Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Little Shop That Could

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Well, if one doesn't blog everyday, they lose some of the steam in their blogging locomotive. A little interspersed distance from current stories, breaking stories, and recent past stories. Some of the fury dissipates. Not really a bad thing, just not what serious bloggers do. While I can be serious, no one (including myself) takes me for a serious blogger.

I wasn't just set back a little by my recent health stumble. I was also spiritualy laid out by my hifi. Five months back, my tube phono stage went kaput. Pulling the cover revealed no tube glow of the four in residence on the circuit board. No main power indication to front faceplate LED. Fuse? Looked fine.

Budget didn't allow me to rush out and pounce upon the nearest solder slinger, for repair. But finally after four months, a few extry greenbacks made their way to my mitts. And I set about to return the glory of music via vinyl playback, to my diminutive existence. Went to a shop close by, that does nothing but tube gear exclusively. The nice gent was a bit put off by the non tube power supply, looking at the circuit, and then back to the schematic. He handed me the business card to another repair shop, and said: "he can fix anything."

So off I went in anticipation. David, the second shop's proprietor, dutifully took my particulars and said: "no charge for an estimate .... call me in a few weeks." At the beginning of the third week I phoned, his response: "haven't gotten to it yet."

Beginning of the fourth week: "spent some time with it, but no diagnosis yet." By now the possibility that he wouldn't be able to repair it, or wasn't greatly possessed with the motiviation to do so. Was lightly flittering about my frontal lobes. I mean he seemed like a nice enough guy [and I wasn't in a life and death hurry for it to be repaired (I can be a patient sort if required)]. But I was thinking perhaps I might need to pick it up, and fling it over to a true audio circuit wizard. A courtesy recommendation from an online audio hobbyist forum.

Another week passes, and I am inclined to pull the plug, but David says to call him in a couple more days, while I was in his shop, having stopped by. No big. Yes, I'm dying inside, having not an analog note pass these ears, in five whole freakin months. No super FM tuner can mask the dreck broadcast over the airwaves. No matter its pulling power, or note roundness. And well CD? Not even worth the bother or mention.

By now, after five weeks, the cash set aside for the repair, was a little dented. And I questioned my ability to pay the man. If the repair came in at the high end of my own guestimate. But a couple of days later .... the phone rings. It's done. Repaired, finished. With my nervousness suitably masked, I ask: "what's the damage?"

Twenty five dollars came the words over the phone. I didn't ask him to repeat, in disbelief. I merely inquired what time he'd be in, in the morning the next day. He said an hour later than posted opening. I said I'd be there.

I arrived, and he showed me what had stumped us both. A fuse of perfect visual condition, seemingly unblown, but still NFG. Five gosh durn months of purgatory. I handed him the pocket change, as well a bag tied with a ribbon. Containing a book I had bought a month before for myself. In anticipation of a possible return to another hobby (vintage toy trains). Knowing that he and his young son were also so afflicted.

Now five days out, and having goofed with a new drive system on my turntable. And settling down to some serious relaxation. I have once again been returned to a state of grace. By the little shop that could.


Please note: the above photo, taken from this embedded link, I believe has no relation to Quad City Electronics (service/repair), 24890 N. Apple St., Newhall. But somehow, the spirit emanating from the linked story lives in David, Quad City's oh so swell egg.

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