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Building the Lasonic TRC-920 "Shelf Queen"

lasonic 920

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#1 Lasonic TRC-920

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 10:52 AM

In the last 37 years I have owned around 10 Lasonic TRC-920's. Far and away the most of a single model of any box in my collection. The first I bought brand new in 1983 at the Saugus Swap Meet in Southern California from Mr and Mrs Chen, the owners of Lasonic when they were working hard traveling to markets around Southern California, setting up booths and selling their products. 

 

That box was a work horse and I used it every day. I took care of my belongings because I worked for them. I bought my 920 for $220 earned from mowing lawns, sweeping driveways, raking leaves and delivering news papers.

 

But it still ended up a wreck. The antenna hold down tips busted off, the dainty stereo / dial light switches busted off and one day the handle end snapped which ended it's hard life on the road. It was retired to the top of my bedroom dresser where I plugged in some trash pile speakers I found. They were old home speakers with 12" woofers, 3" mids and dome tweeters. They were missing the foam surrounds. I laid them on the floor, on their sides under the edge of my bed, plugged them into the aux out on my 920 and they roared. But when they were plugged in, it cut the power to the speakers on the 920. It wasn't long before I opened the 920 and bypassed the part of the circuit that cuts off the boombox speakers and then had them all going. I soon found even more speakers I could hook up. Basically any and all junkyard trash speakers were added to my monstrosity. It was loud AF, sounded like mud and I loved it! For well over a year the amp on the 920 took the abuse and then on a hot Southern California day, during an extended "Crank" session ripping Van Halen's "Women and Children First" SILENCE! Only the ringing in my ears continued and that was it.

 

The 920, with it's busted handle, missing switches, failed deck and finally blown amp went in the trash can. I can still remember pushing the trash down in the can so I could get the lid on it. It was like burying my dog. (no, we did not put the dog in the trash!)

 

Since finding this community 10 years ago I have had a slew of these boxes. many were parts boxes, used to cobble together beaters. One of these beaters has been the go to box for years and years. It was a radio that I never had to worry about banging into the door jam on the way out, or it getting scratched while tossing it in the back seat. It has been all over California, flown with me to Alaska as carry on luggage stuffed on the floor between my feet. It made the journey to Italy stuffed in my largest luggage bag so I would have a radio before the full collection arrived. It traveled with me to China, England, Germany and all over Italy. 

 

But one thing I have never had, since the first 920 I bought in the summer of 1983 was a "Shelf Queen 920".

 

It's been something that has been in the back of my mind for years and years but it always fell to the side as other "more important" boombox projects came up, like rebuilding the JVC RC-M90, the recent Sanyo M-X820 or a glut of other radio's that have graced the workbench. 

 

Yet, in the back of my mind the gears still turned. In the last handful of years I have been quietly acquiring more 920's and other parts that theoretically could make the dream a possibility should I ever find the time. 

 

The real lynch pin in the whole project was finding a 920 that still had the antenna ears intact. Being such a poor design in the first place, 97/100 920's out there have them busted off and I have never had one in the last 10 years that had even one of the ears intact. 

 

I was lucky enough to receive one off eBay a few years back that did indeed have both and that made the possibility of doing this more of a reality.

 

So, with three complete Lasonic TRC-920's on hand, I set out to build the very best one I could. 

 

Attached File  20200119_101159.jpg   113.93K   0 downloads

 

The goal was not to turn three into one, but to fully rebuild all three with one of them being the crown jewel. 

 

The "Crown Jewel Box" is, in fact the box I have been traveling with for years. The center section and face plate, with the main board, deck, tuner and all it's switch gear, is in fact the Shelf Queen. I selected all the best knobs, chrome, handle, battery compartment door and other bits along with the best rear case containing the antenna ears. It received a full tear down, had many of the solder joints touched up, the function switches cleaned and lubed (both function switches are the originals), deoxit's all the pot's, re-belted the deck and scrubbed the F out of the case. Years ago I had put a Bluetooth module in it and I opted to keep it in there.  

 

I will say, she is not perfect. Even with all that work, she is probably a 7/10. But it's still the nicest one I have had and very proud to have it in a prestigious spot in the collection.

 

 

So, without further ado, I Present you, the Lasonic TRC-920 Shelf Queen

 

 

She now takes her rightful place...

 

Attached File  20200120_161325.jpg   84.22K   1 downloadsAttached File  Lasonic TRC-920 shelf queen.jpg   100.4K   0 downloads

 

What I find most interesting about the Lasonic TRC-920's and especially the three I now have...

Even though Lasonic suffers from significantly lower build quality than the big brand boxes from this era, I find it extremely interesting how these Lasonic's have been brought into the 2020's. 

 

All three of these 920's have been fully rebuilt at least once prior to me owning them. The one that have been traveling with for years was cobbled together by me and it was a parts box someone built from before I got it. 

