Fender Vibro Champ Combo Amp ‘Almost’ Lost to Hurricane Harvey

Texas Amplification, operated by the late Darryl Shifflett, built some of the finest Fender Blackface clones available. Much of the inventory of Texas Amplification was subjected to the flood waters of Hurricane Harvey. This newly-completed combo amp was high enough to escape immersion, but did not escape the subsequent rain, humidity and condensation. Could the Unbrokenstring Crew make this new unit like-new again for its new owner?

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The nickel plated feet and corner hardware are new, but a light coating of rust from the screws has leached onto the hardware. The Tolex covering appears to be unaffected by the water.

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Here’s a close-up of the rust. Not a big deal, but this triggers my OCDC (like obsessive-compulsive disease with a bit of AC/DC tossed into the mix.)

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The back panels of the amp are held on with the Correct screws, but they are showing signs of iron rust as well.

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This back panel is plywood. It had been wet but had been slowly drying out and was no longer warped. Surprisingly, the Tolex covering was still glued in place.

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This bit of Tolex covering, however, had become unglued.

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The Jensen loudspeaker was high and dry, but we’ll check it for any damage.

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The loudspeaker is more-easily inspected by removing the baffle board.

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With the baffle board out, it’s easy to verify that everything is in good shape.

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More importantly, no apparent water damage had occurred here! The Unbrokenstring Crew is fairly certain that this amplifier was at least partially submerged at the height of the flooding. This loudspeaker and grille cloth appear unaffected!

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Rust Biox is a tool of the museum curator. When old objects are carefully cleaned and restored for display in a museum, such as old weapons or other artifacts, Rust Biox slowly removes iron rust while preserving the un-oxidized material under the rust. This was once sold in the United States as an automotive rust remover, but did not become a ‘hit’ and was removed from the market. The Unbrokenstring Crew, however, is just cool enough to have a source.

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After each item is processed with Rust Biox, a water rinse and hot air dry prepares it for re-use.

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The feet of the unit are nickel-plated steel over a rubber bushing. Here, the bushing is separated from the metal foot for processing.

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These screws hold the feet onto the bottom of the amplifier cabinet.

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The metal feet are restored. Next, the Rust Biox will remove the rust stains from the rubber feet.

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Interestingly, this line may have been the ‘high water mark’ and so this unit could have been partially submerged. Furniture polish will clean and condition the Tolex covering to like-new condition.

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Heat from the hot air pencil softens the Tolex adhesive. The hot Tolex is pressed into place and allowed to cool.

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The hot air pencil has done the trick! This cabinet appears to have never been wet.

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The electronics are brand new, with no signs of water damage or corrosion.

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The Fender Vibro Champ is a single-ended Class A design, a low-parts-count, simple-to-build amplifier with surprising response and tone.

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All magnetics used in Texas Amplification products are procured through Mercury Magnetics. Top-of-the-line!

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The violet jewel in the pilot light tells us that we are ready for business!

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All back together, this amp is running a four-hour-long burn-in to verify that it is 100%. …And dry out anything still wet. This unit was delivered to its new owner, who promptly placed it in his recording studio.

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Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom!

CONTACT – David Latchaw EE
281-636-8626

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