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  1. #1

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    Default Realistic STA-77a I just restored

    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.
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  2. #2

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    Pretty. I wanted to do similar to my Grandfather's STA-2000D but had too many projects. I love the orange lighting.
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

  3. #3

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    Looks nice.

  4. #4

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    Thanks! I always thought the yellow/orange dial was cool too. And dial pointer that changes from white to red when you tune in a stereo station..

  5. #5

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    The case came out nice,another saved from the landfill.
    Good job.
    Dan

  6. #6

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    I am speechless, great story and beautilful receiver. I bet your Dad is extremely poud.
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
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  7. #7

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    Maybe he'll just let me keep it..

  8. #8

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    looky what I found on page 10

    http://www.radioshackcatalogs.com/catalogs/1977/

  9. #9

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    Damn nice job, it looks brand new.

    If and I say if you want a satin sheen you can order the satin wiping poly online.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  10. #10

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    Congrats man, she looks great. What you describe in that old sound is like a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. A very easy on the ears sound that you could just fall asleep to.

  11. #11

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    Thanks again for the compliments! Actually I'm quite happy with the gloss.
    And, Tony, yes that's a pretty good description. It does seem to have a very relaxed sound quality that's very easy to listen to. I don't know if it's really the sound, or if it's just the memories that it brings back. Simpler times. I would have been about 7 years old in 1977. Dad got this receiver, the Nova 7b speakers, and a turntable, along with a few albums of Christmas music (also sold at Radio Shack at that time). I vividly remember all of us sitting down for the first listen. It was the first "real" hifi system I'd ever heard and I was amazed. That experience is probably largely responsible for the way I am about music and audio equipment today, lol! As such, the sentimental value is much larger than the actual value, if you know what I mean.

    I started putting together my own Realistic system, a piece at a time, around 1983. I still have some of the components, but I really wish I had my receiver and my speakers back!

  12. #12

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    cute!

    You know about this site, yes?
    www.radioshackcatalogs.com

    A wonderful resource for R/S stuff (and, up to the early 1960s, many other brands as well). You'll find the STA-77A on page 10 of
    http://www.radioshackcatalogs.com/catalogs/1977/

    FWIW, an unsuffixed STA-77 (oops, I take that back - it's an unsuffixed STA-52, sligtly newer) passed through here a few years back, courtesy (of course) of my favorite local vintage emporium...

    all the best,
    mrh

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    Nice! makes me want to get started on the STA-2300 sitting on my bench. Bought it brand new!
    Two Channel-SDA SRS 1.2tl's,modded. Carver a-753x, Technics 1200mk2, Nad 515bee,Soundstage vacuum two pre
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  14. #14

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    Wow, very nice job!!! I had an old Marantz 2238B long time ago and I loved it! for sure they do not make these kind of gears anymore. The best choice is to change all those old electrolytic caps that with time they dry-out and change values. adjust dc offset and bias and that gear will last for another 20 years more...But since you replaced most of the caps, it will perform like new! Again you did a very nice job!
    Make it simple...Make it better!

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    Very nice job! It looks great!
    Carl

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    I have an old STA-7 from the 1982 catalog. I use it out in my garage. It's starting to slowly fail. It's never been capped or anything through the years. It had some type of bass enhancment for the small Minumus 7 speakers. $179 back in 82. I don't know if it's worth getting it looked at or not. It was a really sleek looking amp back in the day. Man, what a long time ago, I was a senior when I got this thing.

  17. #17

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    Great job! And congratulations on bringing a piece of family history back to life!

    I had a Realistic STA-790 receiver (a few years newer) that I really liked. I also now have a pair of Realistic Nova 6B and Nova 8 speakers. The build and finish on them are both great - definitely rivals to the Pioneer and Sansui units of the era. I recapped the 6bs and noticed a pronounced improvement in the upper range. This was an easy job and well worth the Dayton caps and 15 minutes with the soldering gun that it took. The crossovers in these systems are very easy to get to. I'd recommend a recap, and if you need to a clean of the veneers - I used Howard's Restore a Finish on mine and it worked wonders.

