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Thread: Questions on Altec Flamenco 848A

  1. #1
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    Questions on Altec Flamenco 848A

    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

  2. #2
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    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!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Storm's Avatar
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    serial numbers and dating.

    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!


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    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.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Storm's Avatar
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    numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by moldyoldy
    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.


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Storm
    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.

  7. #7
    Senior Member SUPERBEE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moldyoldy
    Maybe mail them to yourself via USPS? You'll be able to get inside for a look when they arrive.

    LOL.....Best post ever
    Paragon
    Olympus
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    4311's

  8. #8
    Senior Member Storm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moldyoldy
    Maybe mail them to yourself via USPS? You'll be able to get inside for a look when they arrive.
    Is that supposed to mean that USPS damages speakers while in transit?

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


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    Thanks, Moldy

    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

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by telynau
    .......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/image...ome/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-8...QQcmdZViewItem

    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.

    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.
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  11. #11
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    Flamenco's

    The Flamenco's I purchased can be seen at:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...MEWN%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

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    Senior Member Storm's Avatar
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    found numbers - what is production year and week?

    On both cabinets, I found the same number.

    391253.

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

    Thanks.


  13. #13
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    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

  14. #14
    Senior Member Storm's Avatar
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    Thanks.

    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.


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    More on My Altec Flamenco's

    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
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