Scully 280 tape machines. Not Preserved.

Scully was one of the main US makers of professional multi-track tape machines through the 1970s.  Scully was based in our fair city of Bridgeport CT.  Wikipedia has no information on this classic manufacturer; in fact, they incorrectly identify it being from ‘bridgewater connecticut.’  I’ve been slowly accumulating archival material on this company and hope to have a comprehensive treatment together at some point.

Earlier this week I bought a full truck load of old Scully and Ampex tape machines for a few bucks (no joke).  I think that there were about four Scully 280 2-track machines, several Ampex 351s and PR10s, a 16-track scully 2″ machine, and a few other odds and ends.  My truck is currently out-of-commission awaiting some parts, so I was limited to taking just the stuff that would fit in my VW.  This meant leaving the transports behind and just taking the electronics portions of a few of the machines.

The most exciting piece is this Ampex 3761.  It needs a complete restoration (nearly every part and connector is rotten), but the chassis/faceplate and UTC transformers are intact, so I think I will give it another life.  The 3761 is not a particularly useful device, but it does have an incredible pedigree.   It is a four-into-one microphone level mixer which uses the excellent 5879 pentode tube, and some of the best input transformers that UTC (or anyone else) ever made.  The 3761 was used in order to mix four microphones onto one track of an Ampex tape machine (in fact, it gets its power from the tape machine).  And what recordings were made using these devices?  How about most of the classic STAX recordings.  Good God.

Anyhow, seems like this thing deserves another chance.

How about the rest of that stuff though?  It all dates to around 1965-1970.  None of it seems to have been maintained since 1990, and everything was generally filled with dog hair, dead bugs, and bits of food that (presumably) mice secreted away in there.  Yes it was really that nasty. So i was not about to risk a major biohazzard restoring this stuff.  The only other option:  Chop it up.

Each of the 280 chassis contain a number of excellent hermetically-sealed transformers: a UTC A18, UTC A39, and a very large Freed 600:600 (split) transformer. I have yet to find a UTC A-series transformer that did not work, so I am reasonably optimistic.

Three of the 280s also had a UTC 0-1 500:50K input transformer.  Many of the 280s also had clean XLR jacks, lamp holders, and API VU meters.  So it was a good harvest in general.

I do feel a little guilty about chopping up these classic units, made with care here in BPT; but I have a plan to earn back the audio karma.  Once I can track down the schematic for the 280, I will clone the mic pre-amp circuit, and build a few stand-alone 280 clone pre-amps using the original transformers, meters, and whatever other cosmetic parts that I salvaged.  I have been waiting for the right solid-state pro-audio project to present itself, and I think it found me.

It was a little painful to dumpster the carcasses; I felt a little better after K told me that someone shortly thereafter pulled them from the dumpster, shouting excitedly that they were brass, and therefore valuable for salvage.  One person’s junk…

38 thoughts on “Scully 280 tape machines. Not Preserved.”

  1. i’m guessing it’s a no-go for all the stuff you left behind?

    man, i can use some transport parts! do you think they’re still around?

    if you haven’t yet, join the scully group over at yahoo groups – it’s where everyone lives at, thanks to steve at sonicraft.

    ps – have any knobs/faceplates/VU meters/anything extra? can you post it at the yahoo group? we’re all looking for anything…

  2. Hey guys I’m new here, brother had a stroke and I have lots of this stuff to sell; 6 280’s, ampex, 2in tapes by the case, 2in reel to reels, old altec lancing 350 watt system, 4 big heavy seaburg speakers…. etc. he was an electrical engineer and loved this stuff. he has lots of the brochures and schematics.
    still digging and sorting working on a complete list. Anything I should consider? when in doubt I hang onto it, like 3000-4000 tubes (about 500 new in boxes), thousands of parts and pieces lots new in the box by the case. old cart cassettes in the box etc.

    1. Hi,

      I was just wondering about the Scully 280’s. What kind of condition are they in and do you have photo’s?


  3. Yes, pull out all the desireable audio type tubes and sell them first separately because they will bring a lot more that way. Otherwise, someone will buy them cheap, cherrypick the pile and dumpster the rest.

    What Altec speakers and amps do you have? The drivers go for more than complete systems, don’t let someone buy them cheap and part them out for profit. Pull them out yourself.

    I’d consider giving the paper stuff to someone who will agree to scan them into .pdf’s and then ebaying them to help fund a web site.

    1. I have two Scully M-100 16 track 2 inch machines,……Lots of 456 tape,…..and two Scully 280s,… A New 2 inch alignment tape,… also A Pair of 604’s,… a u47,…..A Yamaha C7,……A B3 & several Leslies,….Spectrasonics console with Neumann ball bearing faders. Lots of other stuff as well.

      1. Hello Mark
        Would you still have the mentioned list available?
        If you have, what’s the best way to get in contact?

      2. Hi Mark. Is any of this equipment still available? I’m putting together a studio and would love some nice old equipment.

        1. I have Scully 100 and 280 parts/complete units for sale. Please email brooo(at)shaw(dot)ca for details.

          1. Scully 100 is SOLD. Scully 280 is available as a 99% complete unit with two germanium transistor Bridgeport made preamplifiers for $700. Pressboard cabinet is water damaged and likely usable only as a pattern.

        2. Do you know of anyone who is interested in a scully its a tall machine I don’t know much about it

  4. WTB UTC A-18s…
    By the way, congratulations in excess for this site: it IS amazing and sooo cool. Seriously!

  5. I have a 280 intact and decently good condition. What is it worth complete versus chopped up? Might consider selling…

  6. I know this post is a few years old but did you ever get the 280 schematics you were looling for. If not I have a copy of the service manual for it and could make pdf’s of them for you.

  7. Just finished a record on a Scully 280 – sounds absolutely amazing. Our has very different channel strips and a separate meter bridge tho. Every home should have one.

  8. I have six A-39 transformers, one A-45, one A-38 and one A-19 transformer. Store owner had estate sale. They are for sale.

  9. Hi,
    What ever happened to the Ampex 3761 carcass? Is it still around? Please let me know.


  10. Hi ! My name is gary and i own a scully 280, however it isn’t in
    working condition.
    I’m in the market for two newer units. I like the vertical relay rack
    mounts with fourteen in reels.

    Do you have anything like this for sale?
    I have some electronics and about 35 fourteen in reels…most
    brand new.

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