A Railroad with Relevance

The Sound of Music

Written By: Alan - Aug• 26•11

The LK&O Railroad, a railroad with relevance… Right down to the music system.

I had three good buddies in high school – Dan Harvey, Roger Kollar, and Tom Barna. Together we had some great times. Among other things, Tom was a true blue audiophile. He educated us of the difference between listening to music and listening to well reproduced music. It was from Tom I learned such terms as total harmonic distortion, watts RMS, resonance frequency, and other similar stereo system descriptive words. Tom successfully transformed all of us into discriminating listeners. To this day I have a rack full of Nikko audio components for my home stereo system thanks to Tom’s guidance. My wife refers to the rack of audio equipment as my collection of knobs and buttons! If it wasn’t for Tom I could be happy with an MP3 player like the rest of the world. But nooooo, now that I know what to listen for I can’t be satisfied with anything less than 20-20,000 Hz flat frequency response and at least 250 watts for dynamic headroom.

Tragically, Tom was killed in a car accident shortly after we graduated. It was devastating for all of us especially me. I still think of him often.

Why are you telling me this you say. What does this have to do with model railroading? Let me tell ya’. The LK&O is a railroad with relevance, even the music system. While searching eBay for a used receiver to use in the train room I came across the exact make and model of receiver that Tom Barna owned – a Marantz SR2000. The moment I saw the picture in the listing I recognized it and the old memories were revived. I had to have it. I won the auction at $88. Three days later it was sitting on my bench in the train room.

Next, I needed some speakers. In dusty boxes on the shelf I had a pair of Radio Shack speaker kits – 12″ woofers, 5″ midranges, 1″ dome tweeters and crossovers. Everything needed except cabinets. The receipt in the box indicated that I had bought them from the clearance rack in 1982! Upon inspection I found the foam surrounds of the woofers had deteriorated to dust. No problem. I put new foam surrounds on all 18 drivers in my 901s a couple years ago. A pair of 12″ drivers should be easy. SimplySpeakers had the exact Radio Shack part number listed and I was about to press the order now button when I began thinking “I wonder what new woofers cost nowadays?”

Check out what I found at MCM Electronics. New 8″ woofers for $6.00 each!!! I know what you are thinking… six dollar woofers, how good can they possibly be? Well, I took the risk. Firstly, because I could buy them for half the price of the foam surround kits for the original 12″ woofers. Secondly, 8″ woofers would allow me to build much smaller cabinets. I didn’t really want monster sized speaker cabinets in the train room.

The cabinets are built, speakers installed, and I have to say they sound fantastic! The Marantz has tons of power, no distortion, crisp and clean sound and the speakers are well balanced with deep, tight, punchy bass and natural voice. Now not only do I have great sound in the train room but also every time I look at the Marantz sitting there I think of Tom. It just doesn’t get any better.

BTW I am so impressed with the sound of the MCM economy drivers I decided to make a second set for the workshop. They will be mounted on the ends of the cabinets. Here is a pic of them under construction. Once they are mounted I will make speaker grille cloth covers for both sets.

Now if you will excuse me I am going to put on a Moody Blues album and crank up the volume. Tom would like that.


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  1. Robert says:

    I love when I find things that remind me of people I miss!

  2. Flashwave says:

    You know, I looked at that first picture, and I said, just how loud does he need to turn that phone ringer up to?

  3. Alan says:

    Too funny Flashwave! But now that you have put the idea in my head……………..

  4. brian says:

    Back in college I played around with big stereo component sets, and I read several books on speaker designs as well.

    When I recently began to look at sound installations in our model trains I was less than enthusiastic with some of the samples I heard. I wondered if it was the speakers themselves, the installations, or the decoders?

    I decided to look more closely at the speakers themselves and their installations, and this was when the newer ‘high-bass’ speakers were just coming out. I started this subject thread to get other input on the installations:

    …not sure how to post a link omn your website?

    Point is when I saw you making your own speaker boxes/enclosures for your train room, it reminded me of when I had explored the idea of putting speakers in my bar(liquor) build from 4 big wooden barrels…much younger days….ha…ha

  5. Gerhard Klose says:

    A little surprised to see you using 1″ pine boards for your speaker cabinets when you used hardwood plywood for the benchwork…

  6. alan says:

    It does seem a bit backwards doesn’t it. A case of using what was already on hand.

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