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Is it o.k. to power up electronics that have been on the shelf for decades?

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ardvarkk

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I have some vintage solid state pieces (e.g. Marantz 4000 preamp) that has been sitting on my basement shelf for a long time. They haven't been powered up for at least 2 or 3 decades.

Recently I talked to a buddy, who's mostly into vintage vacuum tube consumer and pro gear restoration, who cautioned me that plugging any of them in, and hitting the power button was not recommended. I understood his caution was based on power supply components that might have gone bad due to age and nonuse. And that could lead to additional damage "down the line".

Is he right about that? Especially when it comes to solid state?
 

Beefalo

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Living the high life..Bungalow Ranch Style. SoCal
I have some vintage solid state pieces (e.g. Marantz 4000 preamp) that has been sitting on my basement shelf for a long time. They haven't been powered up for at least 2 or 3 decades.

Recently I talked to a buddy, who's mostly into vintage vacuum tube consumer and pro gear restoration, who cautioned me that plugging any of them in, and hitting the power button was not recommended. I understood his caution was based on power supply components that might have gone bad due to age and nonuse. And that could lead to additional damage "down the line".

Is he right about that? Especially when it comes to solid state?
Hello @ardvarkk. I saw your post back in January.
Welcome to the QQ forum. Keep on posting !
 

4-earredwonder

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I have some vintage solid state pieces (e.g. Marantz 4000 preamp) that has been sitting on my basement shelf for a long time. They haven't been powered up for at least 2 or 3 decades.

Recently I talked to a buddy, who's mostly into vintage vacuum tube consumer and pro gear restoration, who cautioned me that plugging any of them in, and hitting the power button was not recommended. I understood his caution was based on power supply components that might have gone bad due to age and nonuse. And that could lead to additional damage "down the line".

Is he right about that? Especially when it comes to solid state?
Two or three DECADES. Under what condition were they stored? In a damp, undehumidified basement you might have problems. But solid state is more forgiving than tubed components, IMO. Is there a local audio shop where you might have it checked out before you attempt to plug it in?

Under 'normal' circumstances [heated/dehumidified basement] I wouldn't be AS wary but better safe than sorry. Have it checked out professionally if you can!
 

Bonzodog

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In the course of my job, I have had to turn on many pieces of old equipment.

We always "turn it on slowly" with a variac. Starting at 0 volts and slowly bringing it up to 120, watching a current meter the whole time.

If the current goes high, let it sit at that voltage for a while.

If it goes down, then increase the voltage again. If it doesn't, then you probably need to re-cap it.

If you don't have a current meter, just bring the voltage up slowly. If the fuse blows, well then . . . .

If you don't have a variac, plug it in, turn it on, and if the fuse blows send it out for repair. (I wouldn't, but I know people who do.)

Here is a good article on it.


Or just Google reforming electrolytic capacitors.
 

Ranasakawa

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Very good question. I have some vintage equipment in my garage I have been considering turning on myself.
I am interested in what will happen
 

Bonzodog

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While newer equipment may have leaky capacitors, older electrolytics tend to dry out.
 

Circular Vibes

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E
While newer equipment may have leaky capacitors, older electrolytics tend to dry out.
Either way, they can go boom without warning. I'd take it to a tech just to be safe in the long run IF the gear is of any value to you. I have lost speakers once to a receiver with a faulty filter cap that also took out some output transistors. It is cheaper if it blows on the tech's bench than on your dining table.
 

quadsearcher

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The variac (with current meter) is a good idea if you have one. There is one big exception that I know of, a certain Pioneer model A-80 with an unusual active power supply controlled by signal. I was told by Pioneer tech assist (when that existed) that a gradual variac startup would blow things up. I don't know if there are similar models.
 

LuvMyQuad

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I have always been precautioned about using a variac on vintage equipment, even if stored well. Especially if you believe the gear is collectible, if you dont have access to a variac, a pro service call is the way to go.
 

Bonzodog

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I should have prefaced my response with :
"If it's TUBE equipment,"
Solid state equipment can have switching power supplies that don't do well with the voltage slowly being ramped up.
 

kve777

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Aug 14, 2017
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Recently I've been powering up a whole bunch of gear that's been stored for years or decades. A Variac is your friend. Yes, there are pieces that cannot be powered up slowly, so do your due diligence. Know your gear or get a service manual if you are unsure. I plugged in a Carver TFM-35 without a Variac a few months ago and completely destroyed one channel. It could have been saved for easy repair if I had been more cautious. Lesson Learned. Yes, solid State gear can blow up from bad caps, just like tube gear.
 

ardvarkk

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Nov 4, 2019
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Glenview, IL
Thanks all for the great responses.

My vacuum tube restorer buddy did tell me about how he uses a variac as described here. A little above my abilities or desire to invest.

I do have access to a pro service shop (once the shutdown subsides) but have to decide if the pieces I want to let go (like this Marantz 4000) would be more desirable to collectors in a as-is condition, or would I recoup the expenses involved in a refurb.
 

kve777

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In my experience, As-Is condition is preferred. There is nothing more dreaded than having to undo bad work. Now, the shop you use, may do a fine job, but unless it has a stellar reputation, widely accepted, it's dicey for buyers who have been burned. Let them choose the shop or DIY service. I have a stack of eight Lafayette LA-74/LA-84/LT-D10 components to go through. Those I sell will be As-Is. I want to keep a working pair of LA-74/LT-D10 and an LA-84.
 

atrocity

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This reminds me that I still have my grandparent's circa 1960 Packard Bell TV taking up closet space. It was probably last turned on in 1997.
 
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