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Anyone know what causes that "70's smell" from hot electronics from that era?
Anyone know what causes that "70's smell" from hot electronics from that era?
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Old 8th October 2019, 02:32 AM   #1
kodabmx is offline kodabmx  Canada
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Anyone know what causes that "70's smell" from hot electronics from that era?
Default Anyone know what causes that "70's smell" from hot electronics from that era?

I have a Toshiba turntable from the late 70's. Works great now that I replaced the capacitors in the servo drive. It smells like the 70's though... What is the chemical outgassing that I smell?



See also this thread
The smell of vintage electronics
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Old 8th October 2019, 02:38 AM   #2
rayma is offline rayma  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kodabmx View Post
I have a Toshiba turntable from the late 70's. Works great now that I replaced the capacitors
in the servo drive. It smells like the 70's though... What is the chemical outgassing that I smell?
Bakelite pc boards have formaldehyde, and even asbestos. Real nostalgia.

Last edited by rayma; 8th October 2019 at 02:47 AM.
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Old 8th October 2019, 03:33 AM   #3
auplater is offline auplater  United States
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I doubt the formaldehyde is the main odor...as it is quite volatile and will off-gas fairly rapidly. Phenol, the other chemical used to make Bakelite, however has a much lower vapor pressure, but a relatively persistent pungent "burnt school paste" smell.... and it (or it's decomposition products) usually accounts for the "burnt electrical" smell from all the cheap toasters, electronics, motors, etc.

If the boards are fiberglass/epoxy resins, then you'd be smelling the accelerators and hardeners used in their manufacturing, which also tend to be pungent and persistent, especially when exposed to heat or electrical stress.
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Old 8th October 2019, 05:22 PM   #4
kodabmx is offline kodabmx  Canada
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Anyone know what causes that "70's smell" from hot electronics from that era?
Ya I think it might be the phenol. There is a similar smell when I solder to old terminal strips...
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Old 8th October 2019, 05:52 PM   #5
wrenchone is offline wrenchone  United States
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Cheap phenolic circuit boards commonly used in consumer electronics have a characteristic odor, especially when they warm up. I suspect also that it's the phenol in the mix that makes for the distinctive smell. If it was formaldehyde, your classic amplifier would smell like a mortuary... The phenolic boards are usually dark brown or a graham-cracker color. Epoxy-glass or epoxy-paper laminates usually will not have a strong smell unless they're really heated up,
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Old 8th October 2019, 05:56 PM   #6
picowallspeaker is offline picowallspeaker  Italy
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Reminds of my first PBC make for 1 TDA 2005
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Old 8th October 2019, 05:59 PM   #7
picowallspeaker is offline picowallspeaker  Italy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kodabmx View Post
I have a Toshiba turntable from the late 70's. Works great now that I replaced the capacitors in the servo drive.
Hey, I did the same in a Micro 711 - early seventies
Two circular PCBs, one anular!

Edit: To take over the speed drift, I had to remove all the connectors, make the wire to pots shorter
Still, if it's not me using it, it starts with some problems - Me thinks some problems in the motor wiring when/where the first two seconds are crucial to put the mass in speed for rotation; it happened also with the thorens TD 160 where the belt use to slip if not accompanied at start
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Old 8th October 2019, 08:11 PM   #8
lcsaszar is offline lcsaszar  Hungary
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In the service shop we could tell the make of the test equipment by their smell. Tektronix, Hewlett Packard, Wavetek - each had its distinct smell, especially when new.
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Old 8th October 2019, 09:17 PM   #9
MarsBravo is offline MarsBravo  Netherlands
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcsaszar View Post
In the service shop we could tell the make of the test equipment by their smell. Tektronix, Hewlett Packard, Wavetek - each had its distinct smell, especially when new.
Right indeed!
Smells from Technics and Panasonic are the same (both Matshusita), but differs from Sony. And these from Luxman, Pioneer, all distinctive. The NAD I recently resurrected was almost odeurless, a bit dull. My Thorens TD160 has stopped breathing altogether, but the tube from the SME3 tonearm is unique.
Bought a solderstrip recently. Sniffing and back in memory lane.
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Old 8th October 2019, 11:20 PM   #10
Refugee1 is offline Refugee1  United Kingdom
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Old wartime instruments have an almost addictive smell especially if the case is airtight.
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