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View Full Version : Questions on Altec Flamenco 848A



telynau
07-13-2006, 08:17 PM
I am the new owner of two Altec Flamenco 848A speakers and would appreciate any advice more experienced hobbyists might have on what to do or not do with them. (If there is a reference work available I will be happy to consult it or acquire it -- just let me know -- I don't mean to ask for information that is readily available elsewhere).

Here is the situation and my questions.

1. Both drivers in both speakers appear to be in good working order. I have played them on an NAD CD receiver and even with this modest solid state source/amplifier they sound very good. (I will try them with appropriate tube gear in due course, but wanted to verify that they worked.)

2. There is a label on the back of one speaker (the other speaker is missing its label) that says:

Iconic
Loudspeaker
Altec Lansing
A Division of LTV Ling Altec, Inc.

Can the speakers be dated by this label? I suspect so and would guess late 60's to early 70's.

3. I am unable to find a serial number on the cabinets. Were the cabinets serialized?

4. I unscrewed the screws in one of the cabinet backs with the hope of looking at the drivers. I tried to woodger it around (using the empty screw holes) to get it off but it didn't move. I stopped before I did anything irreversable.

Should I give up and leave well enough alone? Is there a "best" way to get the backs off? When I tap the back of the speaker it appears that there is a square hole cut in the middle of the back that is covered by a thin veneered wood cover which is fastened to the back by staples. Would you recommend that I take these staples out, remove the wood cover and use the hole to tap the back of the speaker off?

These speakers are supposedly one owner speakers and completely unmessed with. I have seen what is supposed to be a copy of the original sales slip (you have seen it too if you saw these speakers on eBay). I mention this only by way of background.

5. Assuming I can get to them, should I have the crossovers tested? Without taking the crossovers out of the cabinets and having them tested, is there any way to know whether the crossover capacitors are still OK and whether they are otherwise operating correctly?

6. These speakers have plastic grillwork that is intended to look like wrought iron. I suspect that all I should do with them is wipe them off with a damp cloth, but thought I would ask just in case there is another preferred treatment. I am mindful of the conservation principle that you should avoid doing anything that can't be reversed.

7. The speakers apparently lived in an area that was exposed to sunlight and the speaker cloth is quite faded. Is there a concensus on what to do about this condition? I would prefer to restore the speakers to their original appearance by replacing the cloth if I could find a substantially identical replacement (I would keep the old cloth in the event I ever wished to restore it to the speakers). I am going to have a furniture restoration specialist I trust clean the cabinets, touch up the little dings and probably do some stabilization and perhaps restoration of the finish (NOT refinishing) where it has been damaged by exposure to sunlight. I point this out as further background because I bought these speakers to be played and enjoyed rather than to be static displays or museum pieces.

Regards, James

moldyoldy
07-14-2006, 12:06 AM
Hi, James,

If I saw the right auction, they looked like an unusually good, original pair, congrats!

Try laying them on their side or even upside down to remove the backs (after making sure you didn't miss any screws!) If there's no room to insert a blade, that's why they're snug. If there was a humidity shock in transit, they may be swelled a little. Removing the stapled panels where an optional biamp could be installed needs to be done anyway, so you can get a pull on the back, and then replace those thin panels with a sturdier alternative, a gasket, and some screws.

On the label is a red 722 which is the S/N (which is fairly meaningless).

To the left side of the label, there's a smaller 391410. 391 is the Altec EIA code, and 4 means 1974, and the 10 is the week.

Additional internal bracing won't hurt those boxes a bit. Even when new, they (and the siblings Valencia and Madrid) would benefit from panel stiffening. 1x2s on edge diagonally across each panel would help a lot and be easy too. Maybe a weatherstrip seal for the back panel and a few extra screws there too.

You can replace the caps in the XO cheaper than you could hire them tested. You're gonna worry about it till you do anyway.....nothing fancy needed, some Sprague or Nichicon film caps of the same values will be fine.

If the diaphrams are the originals (good chance), a new pair from GPA will be a signifigant improvement. As long as they were never severely overpowered (and what wasn't in the 70s?), the Alnicos should be fine.

