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Thread: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

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    Question Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    I'm debating on what I should do with an Akai GX-280D-SS quadraphonic reel to reel deck that recently showed up on my doorstep.

    I don't really have any money in the thing, but it's currently inoperable. I carefully took it out of the case and removed the covers and did a few tests. Here's what it's doing if you trip the arms to think there's a tape in place:

    -When you press 'play', the green light on the button comes on, but nothing happens (no relay 'click'); you let go, the light goes off
    -Pressing the 'reverse' button, nothing happens
    -Press 'fast forward' or 'rewind' and the proper take up reel spins; however, the brakes around the opposite reel don't release
    -The audio inputs and record seem to be fine in 2 channel or four channel mode
    -The heads look good and the unit's very clean
    -The mechanical parts probably need a little lube - they seem a little tight

    I talked about it over the phone with a friend who used to repair electronics; he suggested that some part(s) of the power supply have blown or that some solinoid or relays might have gone bad. He suggested it's not tough to fix with a service manual if you know what you're doing.

    First off, do you think it's worth repairing? Is this more of a candidate for parting out for someone? (Again, sort of like Paul's grandfather in "A Hard Day's Night", it's very clean.) What do you think?

    I currently only collect Quad LP's and don't see myself collecting prerecorded Quad tapes (they're a little too much for my wallet). I would find a reel to reel deck useful to transfer a couple of boxes of tapes recorded by my uncle in Vietnam and to generally play around with as part of my stereo system - I could be tempted by stereo tapes more in my price range, particularly of classical stuff.

    I'm not sure if I could find someone to repair it locally (I'm in the Triad/Triangle area of NC); it would cost a small fortune to ship this thing somewhere - it weighs just a little less than my two piece late 1940s Lear combo wire recorder/phonograph/am radio home entertainment system.

    http://www.coolcatdaddy.com/rand/wires.html

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    Board Operator JonUrban's Avatar
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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    Well, that happens to be one of the better machines. The heads are glass and hold up quite well.

    I am not a "reel" expert, but it seems like the issues may be able to be resolved. Hopefully someone may chime in here.

    You are starting with something worthwhile. It's a matter of HOW worthwhile it may be!
    :-jon

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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    Be prepared to part with some cash if you are not a tech....

    The Pioneer 1020H (2 ch record,2/4 ch play) I have decided to get all kinds of noise going on while I had just begun archiving some old radio shows and my person band jams. No less than $100 to look at it.

    So I bought a Pioneer 1020L (3-3/4"+7-1/2"IPS instead of H's 7-1/2"+15"IPS) off eBay for $95 (ouch $40 shipping) and they are day and night different.

    This one plays tape but has FF/Rew are almost too fast and the braking is not good. The radio show splices flew apart in this machine; didn't dare use Rewind. So I flipped the reels and "played" the tape back onto it's reel. Then it tore up an unreplaceable tape stretching it into a piece of twine for 2 feet.

    I stopped using it until I think up a strategy to get tapes safely on and off if it....
    Last edited by timbre4; 12-13-2006 at 04:43 AM. Reason: Um, I type poorly at 11:45pm?
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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    Meant to say that is a COOL deck with great heads as Jon pointed out.
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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    I am on my second 280D. My first was purchased in Germany in the early 70's. It was damaged beyond repair during shipment from Xalifornia to Missouri. I found a replacement on E-bay. The 280 uses 3 motors. One on each spindle and one on the capstan. They are all controlled by an amplifier and numerous relays. I have had to clean the contacts on my relays several times. They are enclosed in plastic, and I do not see how they can get dirty, but they do. I usually pull the relay board, and take the plastic cover off of each relay on the board one at a time and clean with contact cleaner.So far that has resolved my problems. These relays control which motors have power, and how much power, and whcih way the motor will run. I hope this helps.

