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How big of a can of worms would I be opening with this MCI?
Old 16th December 2014
  #1
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How big of a can of worms would I be opening with this MCI?

I've been looking for a decent multitrack deck for a while, and now I found this thing... a vintage 16 track 2" MCI. I don't think I have enough posts to link to an image, but here's an URL for the one in question below.

http://semojams.com/junk/mci.JPG

Completely unknown condition and provenance, about two hours away from me. Assuming it needs EVERYTHING, what kind of money should I throw down for this? I'm pretty handy with a soldiering iron, but I've only had experience repairing and maintaining consumer-grade reel-to-reels. At least this would still all be discrete electronics, right?

Thanks for any tips...
Old 16th December 2014
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eBayfreak View Post
I've been looking for a decent multitrack deck for a while, and now I found this thing... a vintage 16 track 2" MCI. I don't think I have enough posts to link to an image, but here's an URL for the one in question below.

http://semojams.com/junk/mci.JPG

Completely unknown condition and provenance, about two hours away from me. Assuming it needs EVERYTHING, what kind of money should I throw down for this? I'm pretty handy with a soldiering iron, but I've only had experience repairing and maintaining consumer-grade reel-to-reels. At least this would still all be discrete electronics, right?

Thanks for any tips...
you really need to buy 2.... those 16 tracks are really old, parts are tough to get. They sound great though, when up to spec
Old 16th December 2014
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eBayfreak View Post
I've been looking for a decent multitrack deck for a while, and now I found this thing... a vintage 16 track 2" MCI. I don't think I have enough posts to link to an image, but here's an URL for the one in question below.

http://semojams.com/junk/mci.JPG

Completely unknown condition and provenance, about two hours away from me. Assuming it needs EVERYTHING, what kind of money should I throw down for this? I'm pretty handy with a soldiering iron, but I've only had experience repairing and maintaining consumer-grade reel-to-reels. At least this would still all be discrete electronics, right?

Thanks for any tips...
If you want an MCI machine, just buy one of Chris Mara's. You'll get a machine that has been torn down to the ground and rebuilt back up. Or if you want to save money by doing it yourself, he would at least be a great resource to give you a ballpark of what you're going to need to do.

I just bought an Ampex MM1200 2" 16 track for $2800. I estimate it will take another $2000-$4500 to get it in running shape.

These machines are a commitment. What you don't want is to buy it and spend a few thousand on it and have it sitting in your garage 2 years from now still not running.
Old 16th December 2014
  #4
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Drumsound's Avatar
I wouldn't give much for one of those super early MCI decks. Get a newer machine, or as mentioned, buy a Mara Machine and get to work.
Old 16th December 2014
  #5
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I'd pass. Those early MCI transports kinda suck. I've seen decent condition JH24's for under $2k, go that route if you really need an MCI.
Old 16th December 2014
  #6
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I sold one a few months ago for $700.00 that was in better shape...
The Only deck MCI made that was all discrete..Could be wrong on that..
Not many around, could need far more than you know...
There were 3 models of this, main difference I think was the Capstan motor.
But 2" 16 track is the best IMHO...
Make sure you can get tape, and NOT old used tape...
Old 16th December 2014
  #7
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Old 16th December 2014
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogtodd View Post
I'd pass. Those early MCI transports kinda suck. I've seen decent condition JH24's for under $2k, go that route if you really need an MCI.
What he said.

That is an early JH-16 or JH100 transpo, could need LOT'S of work, great sounding discrete electronics though. Chris Mara can help you fix stuff or sell you stuff that doesn't need fixing...

To nosebleed - they made several variations of the discrete electronics from early '70s up to about '76/'78 I think, including a 24 track version.
Old 16th December 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
What he said.

That is an early JH-16 or JH100 transpo, could need LOT'S of work, great sounding discrete electronics though. Chris Mara can help you fix stuff or sell you stuff that doesn't need fixing...

