Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

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Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby GordoGibbo » Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:39 pm

Hi all, I am new here. I'm a radio guy from way back and while still going strong on the airwaves, got my start at 15 in 1972. I am about to acquire an early-Seventies 8-channel McCurdy Rotary console for my home studio. This is the board I trained on way back when. Any thoughts on restoration, and where parts could be had?
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby Eldon-Mr.CFAY » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:19 pm

Greetings Everyone,
Welcome aboard Radio West Gordo. Glad to see you are a radio guy who got his start on a McCurdy (Board) Console. I have always loved McCurdy Boards although have never owned one. Congratulations on acquiring one. As far as restoration goes for parts it depends what you need to restore it properly. I have a certain amount of radio electronic parts out in Langley, B.C. as well as some here in Ontario where I am currently. May I also suggest R.P. Electronics (which used to be called Rendell-Paret Electronics) in Burnaby, and Vancouver, B.C.. Their more recent location was near Brentwood Mall just off Lougheed Highway but they moved I heard. I have been dealing with them since the early 70s or late 60s when they were located on 4th Avenue in Vancouver. They have expanded over the years and have a wide selection of radio electronic parts. They used to put out a catalog, not sure if the printed one is still available. Also Radio West Member ve7rox in North Burnaby (Jim) has restored and repaired a lot of equipment over the years. He may be able to help you. Also perhaps Sky Valley Radio on Saltspring Island might be able to offer some suggestions.

If you let us know what restoration parts you might need for the McCurdy Board that would be real helpful. Also is it possible to post a photo of it on Radio West. Sounds like a fairly basic board from what you describe. There may be several other Radio West Members that might be able to help you also.

Anyway again welcome aboard Radio West!!!

73s All the Best Eldon
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby Mike Cleaver » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:40 pm

Depends on the parts needed.
The first thing to do is replace all the filter caps in the power supply.
Then, the preamps and program amp will likely need recapping too as the electrolytics dry out and will drastically affect frequency response.
Switches and pots should be cleaned.
It will be difficult to get switches, knobs, etc. because most of these boards were binned long ago, which is a shame, because they sounded great and were built like tanks.
I don't think these had monitor amps inside but those also probably would need recapping.
If the board sounds "thin" the caps in the audio chain are probably shot.
Again, these are great boards and can be brought back to spec.
Post some pictures when you get it, both inside and out.
Hopefully, no "hack" engineer bored extra holes in it and mucked with the circuitry.
For standard electronic parts, Eldon has made a good recommendation.
But for McCurdy custom parts, they're still in business but I don't think they stock many old parts.
They will sell you schematics though if you give them the board model and serial number.
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby Eldon-Mr.CFAY » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:53 pm

Greetings Everyone,
Very good suggestions for the McCurdy console Mike. Thanks for mentioning all that. Hopefully Gordo that will help you some. But as Mike mentioned I hope you can post some photos of the board when you get it. I mentioned it to Jim on a phone call tonight so he is aware of it. He works till 2 AM but as I said in the previous post there are several Radio West Members who can get into the technical aspect of this and Mike certainly knows a lot about all this as he just posted.

Take care everyone and good luck with the restoration!

Eldon
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby GordoGibbo » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:39 am

Hi all, and thanks for the welcome. I think RadioWest will be a great resource for me. I've worked on various boards over my 40 - year radio career (egads!), including McCurdy sliders, Arakkis and even a series of custom-built desks back in the day when our station was owned by Thomson and unwilling to fork over the capital for new boards, so our chief engineer at the time designed and built a whole series of them. They were akin to Mechano sets, and if you hit the plastic switches too hard they would fly off and hit the wall at the back of the room. Funny as hell. But they were solid state, ran cool as a cucumber and were reliable. Piloting a Ward Beck at the station I work for now (Corus).

But I've always loved the first board I trained on and used at the beginning of my career back in the day, and have been looking for one forever to serve as the centerpiece of what will become a combination office / study / voiceover studio when we become empty-nesters. Right now my personal VO booth is in a closet and while I've got some really, really good gear in there, it's still a closet. So when we move to wherever we're going to retire to, I'm finally going to have my own space. That was the plan. The dream, of course, was to find a McCurdy and use it as the centerpiece of what would appear to look like a vintage control room (I also have a Revox tape deck that works sometimes, and even a box of 3M analog audio tape, unopened, with the shrinkwrap still on it....)

