After driving up from Worcestershire, a very nice young guy (Justin) brought this immaculate Wem Westminster Mk9 into my workshop. This amp was in such good condition it could have almost have been passed off as "brand new!".
After checking out the little baby, and indeed confirming that it had some bad crackles on all the controls just as Justin had originally stated on the phone, I proceeded to take her apart. Though usually sounding good, and certainly having a big place in the history of British valve amplifiers, I'm not actually a big fan of Wem amps; especially with regard to their physical design. In the case of this Westminster (and a good few other Wem models), you have to remove everything from the case (including the speaker) to be able to remove the chassis/circuit board!
Anyway, without griping too much about this and plus the fact that Justin had travelled a fair distance with his little amp, I decided to sort it out whilst he was in the workshop. I quite often do this for customers, if at all possible, to save them making more unnecessary journeys, and wasting more fuel and time in doing so.
On went the kettle for the essential cup-a-tea before we started and then........
After removing the chassis, I first did the obvious: spray all the potentiometers. Now most of the time, this does work but in this case it made no difference. As some of the nuts and bolts had "gray'd", this is a tell-tail sign of some damp, although this wasn't all over and didn't seem to have effected anything else. I then removed one of the suspect controls for a closer inspection. I took the pot apart, cleaned it all by hand, bent the wipers a little bit and re-fitted it back into the amp. (If a spray doesn't do the trick, this is the next best way to put right potentiometers.)
However, for once this didn't work either! I was now coming to the conclusion that, even though the amp was in superb condition, some damp had done damage to the carbon tracks within the potentiometers. So........they all came out and were subsequently replaced with new ones. This time everything was fine and sounding good. Justin was well pleased with the results.
After yet another celebration cup-a-tea, I bid Justin farewell. He has both phoned and emailed me twice since to say how pleased and impressed he was with my work, determination, and hospitality. A pleasant afternoon with a happy ending.
Thanks for doing the photos for my web-site, Justin.
Evening John... is that whisky flowing yet? What's your poison anyway?
Just wanted to say thanks for the work that you carried out for me earlier today. I've been playing through the WEM all evening and absolutely love it. To my ears its got a lovely warm tone and no more crackle and pops! ;-)
Thanks for letting me call in today and stick around while you diagnosed and resolved the issues - it was very interesting to witness the process and learn about your other projects. I also realize that you went out of your way to save me effort, time and money - you're a rare breed, thanks. I hope you managed to get to the garden centre for your mum before closing and got everything sorted?
Thanks again John.
Cheers. I'm off to buy another doggy amp!
Hope you're well on what's suddenly turned out to be a sunny Sunday evening down here in Worcestershire! Its been rather cloudy all day. Anyway, as promised, please find some photographs (I've included a few for you to choose from) of the Wem Westminster you revived before my eyes at the "Amp Hospital". Take a look at the pictures and let me know if they're suitable or if you would like anything in addition.
Once again, I'm absolutely delighted with the results following your meticulous service and repair of my beloved Wem Westminster. Thank you.
Cheers for now...