    Enjoy!
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by charley95 View Post
    I have an old STA-7 from the 1982 catalog. I use it out in my garage. It's starting to slowly fail. It's never been capped or anything through the years. It had some type of bass enhancment for the small Minumus 7 speakers. $179 back in 82. I don't know if it's worth getting it looked at or not. It was a really sleek looking amp back in the day. Man, what a long time ago, I was a senior when I got this thing.
    The STA-7 is a nice looking and overall very decent piece of hardware; the "slowly fail" description makes me wonder whether it might simply need to have controls, switches, and pots cleaned of decades of dust and oxidation products... this can be a DIY job with a screwdriver, a can of CAIG DeOxit and an owner with the gumption to read a "how to" sticky at a forum (perhaps this one has one; audiokarma definitely should). Don't ditch that STA-7, though, whatever you do! :-)

    As to the advice throughout this thread on replacing electrolytic capacitors - it's very sage advice. The caps weren't really "designed" to last three or four decades; they are probably out of spec at least in terms of ESR (their "equivalent series resistance") - perhaps in their capacitance value, too - and any in the signal path will lilkely result in audible degradation of the signal. The one caveat I'd offer is to tread lightly in the "receiver" section of a tuner or receiver; some of the capacitors are elements of tuned circuits for radio reception; even slight changes in the absolute value of those critical components may de-tune the tuner sections to the point of inoperability (and re-alignment of an FM receiver isn't really a task for a tyro).

    Just wanted to share that thought.
    all the best,
    mrh

  19. #19

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    I agree on the "tread lightly" advice regarding the tuner section. I really think as long as you stick with replacing the electrolytic caps it would be fine, as I figure most of the "sensitive" stuff would use better capacitors anyway- But "if it's not broke don't fix it" is definitely good advice on the tuner. I -did- fiddle with mine a little, but I'm perhaps a little crazy or one of those "know just enough to be dangerous" types . But without the proper tools and a service manual, DIY tuner alignment is not generally an area you want to get into. I have a schematic, but not an actual service manual for this one- If anyone has access to a manual, I'd appreciate the spec for bias current on the amp. I think it's fine the way I've got it, but I'd still like to check.

    I love the Radio Shack catalog site! I had several of those catalogs virtually memorized, and so it's a lot of fun going back through them. Looking at the '82 catalog, on page 21 and 22, I had -still have, actually- the 31-2000 ten band EQ and the LAB-395 turntable. Briefly had a pair of Mach 1 speakers. Always wanted the STA-2080 receiver, but end up getting a,... well, what model was that? 860 maybe? I'll have to look it up. Probably in the '84 or '85 catalog. I sold that receiver a few years ago to a guy who REALLY wanted it (and offered me way too much to pass up). It was in perfect condition..

    Jason

  20. #20

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    And, yes, it was an STA-860. Page 10 of the '84 book.

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  21. #21

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    If you're like me, and if you like the Radio Shack catalog scan site... you'll love this site!
    www.alliedcatalogs.com

    :-)

    The same fellow is responsible for both sites; they're both unbelievable resources.
    all the best,
    mrh

  22. #22

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    I think I'll put my STA-7 back in the closet and maybe find someone to tune it up for me someday. I'm not versed enough in electronics to even tinker with caps., resistors...

    I still have my old Denon 1025RA Reciever that will get garage duty for now. What a shame, I paid $875 in 91 for it and now it's only worth about $100. I'll just keep it. It sure doesn't hold a candle to my Rogue. I'm a die-hard tube convert now.

  23. #23

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    Just don't ditch that STA-7 without... umm... letting a few folks around here know :-)

    Back on-topic, the STA-77A in the original post certainly looks great!
    all the best,
    mrh

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhardy6647 View Post
    Just don't ditch that STA-7 without... umm... letting a few folks around here know :-)

    Back on-topic, the STA-77A in the original post certainly looks great!
    Yep, Sorry for the drift!

  25. #25

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    heh - seven vs seventy-seven... not much drift at all, really; just one digit :-)
    all the best,
    mrh

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