So Mark Wilder and I have been communicating back and forth about the Presto as I wanted to find out some actual history. Thanks to Dominick Costanza for showing Mark the pictures of the Presto in my room. Here's the good news...
It’s nice to hear from you.
The picture that Dom shared with me was great. It looks like a nice match.
As for your questions:
01. Where? I got it from the grandson of the original owner. It’s a long story and I’m sure it’s faded over the years, but the owner was a musician, composer in NYC/NJ. He had a partner who was an engineer at NBC and recorded the radio orchestra. The musician wrote some very famous jingles in the 60’s, which I remember clearly. The two put together a production company and he ran out and bought the Presto. When he told his partner he said, No way, we’re only using Ampex and he ran out and bought an Ampex. The Presto basically had zero hours on it when I got it. It sat in a basement from purchase until his death. The daughter wanted it out of the house and the grandson found me through a mutual friend/engineer. BTW, I was told that the cabinet is custom from plans that were purchased from Presto.
02. Never rebuilt. I think I just vacuumed out the cabinet. It did have a cover from what I remember.
03. Never recorded on it. Almost did. I was flagged to do a jazz record and they wanted the very old vibe on it. Cassandra Wilson and Jackie Terrasson. Things fell apart, Jim Anderson recorded and I mastered. I think I tried to set it up for record, but never really printed anything but tone."
So there you have it. The only hours on the deck were to do the Columbia 30th street transfers... sweet. These heads should outlast me. In fact, I'm restoring it so all of it outlasts me.
Hard to believe the guy wouldn't use the Presto, it is built better than the equivalent Ampex 300-3 IMHO. Two engineers who left Presto after Bogen shut down the division in the mid 60's went on to Scully and redesigned their transports. It's why the Scully transports are so nice.