 

The fact that, over the last 37 years, someone, other people, much like myself have loved this poorly built, poorly designed machine SO MUCh that they simply refuse to let it die. They kept rebuilding it, regardless of what it has taken to keep it rockin'.

 

To me, that is standing the test of time. My connection to this box has been well documented. I will be buried or burned with this box. But it will never leave my side. PEACE!

 



#2 BoomboxLover48

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 11:05 AM

Great story and good memories you shared there! 

Beautiful job Chris :yes:  :thumbsup: ! It sounds nice!



#3 peturssc

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 12:06 PM

Great post. Thanks for sharing your story. I also appreciate the Rush tribute.

Nicely done.

#4 Lasonic TRC-920

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 02:35 PM

Great story and good memories you shared there! 

Beautiful job Chris yes.gif  thumbsup.gif ! It sounds nice!

 

Thank you, it is the labor of love

 

Great post. Thanks for sharing your story. I also appreciate the Rush tribute.

Nicely done.

 

Oh yes, having my Rush - Moving Pictures album in my back pocket in 1983 was the staple tape!



BTW, this video was filmed at Saugus Speedway (AKA Saugus Swap Meet in Southern California) where I bought my 920

 



#5 docs

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 02:59 AM

Excellent thorough job Chris, looks really good now. I can vouch for how the plastic on these becomes so brittle that little bits and pieces from the case start to fall off. Getting a really nice complete one together is a top job.



#6 Lasonic TRC-920

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 07:35 AM

Excellent thorough job Chris, looks really good now. I can vouch for how the plastic on these becomes so brittle that little bits and pieces from the case start to fall off. Getting a really nice complete one together is a top job.

 

Thanks DOCS. Yes, this particular radio has the most brittle plastic of any radio I have ever seen, even back in the day is was noticeably brittle and it hasn't aged well. It add's to how special this one really is (to me at least)



#7 Northerner

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 12:44 PM

Yeh love the 920. I needed two to make one decent one lol tho the spare fascia is on the wall too as it’s just so purdy

#8 JVC Floyd

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 06:03 PM

What an effort , I love these boxes unfortunately mine fell and was wrecked and before that it had the most immaculate front case of any I've seen it until the meeting with the floor , it fell off a scaffold I was working on. I still have some switches and knobs/ lever's left over if you need them.

#9 Rimmer36

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Posted 22 January 2020 - 07:45 AM

Nicest lasonic of the bunch, great job Chris



#10 Lasonic TRC-920

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Posted 22 January 2020 - 09:50 AM

Yeh love the 920. I needed two to make one decent one lol tho the spare fascia is on the wall too as it’s just so purdy

 

 

Oh yeah, perfect for wall are. It's really a shocker there are so many Lasonic's around, since it takes so many to make one working one laugh.gif

 

What an effort , I love these boxes unfortunately mine fell and was wrecked and before that it had the most immaculate front case of any I've seen it until the meeting with the floor , it fell off a scaffold I was working on. I still have some switches and knobs/ lever's left over if you need them.

 

I'm going to PM you right now, see what ya got. Thanks bro!

 

Nicest lasonic of the bunch, great job Chris

 

Thanks Rimmer. Been a long time. It's on my shelf now, surrounded by LED's that make it shine like a diamond. So damn pleased. Now I need to build another beater laugh.gif laugh.gif laugh.gif banghead.gif



#11 pabaker

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 05:13 PM

The 920 is my favorite midsized boombox. Great story . 



#12 Mystic Traveller

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 04:37 PM

Awesome story behind and job done, Chris! Kudos!



#13 Brutus442

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 09:03 AM

What a great story and beautiful build. A tip of the hat for the Tom Sawyer soundtrack (R.I.P Neil...exit the warrior)

 

If I ever get a boombox shelf happening, I'd love to borrow your blue LED light idea. Damn that looks awesome!



#14 trippy1313

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 05:09 PM

For some reason Chris I always thought you still had your original 920. I remember the story of picking it up at the flea market, but not the story of making room in the trash to throw it away. So sad. I guess I assumed your roughest one was your original.

Glad got around to restoring one to nice enough to be a shelf-queen as well as having a couple carry around boxes.

I'm still not sure why, but I feel like my nice 920 is abnormally loud. Louder than I think my M90 or M70s. Clear too. I have a beater 920 I haven't really restored yet that sound about as loud as I'd expect from them.

#15 Hurb

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 09:07 AM

Great story Chris, great result to!  Keep scrolling back to these pictures!!



#16 Lasonic TRC-920

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Posted 27 January 2020 - 10:48 AM

The 920 is my favorite midsized boombox. Great story . 

 

Pound for Pound the 920 sit's near the top of the midsized bozes thumbsup.gif

 

Awesome story behind and job done, Chris! Kudos!