I've come close a few times to finding one. The original 10-channel board in Lindsay where I started was replaced and given to a staffer, who took it home and his son used it for awhile, but then it was binned. That was years ago, but I didn't find out what happened to it until last week. Subsequently, I discovered that when one of our Corus stations in Cornwall moved to a new building in 2007, they binned the 10-channel they had been using up to that time. They would have given the bloody thing to me, but I wasn't aware they were using one and came a few years too late to the party. But not bad, eh? A board built in, probably, 1970 and still in active service 37 years later. You couldn't say that about today's boards...

I won't say where I found this specimen, or reveal the source until after I have it in my possession (in two weeks), but it appears to be intact save for the first channel, which appears to be missing (knob and potentiometer). But I'm also wondering if it was removed, for some reason in the decommissioning process and has been tucked inside. The current owner can't get at the guts, where it happens to be stored. I haven't been out to see it myself but I don't care...after searching for one of these babies for decades, I'm taking it. I'm sure I can clean it up, and I have enough technical friends to give me a hand with the restoration, which will take some time...but since we're a few years from moving at least, I've got the time now. Meanwhile I'n hoping and praying the current owner will be able to find the missing piece, as the board appears to be intact from the front save for that one pot. Maybe I can have at least the knob re-manufactured, although it would probably cost me a fortune. Failing that, I was walking home the other day and thought it would be funny to slip a pull-cord from an outboard motor into that channel, just for fun.

I've got two pics the current owner sent along, but don't know how to attach them.

Anyway, nice to meet you fellows, and Mike Cleaver, I used to listen to you on CHUM back in the day. Pleased to meet you...
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby GordoGibbo » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:42 am

BTW, if anyone needs any additional info on me, I can be found here...

http://www.GordonGibb.com
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby Neumann Sennheiser » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:05 am

GordoGibbo wrote:BTW, if anyone needs any additional info on me, I can be found here...

http://www.GordonGibb.com


Good looking, professional home page Gord. I like your read and I think it's smart that the visitor hears your voice immediately upon entering the site.
Almost every other site like this I've seen, it's "click here to hear this example" or "click here for that" and I believe many checking out a V.O. service site won't even bother to take even that extra step if there isn't something there to interest them right from the start.

Regarding the old McCurdy; I've also worked a few and love them. If you were able to cite the model number/name we could, I'm sure, find images on-line in a hurry and get a view of which old iron lady you speak of.
"You don't know man! I was in radio man! I've seen things you wouldn't believe!"
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby GordoGibbo » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:00 am

I've created a page on my website for the McCurdy desk and have archived the only two existing photos I have of it. I assume it's a model # SS4308, but I don't have any of that information yet. Nor do I have details on it's immediate history, although I know its recent history. To see the pics go to my website http://GordonGibb.com, then click on Corporate Audio, then Studio. On the studio page you will see a button for McCurdy Acquisition. You can see it there...

There have been a few custom alterations that I don't recall from the original. I think the headphone volume control knob was after-market, and there is also a white square in the second photo...I don't know if that's an indicator light (such as an alert to an incoming phone call....that's my guess), or a switch of some sort. And, of course, the missing Bakelite knob which the owner is rooting around for and I'm optimistic it will turn up. I have no idea what the inside looks like. But it should clean up pretty well...

Thanks for the kudos, Neumann Sennheiser. It's a very basic site I maintain myself, but it gets the job done, I hope.

Gord
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby Mike Cleaver » Sat Mar 09, 2013 1:21 pm

Hi Gord!

