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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 18: Shipping Suggestions

From: david@dave.st
Subject: Re: Superfly problems revisited
Date: 10 April 2008 16:05:14 BST
To: zinky@zinky.com

Thanks for this latest email.

Looking in the chassis today reminded me how much wiring there is in there. That's a hell of a design. As I really want to get the upgrade done by yourselves it might make sense for you to look at the reverb wiring while you have it rather than me spending more time tinkering with it.

I was certainly planning on very substantial wrapping to ship the chassis to you and I wasn't going to send the cabinet, partly because I'm hoping you can supply a head-only cabinet when it's returned (see my original email). I was proposing to send all the tubes (including the new set of power tubes that overheated) and the reverb pan, all suitably wrapped so they can all be used in testing the amp.

One idea I just had is that before I wrap the chassis I could fix a piece of plywood on to the top (control side) of the chassis using the existing mounting bolts thereby reducing the flex in the chassis perhaps. I'd have to make a cut-out to clear the knobs and ensure that the ply is thick enough to protect the Save button which protrudes about an inch. If I leave a two-inch overhang around the edge that would give some protection to the sides.

Thanks and regards,

Dave

Having removed the chassis from the combo case a while ago I had a clearer idea of what would need protecting if shipped, hence my suggestion of a protective board across the top, surrounding the controls.

At this point I thought it worth reminding Bruce about my request for a head-only case.

All the indications from the Zinky web site and international dealers were that the Superfly was still in production, at least as an amp head. Hence I expected a wooden case to be available (Note: The Superfly is still advertised as of October 2009.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 17: Ship Ahoy?

From: zinky@zinky.com
Subject: Re: Superfly problems revisited
Date: 10 April 2008 15:31:36 BST
To: david@dave.st

Hello Dave;

If you were to ship the chassis, I would first wrap it in cardboard. Then seal it in a plastic bag. Then pack that with at least 50mm of padding (Styrofoam sheet material or bubble pack material would be preferred). I would not send the cabinet. You could pack the reverb pan with the chassis, just to make sure I have everything.

The chassis thickness is thinner than it should have been, so the chassis can be damaged if the amplifier is dropped. Therefore, shipping just the chassis is better.

Still, I think you could get proper function by replacing some of the plug in wires. RR2 (Reverb Return Two) and one or two other wires would be what I'd check first. I'll make a list and get back to you with that.

BZ

Some good suggestions that might help me make progress... and an interesting observation that the chassis metal is really too thin :(

However the end of this email is heading back to the "diagnose it yourself" department which was so unproductive the first time round.

I was sufficiently encouraged to reply the same day with some of my own suggestions for shipping - see part 18.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 16: Can You Fix It?

From: david@dave.st
Subject: Re: Superfly problems revisited
Date: 10 April 2008 10:25:19 BST
To: zinky@zinky.com

I certainly have got an intermittent reverb :( What I don't have is a serial number. I just took the chassis out of the case and although there's a Smoky Amps sticker right inside the chassis approximately in line with the bass knob, there is nothing written on it apart from the standard logo and no other visible stickers at either end of the chassis, inside or out.

So how about getting the amp to you to sort out the various issues, please?

Regards,

Dave

For the first time I took the chassis out of the combo case and really had a good look at it.

What I saw convinced me that only an expert assessment was going to unravel the mysteries therein. Rarely can a valve amp have had as tightly-packed circuitry - point-to-point this wasn't.

So I concluded with a direct request to ship it back to them. Bruce's reply was partly in agreement - see part 17.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 15: Really Starting Over

From: zinky@zinky.com
Subject: Re: Superfly problems revisited
Date: 9 April 2008 23:32:38 BST
To: david@dave.st

Hi David;
The amp should have a serial number inside the chassis, near the input jack even if the back panel serial number was removed.
Might also be one near the on/off switches, inside the chassis.

You've got an intermittent reverb. This could be easily caused by a cable that is on the blink. Most all the internal cables can be unplugged and checked out individually. Many of those cables are crimped connector types, which can be pulled apart, stripped, tinned, then crimped again and then soldered. That won't fail, but the crimped only connectors can.

Z

So I've got an intermittent reverb (paragraph 2)? I think I knew that, as well as I knew that it didn't for some reason have a serial number.

At this point I tried to steer back toward the idea of getting the amp repaired - see part 16.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 14: More Puzzlement

From: david@dave.st
Subject: Re: Superfly problems revisited
Date: 9 April 2008 21:28:14 BST
To: zinky@zinky.com

Thanks for the response.

As I wrote near the end of my email, I have never been able to find a serial number despite having the chassis out and looking really closely all over. I can send photographs if that would help?

