The EICO HF-81 is one of the all time best integrated tube amplifiers made, competing with far more costly amps!
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The road widens...ie TIME PASSES..long...
Seems I can't ever get this page done and now I have two of these beasts. Ironically enough, neither of them is completely up to 100% at the moment even though they both sound great (the miracles of tube componentry - it can be firing on 3 cylinders and still be running). The original unit still needs the ps caps replaced so it has a bit of hum across both channels. The second unit has no hum, but does have a slight mains transformer buzz and runs hot as a bastard, suggesting that some of the caps might be leaking. Regardless, this amp runs VERY hot anyway but EICO claims the mains temp can reach as high as 225F although it is supposed to run around or below 195F without any problems. This is always going to be a hot running amp, although others debate on the necessity for a change of the bias resistor properties to bring about cooler specs.
On the HF-81 you see featured in these pages, you will notice the black chassis and shiny brass face plate. Rest assured, the ole EICO is usually anything BUT shiny when you pick it up from the lowly Ebay mutant holding pen; I was lucky in that both my units were in reasonably good shape although the first one definitely needed a chassis overhaul with massive, frantic sanding using enough elbow grease to render my arms (both of them) useless for the next squash game....
Before the sanding was another beautiful
exercise in anal retentive behavior that would have made Julia Childs
resemble Fran Leibowitz. I extracted from the depths of the under-the-sink
cabinet maw every brass polish I could find; nothing worked. The
brass still resembled the color of my 3rd grade, imitation leather
bookbag. It was 2am and I was losing grip. That is when I spied
this rusty blue can of stuff that my Dad used to clean his fly fishing
reels...15 years ago; Christ, the can looked like it hadn't been
disturbed in two decades. Indeed, it was in worse shape then the
EICO! Undaunted, I managed to pry the lid open and found the contents
looked rather unassuming; it was just a bunch of wadding that smelled
of a strange mixture of ammonia and week old bread dipped in egg
yolk. It had to work. And work it did, that is, after I rubbed and
polished the beast for over two hours of mind numbing Room 222
reruns. I had a mound of this wadding built up but boy did it get
that useless brass looking new. After about the third application
and pass over, I could see myself in the reflection whether I liked
it or not! It really did the job and I recommend this stuff highly
if you cant get the results from the normal polish. I think I saw
a can of it in Wal-Mart the last time I floundered into that dump.
It's worth a trip (trust me).
To go the final "nine yards"
you can clear coat the brass after getting to a mirror shine. This
would keep it from tarnishing again. Of course, I have not done
this yet, but if you polish the face plate every few months or so,
it's ok. Someday I will break down and do the clear coat option.
Try to avoid touching the brass when turning the controls. This
is easier said then done but it really keeps the needs for repolishing
down to a minimum. Oils from your fingers accelerate the process.