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Panama Conqueror Speaker Baffle Cracked

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by Xingshen71, Sep 8, 2017.

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  1. Xingshen71

    Xingshen71 TDPRI Member

    88
    Dec 4, 2014
    AZ
    So, I was replacing the pre-amp tube in my Panama amp ( not a problem with the amp, just needed it for something else ) and found that the purple heart wood speaker baffle has cracked completely in two. This amp just sits in my studio and is lightly used. It's never cranked all the way. I use the attenuator at about 50%.

    Looking closer, it looks like the crack started at one of the nails that holds the baffle to the frame.

    I have just written to Panama Guitars. Not sure what their warranty policy is ( not posted on their website ). We'll see what they say. Had to contact them when I originally bought the amp, as it would "motor boat" when not using the attenuator. They were fairly quick to reply and paid to ship the amp back and replaced it. Also, the amp they replaced it with had a different speaker in it, so they an additional 12" speaker to replace it with. Pretty good customer service.

    IMG_20170908_174302.jpg

    IMG_20170908_174302.jpg IMG_20170908_174310.jpg IMG_20170908_174302.jpg IMG_20170908_174310.jpg amp.jpg amp.jpg
     

  2. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Wow.

    Hard to tell exactly what happened - might be able to get some clues when it's taken apart. Could be the mounting holes were under-drilled, cracked when it was assembled - slightly - and finally gave way. Possibly because the wood became dried out.

    makes me curious - do you know what the humidity level is in your studio?
     

  3. Paully

    Paully Tele-Meister

    115
    May 29, 2014
    Lewiston Maine USA
    Huh, well that sux :mad:
     

  4. clintj

    clintj Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2015
    Idaho
    Do you have access to the back side of the baffle? I'd like to see how it's attached to the cab, as it might shed further light on why it cracked.

    Edit: regarding humidity above, that's probably it. Looking at their website, the amps are built in Panama, which is pretty darn tropical. Your location is listed here as Arizona - desert. If they didn't account for large humidity swings when they built that cab or have a climate controlled woodshop, that can definitely happen. The baffle has to be able to shrink and swell, and if the edges are rigidly attached the movement will some from somewhere else.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
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  5. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    I cannot recall having seen any amp with a solid wood baffleboard. I also have never seen a baffleboard attached to a cabinet with nails in an amp of quality. Danelectro cabs were stapled together maybe???

    Okay....I have to correct my first statement.... I had to repair a solid mahogany baffleboard in a high dollar little boutique amp. I Will not be surprised if that baffleboard in that little boutique amp finds another weak point at which to come apart.

    That crack in your baffleboard is irreparable, imho, Xingshen. If they send you another baffleboard, it likely will do the same thing. I would pull the board and build a new one out of marine Baltic birch plywood...and dye the wood purple to match the original.
     
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  6. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Exactly why I asked about the humidity level.

    I'm restoring several vintage, high-end ukes that had been in Louisiana for years and then spent this summer in the high desert - 100+ degree temps with AC that dropped the humidity to <10%. *Dozens* of with-grain cracks. I've seen lighter-weight plywood cabinets do all sorts of weird things in low humidity.

    And it doesn't matter all that much where something was made unless the raw wood was stored for an extended period of time in low humidity - which usually destroys it before it can be used. Wood naturally has a moisture level around 11% but it maintains that only when humidity stays roughly in the 40-50% range (and doesn't "soak up" much more unless humidity reaches 100% or it gets wet - not the same thing.). It's why almost all acoustic instrument manufacturers recommend in-case humidifiers.

    If instruments or solid-wood gear of any kind (really *any* type of wood) are stored in a room, closet, cabinet or case where the humidity can drop below 40% automatic room or case humidifiers should be used 24/7. The room types cost about $35 and after a week or so level and maintain the humidity.

    It's especially important with acoustic gear and solid cabinets (and I think that's the case here) but even solid-body electrics can suffer. Wood cracks, lacquer checking, changes in fit, tuning issues, neck angles, fret sprout, loose screws, cabinet rattles etc etc. all are common in low humidity situations.

    If there is a low-humidity situation, cracks like in the cabinet in this thread need only a little strain at one of the screws, or at a joint that pulls on the grain.

    And I agree with Wally that a solid-wood baffleboard is very unusual. I have seen a few but I certainly would not recommend using one.
     

  7. Xingshen71

    Xingshen71 TDPRI Member

    88
    Dec 4, 2014
    AZ
    Thanks for the comments and advice!

    The baffle board is attached to an approx. 1" x 1" frame or cleat in the back with what looks like brad nails. I can see one of the nails at the top of the crack.

    Having the purple wood isn't a big concern as I always have the grille cover on. Got the amp as a B grade or factory second for cosmetic flaws from Panama on a Reverb listing and the purple was not my first choice but the price was right.

    Figure I would pre-drill and use wood screws to attach the new one.
     

  8. Xingshen71

    Xingshen71 TDPRI Member

    88
    Dec 4, 2014
    AZ
    I thought about the humidity level of where it was made to being here in the desert. It does get pretty dry in my studio since the AC has been running all summer long.
     