I just tried the test you suggested. About three times the reverb appeared to have cut out so I stopped playing and rocked the cabinet. I got a mild crashing sound but as soon as I played a note on the guitar again the reverb was working again. Then for the last 20 minutes of testing the reverb didn't cut out again. It's unpredictable like that when I'm testing it at home. Not a definitive answer I'm afraid.

Regards,

Dave

Although the method seemed sensible, I couldn't get the amp to drop the reverb signal to order or to make a crashing noise in a predictable way that would give an idea of what was wrong.

If the act of shaking the amp revitalised whatever was causing the reverb dropout, I'd hear the crashing always (although I'd tried gently banging the amp before when the reverb failed, with mixed results).

I reported this back to Bruce. His diagnosis was incisive - see part 15.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 13: Starting Over

From: zinky@zinky.com
Subject: Re: Superfly problems revisited
Date: 9 April 2008 19:09:29 BST
To: david@dave.st

Hello Dave;

What is the serial number on that amp?
If the pan doesn't make crashing sounds when you rock the cabinet back and forth, then there is a problem either in the pan (output section), or in the return portion of the circuit.

If the amp DOES make crashing sounds when you rock the cabinet back and forth (but no reverb), then the problem is likely to be somewhere between the 12AT7 (which should be OK) and the pan input.

Let me know the results of the crashing tests, and the serial number. The serial number will also give me some clues.

BZ

I didn't expect Bruce to remember every detail of what had gone before, but having previously stated twice that I couldn't find a serial number, it was frustrating to see that as the first question.

Frustration was to be the overriding theme from henceforth however.

At least there was a sensible suggestion included, but why didn't Bruce or I think of that a year ago?

I tried the suggestion and reported back as soon as I could - see part 14.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 12: A Year Later

From: david@dave.st
Subject: Superfly problems revisited
Date: 9 April 2008 17:28:31 BST
To: zinky@zinky.com

Hi, you may remember me emailing early last year. To keep it brief, my problem was that the reverb on my Superfly Combo kept cutting out. No crackling, just one minute it was there and the next gone. An exchange of emails ensued discussing possible reasons and other issues with the Superfly but after 15 March 2007 I sent three more emails, none of which was replied to.

Jumping foward to where I am now:

1 I bought a new set of pre-amp tubes and figured out where the 12AT7 should be (not the socket where it was when I bought the amp!) This has not fixed the reverb problem.

2 I bought a replacement reverb pan direct from Accutronics. It sounds just like the original but has not fixed the reverb problem.

3 I bought replacement power tubes, taking care to get proper Sovtek 5881s. I guess I should have scheduled in a bias adjustment because when I fitted them and used the amp for band practice the amp developed a loud hum and smell of excessive heat after about an hour. The tubes are marked 42mV on the boxes. I have re-instated the previous set of tubes for now but would like to know what is required to get the amp running happily on the new set. It was also unclear from previous communications which amp tecs in the UK would be qualified to work on it?

I understood that, for a charge, there are some upgrades that can be done to the Superfly, but that the chassis would have to be sent back to you.

I have now bought a backup amp so I can get along without the Superfly for a period of time. I would like to send it back to you so I can get the upgrade done and the reverb problem checked out.

Additionally, I have found that the overall weight of the combo format is just too much for transporting it around. Can you supply me a case for the head alone - I have already transplanted the speakers into a separate speaker cab to use with my backup amp?

By the way, despite taking the chassis out of the cabinet and having another damn good look, I still cannot find a serial number anywhere.

I'll pay the cost of shipping, I'll pay for the upgrade, I'll pay for the head-only case, I'll pay for shipping it back to me. I would just like to get the issues resolved finally so that I can use the amp to its full potential. To recap: reverb, upgrade, bias, head-only case.

Please let me know how I should proceed.

Kind regards,

Dave Jackson

In the preceding year I had lived with the intermittent reverb but understandably was not happy at having to do so. As I outlined in my next email (opposite), I'd bought new pre-amp valves and even gone to the trouble of buying a new reverb pan (not particularly expensive considering it was sent from the USA), but that did not help the original problem.

By April 2008 the situation had changed partly due to the effect of having put in new (and supposedly good-quality) power valves.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 11: Mis-placed Valve?

From: dave@dave.st
Subject: Valve positioning affecting Superfly Combo reverb problem?
Date: 18 March 2007 20:03:46 GMT
To: zinky@zinky.com

I have spent several hours today trying to work out more clearly where the problem is, but for some reason this time the reverb did not cut out for any length of time so I was not able to establish whether there was still a signal into the reverb tank when it is inaudible.

However, having taken off the rear grill and reading your previous email again I am suspicious that the 12AT7 is in the wrong place.

Looking at the amp from behind and starting at the left end there is a large transformer which logically is the power supply as it's very near the mains power socket.

