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Scratchy pots repair

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by abarson, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    I've got an old Tubeworks RT3300 head that I love, but all the pots are really scratchy. I've tried spraying them with electrical contact cleaner, but that doesn't help much.

    I don't want to replace the pots, as they have the unique feature of having small indents (they "click" when turned), which means they aren't easily changed when moving equipment around.

    Can the pots be opened in order to be cleaned out, or am I going to get into trouble putting them back together?
  2. Generally speaking, the pots used in most audio applications can't be taken apart. They are probably crimped together somehow, and even if you could get them apart, the probably wouldn't go back together again. If there are holes in the case of the pot, try spraying contact cleaner directly in the holes and then working the snot out of them. If the dirt is in there pretty deep, it may take a couple of times to get them cleaned out.

    If you can't get them working, you may have no choice but to replace them. See if they have a part number on them, or contact the manufacturer for a schematic or service manual which may have a part number. You may be able to buy them from the manufacturer, but they will probably be expensive, even if they are available. You could also try www.newark.com, www.mcmelectronics.com, or www.mouser.com. They all have a wide variety of parts, and may have something with the detents like you are looking for.

    Good luck!
  3. jkdahlman

    jkdahlman Ambitious But Rubbish

    Jul 13, 2004
    Baltimore, MD
    +1 to the above. For cleaning pots, the only thing I've found that really does anything is Caig Labs Fader Lube. Made just for this sort of thing.
  4. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    +1 to that.
  5. jimbilly


    Apr 19, 2006
    I've also got a Tube Works head (the 3300 as well, I think, I'll have to check). When I bought it used about a year ago it had scratchy pots, and I used the rat-shack pot cleaner I had at that time, it worked fine. I'd also try the Caig product mentioned above, -I'm now using Caig DeoxIT on my scratchy pots.
    I think those pots are mounted to the printed circuit board, so they'd be pretty tough to change out, -probably more cost than the value of the amp.
  6. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    The trouble with many cleaners is that they'll adress the problem in the short run but make it worse in the long run by dissolving and washing away the lubricant in the pot.

    That's why you're better off using a lubricating cleaner, like CaiLube or Fader Lube.
  7. BillyB_from_LZ


    Sep 7, 2000
    ...or Radio Shack Tuner Cleaner. It has served me well.

    In 1999, I paid $250 for a '72 SVT that was unusable due to filthy pots (but in otherwise excellent condition). I took the controls apart, cleaned them with a pencil eraser (that was the only thing that would remove the gunk from the resistive element), lubed them with Tuner Cleaner, reassembled them and the amp worked great after that!
  8. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    Which to you recommend the 5% solution or 100%.
    There is also a needle bottle style to get in small places rather than trying to spray your pots with a can...
  9. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    bump ... see my question above... thanks
  10. jkdahlman

    jkdahlman Ambitious But Rubbish

    Jul 13, 2004
    Baltimore, MD
    I usually keep a can of both the 5% & 100% spray around. I like the needle applicator in 5% if you can find it. Caig isn't listing it on the site now. The 5% usually does the trick with one good blast and operating the pot a few times. I use the 100% for really crapped up faders & stuff
    that's seen LOTS of smoke, beer & who knows what else.
    Try a small can of the 5% spray to see if that'll do it for you.

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