CHAMP ELECTRONICS -" THE VINTAGE VALVE AMP HOSPITAL"

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND

 

THE WORST SELMER IN THE WORLD

- THE REPAIR OF A c1964 SELMER ZODIAC TWIN 50 COMBO AMPLIFIER


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The famous Selmer “winking-eye” at the middle/top.

 

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Virtually finished, just the speaker plug to solder in place and the supply/fitting of a replacement tremolo foot-switch. We are about 2:30am at this point!!

 

SORTING OUT THE WORST SELMER IN THE WORLD!.....AND IN LESS THAN 18 HOURS!!

 
Hello again everybody. Well, here we are, back to one of my interesting stories on a particular given amp. We have already had the “worst Vox in the world!” (Please see this article: http://www.chambonino.com/work/vox/vox3.html), so it only seems fair to have a similar article on a Selmer amp! 

Now, this all started off with a normal phone call from a guy named Chris, enquiring about the repair/service and possible renovation of a Selmer Zodiac 50 Twin croc-skin, that needed dealing with before being offered for sale on EBay. Chris further explained that he lived a long, long way south of Nottingham but, was due to be passing on business on the following Saturday. He was wondering if it was possible to drop the amp off whilst passing, with a view to getting it sorted out? As this is pretty much a common request from many of my customers who live a fair way from my home town of Nottingham, my answer was simply yes, go for it! However, this is where things now take-a-dive! Chris further explained that he would be passing back past Nottingham about 6am the following Sunday morning (!), and…..would it be possible to have it ready within that time-frame? This was approximately 18 hours to turn the job around!

I committed myself to this by saying yes, I think I could do it for him. OK, so it was then arranged for this to happen. He was to drop the amp off on the following Saturday, at about 10am in the morning. (My mum would simply let him put it in the workshop). As I don’t normally start till about 2pm (I’m an ex muso….night owl, after all!), it would then be there for me to do the job when I got up. This then all happened and went perfectly to plan. I think I got-up at around 1pm on that day, and after a couple ciggies and cups-of-tea, proceeded to attack the said amp…to get it all sorted. 

On first removing the back I gasped in horror! An immediate amount of problems hit me. The ECC83 was broken, the pair of GDR-made EL34’s looked like one of them was burnt-to-hell inside, and the power transformer was the wrong one and very small! This was just the start of the problems!!

 Removing the power section from the case revealed more. Somebody had been changing components and had mod'ed the amp somewhat. Not only that, but the wiring was disgusting, as is often the case on old valve [tube] amps after being previously cannibalised by some useless “so-called tech-guy”. As it happens, I always try to keep a power transformer on the shelf for most of the obvious types of amps (Vox, Selmer, Marshall etc), and it’s a good job that I do as otherwise I would never have been able to turn an amp around like this in such a short space of time!

At this point, I decided to phone Chris and inform him of all my findings, plus the fact that I wasn’t at all sure that I could do such a restoration job in such a short space of time. However, to my horror, Chris had not left me his contact details (mobile phone number or whatever) even though I had previously, on one of our phone calls, specifically asked him to do so! Now knowing full-well how much needed to be done, I had the dilemma of “do I do it (or) do I leave things until I hear from Chris?".....I simply decided to go ahead with the job, and hope that I had done the right thing in doing so!

With the new power transformer fitted, new smoothing cap, removal of the junk components and all the wiring tidied-up, the power section was now finished at last!

 Now moving on the cabinet itself……there was one Celestion “blue-back” and one Fane speaker! All the 2BA nuts/washers on them were loose and in-fact the speakers themselves were hanging loose! Plus, the wiring on them both was really and truly “bodged”! All the baffle nuts and washers were either hanging off or missing. None of the pre-amp “fly leads” were secured and in-fact, the foot-switch lead was chopped with the foot-switch itself missing! I literally ended-up ripping everything out of the case and started a-fresh! Both the odd speakers had cone damage (ripped) and both terminals on them had been bodged too. I repaired (glued) both cones and replaced the bad terminal connections on them both, eventually advising Chris that actually his amp could really do with a new pair of matching speakers (drivers).

 Now I had lastly to contend with the pre-amp section. This, as is usual, also had many duff capacitors. I spent much time sorting and servicing this too as can be seen in the photos below.

 Eventually…….at 2:45am……she was finally finished. I simply decided to stay-up for the rest of the night and wait for Chris to pick her up around 6am in the morning. This he did, and he was very pleased with all my efforts and hard work, let alone in such a short space of time! 

A real……………phew……………on this one!!

 

Cheers, John.

 

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Shock as the back is first removed! Just look at the state of one of the EL34’s, the broken ECC83, completely wrong power transformer and…….even though looking OK on the photo, the Mullard GZ34 was also blown-apart inside!? This speaker wiring too has to be one of the worst I have ever seen!