This is the same desk we installed in the "new" master control room at CJOC in Lethbridge in 1969.
The white button/light is not stock, someone added this at some point.
I think this is full of the AT242 slide in amps, one of which I still have and use as a stand alone mic preamp in my little studio along with a number of others.
They are great boards!
I always hated it when people hacked up any control board, adding lights, buttons and the hated Dymo tape to them.
In Lethbridge, we built a trough which was sunk into the desk right in front of the board that contained all the switches and indicator lights to start and stop turntables, tape machines and carts as well as status indicators and such.
That way, the board remained pristine, the way it came from the factory.
We had two Ampex 351s, 3 Gates Criterion Cart machines and two McCurdy turntables in that set-up along with control room and studio mics for the talk shows as well as the phone set up and remote lines.
Good luck with your restoration and hope you can find the parts you need.
These sometimes come up on Ebay.
Thanks for your comments about hearing me on CHUM!
I can't believe how long ago that was.
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby Fillinguy » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:03 pm

Restore? i didn't think you would have to.. those puppies are bullet proof! Yes I used a few over the years, in fact the first time I saw a slider board (in a non training situation) was 4 years into my career! What an awesome thing to have :)
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby GordoGibbo » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:50 pm

Thanks, Fillinguy. I feel quite fortunate to have come across it, as the closest I've come to owning one of these (which I have coveted for years), is an original brochure for a 12-channel desk I picked up off of eBay for a couple of bucks. So for the longest time I just had the photograph...
ars
And thanks for the insights, Mike. We did the same thing in Lindsay when I was there...we put recessed switches into the desk for mics and turntables to save wear and tear on the switches. There's not much I can do about the headphone amp on the right-hand side or the white square light or switch (which I know is not original), but I'll take all those damn labels off and clean it up good. Maybe one day I'll find another one I can use for parts, but for now this is the only specimen I've been able to find across years of searching. I just got lucky with this one (finally....)

And Mike, the closest I ever got to CHUM myself was working with Coop for a few years when he was waiting out a no-compete clause between gigs in Toronto. He came up to Peterborough and helped us sign The WOLF on. That was 20 years ago. I was his producer at the time. Great stories....but that's for the book!

Gord
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby Neumann Sennheiser » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:37 pm

Ah yes, this was the McCurdy console I piloted at CFRW, Winnipeg in the mid to late 1970's

Image

...not my favorite; always felt like I was operating the controls by braille.

Now this one ...(with apologies to Mike Cleaver for borrowing the image)

Image

This one I liked a lot. The one seen here was the original on-air main control board for CHUM and I'm not sure of the year(s) it was in operation as I never had the privilege of working there.
I did use this board (or one very close to it) at CKXL in Calgary circa 1973. It's also the same McCurdy you would have found at CKRC, Winnipeg and CFOX, Montreal back in their respective glory days.
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby radiofan » Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:24 pm

The original CFMI board was the stereo version of what Gord has and it had 12 or 14 pots/chanels.

Great memories seeing your pics Gord.
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby Mike Cleaver » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:04 am

That tube McCurdy 1050 CHUM board still was in operation when I left in '76.
It had been highly modified by CHUM's engineering staff with features added as new technology appeared.
It initially had handled only turntables and reel to reel machines but when carts came along in the '60s, the modifications began.
When I returned to CHUM in '83, the old control room and news and jock booths were pretty much abandoned as on air rooms, the old news booth becoming a recording studio along with the old control room and jock booth.
The new control room had a new McCurdy solid state board with 24 channels.
CHUM always went with McCurdy from custom units for the production rooms and modified units in the AM and FM control rooms.
They were pretty much bulletproof with virtually no down time.
The CBC was pretty McCurdy intensive through the last century as well.
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Re: Vintage McCurdy broadcast desk

Postby GordoGibbo » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:24 am

Hey Neumann Sennheiser, are you suggesting that looks like the actual console you used at CFRW? The braille tags would not have been common and I assumed the current owner might have added them. But does it look like the very same board to you?

And Mike, I marvel at CHUM back then, which seemed to put the emphasis on performers and performance, than equipment. Much smaller stations (including the one I was at...) had very nice control rooms with new boards as the centerpeice, whereas a station with the clout of CHUM still using in the old tube board by 1976? Wow. But then, I've also been seeing pics of Neumann U87s in the jock booths too, and they are expensive mics.

Gord
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