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FDP Forum / Amp Mods, Repairs, and Projects / The Official Tube Socket Clean and Retension Thread

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rockable
Contributing Member
**

USA/ NC/ Greensboro

A passion for making noise....
Jun 12th, 2006 04:16 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

From now on, you will be able to search on the word "retension" and click "topic" to find this procedure.

We all get tired of rehashing it and it's probably one of the most frequently recommended procedures on the FDP. I'll get it started. Please feel free to add your recommendations. I'm going to do this assuming you don't know how to remove the chassis.

I thank all of you on the FDP that have shared your individual knowledge over the years and taught me how to do this.

1. Unplug the amp. Turn it off and put the standby switch in the "play" position, if it has one.

2. Turn the amp up on it's side on your work surface. Be sure you have screws or strap holding the reverb tank to the bottom of the cabinet. Remove the upper back panel.

3. Get a good light focused on the work area so that you can see what you're doing and put on your reading glasses, if you're over 40.

4. Label and remove your tubes. Simply wiggle them side to side and round and round as you pull on them. Don't bend them severely to one side! Use a labeling system that makes sense to you 2 days from now, not 2 minutes from now. Masking tape works and you can write on the chassis with a pencil or stick pieces of tape on the chassis.

4. Set your voltmeter to DC volts. Clip the neg lead to the chassis and stick the pos probe into each of the connectors in each of the power tube sockets. If you read zero volts in all of these, you are good to go. If not, wait a few minutes and try again. Don't procede until the voltage is completely dissipated.

5. Get some DeOxit or Radio Shack tuner cleaner. (In a pinch, you can use contact cleaner but DeOxit is best.) Put the little tube in the nozzle so that you can squirt the solution into the individual connector holes.

6. Do one connector at a time. Squirt a small amount of DeOxit into the connector and insert a round toothpick (great idea, Jazz!) into the hole. Work the toothpick round and round and in and out like it was recreational! Do this for each hole of each socket. The power tube sockets will likely be too big for that. Improvise.

7. Clean the pins on each of the tubes. I squirt a little on the tube pins and a little on a toothbrush and work them over just like I do my pearly white snags.

8. Retension each connector of each socket. Power tube sockets (octals) most often need this. Most nine pin sockets are better designed and need it less often. The idea is to make the connector smaller than the tube pin so that you get some "squeeze" on it when you insert the tube.

To retension, you will need a small jeweler's screwdriver, dental pick, scribe or some other small tool that won't bend when you put a little pressure on it.

Stick the tool in between the connector and the socket material and pry on the metallic ring and try to make it smaller than the pin. With practice, you can actually make them round and small. This is tedious and takes a few minutes but it's not rocket science.

9. Reinsert your tubes with as little bending motion as possible. You now should have excellent contact with each pin of each tube.

After doing this, you should understand why you should be careful changing tubes and why frequently changing tubes causes the sockets to lose their tension. There is a finite amount of times you can do this before the metal in the little connectors fatigues and breaks. When that happens, you'll have to replace the socket.

You can also use variations of this to clean your RCA connectors and jacks, speaker and input jacks (a Q tip works well for these).

In these old amps, poor electrical connections are often the cause of popping, hissing and other basic problems. This is a good way to eliminate some simple problems before paying an amp tech to tackle tougher problems.

Often, you will get lucky and fix it with a good cleaning and retensioning. ROCK ON!

(This message was last edited by rockable at 07:33 PM, Jun 12th, 2006)

Vickers
Contributing Member
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Florida, USA

"If you must hate, hate gently" Electron
Jun 13th, 2006 06:50 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I squirt a little on the tube pins"

lol

rockable
Contributing Member
**

USA/ NC/ Greensboro

A passion for making noise....
Jun 13th, 2006 07:59 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks, Vickers! I aim to please.

You aim, too...... please!

(This message was last edited by rockable at 04:05 PM, Jun 14th, 2006)

BLUEPRINT
Contributing Member
***

How 'bout a Fresca?

Jun 14th, 2006 04:58 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

A very squirtifiable post!

Am I understanding that to retension the sockets you don't have to drain the caps or are you saying the turning off while in play mode will drain enough for tensioning?

Excuse my ignorance if I am misundstanding.
I have an amp that runs EL34's and it began making an awful crackling and almost blown speaker sound.
I could push up on the power tubes or slightly move them and make it stop or get worse.
I assumed the tubes were bad and since I don't have any EL34's I ordered some.
But, maybe it's just the tension?

Thanks for a great post and any other info that might keep me from getting shocked!

Vickers
Contributing Member
**********
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Florida, USA

"If you must hate, hate gently" Electron
Jun 14th, 2006 05:05 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

BLUE, look at step 4.

BLUEPRINT
Contributing Member
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How 'bout a Fresca?

Jun 14th, 2006 05:10 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I read that but I thought I read somewhere else that unless you actually drain the caps there could still be lethal voltage.
I just didn't under stand about waiting and checking it again.

And, to clarify, you are sticking the postive pointed probe from your DVM "into" each pin hole in the socket?



rockable
Contributing Member
**

USA/ NC/ Greensboro

A passion for making noise....
Jun 14th, 2006 05:45 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

If the amp is in the "Play" mode, it will drain the caps itself. On amps that don't have a standby, they'll do it automatically, too.

Just to be safe, check it with your DVM. Yes you stick the positive pointed probe into each pin hole and verify there is no significant DC present. It's easier for you to do all of them than it is for me to explain which one would tell you what you need to know.