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Typical bodged wiring again and many wrong/added components. I was wondering why the GZ34 was shot but it didn’t take long to realize the problem. Small as the fitted power transformer was and, as small as its current rating would be….the HT was actually 650-0-650!! God-knows what equipment this transformer had come from? This would account for the GZ34 having flashed across and a shorting HT cap! It would also explain some of the modifications done. The screen grids’ resistor was a 5k but should have been a 1k5. Although in fixed-bias, someone had put a 500 ohm cathode resistor and by-pass cap on the output tubes. Finally there was a 1000 ohm, 10 watt wire-wound resistor from the HT CT (centre-tap) to ground. All these additions were obviously someone’s futile attempt at reducing the unusually high voltages from this wrong power transformer!


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Selmer have used two different size power transformers on their various 50 watt amps. One type uses the UK imperial (Linton & Hirst) type “78” pattern and the other, being the larger of the two is a “120” pattern. This chassis originally would have had the small one but, I only had the larger one on the shelf at the time and it does just fit. This is preferable anyway as the larger one runs much cooler! Full, new set of tubes here too.

 

 

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That’s more like it…..tidy, neat, and working well! Also, note the small over-hang of the larger power transformer……..no big deal though.

 

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The 2BA speaker nuts. All of them were at least halfway down the screws!

 

 

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What a hideous and totally unreliable repair! 

 

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The nuts holding the baffle board in-place. Many were missing…..the rest were hanging off!

 

 

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No anchorage for the pre-amp multi-core and, foot-switch lead cropped!

 

 

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Everything out!! 

 

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Damage to the Fane driver cone.


 

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As above.




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  Pre-amp prior to any work.

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And after the change of a good few components…..mainly the decoupling-caps.

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Note the scorched yellow wire. I’m not the culprit here! This must have been done on a previous service when the beige RS cap was changed next to it? This, in-fact is one of my big “pet-hates” When I go in equipment with a soldering-iron, I have “wide-open blinkers on”. It’s a bit like driving……you are looking at the road straight-ahead but somehow you can “see in the wings too!” It really annoys me when tech-guys burn and scorch wires/components with little regard or care to the customer’s equipment.

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All the original Mullard tubes were fine in the pre-amp and were retained.

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Speakers all repaired and rewired.

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Love these amps…..they don’t-half “kick-ass” when working in tip-top order!

POSTSCRIPT:

E-mail, received from Chris, the amps original owner, after having sold the amp on EBay.
 

"Dear John,
 
I thought you might like to see the result of your sleepless night with the Selmer. I managed to find it a good home in the UK. Thanks again.
 
Best wishes,
 
Chris."
 
E-mail, received from Alex, the amps new owner, sent to Chris, who forwarded it on to me for inclusion on my web-site! Interesting stuff!
 
"Hi Chris,
 
 
I really hope you are well? It's been ages since you made me a very happy 21 year old by selling the Selmer amplifier to me - I promised I would contact you with some pictures etc so please accept my apologies for not doing so sooner!
 
The amp has been absolutely brilliant! The Fane speaker quickly gave-way in the amp, causing some minor damage to the output valves - I bought a new pair and the new Celestion speakers that had been recommended by your amp technician (chambonino@aol.com) and am pleased to say that it has been nothing but a pleasure to play since! It's travelled quite a lot as well - the band has been doing very well recently and so far the amp has been seen and heard in; The Dublin Castle, Camden. The Hope & Anchor, Islington. The Jericho Tavern, Oxford. The NEC Arena, Birmingham and a multitude of brilliant venues in Reading as well. This weekend it makes it's first trip to Glastonbury!
 
We have also used the amp to absolutely superb effect in the studio - the tremolo being one of it's most effective devices. The new speakers got rid of the "heartbeat effect" and it really sounds fantastic now! The ghostly echo and tremolo is an effect I can only get from the Selmer. Indeed, the producer of our music said he'd never heard a sound quite like it!!!
 
I've also attached some pictures - the amp was at all three gigs but you can only see it in the one next to the Orange amp on the stage floor. Hope the other photos give you an impression of the sort of action the amp is seeing these days; all those years after you first bought it?
 
Anyway, thanks again - I love the amp and so do the band. We all agreed it was the missing link to our sound and we're very glad that I managed to track one down!
 
Take care Chris - I will e-mail again soon. We're recording again in May and I'll make sure you're able to hear the Selmer's future achievements!
 
 
Alex."




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Note the Selmer Zodiac next to the Orange amp, onstage with Boydidgood.




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Two Photos of Boydidgood, playing the NEC Birmingham.


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All about Alex's band "Boydidgood" is here at their myspace site. Cheers, John.



www.myspace.com/boydidgood


 

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