Friday, September 5, 2008

Road Trip to Florida!

Had a chance for a nice road trip last month. Drove my old Subaru out to see my good friend Wes Swenson who lives right outside of Panama City FL.

Wes and I flew Chinooks together in Vietnam in 1969 so we go back a bit. It was great to see him again and hang out for about three days.

He has retired from flying but keeps busy working in his large beautiful studio as a master potter and clay worker.

I drink my morning tea out of his mugs which are as fine as anybody's anywhere. He has his own kiln and is busy working on an awesome chess set, among other things.

Beside general reminiscing and catching up on life we listened to Wes's considerable stereo rig consisting of a modified Philips CD player, a Audio Research SP-9 Mk II tube preamp, an Audio Research D-125 behemoth tube amp sporting 4 6550's per side and a tall set of Vandersteens, 3's I believe. It was great sounds.

While I was out there I picked up a set of KEF 104.2's that were delivered to Wes's house from a nearby eBay gentleman who was selling them for parts. Nice rosewood cabinets. When it was time to go, we loaded up the Kefs, filled the spare tire, said our so longs and I headed the old Subaru home.

The trip went smoothly, about 13 1/2 hours straight through. That 240K mile Sube ran like a Swiss watch. Averaged 31 mpg going about 70mph with the A/C on the whole way, without burning a drop of oil.

Those flat opposed 4 bangers are tough as nails. Made in America too!

I figured I could do the Kef rebuild myself so I took the units apart, removed the X-Overs and replaced the tweeters with some new Peerless DX-25's.

The old Kef tweeters start losing their ferro fluid after 20 years and it hardens. They were both bad.

The crossovers were in pretty good shape so I only replaced about 7 capacitors on each board. Those x-over assemblies weigh about 5 lbs each and are a little tricky to get in and out.

I quickly realized that redoing the woofers properly was past my pay grade, so, off they went to Austin Speaker Repair.

The 104.2's are considered a genuine classic from the late '80's. Highly regarded in many circles as one of the great designs, they were and still are awesome performing speakers for their size. 36"x11"x13" and about 72 lbs each, they reek of quality. Beautiful veneers, solid bracing and those great Kef components. Thank you Sir Raymond!

Some consider them pretty gawky looking as they have a externally mounted metal case holding a D’appolito MHM arrangement that is completely outside the cabinet.

Inside the cabinet are 2 - 8" woofers firing straight up and connected with a stabilizing aluminum rod. They fire through a 4" opening in the front of the cabinet and manage to put out considerable bass. We''ll see.

When it's all done I'll let you know how they sound!

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