Good luck with the grill cloth getting anything close to original. If the original's toasted, it won't hurt a thing to try to dye it for reuse. Careful with those plastic grills, they're old. Inspect their mounting for sources of buzzes or rattles too. I think if I was gonna remove and save anything cosmetic for posterity, it'd be them. (They just beg for a 4-ft desert scene on black velvet hung overhead, or maybe Dogs Shooting Pool.)
----------------------------
" I bought these speakers to be played and enjoyed rather than to be static displays or museum pieces."
-------------------
Amen, Brother! That's what they were made for!

Storm
07-14-2006, 12:09 AM
Wow, how did you figure out the date?

I have a pair of Altec 846U's with serial numbers 2210 and 2214.

Can you help me out on the date? I know from 1971-1974, but knowing a year would be awesome.

Thanks!

:D

moldyoldy
07-14-2006, 01:45 AM
It isn't the serial # that determines, you'll have to find a 6-digit stamped # which begins with 391. The 4th digit is the last # of the year produced, the last two are the week of that year. There's likely one somewhere on each driver too, as well as the cabs.

Storm
07-14-2006, 02:32 AM
It isn't the serial # that determines, you'll have to find a 6-digit stamped # which begins with 391. The 4th digit is the last # of the year produced, the last two are the week of that year. There's likely one somewhere on each driver too, as well as the cabs.

I am unable to open the cabinets, they are glued shut. Any other options?

Thanks.

:)

moldyoldy
07-14-2006, 08:46 AM
I am unable to open the cabinets, they are glued shut. Any other options?

Thanks.

:)

Maybe mail them to yourself via USPS? You'll be able to get inside for a look when they arrive. :p

SUPERBEE
07-14-2006, 09:38 AM
Maybe mail them to yourself via USPS? You'll be able to get inside for a look when they arrive. :p


LOL.....Best post ever

Storm
07-14-2006, 03:26 PM
Maybe mail them to yourself via USPS? You'll be able to get inside for a look when they arrive. :p

Is that supposed to mean that USPS damages speakers while in transit?

That is funny...because it's true!

:applaud:

telynau
07-15-2006, 10:33 PM
Thanks very much, Moldy -- I will follow your advice and provide an update on the results.

The speakers do look to be in nice original condition -- though not as nice as they looked in the photos (surprise!). There are only a couple areas that need reconstructive work, both of which were not shown in the pictures. There is a 1/4" by 2" area in the left rear part of one of the cabinet tops where the veneer was chipped off and one lower corner of one of the backs looks like water got to it at some point -- it has an areas of about three square inches where the particle board is a little swollen. The surrounding cabinet area shows no sign of water, though, so it is a bit of a mystery. Opening the cabinet will give some more info on this.

BTW, do you have any insight into how the construction of these speakers and their drivers differs from earlier versions of the Flamenco or other consumer VOT speakers?

Also, were you just giving examples in the following, or are you seeing something that I don't see?

"On the label is a red 722 which is the S/N (which is fairly meaningless)."

"To the left side of the label, there's a smaller 391410. 391 is the Altec EIA code, and 4 means 1974, and the 10 is the week."

Re the fake plastic wrought iron grills, all I can say is that they are growing on me. My long suffering wife seems to find them less offensive than some of my other speakers (e.g., my Quad ESL's). Of course, the fact that the speakers sound good helps! I will keep an eye out for a high quality flocked Elvis picture, however.

Now I just need to find a pair of the Milano's in equal or better condition!

Regards, James

moldyoldy
07-16-2006, 01:12 AM
.......BTW, do you have any insight into how the construction of these speakers and their drivers differs from earlier versions of the Flamenco or other consumer VOT speakers?

Also, were you just giving examples in the following, or are you seeing something that I don't see?

"On the label is a red 722 which is the S/N (which is fairly meaningless)."

"To the left side of the label, there's a smaller 391410. 391 is the Altec EIA code, and 4 means 1974, and the 10 is the week."


The '71 catalog says Hill-Craft built their cabs at that time, though I don't know how long that continued;

http://www.lansingheritage.org/images/altec/catalogs/1971-home/page13.jpg

They had the same components as the Valencias and Milanos as well as the same internal volume, meaning they're the same systems, but were offered in different packages. Don't know when they were introduced, but the earliest ones could have used 16 ohm drivers instead of 8s.

