follow the AR3's on there and was a head scratcher as I saw it was sold twice. First sale was a lower price than second price the next day. It stated no shipping but those were in Florida and you are in Wisconsin? Said they were completely redone recently so nothing should be done for awhile...good luck....and welcome.

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