View Full Version : L220 restoration

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 05:18 AM
Hello to all, I hope everyone had a good holiday. Here is a restoration that has been both challenging and rewarding to me and I'd like to share it with you. I also want to give hope to those who have "beat" enclosures with no idea how to bring them back to life. The story begins some months back when my friend in N.Y. called me at 4.00am to tell me there was a pair of cabs on ebay on a "buy it now". I have a fondness for the L220/L222's as many of you may or may not know. the seller (audhifi) took pictures of the very best "pieces" so I thought I was getting some sweet cabs. WRONG!!!!!, as you can see, these were some of the WORST cabs I've seen. I should have turned around and went home after seeing them in person but I'd already invested so much time driving down there, I just loaded them up and went home mad. Well, I am now glad that I got them and quite pleased with the transformation that has taken place. Here are some before and afters:

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 05:22 AM
There is always damage to the lower veneer edges so I put little nylon 3/4" buttons on the bottoms, they "lift" the cabs about 7/16" off the ground and really help prevent this:

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 05:24 AM
Pretty bad...

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 05:26 AM
there were TONS of nicks and scratches too

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 05:32 AM
In this photo, you can see that the front "kick plates" are GONE! They were in such BAD shape that I took them off and cut new pieces out of some L19 cabs. The original grain is vertical and the new stuff is horizontal but it looks great

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 05:37 AM
I finished the cabs before I put on the new kick plates. I'll tell ya, it is a MAJOR pain getting inside the cab enough to screw them on and I also applied a liberal amount of wood glue (and cuss words!)

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 05:40 AM
It is so nice to see the finished product after you black out the baffles and the back sides too

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 05:43 AM
I want to say that these look ALOT BETTER in natural lighting, The camera is NOT kind to ANYTHING!

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 05:52 AM
Here is a little better shot of the new KP's, I had applied 1 coat of WATCO at the time, they are a bit darker now and if you didn't know the orientation of the OG's grain, you couldn't tell. I hope you've enjoyed this story and I also hope it inspires those that have almost given up on their "beaters". I also had the great experience of putting new diaphragms in the 076's, what a FUN hobbie (PASSION) this is! I will help anyone who desires to know anything that I've done. Take Care Friends, Steve G


Earl K
01-09-2005, 05:56 AM
Great Work Steve ! :)

Very Inspirational to a "wanna-be" wood-worker ( such as myself ) . :applaud:

regards <. Earl K :cheers:

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 06:06 AM
Thank you Sir, I want to say that even with 20yrs under my belt in fine finish, my first pair of the three, my L222's, I thought that they were hopeless and got bids of $500.00 + materials to re-veneer them and one guy said $475.00 to refinish them! I thought, "what have I got to lose?", so, I just took my time and fortunately knew the right materials to use and got a great result. I think if you REALLY care about something and take your time and ask plenty of questions, you can get er' done and have the real sense of personal accomplishment to boot!.

01-09-2005, 09:36 AM
wow....Great Work............beautiful job

But ,how repairs you damage to the lower veneer edges on the bottoms?and i would like see the bottom L-220 on the pics please....

good job Steve....:applaud:

01-09-2005, 10:01 AM
Hey Steve..........you've convinced me that you should be living up here; like, as my next door neighbor. http://audioheritage.csdco.com/vbulletin/images/smilies/wink.gif I know you'd force me to spend all my money for system upgrades but, with your knowledge and know-how, I'd at least gain a respected teacher and mentor ("wax on, wax off").

I am humbled by your expertise. http://audioheritage.csdco.com/vbulletin/images/smilies/applaud.gif

Would really also appreciate a couple of words in my misplaced C-56 thread in the General Forum. I should have started a new thread in the proper place.

01-09-2005, 10:59 AM
Wow, great work you have done, Steve. Take a beer and drink on Carl`s Birthday :D


01-09-2005, 11:14 AM
Steve - is this set of 220's one of those pictured in your avatar, or is this an additional pair? Do you already have the drivers for it? 'Just curious...

Great work! Did you apply a veneer or similar over the old stuff? It looks lots thicker.


01-09-2005, 01:43 PM
Thank's for a great tour! I feel like I worked on 'em myself... Did you get all the transducers with that buy? I think you did, because you mentioned replacing a diaphram in an O76. What amount of total time did it take you? How much were materials? Especially the veneer cost? I would like to know for future projects I may undertake. I am not a woodsmith, but my virtual "brother" and best friend from childhood is a finish carpenter. ("Carpenter to the stars", I call him, He has done cabinet work for Johnny Carson, and David Geffen, and John Williams among others. He is one of the best in the business... Needless to say, He does not work cheap! But I can "borrow his tools" and "pick his brain" And I am getting deeper into this speaker thing all the time.... Like a primate on my spine... Thanks again for the great story, we all like to hear the Saga's of the Speaker's...Later, Rolf Erickson.