I searched eBay completed listings for "flamenco" and came up with only these, and (perhaps mistakenly) assumed they were yours;

http://cgi.ebay.com/Altec-Flamenco-848A-Matching-Pair-Voice-of-theater_W0QQitemZ300001428063QQihZ020QQcategoryZ50 597QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

I copied the pic of the label to Photoshop to try to make it legible;


Whether they are yours or not, apparently I goofed in reading it as 391410, as (I just noticed) the seller stated it was 391710 in the listing. Sorry about that. :homer:

If these aren't your speakers, at least now you know how to determine the mfr date by the EIA code. Even if you can't find the code on the cabs, at least some of the drivers should have it. It wouldn't be too unusual for multiple stampings to indicate different dates on the various components. Since only the last digit of the year is given, one has to guess at the decade by knowing the product. Flamencos were listed in the '71 catalog, but not in the '74, so my guess is the "7" in the pictured code is for '67.

I don't think anyone still has production lists with serial #s from the '60s or '70s anymore, so the serial # is really only comparatively signifigant. As in the case of the linked auction, the consecutive serial #s at least tell you they are likely an original matched pair.

telynau
07-16-2006, 11:23 PM
The Flamenco's I purchased can be seen at:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=9744878606&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWN%3AIT&rd=1

If the paperwork shown in the auction listing is correct, my pair were sold in 1970. Unfortunately, the sticker on one is missing and the sticker that is there doesn't have any numbers on it.

Regards, James

Storm
07-19-2006, 02:00 PM
On both cabinets, I found the same number.

391253.

Can anyone help me determine what year and week these were made?

Thanks.

:D

moldyoldy
07-19-2006, 04:32 PM
James,

Looks like I did get the wrong auction. I'm now curious about the extra panels stapled to the rear, they have to be right behind the compression drivers. Makes me wonder if someone glued the backs in, leaving the smaller panels for diaphragm access. I think I've guessed enough on these anyway, though.;)

Storm,

1972's the year, but the 53rd week?:dont-know

Storm
07-19-2006, 04:38 PM
Thats what I thoght, but same here - have no clue on the 53.

Since they are the same numbers, does that mean that these speakers started life together and are a matched pair?

How many years did they produce the 846 line of speakers?

Do you know how much they were back in 1972?

I appreciate all of your help.

:)

telynau
08-20-2006, 06:36 PM
With some effort I got the back of one of my Flamenco's off. It required the somewhat destructive removal of the thin sheet of wood on which the label is mounted (picture attached). I turns out that the thin sheet is there because the horn driver would otherwise be too long to fit in the cabinet -- the driver actually projects a half inch or so into a circle cut into the back panel of the speaker. Thus the thin sheet is tacked over the hole in the back panel to seal the speaker up. BTW, the serial number of the speakers confirms that they were built in 1970, which is consistent with the scan of the original sales slip I have.

Where I am now is trying to figure out how to get the front panel of the speaker out. If I can safely remove it I can probably reverse the speaker cloth and presto chango I will have solved my fading problem (the inside of the cloth looks newish). Any hints on how to get the plastic grills off or -- on the inside of the speaker, remove the front panel? I took nine screws out of trim pieces that appear to hold the front panel in, but at the top of the front panel there is a piece of trim that looks like it was stapled in -- and the staples would have to be drilled out to get it out.

One bummer. As I removed the woofer something was sticking to the very bottom of the woofer frame -- turns out that it was a glob of blackish gooey stuff that was either there to start with or melted down off the cone surround. As I GENTLY removed the speaker it stuck and even though I GENTLY cut it loose from the speaker the removal process resulted in a small tear in the speaker surround (not the cone) where the gooey stuff attached the speaker surround to the cabinet. So I think I am going to have to have this repaired.

Regards, James

Gary L
08-20-2006, 09:49 PM
The black goo meltdown is a fact of life with all the altec accordion style surrounds. Best thing is to flip the woofers 180 degrees every few years so it flows in opposite directions.
Not sure how badly you tore the surround but if not too bad I think you could use some preparation to repair this your self and get by for quite a while before a rebuild is necessary. Those surrounds are quite tuff and last a long time even with a tear or two and I doubt it would affect the sound at all unless it is a bad tear. I repaired one of my old ones with some black silicone used for installing windshields but it was just a hole where a screw driver went thru the surround.