  9. Xingshen71

    Xingshen71 TDPRI Member

    88
    Dec 4, 2014
    AZ
    So, got the baffle out and it is a solid ( or was ) piece of wood. Found an interesting dark spot at the top part of the crack. Looks like it could be the weak point. Pulled the frame (cleats) out since they seem real dry and a couple are warped. Going to replace them as well. The cabinet seems to be a ply construction. Pulled a little piece of ply off when removing the frame.

    Going to check with a work buddy who makes a lot of furniture out of birch ply to see what he can do.

    IMG_20170909_144912.jpg

    IMG_20170909_144834.jpg
     

  10. Badspike

    Badspike TDPRI Member

    42
    Feb 3, 2016
    Laveen, Arizona
    Hmmm! I'm going to keep a eye on this thread. I have a Conqueror 5 combo also and live in Laveen AZ which is a suburb of Phoenix. There were some extremely low humidity days about a month/2 months ago(4-5%). I try to keep the guitar/studio room at 30-45% humidity(Using 2 humidifiers) and now we are into higher humidity days that are close to 50% or higher. The baffle on mine seems fine for the time being. Keeping the acoustics in their case using humidiipaks. In Arizona you have to be ready for anything.
     

  11. bparnell57

    bparnell57 Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 10, 2014
    Philadelphia, PA
    Buddy had this happen not once, but twice, in NJ, with two different 2x12 cabinets. If you're persistent, they'll replace the cabinet.
     

  12. Xingshen71

    Xingshen71 TDPRI Member

    88
    Dec 4, 2014
    AZ
    I've had a little fret sprout from time to time but this seems pretty extreme to me. Still, think I'll look into a humidifier just to stabilize everything.

    That sucks! Were they Panama Cabs?

    I figure I'll just replace the baffle and frame myself with something more stable. Being a combo I'm not sure if I would get the same electronics back and I've already sent one of these back for electrical problems.
     

  13. bparnell57

    bparnell57 Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 10, 2014
    Philadelphia, PA
    Yes. Panama cabs with hardwood baffles. They simply replaced both of them. He kept the speakers. If they try to meander around you, it helps to know the emails all supposedly actually come from one person.
     

  14. Xingshen71

    Xingshen71 TDPRI Member

    88
    Dec 4, 2014
    AZ
    I dealt with them when I initially got the amp. They were actually really helpful and did replace the whole combo and gave me an additional 12" speaker since the replacement amp had a different style than originally purchased.

    Since I've removed the broken pieces, not sure they would do anything for me. Maybe send me a replacement baffle which would help. I figure it'll be a couple of business days before I hear back.
     

  15. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    Harsh assessment......they don't know what they are doing regarding cabinet construction.
     
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  16. Xingshen71

    Xingshen71 TDPRI Member

    88
    Dec 4, 2014
    AZ
    It does seem that the solid baffle is not the best choice. Maybe a ply construction with some sort of veneer would be a stronger option.
     

  17. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    I strongly suggest you run at least one $35 (or so) automatic humidifier in there. Even if you had products with locally-sourced wood the AC would eventually suck the wood dry. If you pick up a cheap moisture meter at Harbor Freight for $20 or so you can test some wood cabinets and other things in there - I'll bet everything is down in the mid single digits, which is not good - it means any instruments in there are very dry, which is bad for glue joints, finishes (especially lacquer), frets and several other things - plus it can cause cracking in acoustic instrumnets. A humdifier is important to use in dry situations to keep things in good repair.

    Yep. But start humidifying first - plywood will generally hold up under dry conditions (although joints will move) a veneer can be a problem - it can shrink and delaminate.
     

  18. Xingshen71

    Xingshen71 TDPRI Member

    88
    Dec 4, 2014
    AZ
    Some good advice, thanks!
     

  19. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    IMe, speaker and amp cabs should not be nailed together. Solid baffleboards??? Questionable use of solid wood at best. IT is interesting to inspect new products. Someone with some experience in dealing with, using, repairing these things can tell if there is any experience in that field being used in the construction.
    IN the case of that little boutique amp, the makers were concerned about aesthetics more than durability. IT looked fantastic!!! IT just didn't stay together for very long. IT will be interesting to see how long before another crack develops in that high dollar little gem. Looking at the pics above, I might assess this cab as being an aesthetic exercise in an aural endeavor, too.

    Good luck with getting that cab into some sort of usable situation. Void-free plywood screwed into the mounts...which should be screwed and glued to the cab.
     

  20. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    I must have been half-asleep to miss that!

    Staples are commonly used to attach grillcloth, but not used for any structural element in a speaker cabinet.

    In furniture construction staples are only used in cheap crap. They are an expedient method, as are gun-fired brads - which are better but IMO absolutely unacceptable in speaker cabinet construction. And staples are worse.

    Every structural component, including the baffleboard, normally requires either glue, screws, or both depending on the joint design. I have never seen nails or brads in commercial cabinet construction.

    I'm honestly shocked that any speaker cabinet sold to the public (other than a disposable cheapo) was made with staples holding the baffleboard in place. Rattles, squeaks, mystery noises - since staples have very little grip, normal vibration can easily cause all kinds of hard-to-locate noises (sometimes thought to be amplifier-caused!). I'm at a loss.

    What is that long, dark, angled mark inside the crack itself?
     

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