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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a set of vintage 1982 JBL speakers in storage that are coming out in a few months. They need some work. The foam surrounds on the woofers have disintegrated and need to be replaced. The capacitors in the crossovers also need to be replaced, it is common to do this on speakers 20+ years old to bring them back to life sonically. I also need to rejuvenate the cabinets. I'm looking for opinions on that.

They are walnut veneers (the flat surfaces) and solids (the corners, which are rounded over). They don't need refinishing from the standpoint that they are scratched (they are not), the walnut just looks dry and doesn't have any luster, they have sort of a "dusty" appearance. I'm trying to stick to a more or less original look. I haven't been able to find a good picture of what they looked like new, but I know they were oiled from the factory.

After much searching and reading, I was able to find this, which is what the manufacturer said about maintaining their "furniture finish":

Font Terrestrial plant Screenshot Number Symmetry

A later version of this same info dropped the recipe shown above for the BLO/turpentine mix and stated "To re-oil a JBL finish use any one of the several clear oil finishing preparations available through furniture or hardware outlets."

My first thought, prior to finding the above info, was to use Watco Danish Oil on them. I looked on some audio forums to see what others did with these same speakers. Here's what I found others recommended:

  • Watco Danish Oils
  • not a fan of the boiled linseed oil - it never fully cures, it becomes a tacky dust-magnet and oxidizes (darkens) over time (my comment on this - this is what the manufacturer used at the factory and there is no sign of them being tacky)
  • Wipe them down every 6 months or so with Howard's Orange oil - They will be excessively shiny for a while, until the oil soaks into the veneer
  • Howard's Restore A Finish
  • don't use Howard's feed and Wax since the wax will clog the pores over time - the oil will just soak in
  • hand sand with 120 then 240 grit sandpaper and finish with either walnut penetrating stain then clear Danish Oil or just use walnut tinted Danish Oil (my comment on this: I'm not sure what the point is in using walnut stain or walnut tinted Danish oil on walnut)
  • Tung oil
  • Pour-N-Wipe by Mohawk
  • Guardsman Anytime Clean & Polish
  • The "oil" doesn't soak into the wood, it evaporates, which is why you have to keep applying it. If an oiled look is desired a much better choice is to use a true oil finish such as Watco, then apply 3 coats of museum quality Renaissance wax buffed out between applications. That will last for many years before refreshing is required.
I don't have a problem oiling them when needed, so I'm OK with using the mix JBL recommended back in the 80s. Having said that, I used Watco Danish oil on a walnut mantel clock I made 40 years ago. It still looks good.

I'm interested in hearing opinions on everything above.

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815 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
"vintage 1982 " If those are vintage, then the Acustic AR-3's that I bought in 1966 must be antique.. My age is showing.

I know what you mean! I look at things from the 70s like is was yesterday. I think the line in the sand for audio equipment is when things stopped being made here. Speakers probably hung on the longest as far as that goes. You can still find audio equipment made here, but mostly only high end, high priced pieces.

By the way, we (I consider everything I have in hobby/collectible areas to also be my son's, thus "we") have a pair of AR-1s. They too are in storage waiting to be restored. We also have one AR-10π. It was a freebie a few years ago. I doubt I'll ever found just one more, so I'll probably cave in at some point and part it out. Or, maybe it will make a good center speaker for a home theater system?
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