Interesting how the driver is sunk into the rear panel and covered over with luan! Is it an 811B horn or the larger 511B?

Sorry I can't help with getting the grills off. Often wondered how this was done myself but I am sure someone here will help with that.

Nice speakers and basically they are the upgraded model of the 846 in a fancier cabinet. Many here swear they do best with tubes but I have had many and always was quite happy with good SS running them.

GPA can repair all the components so you are a few steps ahead of the Vintage game with Altecs.
Enjoy and welcome to the world of horny Altecs.

Gary

telynau
08-20-2006, 11:27 PM
Here is a pic inside one of the Flamenco's. Regards, James :applaud:

telynau
08-20-2006, 11:34 PM
Yuck. Send in those helpful hints on how to disassemble the front speaker baffle! Regards, James

telynau
08-20-2006, 11:53 PM
Thanks, Gary. The horns are 16 ohm 806A's. There is also a little printed box, inside of which there is an "AL" on the top, then a horizontal line and "85" on the bottom. The manufacture date is stamped on them (391028); in addition, there are what I expect are serial numbers (3568 and 3596).

I took the other speaker apart tonight and although the bottom of the speaker surround was stuck to the front baffle it didn't tear. However, the surround is cracked in a couple other places, so it needs some repair too.

Is Great Plains Audio the best place to go? I will probably want them to check the horn drivers as well as check over the woofers. Not sure how hard it is to check out/restore the crossovers but I will want to do that too. I am a typical enthusiast and now that I have everything apart I won't be happy until I make sure all of the components function as correctly as they can given their age and are preserved in proper condition to play another 20 years or more.

Do people ever replace the back panels themselves? The pressed board is very dry and basically crumbles when you put any kind of strain on it.

BTW, I am not a complete philistine when it comes to restoring old hi-fi. I always save all the parts I swap out and try not to do anything that can't be reversed, so some future fanatic can do a 100% correct and authentic restoration way down the pike. :p Regards, James

Gary L
08-21-2006, 08:28 AM
The horns are 811Bs and mounted from the front of the flange making them set deeper into the cabinet. Thats why the cutout exists.

GPA is about the only place I would send this stuff and when you send the woofers for rebuild I think he will also recharge the magnets in the horn drivers for no additional charge. You will end up with basically brand new drivers and all original. They can also replace the diaphrams in the 806 HF drivers if necessary.
Recapping the XOs is quite easy and could be a DIY project if you can solder. Pretty rare that the resistors ever go but caps are a good idea.

Others can help with your other questions but they sure do look like nice speakers and in great original condition.

Gary

louped garouv
08-21-2006, 11:56 AM
if the tear in the surround is small enough, you can scrape the 'goo' from the baffle and place it on the surround where the tear is, apply a bit of heat with a hair drier and the goo will settle into the tear... when it gets back to normal temp (a few mins) it is almost indiscernable (if the tear is small enough)

bogator
08-21-2006, 12:37 PM
I have enjoyed very much reading the above posts concerning the Altec Flamenco speakers. I have a pair of these speakers that I have been using since I bought them new in 1967. I have learned quite a bit from the discussion. I think that I should open them and check them out. They have been through four amplifiers (receivers) and are now part of my surround sound system with my 65" Sony HDTV and a Yamaha HTR-5460 receiver. BTW, I also have the matching equipment cabinet.

intotubes
08-21-2006, 07:27 PM
That is excellent advice on using the goop for a repair of a small tear. I removed some that had pooled at the bottom fo the surround with a hair dryer. It softens readily. I also rotated my LF drivers 180 for good measure and plan to do it again in 10 years or so. :p
I hadn't seen it run so bad before. Thanks for the pics! Did it actually run on the outside of the baffle, gluing the cloth to the baffle? (hope not).
Good luck with those - they look great.

Gary L
08-22-2006, 08:05 AM
Keep an eye on the goo! If alot of it did pool at the bottom and now you have it rotated 180 degrees, it could start running down the face of the cone. Depending upon how much has pooled at the bottom, it might be wiser to rotate only 90 degrees to avoid the run down the cones.