To nosebleed - they made several variations of the discrete electronics from early '70s up to about '76/'78 I think, including a 24 track version.
I mentioned ALL discrete, big difference..
Old 16th December 2014
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by nosebleedaudio View Post
I mentioned ALL discrete, big difference..
yes I realize that, they made various all discrete versions. JH-5, JH-10, JH-100 with 16 or 24 track, etc..
The 2003/2001 opamps came to MCi's in the late 70's.
Old 16th December 2014
  #11
Lives for gear
Basically every square inch has worms.
Supposing the heads are good, which is a gigantic big if:
You'd have to go through each and every card, replace all electrolytic caps, clean all pots and re-solder everything. Verify all circuit traces are complete and not shorting anywhere. All connections probably need something like deoxit badly.
The power supply would definitely need a complete overhaul in same fashion.
All wiring to the motors checked and cleaned up. Motors cleaned and lubricated. Possibly rebuilt. Brakes cleaned up.
Wiring to the deck controls checked and cleaned, any electrolytic caps replaced, solder cleaned up.
VU meters need bulbs or setup for LEDs. Also any caps and wiring, but maybe you can wait. if you touch them, recalibration will be needed. cal may be needed anyway though.
Anywhere else with wires and electronics, need attention.
Inputs, outputs, another place for bad connections.
Get some fuses. Power up with extreme caution, variac or dim-bulb tester.
verify your power supply voltages..
Start playing some tape, getting tape tension setup, pinch roller/capstan going. get the brakes dialed.
Buy a new MRL tape. The shortest cheapest 15ips one is $375.
You'll probably discover quick that need a new pinch roller.. $250

All this work and it would still look old and beat up, but could be rolling tape. So maybe you'd want to get it painted? if you are into car resto, then maybe this would be an easy job.
Do these have a way where they can lock to external servo? If so, that could be a huge difference in the transport. You'd want a timeline microlynx and cable, or make one..ebay $500 ish?

heads: If they are good, budget $1000 or so getting them lapped.
New rolls of tape: $350 ish.

its a commitment alright.
getting the parts list, finding places that have them, and ordering them is very time consuming.

Old 16th December 2014
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
yes I realize that, they made various all discrete versions. JH-5, JH-10, JH-100 with 16 or 24 track, etc..
The 2003/2001 opamps came to MCi's in the late 70's.
those examples of Fort Lauderdale craftsmanship were indeed discrete up to 1979 thanks to their cloning of Ampex circuitry. However, around 1975 or so, about the time of their ceramic capstan, high slew rate ic's were added to the control card. So for the sake of accuracy, not 100 percent discrete.
Attached Thumbnails
How big of a can of worms would I be opening with this MCI?-control.jpg  
Old 16th December 2014
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by 21doors View Post
Basically every square inch has worms.
Supposing the heads are good, which is a gigantic big if:
You'd have to go through each and every card, replace all electrolytic caps, clean all pots and re-solder everything. Verify all circuit traces are complete and not shorting anywhere. All connections probably need something like deoxit badly.
The power supply would definitely need a complete overhaul in same fashion.
All wiring to the motors checked and cleaned up. Motors cleaned and lubricated. Possibly rebuilt. Brakes cleaned up.
Wiring to the deck controls checked and cleaned, any electrolytic caps replaced, solder cleaned up.
VU meters need bulbs or setup for LEDs. Also any caps and wiring, but maybe you can wait. if you touch them, recalibration will be needed. cal may be needed anyway though.
Anywhere else with wires and electronics, need attention.
Inputs, outputs, another place for bad connections.
Get some fuses. Power up with extreme caution, variac or dim-bulb tester.
verify your power supply voltages..
Start playing some tape, getting tape tension setup, pinch roller/capstan going. get the brakes dialed.
Buy a new MRL tape. The shortest cheapest 15ips one is $375.
You'll probably discover quick that need a new pinch roller.. $250

All this work and it would still look old and beat up, but could be rolling tape. So maybe you'd want to get it painted? if you are into car resto, then maybe this would be an easy job.
Do these have a way where they can lock to external servo? If so, that could be a huge difference in the transport. You'd want a timeline microlynx and cable, or make one..ebay $500 ish?

heads: If they are good, budget $1000 or so getting them lapped.
New rolls of tape: $350 ish.

its a commitment alright.
getting the parts list, finding places that have them, and ordering them is very time consuming.

All true and more. This is why a Mara machine is not cheap, but is 100%.
None of us has even mentioned the Molex/Recrimp/Cold Solder fun that awaits. DC Tach rebuilds as well, and a complete PS rebuild. Tentelometers and Spring scales required for transpo set up as well. New Pinch is almost a given, get an Athan if you can...

Please don't use D'Oxit, it will only cause further problems.
Old 17th December 2014
  #14
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Old 17th December 2014
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Awesomeness Tony!
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