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 03:31 PM
Thank you for all the nice comments and questions!!

First off, these enclosures are not re-veneered, I just SLOWLY & CAREFULLY sanded them with 100 grit first and wipe down the surface with a damp towel to "raise the grain", then, finish with 220 grit. Do NOT wipe them down with the damp towel after the 220. I then patch all the damaged areas with walnut lacquer putty. This putty has real walnut dust in it and takes the stain just like wood. These cabs had alot of damage so I let the putty dry over night but in the summer, it would dry in 1/2 an hour. After the putty dries, I sand and clean prepare for the WATCO finish. Here is what it looks like with the WATCO "soaking"

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 03:48 PM
Most of us cannot afford and/or apply new veneer (yet!) and as you can see, the figuring and QUALITY of OG JBL veneer is hard to beat if you can save it. Once the WATCO has had an hour to penetrate, I take an old dark T-shirt and wipe it down in a swirl motion while "pushing" to get the last bit of material "into" the grain. I then take artist pens of different tip diameters and colors (dark, med brown and med gray,black.05 tip) and carefully "follow the grain figuring" to continue it onto the "blank" spots caused by the lacquer patches. I want to STRESS THIS : the following picture does a good job of capturing the natural look that this "faking the grain/figuring", notice how the grain continues onto the lighter area BUT this picture IS NOT indicative of how that puttied area looks in REAL LIFE LIGHTING!!! The intense flash of a camera seems to make these areas look very light but in reality, a MUCH BETTER result is true.

Steve Gonzales
01-09-2005, 04:18 PM
Sorry about that, but trust me, the grain looks natural with the "pen work". After that is done I use Miniwax Conditioning wax in a liberal coat, letting it sit for and hour. I "push" it into the grain with the same type movement as the WATCO step. I "buff" it off, leaving only what's "in" the wood. Usually, the next step is to apply 3 coats of satin DEFT but since these are going to England, I left that step out because of the ease of which it scratches, luckily, the new owner is an expert finish man and can choose to do that himself if he wants. One thing I like about the Deft is that is VERY forgiving. The wax is the KEY to achiving that "old 3D patina" that is so beautiful to see in a very well maintained pair of originals. I like a matte luster, so, after the Deft has dried, I take a fine Scotchbrite pad and slightly dampen it, then, with ULTRA LIGHT pressure, "burnish the surface WITH the grain. This is a tricky stage as the amount of pressure to achive the desired "even" sheen would not damage a butterfly's wing! It also dramatically evens out the laquer putty's color to a point were if done in conjunction with the "penwork", you have to really look hard to see that there is any patching! there was a question about whether this is a pair seen in my avatar. This is my third pair. I really had fun tracking down all the original drivers. MAN! are those 076's HARD to find!! I actually found some lenses and old Alnico motors and made them up. I had never installed diaphagms before so that was cool. I refurbished the motors and polished the the ring too. I do not own a signal generator so I had to use a CD of test tones and just put them in my other L220's and played music with alot of HF program material and they sound as good as my badged originals. It took me three days to refinish these enclosures and countless hours tracking down the drivers, it was NOT cheap, I paid $163.00 just for the L94's recently. the materials cost about $25.00. Again, thank you for the positive comments and like they say on "My Classic Car"; "Don't crush em', restore em'!"

Earl K
01-09-2005, 04:52 PM
Thanks Steve !

I love these tutorials !

:cheers: Earl K

01-10-2005, 04:46 AM
Impressive work.

Congratulations on a new pair of 220's.

Thanks for sharing.

Ken Pachkowsky
01-10-2005, 09:14 AM
Some damned fine work Steve. They are lookin good!


01-10-2005, 05:06 PM
Hey Steve, outstanding job!http://audioheritage.org/vbulletin/images/smilies/applaud.gif You have a passion for those L-220's. http://audioheritage.org/vbulletin/images/smilies/wink.gif As do I.http://audioheritage.org/vbulletin/images/smilies/smile.gif I owe ya one!

01-10-2005, 08:47 PM
Great job! Looks fantastic!:applaud:

05-21-2010, 07:20 AM
Forgive me if I'm missing something obvious, but what are the particulars on the WATCO and walnut lacquer putty products?

I'm assuming this WATCO stuff is danish oil, but is it walnut flavored or natural?

And what brand is the putty?

Earl K
05-21-2010, 07:55 AM
Forgive me if I'm missing something obvious, but what are the particulars on the WATCO and walnut lacquer putty products?

I'm assuming this WATCO stuff is danish oil, but is it walnut flavored or natural?

And what brand is the putty?

Others may know the answers to those questions / but be aware that this thread is over 5 years old .

Steve is no longer an LHF member and won't be answering your query here.

<> cheers