Rich Warren | Old can be new again

Fix rather than forfeit.

Allow your old gear to once again fill your life rather than land in a fill.

The friendly folks at Mack’s Twin City Recycling, 2808 N. Lincoln Ave., U, will recycle most electronics, other than TVs and monitors.

If you just can’t wait until the “official” city or county recycling events, Mack’s will lighten your load.

However, that’s not the goal of this column, which is to help you avoid recycling.

Certainly, many people accumulate a lot of junk that never will produce a sound again, let alone spin a CD or LP.

Much of the gear in your basement or garage may be destined for Mack’s.

Then again, that prized tube amplifier or beloved turntable might continue providing you with years of pleasure.

Perhaps that immobile turntable simply needs a belt or a new capacitor.

Recently, I visited the backroom service bench at Good Vibes in Champaign, genially hosted by Carl Stanford, who has been resuscitating electronics for Good Vibes since 1984.

All the latest diagnostic and repair equipment filled the space, along with scores of electronics awaiting his skills.

I spied old classic tube amplifiers and recent solid-state gear along with turntables, CD players and cassette decks.

Basically, if Stanford can obtain the parts, or improvise a part, he can fix nearly any piece of equipment.

He delights in his work like Sherlock Holmes solving a case.

Similarly, Bill Hayden at Glenn Poor’s T.V. Service, 609 W. Springfield Ave., U, revives treasured electronics and even contemporary TVs. He repaired my precious Technics SP-15 turntable several years ago, and it still spins like new.

Modern TVs consist of a few modules or circuit boards.

When you pay $1,000 for a TV, most of the investment is in the display (screen).

The rest of the electronics cost $50-$250 for each module or circuit board. Diagnosing the problem requires skill; the rest is simply ordering a new board and bolting it in.

That’s not to belittle the skill sometimes required to remove and replace a failed board.

Manufacturers tightly tuck the electronics in behind the screen to keep the svelte profile of LCD and OLED TVs.

Infuriatingly, manufacturers only stock replacement parts for a limited number of years, the minimum being three years.

Gone are the days of basic transistors, capacitors and resistors or even stock integrated circuits. Proprietary parts comprise most products.

In contrast, I recently replaced the generic heating element of a 20-year-old GE stove.

For example, I own a number of Bose products. Most work for a long time. But once a unit fails, it’s destined for Mack’s.

I truly loved our Lifestyle music system with its built-in DVD/CD player. The player failed after about a decade. Bose no longer even sold a unit with an integral player.

The company told me to buy a new unit and plug in an external player. Except the whole purpose of the Lifestyle system was the elegance and ease of a fully

integrated single-unit system.

Even more frustrating was how easy the system would have been to repair, since removing the failed player and installing a new one would have been a 15-minute job, assuming Bose stocked identical new players for repair.

We ended up buying a complete home-theater system of separate, higher-quality components.