|Fig. 1a. Sears/Silvertone 1448 Guitar Case/Tube Amplifier|
|Fig. 1b. The innards—a 3-watt tube amplifier with a 6-inch speaker.|
In the summer of 1984, I bought a Sears/Silvertone 1448 guitar and amp-in-a-case at a flea market for $3. Several years later, before I starting buying and selling on eBay, I sold it for $125. It currently goes for $500 and over on eBay these days, depending on the condition. Whenever I regret selling it for only $125, I remind myself that at least I didn’t sell it for $3. I only played through it a few times, and the amp had a sweet bit of overdrive when cranked.
The one you see in these photos did not. I was charged with repairing this one, which had very low output and an input jack that had been pushed through the control panel (Fig. 2). The first thing I did was to secure the input jack, so I could play through it. I had a washer on hand, drilled the center hole big enough for the jack and tried that. It’s not pretty (Fig. 6), but it’s cheap and solid.
|Fig. 2. The input had been pushed through the control panel. Also note the missing bolt to the right of the Volume knob.|
With the input jack in order, I tested it myself, and the output was very low, with a lot of crackle. The first thing I noticed was bad connections on the speaker wires (Fig. 3), which had been pretty poorly spliced and not even soldered. I found two other bad joints under the panel, which was a mess (Fig. 4). Five bolts were missing, so the transformer and capacitor were just hanging loosely, as was the bracket holding the tubes.
|Fig. 3. The speaker wires were just pinched together, like the red one in this photo. (Another missing bolt in the upper right.)|
|Fig. 4. This is seriously what the guts looked like when I removed the control panel. The missing bolts attach the big capacitor, the transformer and the bracket holding the tubes.|
I re-soldered the bad joints and bolted the cap to the back of the panel. The bolt head looked like hell, and I couldn’t justify using it on such an old amp, so I removed that and used rivets instead (Fig. 5). These rivets alone were too small for these holes, so I had to buy some rivet washers. The rivets I used for this were 1/8” (3mm) diameter with a 1/4” grip. The washers were 1/8” (hole diameter). This worked very well. When I was done, everything was securely attached—no wobble—and looked much better on the front of the panel (and on the back of the panel for that matter—see Fig. 6).
|Fig. 5. The rivets and rivet washers used to secure the chassis, capacitor and transformer|
|Fig. 6. These rivets were the perfect size. Unobtrusive, but big enough to secure everything tightly.|
Before looking too much further for any other problems, I plugged in and tried it again. It worked and sounded pretty good. There was a little crackle when adjusting the volume, so I sprayed the pot and called it good. Here's the finished panel:
|Fig. 6. Good to go. The rivets fit in with the vintage vibe. The input jack less so, but it is sturdy and easily replaced.|