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JBL Harlan C39 restoration thread

Discussion in 'The Lansing Legacy' started by sheltie dave, Aug 14, 2017.

  1. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,876
    Location:
    St. Louis
    With some great luck, sharp eyes, lots of help from Audio Fan(who found and saved these) and Gordon(who drove over 2000 miles to make sure they made it to St. Louis,) I now have a pair of 1957 Harlans to restore and treasure.

    They spent at least the last decade or two in a back forty shed on a Carolina property, stuffed with a 12" University woofer and a horrid gold University tweeter in one speaker, and a 12" EV whizzer cone in the other, along with a squirrel or rat nest.

    This selection of speakers is mystifying to say the least, as the Harlans were a very design cutting edge speaker from JBL's early days. How they went from a probable university professor or engineer's MCM home to an audio collector's outback country estate would be an interesting story in itself.

    I had a big stroke of luck with the veneer. Even though the veneer has started pulling off the plywood on both speakers, it is readily identifiable as mahogany. Also, the warranty card packet that survived stapled to one speaker back had C39-M written in pencil. This means the speaker was sold as an empty cabinet, and had mahogany veneer, providing confirmation for our assessment.

    We will need to pull all the veneer, and replace it with some mahogany species. I am inclined to put ribbon sapele on, as it would be a knockout for grain pattern. Jbl always installed the veneer on Harlans so the grain ran to the front leading edge.
     
    Sam Cogley, elitopus, Alobar and 2 others like this.

     

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  2. Leben

    Leben AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,234
    Location:
    Iowa
    I'm glad to hear those are being saved, sounds like they made it to the right place. Looking forward to updates and hopefully, pictures. :) Best of luck with the restoration.
     
  3. moray james

    moray james Super Member

    Messages:
    3,074
    Location:
    Calgary on the Bow
    congrats on your special find. Looking forward to watching the restoration work in progress.
     
  4. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,876
    Location:
    St. Louis
    The speaker guts are another interesting aspect of these speakers. The most common mortarboard has two 15" holes, a tweeter hole, a mid hole, and a rectangle hole on the bottom for a port.

    They most commonly came with a 15" woofer and an 075 bullet tweeter and N2500 crossover, which is the 030 load. They could also have an 001 load - D130a, 175 mid, and N1200 crossover, an 002 load - D123, 075, and N2500, an 004 load - four D123s, 075, and N2500 crossover, or an 050 load - two 130bs, 175, and N1200 crossover.

    The C39 first shows up in JBL catalogs in 1957, but the 004 load is in the 1955 driver catalog, and was almost exclusively a Harlan load. The last catalog to show the Harlan is 1962, so we have a soft start in 1955 and a finish around 1963.
     
  5. gdmoore28

    gdmoore28 Super Member

    Messages:
    2,822
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Good on you for rescuing the C39s.

    [​IMG]

    I'm building a set of Altecs which I'm veneering with the same sapele striped mahogany as you intend to use. It's a beautiful grain, and not too hard to find. Not terribly expensive, either.

    Here's a pic of mine under construction:

    polyeurathane application 001.JPG polyeurathane application 006.JPG

    I wanted something that would look old and aged, and the sapele mahogany is just what I was looking for. The pics were taken after two coats of Teak oil applications, and the first coat of polyeurethane. I ended up with six coats, with aggressive sanding between coats. That yielded a glass smooth, dark finish.

    How about some pics as they are now?

    GeeDeeEmm
     
  6. Audio Fan

    Audio Fan First Class, Second Hand Subscriber

    Hey Dave! Great to see you are already getting going on them.

    Can't fill in too much of the mystery on how these ended up with no JBL drivers or in such conditions, but, the former owner apparently had an "electronics" store at some point. I was not clear if that meant an audio store or a "Radio Shack" type store as the fella was also building his own computers in the 80's. His numerous sets of Bozaks confirm he enjoyed larger speakers and he also had a McIntosh repair book for multiple tube models, so he clearly knew quality hi-fi. If I get any more details, I will relay them here for reference.

    Looking forward to the project updates.

    :lurk:
     
    Sam Cogley likes this.

     

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  7. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,876
    Location:
    St. Louis
    Darrell has good "as is" photos in his thread. I am still contemplating how to post photos with my Photobucket gone.
     
  8. Audio Fan

    Audio Fan First Class, Second Hand Subscriber

    Regarding pictures. If I might add some thoughts. If you want your AK contributions to stay here, best to upload each picture to AK separately rather than link them from some photo app.

    I use a Mac and have all my pictures in my Photos app, but then I export them in Med quality (to minimize size) to another folder (I keep everything by Manufacturer/model), then I upload those to AK. Takes a little longer, but, I don't ever have to worry that my pictures will some day be blank spaces.

    Also, for reference, here is the thread where the Harlans were originally found.

    http://audiokarma.org/forums/index....od-and-bozak-plus-another-major-score.779506/
     
  9. sheltie dave

    sheltie dave Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,876
    Location:
    St. Louis
    Well, I just came in from giving one speaker hell for 50 minutes.. and the speaker won. I got all except one stripped 1 1/2" screw out from the two back compartments on one speaker, and then I had to chase three sides with a maul hammer and side blade chisel, trying to break thirty year old wood glue seals. This is going to be a three or four day project just to get the suckers open, but there's nothing wrong with taking time to do things right.

    Tomorrow will be going at that stripped screw with an easy out, more chisel work, and then getting the University speakers and crossover out, along with the rats' nest. I will strip the veneer as well.
     
    Sam Cogley and Audio Fan like this.
  10. Sam Cogley

    Sam Cogley Last of the Time Lords Subscriber

    Messages:
    30,622
    Location:
    SW Missouri
    I've switched over to Google's hosting, but you could always just upload them as an attachment here.
     
  11. gdmoore28

    gdmoore28 Super Member

    Messages:
    2,822
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    What Sam said. Upload your images from your computer to your posts here. All the previous pics hosted thru sites are gone now, and will be no good for anybody in the future. We've all got to stand up to the pic hosting sites by bypassing them as long as they want to charge outrageous prices while blocking images from areas they once provided content for free.

    I won't go so far as to propose that we boycot Photobucket, but that's exactly what I've done. I would encourage you to do the same, along with eveybody you know. From that point, allow the net do what it does best - create havok.

    GeeDeeEmm
     

     

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  12. Audio Fan

    Audio Fan First Class, Second Hand Subscriber

    As I was mentioning above, once your Photobucket account expires, all of your prior posts go with it. I was just doing some research on something and wanted to see some pictures, but now all that is shown is the following:

    Photobucket Blank.jpg
     
  13. Audio Fan

    Audio Fan First Class, Second Hand Subscriber

    Anyone seen/heard from Sheltie Dave recently? His last post on AK was back in January?
     

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