Reuse of the Highest Order

Years ago an incredible item showed up at the dump: a 1963 Rowe Ami JAL 200 jukebox—full of classic vinyl records. It sat on the tipping floor for several days, off to the side, no one wanting to push such a cool thing into the garbage. Jeff Ludwig, the Exchange manager, and ORS Executive Director Pete Moe decided they should try and salvage it. Moe knew just who to call: John Polstra, of Channel Road Amps, on Lopez Island. “John is this wizard with old electronics. I decided to give him a call and see if he would take on a jukebox.”

And take it on he did. Polstra, and his friend Michael Barthelow, replaced almost all of the wiring, the power amplifier, the speakers, and several other hard-to-find parts.

After more than 40 hours of donated time, the Jukebox was back in action. “It was a real challenge,” said Polstra. “But it was a real thrill the first time we got it to play a record.”

It was also fascinating. Hunting down parts online John and Michael discovered a whole community of people dedicated to jukeboxes. One part they needed were spring clips for the buttons that select records. “We found them in Australia—a guy there is making them by hand.”

Another problem: The Jukebox turned out to be from a U.S. military base in Germany. “So the coin slot mechanism was designed for German marks,” says Polstra. We just decided to bypass that altogether.”

Which is great for everyone—because now you can come down to The Exchange and play as many songs as you want for no charge!