 

Thank you MT

 

What a great story and beautiful build. A tip of the hat for the Tom Sawyer soundtrack (R.I.P Neil...exit the warrior)

 

If I ever get a boombox shelf happening, I'd love to borrow your blue LED light idea. Damn that looks awesome!

 

Absolutely, glad you like the lighting. Tom Sawyer will always bring me straight back to the early 80's. Neil will for ever be the king of drummers judge.gif

 

For some reason Chris I always thought you still had your original 920. I remember the story of picking it up at the flea market, but not the story of making room in the trash to throw it away. So sad. I guess I assumed your roughest one was your original.

Glad got around to restoring one to nice enough to be a shelf-queen as well as having a couple carry around boxes.

I'm still not sure why, but I feel like my nice 920 is abnormally loud. Louder than I think my M90 or M70s. Clear too. I have a beater 920 I haven't really restored yet that sound about as loud as I'd expect from them.

 

Back in the day I never thought about hanging on to my possessions. I was running as fast as I could and moved on to getting a drivers license, car stereo's and the rest is history. I was very sad to get rid of it, but it was un-save-able. Even by the standards of which I restore boxes today, it would be a tough save. 2 of the three toggle switches were busted off, the deck door was broken off, the handle end was broken, the deck wasn't working, the amp chips were fried. I did peel all the stickers off of it, which I still have in a box in storage back in California and I have thought about finding them for a future 920 super beater 1988 recreation. But we will see.

 

Great story Chris, great result to!  Keep scrolling back to these pictures!!

 

Thanks Herb, this was a tedious build. I just need to get those other two 920 tuners working!



#17 Transistorized

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Posted 31 January 2020 - 08:34 PM

I enjoyed following along and I can relate to this story myself. Mine was the little GE. I never had the original speakers so I hooked that thing up to 2 floor 10s and all kinds of speakers it wasn't designed to run...lol. It's been beat to hell and band-aided so many times it isn't funny. I am sure the radio would play if I got it back out.

 

You never forget your first box ;-)

 

Excellent job and I am glad you were able to bring this memory back into your life :-) 

 

It would be awesome if you could find any part from your original Lasonic to put on your mint box just to have some part of it being your original machine living on



#18 baddboybill

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 02:35 PM

Great job Chris!!! I believe the parts unit was the one I sold you close to 10 years ago if I remember.

#19 Reli

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Posted 01 February 2020 - 02:35 PM

Congrats Chris!  The collection is looking very classy!

 

Speaking of brittle plastic, I gotta remember to take my 920 apart and line all the body seams with felt tape to reduce all the squeaks it makes when I pick it up. But at least it's better than the black Lasonics!



#20 T-STER

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Posted 02 February 2020 - 08:02 AM

What a beauty and your photography is awesome, happy for you bro :)



#21 Hisrudeness

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Posted 02 February 2020 - 08:50 AM

Great pictures.

could you post up the roof terrace pic you took?



#22 Lasonic TRC-920

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 01:58 AM

I enjoyed following along and I can relate to this story myself. Mine was the little GE. I never had the original speakers so I hooked that thing up to 2 floor 10s and all kinds of speakers it wasn't designed to run...lol. It's been beat to hell and band-aided so many times it isn't funny. I am sure the radio would play if I got it back out.

 

You never forget your first box wink.gif

 

Excellent job and I am glad you were able to bring this memory back into your life smile1.gif

 

It would be awesome if you could find any part from your original Lasonic to put on your mint box just to have some part of it being your original machine living on

 

No chance of finding any parts of that old 920. It's at the bottom of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill, north of Los Angeles. It opened in 1958 and receives 8300 ton's of trash per day or 2.3 million tons per year. That means its under roughly 73.6 million tons of trash. R.I.P. OG 920. 

 

Great job Chris!!! I believe the parts unit was the one I sold you close to 10 years ago if I remember.

 

I am certain some of these parts came from that box. I still have a spare deck, deck keys crash bar, knobs and other various bits. Thanks for your contribution grin.gif

 

Congrats Chris!  The collection is looking very classy!

 

Speaking of brittle plastic, I gotta remember to take my 920 apart and line all the body seams with felt tape to reduce all the squeaks it makes when I pick it up. But at least it's better than the black Lasonics!

 

I didn't have to do that with this one. Maybe because I cleaned all the mating surfaces hmmm.gif I did do that to my 935, 951, 975, HX-4700, J1, Wheely, Rexel and Discolite and it made all the difference in the world.

 

What a beauty and your photography is awesome, happy for you bro :)

 

Thanks T. Most of this box is the one you saw at the first UK meet at Rory's folks place.

 

Great pictures.

could you post up the roof terrace pic you took?

 

Will go up and get some pics grin.gif



#23 Ghettoboom767

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Posted Today, 12:29 PM

Nice,I know how much you love the 920’s!!



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