Just wanted to share a picture or two of my dad's old Realistic receiver I've been working on. He bought it new back in '77 and used it regularly up until the mid 90's. At some point it developed a problem in one channel and he had it serviced through the local Radio Shack store. I'm not sure it was ever really fixed, though they did replace a capacitor and a couple of resistors, but I think the real problem was simply due to dirty switches. Anyway it ended up sitting on a shelf in a spare bedroom, unused for probably the last 12 years.
When I brought it to my house, I opened it up and found several obviously leaking capacitors, as well as all but one of the dial lamps out, and VERY dirty inside (parents live out in the country, on a dirt road, and they like to leave their windows open a lot). I disassembled it, re-capped the power supply, amplifier board and phono preamp. Removed the output transistors and heatsinks - mostly to clean them- and then replaced them with new thermal compound. I replaced all the dial lamps and had to fabricate a new lamp holder for the tuning meter lamp because the old one was broken (don't know why).
Anyway, feeling pretty good about the electronics, I turned to the "oiled walnut veneer" case. It was in pretty rough shape, but the veneer was all there and there were no deep scratches. The finish was rough, though, as if the veneer was trying to crack and curl up along the lines of the grain in the wood. I consulted with F1nut about the best method of dealing with the case, and he advised me to clean the surface thoroughly with paint thinner to remove previously applied oils, sand smooth, and apply wipe-on polyurethane. Once I started sanding, I discovered the surface was actually rougher than I realized. I was scared to sand it completely smooth, afraid I'd go through the thin veneer. I got the surface as smooth as I felt that I could, then applied 4 coats of wipe-on poly, rubbing the surface down with fine steel wool between coats. I think the result looks great! Looks better in person. It's not really as dark and red as these pictures make it look, but it's still lighter than the original finish was. It also shows more variation in the wood, which I like. I used gloss poly, which is not really what I had in mind when I started, but it's what was available locally. The gloss level is actually very similar to the "freshly oiled" look. I was kind of proud of it overall! Thanks again for the help, Jesse!
This receiver was "New for '77" and sold for $259.95 18W/channel. Nice tuner that really pulls in stations better than anything else I've got currently. It sounds really nice- Better than I remembered, especially through "vintage" speakers (Dad also has the matching Nova 7b's which I haven't worked over yet, but plan to). I'm not sure what it is about the sound of these old- especially the low-wattage - 70's SS receivers. I like 'em.