Monday, December 3, 2012
New project: Heathkit W-2 tube amplifier rebuild
Things are never quiet here at the 6th Street Bridge. Having just finished up the 1625 amplifier, I decided yet another project was worth pursuing. This time it's yet another rebuild of a vintage piece of gear - the Heathkit W-2. This was a fairly popular "20W" mono amplifier made in the early to mid-1950s. It uses the classic Williamson circuit with 6SN7 driver tubes, 5881 output tubes, and Peerless output iron - running in Ultralinear. Another special thing to note is the separate chassis for power supply and the signal which is a great way to reduce hum.
The W-2 I received was in pretty good condition. Popping the hood and the resistors and capacitors look to be in mint condition. But sadly, the amplifier didn't work. Not a single hum, burp, or anything out of the test speaker. A quick diagnoses with the multimeter and it appears that the original builder had neglected to ground the two chassis together via the umbilical cord! A short length of wire, two solder joints, and music was coming out the speakers. It makes me wonder if I was the first to ever hear this particular amplifier. Very weird to say the least.
Anyway, the sound - with almost 60 year old passive parts - was rather lifeless: undynamic with some treble roll-off.. Here's hoping that some coupling and power supply capacitor upgrades will bring this old amp up a couple of notches. Of course I also need to score another unit so I can listen to stereo.