As noted, heat is the cause so a speaker that was or is exposed to direct sun or heat source is more prone to runs. I have seen cones with goo from the top to the dust caps and looking pretty poor so it is wise to keep a close watch and rotate so the goo flows along the surround only.
I would be very carefull with the hair dryer as this could cause some separation of the surround to frame adhesion if it gets too warm.

Does anyone know the exact properties of the Goo or if it is available?
I had a woofer shipped in styrofoam and the goo now has little white styro balls imbedded in it. I have carefully used a tweezer to get most out but this has left some bare spots in the goo.

Gary

moldyoldy
08-22-2006, 09:04 AM
......Does anyone know the exact properties of the Goo or if it is available?
I had a woofer shipped in styrofoam and the goo now has little white styro balls imbedded in it. I have carefully used a tweezer to get most out but this has left some bare spots in the goo.
Gary

Hi, Gary,
Surround dope has been changed more times than there are speaker models, but all versions were intended to seal the mesh openings in cloth surrounds, to keep the back wave and front wave separated, without altering the compliance of the surround.

For most cloth-surround Altecs except the 515G and the ER series (which used water-based Airflex 510, NLA) # 54007 solvent-based dope (also NLA) was used. Even though the spots you "picked" may appear bare, most likely the mesh is still sealed in those spots, so no additional dope would be needed. You can check it with a magnifier, with backlighting of the surround.

Regular 90 degree rotation is a good idea, it didn't used to be too unusual to open a cab and find a penciled, dated, and initialed rotation schedule inside. Not only does rotation keep the runny dope where it belongs, but it can prevent premature coil rubs caused by suspension sagging.

louped garouv
08-22-2006, 09:07 AM
makes sense...

and yes i also feel it is important not to heat the goo too much....

bogator
08-28-2006, 08:35 AM
If you have not removed the old grille cloth yet, here is a copy of the plans for that cabinet from 1968 that might shed a little light. I don't know if it will help, but here it is.

telynau
08-29-2006, 12:07 AM
I spoke with Great Plains Audio. They can't repair just the surrounds -- they would have to recone the speakers as well. Given that the speakers sounded fine before I took them out of the cabinets, they recommended that I first try to brush some acetone on the congealed goo to dissolve it and then try to move it back around the surround, particuarly where the small tears are. Once this is done they said listen to the speaker and if it sounds OK, just leave it as is. They also said there was no reason to replace the horn driver diaphragms so long as they sounded OK. They do not repair the crossovers but said this was pretty easy to do if I wanted to. Again, the message was that if the speakers sounded good just leave things as they are. They seemed to think that if there was a problem with the woofers, horn diaphragms or crossovers it would be pretty apparent.

Thanks for the diagram -- it helps -- but I think I am going to have to drill out the heavy staples that fasten down the wood strips that hold the baffle in place. I will let you know how that goes when I get to it. The goo did not glue the speaker to the speaker cloth, though as you can see from the one picture the goo did seep into the cloth and stain it. Because of the elaborate black plastic grill on the Flamencos, however, you can't see the goo stain from the front unless you get down on your knees and look carefully for it.

Interestingly, the diagram refers to either plywood or pressed board for the backs of the speakers. I may decide to put the original backs away and have plywood boards made -- it would sure provide a better foundation for sealing the back, for example. The pressed board on my speakers literally crumbles if you handle the edges of the backs. Really crappy material that hasn't gotten better with age.

Regards, James

moldyoldy
08-29-2006, 03:49 AM
Good news and great plan James. Your encounter with GPA is a great testament to their philosophy and practice of honesty and quality, truly rare and remarkable attributes in this day and age. How many companies can you think of that would offer such practical advice at no cost to you or profit for them when they could easily do otherwise?

I suggest that all owners of Altec speakers keep this in mind, and continue to support GPA with your patronage and praise.

:applaud: :applaud: :applaud:

thegreek74
05-03-2016, 08:42 AM
Gift from a friend, like to get them back up and playing again... Opened the back they are in mint condition. Like to have the crossovers rebuilt and new caps.. The things are massive... Hope with little help I can tune them up..

gdmoore28
05-04-2016, 11:25 AM
What a gift! What do you think of the sound of the Flamencos compared to your current speakers?

Please start a separate thread and keep us updated on your progress.

GeeDeeEmm