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    Junior Member Quadradude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    I inherited one that I was dissapointed to find not operational a while back, with symptoms very similar to yours actually. I did a lot of hunting on the internet and found one obscure reference to problems with early Akai 2-sided circuit board designs going intermittent so being handy with a soldering iron I decided to remove the chassis from the cabinet and do some exploring of the internals (unfortunately with no manual) and what I found in mine was that the removable (socketed) control board had invisible to the naked eye but very apparent cold solder joints on the metal sleeves that Akai used to connect associated traces on one side of the circuit board to their circuit coutinuations on the other which akai put in to make it 2-sided so it could hold far more traces per circuit board than a traditional (at the time) single-sided circuit board could, therefore allowing them to pack more circuits into less space.
    I chose to give all removable boards a good going over at each of those points with my soldering iron and to my excitement found the unit to be fully functional afterwards, albeit in need of new pre-amplifier I.C.s due to the ones they chose getting very hissy with age/use, and I'm sure it could also use new electrolytic capacitors since the deck is totally original.
    My deck spent a lot of time playing 2-channel tapes and it's very obvious that the "rear" pre-amplifiers got little use because they're beautifully quiet if I thread up a stereo tape on the opposite side to run through the reverse play cycle and they're loaded with hiss playing forward, plus a 4D Reel gives the same result, nice quiet rears, majorly hissy fronts.
    Based on how my other considerably newer Akai 2-channel decks sound while playing (GX-266D and GX-747dbx) and how this GX-280D-SS Deck sounds exactly as nice when playing stereo tapes on the reverse mode, I personally feel that with a little patience and time invested, unless there's some major electronic component failure hidden within, take the time to fix and enjoy it!
    Either that or give it to me...

    I hope you have as good of luck with yours as I did with mine because they're really nice decks, in my opinion.

    Good Luck!

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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    I bought one of these decks brand new; $608.00 in 1975, and mine started acting flaky around 1985. The power supply was going heywire and the servo control board did all kinds of wierd stuff. I'm an Electronic Technician by trade, so I took the unit apart to find that EVERY solder joint on the servo-control/relay board was oozing flux, and had corrosion like you would not believe! My dad worked on the thing for a month and we both decided that it couldn't be repaired. It was a real shame because the deck worked flawlessly for the 10 years I owned it. I gave mine away to a power supply designer at work.

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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    I have two of these. First one I got real cheap as it only played/recorded forward. Worked fine for transferring quad tapes to pc.
    Bought another a few years later. Some of the buttons didn't work, but it had a remote. Used the remote and all functions work properly. Tried the remote on the first deck and everything worked fine.
    Never took either deck apart to see what was wrong, but really don't care cause they both work now.

    Try to locate a remote and that may solve your problems!

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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    I'll vote for junk. I had one, and it was. And I bought it brand new. Get a Tascam 34B.

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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    I have one that I bought at a junktique store a few years ago. The main issue with mine is that when Rewind or Fast Forward are used, the capstan pinch roller will also engage, which it should not. Playwise it worked well until about two years ago when the Play mode would no longer lock in. Two weeks ago I decided to see what I could do with it. I removed the servo amp controller board, re-soldered most of the cold solder joints and removed the relay covers and cleaned the contacts. Most functions are now restored, except for the capstan pinch roller engaging when it shouldn't. The service manuals and schematics that I have are for a revision 2 circuit board, but my circuit board is a revision 5. So, for the moment, I'll live with this issue until I can get the correct schematic.

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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    Hi, sorry to bring up an old thread, but was wondering if medkill found a solution to the capstan pinch roller engaging on ff and rw modes.
    I've recently picked up a GX-280D SS in great working order except for this issue! I've tried cleaning the relays and reflowing the solder points but no luck.

    Thanks!

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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    Just use a 2nd machine to rewind tapes. I had one of these machines and it did all kinds of weird things, like switching into reverse play while playing a quad reel, which resulted in the music playing backwards ... good for some Beatles stuff maybe but otherwise undesirable.

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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    Just an update.

    Turns out one of the transistors had failed and also a leaky diode was to blame.

    It all works now!

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    Default Re: Akai GX-280D-SS quad reel to reel - prize or junk?

    That is good to know! Good luck with your deck. I have one that won't play at all. Fortunately I have a GX 630D-SS now. I will restore my 280D-SS at my leisure.
    Semper ubi sub ubi!

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