I got home to my parents' house for Thanksgiving and learned that their old, faithful Proton receiver was on the fritz. It would drop channels at random and they had to wedge a toothpick into the "Listen" dial to keep the dial in just the right position to listen to the tape deck. The unit is about 15 years old, and Proton isn't around anymore, so I told my folks that they'd likely have to buy a new unit. I also agreed to try and fix it for them, but I made it clear that I was just as likely to completely break the receiver as I was to fix it.
Before tearing into the guts of the receiver I wanted to make sure I had identified a suitable replacement. (Yes, I didn't have much confidence in my ability to rescue the old unit.) It turns out that many modern receivers, including most available at places like Best Buy, don't have phono inputs any more. Of course, even though my parents have a CD player they have a tremendous record collection that they still enjoy listening to. So, the Internet hunt was on to find a new receiver that would fit in the cabinet and that, ideally, had phono inputs as well.
While doing the research I found that there are some decent quality phono pre-amps available that will boost a phono signal to standard line levels. This freed me from having to find a receiver that had phono inputs, but it also meant yet another box and a few more wires to try and squeeze in an already over-crowded stereo cabinet.
Yet another problem was that no Internet dealers could get the equipment delivered by Monday; Tuesday was the best they could do, and I'm leaving that day. My folks are great, but they aren't savvy enough to hook everything back up correctly.
So, with some trepidation I dug into the old receiver to try and clean up the insides. I removed a couple dozen screws and connectors to get at the rotory switches, bathed them in electronic contact cleaner, and left it all to dry for a few hours while I went to a movie and dinner. (See the picture above.) After I returned I put it back together and tested it out. Success! (Plus a few extra screws left over...)
I'm glad I could stave off replacing that receiver for a few more years.