To the immediate right of that is an RCA jack which I believe is the reverb send (it has the red RCA plug in it which connects to the left RCA jack on the reverb tank, currently via the extra reverb control box to reduce the send level as much as possible and minimise audible distortion on clean settings).

To the immediate right of that RCA jack is a small valve. This is currently a 12AX7 (make uncertain). To the immediate right of that is another 12AX7 (SOVTEK). They are both partially obscured by the two leftmost output valves (both SOVTEK 5881/6L6) which are nearer the back edge of the chassis.

Further along to the right of those two valves is a bit of a gap and then the RCA jack for what I believe is the reverb return (a black RCA plug connected to the right side of the reverb tank). To the immediate right of that is another 12AX7 (SOVTEK). In front of them are two more output valves marked HARMA 5881.

Still moving to the right is what I reckon to be the output transformer.

In the space between that transformer and the right hand end of the chassis are two more small valves: a Philips 12AT7 and an Electro-Harmonix 12AX7. To emphasise - the 12AT7 you mentioned in your email is located almost in line with the MIDI In socket on the back face of the chassis.

So neither tube near what I think is the reverb send is a 12AT7 - they are both 12AX7 and the 12AT7 is way down the other end at the right.

Can you please confirm whether the positioning of the valves that I've described is correct? I would kinda' help if there was a diagram of what should go where in the PDF manual...

Thanks and regards,

Dave

PS I'm still keen to know the in's and out's of sending the chassis back to you for an upgrade.

From: dave@dave.st
Subject: Trying again with my 18 Mar email re: Valve positioning affecting Superfly Combo reverb problem?
Date: 25 March 2007 16:14:47 BST
To: zinky@zinky.com

I sure would like to know if the right valves are in the right place.

Regards,

Dave

From: dave@dave.st
Subject: Trying a second re-send of my 18 Mar email re: Valve positioning affecting Superfly Combo reverb problem?
Date: 1 April 2007 18:42:00 BST
To: zinky@zinky.com, info@zinky.com

Perhaps someone reads your "info" mailbox more often?

I'm still hoping for a reply to my email. I've scoured the Web for just a simple list or diagram of which tube goes where with no luck.

Regards,

Dave

I was confused because looking at the valves in the amp, the 12AT7 did not appear to be in the right place. It should be the small valve right next to the red RCA plug in the attached picture I think!, but there was a 12AX7 there. Although I'd got a PDF of the Superfly user guide, for some reason it did not include a simple diagram of the valve placement.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 10: Check The Reverb Valve

From: zinky@zinky.com
Subject: Re: March 14 email about frustrating Superfly Combo reverb problem
Date: 15 March 2007 23:34:01 GMT
To: dave@dave.st

Hi Dave;

The Reverb tube (small tube nearest the large transfomer and near the RCA jack for Reverb Send) should be a 12AT7 type. a 12AX7 used here might exhibit intermittent behavior. Also, it COULD be a faulty 12AT7. Check that and let me know. If it were something like a bad Reverb transformer, that is covered under warranty and would mean no charge (other than shipping) for the complete upgrade.

BZ

Bruce's reply gave some more information on which tube sent the signal to the reverb, but nothing about the time required to do the upgrade once he'd got the amp.

I went back to the amp, took the back grille off (remember, all this time I'm still using the amp for weekly band rehearsals) and tried to match up his description with the positioning of the valves. See part 11 for my findings.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 9: How Much To Ship?

From: dave@dave.st
Subject: Re: March 14 email about frustrating Superfly Combo reverb problem
Date: 15 March 2007 23:12:49 GMT
To: zinky@zinky.com

Thanks for getting back to me.

The reverb works from switch-on, and then at some point when I'm concentrating on playing, it simply drops way down in volume and stays like that for an unpredictable period of time. There's no crackling or popping sounds like you might get from a loose connection.

I'm wondering if its heat-related as next time I use the amp the reverb initially works?

I'd certainly like to get the $100 amp upgrade. Do you use a particular shipping service? What would the typical cost be to send an amp chassis back to you? It would also be very useful to get an idea of turn-around time as I'm currently using the amp most days (despite lack of reverb) so I'd have to sort out an alternative while my amp is being fixed.

As I explained in earlier emails, I could not find a serial number anywhere on the outside of the amp. Maybe if I take the chassis out I'll finally see one.

Regards,

Dave

I tried to restate the problem - no complete failure, just intermittent lack of reverb.

Aside from the shipping cost, I noted that I'd have to buy a backup amp to use while the Superfly was away. It seems a reasonable question to ask how long that would be.

...and I still couldn't find a serial number anywhere.

At least this time I got a quick response - see part 10.

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