Sounds like your amp needs a clean and retension.

justonwo
Contributing Member
*

USA/Berkeley, CA

Jun 14th, 2006 06:51 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

What does putting the standby switch in "play" position do? On this 5E3x2 schematic, I only see that it opens a path to the rectifier tube, but I do not see a path to ground that would drain the caps. Maybe I'm missing something . . .

5E3x2

(This message was last edited by justonwo at 06:51 PM, Jun 14th, 2006)

rockable
Contributing Member
**

USA/ NC/ Greensboro

A passion for making noise....
Jun 14th, 2006 07:10 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It just connects all of the caps to the circuit, so that the current will bleed down on ALL of the caps.

The 5E3 did not come with a standby but look at the schematic of a Deluxe Reverb, for instance. The two main filter caps are isolated from the circuit when the standby switch is open and they can hold a charge for quite a while in this condition.

Actually, they don't present a hazard if you don't remove the chassis or cap pan. It's just better to go ahead and drain them all for safety's sake, however.


RussB
Contributing Member
**

Connecticut

a little out of tune
Jun 14th, 2006 07:27 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

this is a most-excellent post about retensioning tube sockets...maybe it shouldn't get "bogged down" with so many cap draining questions...heck, there are about 5,673 of those posts here at the FDP!

BLUEPRINT
Contributing Member
***

How 'bout a Fresca?

Jun 14th, 2006 09:34 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Sorry to bog it down. I understand the principle of re tensioning and cleaning.
I just wanted to make sure I make it through the process alive! ;^)

slidincharlie

Palermo, Italy

Waiting for Legba at the crossroads
Jun 15th, 2006 01:57 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

rockable, thanks for your effort. While most of us here know how to clean and retension tube sockets, many others don't, and will find some precious help in your post.

One question:
some people say that plain DeoxIt or other contact cleaners don't work right in tube pins and sockets due to the very high temperature of these parts during use. They suggest other specific products (for example Caig ProGold, IIRC) that are spec'ed for high temperatures.

What do you guys think of that?

Carlo

rockable
Contributing Member
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USA/ NC/ Greensboro

A passion for making noise....
Jun 15th, 2006 05:10 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Gosh, Carlo. I don't THINK that's the case. I know Jazzguitar even recommends using alcohol in a pinch.

All you're trying to do is remove the oxidation on the aluminum connector and the pin. It's gonna come back, eventually, and heat probably would increase that rate of oxidation.

Anyone out there know anything different on this?

justonwo
Contributing Member
*

USA/Berkeley, CA

Jun 15th, 2006 10:28 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Sorry to harp on this issue, rockable, but I still don't see how putting the standby in "play" position achieves anything to drain the filter caps. The positive side of the filter caps have to be fed to ground to bleed them. When you flip the standby switch to "play", you do not make any ground connections. Looking at that 5E3x2 schematic above (which DOES have a standby switch), you simply add a short run of wire to another floating, dead-end connection (the connection to the rectifier tubes). Perhaps I'm missing something here, but there is no reason for the standby switch to have any effect on the charge in the caps since you don't open any paths to ground.

Winter

California

Jun 15th, 2006 10:47 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Step 6: Pipe-cleaners anyone? (with your choice of cleaning solution). Kind of a cloth cleaning alternative, imo. As stated: Improvise.



jazzguitar
Contributing Member

Delicious tone !

Looking for the perfect job
Jun 15th, 2006 01:55 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

As rockable says, if the amp's standby is not in the play position, not all capacitors will be drained. You need an extra ground path (usually the plate load resistor of a preamp tube, pin 1 or 6, connected to ground) to actually drain any capacitor.

....

Now for the question of using DeOxit or similar things, these were not meant for positions where high voltages attract dust (which the oily nature of DeOxit makes stick) and heat (which makes matters worse).

Therefore I use alcohol to really make the dust go away and nothing left there than the dry contact. These socket contacts (in the better amps) usually are silver or nickel plated, and once shiny and clean, and firmly gripping the tube pin, the circuit will work just fine with no problem.

slidincharlie

Palermo, Italy

Waiting for Legba at the crossroads
Jun 15th, 2006 02:01 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Alcohol makes sense to me. It cleans well all dirt and evaportaes almost immediately, thus leaving no residue.
I doubt that alcohol cleans the oxidation though...

Carlo

rockable
Contributing Member
**

USA/ NC/ Greensboro

A passion for making noise....
Jun 15th, 2006 02:54 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

So, maybe we'd be best off to use a deoxidizer type cleaner and then use alcohol to remove the oiliness.

What do you think, Jazz?

RussB
Contributing Member
**

Connecticut

a little out of tune
Jun 15th, 2006 07:25 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I use De-Ox-It and a pipe cleaners...then rinse with a burst of "CRC Electronic Cleaner"

sonicly duo

Canada

Tweed Champ - TURN IT ON & TURN IT UP!
Jul 18th, 2006 09:42 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Great posting. I printed off the steps and went off to my workshop with my guitar & amp and performed a successfull re-tensioning of the 6V6 socket in my tweed Champ with simply a jeweler's screw driver (after checking the caps were drained with a DMM of course).

I then plugged my guitar in to make sure nothing loosened in the car ride there, and noticed my workshop has a cool echo/reverb-like sound quality to it due to the size and concrete construction. It sounded cool...

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FDP Forum / Amp Mods, Repairs, and Projects / The Official Tube Socket Clean and Retension Thread




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