Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A New Vista

I went to an estate sale in Affton with a specific piece in mind.  I've been looking for a Midcentury Modern piece which I could convert into an audio/video component cabinet.  I saw this picture on 

The sale was open Friday and Saturday, but I had to work Friday so I wasn't hopeful when I arrived there Saturday morning.  I found it in the basement buried in a ton of record albums.  I don't think anyone even saw it.  Not a very good way to promote an item, but fortunate for me.   I plugged it in, but couldn't get any life out of it.  But since I was re-purposing it anyway, it made it that much easier; I would have hated to butcher a working piece.  Since it was the second day, I got it for 50% of the original $45 tag. ($22.50 for you math-challenged people).

Back in my garage, I started looking it over to determine how I could use it as an entertainment center.

The only door was in the the top; not very convenient for accessing multiple components.

That door opened to a cool looking, but non-functioning stereo and turntable.

The odd thing was, the other side didn't have a door.  Usually, there's another door for storing albums.  There was a lot of wasted space inside.  I love the New Vista badge:

And the bow tie, almost tiki-like decorations:

After pulling out the turntable, I found the manufacture date. December 15th, 1966:

The model is VGT 13W.  Google fails to provide any further examples.

Looking at that front panel, I came up with an idea of cutting out the panel and turning it into doors (insert shriek here for all you purists).

Through the removal of many screws and careful whacking, I was able to remove the front entirely from the cabinet.  I lacked the tools, skill and the nerves to cut out the panel myself, so I took it to a co-worker's wood shop.  He was able to drop the panel onto a table saw and cut it precisely along the inner trim to remove the inside panel.

He then cut the panel down the center to make two doors.

My initial thought was to hinge the doors, but being inset as they were and fairly thin, I couldn't find any hinges that would work.  Then it struck me: sliding doors!  I built a sliding track inside, mounted the doors, and closed it off with some extra trim from another similar donor cabinet someone had given me for free years ago.  I also added a couple knobs from that cabinet to the doors.  Ignore the tangle of wires to the right of the frame--they're unrelated.

I maintained the original speakers and connected my receiver into them.  The doors can only open so wide because of the speakers mounted behind the grill, but it's wide enough to gain access and any larger components can be loaded through the back of the console.  I found this Aiwa turntable at another estate sale this past weekend.  It fit perfectly.

I'm very happy with the way it turned out and it sounds great.

Update: I finally mounted the TV on the wall and have transferred all of the components to the new cabinet.  I placed the Uverse hub, router and receiver behind the speaker openings.  The fabric allows the infrared remote to control the receiver and since I don't need access regularly to these components, frees up valuable shelf space.


  1. great work! those doors make that piece, in my opinion.

    btw, we just got back from burning man. there was a peanuts-inspired art car featuring pigpen that made me think of you, being a peanuts fan. i saw it several times, but never bothered to talk to the driver or anyone about it. turns out it was driven by charles schultz's widow! now i wish i had talked to her!

  2. >great work! those doors make that piece, in my opinion.

    Thanks, I'm pretty happy (and relieved) at how well it turned out.

    >turns out it was driven by charles schultz's widow

    That *was* a missed opportunity. Have you read the biography "Schulz and Peanuts" by David Michaelis? Very good, but he was a tormented man. I'll never read another strip of Peanuts the same.

  3. UPDATE: here's a link to a pic of it (hopefully)

  4. I realize that this is an old post, but I recently came across this exact model of stereo console. Any advice on removing the front panel? I want to recover the speakers as the current material is torn.

    I removed all of the screws and have given many hacks with a robber mallet but it doesn't seem to want to budge.


    1. Sorry for the delayed response, Andrew, I just saw your comment. The front is glued in addition to screwed, so once the screws were removed, I used a 2x4 from the back pressed up against the inside of the front and hit it with a hammer, working my way around the opening until it came loose.


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