I've worked on enough consoles and tube amps to never want to work on them again!
Most of the consoles you'll come across were substandard stuff, the Audiovox of their day. Cheap and pretty, and the construction reflected that. The turntables have no real mass to them, and I would be scared to put any of my good wax on them. Cheap needles and they'd rarely hold a tune. I didn't mind working on the really old ones. The big, massive-armed Magnavox stuff. You know, with the 78 rpm setting.
But by the time the cheaper stuff came out, everything in them was cheapened to the point it was hardly worth working on them. I've passed up several and keep seeing them come up for free. I actually gutted a B&W console TV for a customer once. All tube chassis for the amp and tuner, too. Even had the early clicker style remote. We had intentions of upgrading the electronics to newer stuff, but they never followed through. I hung onto that tube chassis and speakers until the space became more valuable to me than the electronics. They're in the landfill now.
The tube stuff is fun, but I came to the realization that it wasn't all "good stuff." Just like today's market, there were different levels of quality. Just because it has some 6l6s in the back doesn't mean it's going to sound good. I had a Harmon/Kardon Lute for a while. Replaced all the caps and got it back up and running. It was cute and fun, and sounded pretty good, but I gave it to my cousin. It was one of HK's first attempts at an integrated amp in a small package. It looked really cool. I miss it occasionally. I still have a couple of pieces of tube stuff rolling around, but I'm scared to put power to them. I don't have a variac, and I have no clue how long it's been since these things were plugged in. I'll get around to playing with them someday, though.
And don't get me started on reel-to-reel decks! Talk about an excercise in patience and dexterity!
Geoff, I had the same idea as you for a long time, to make a TV or console aquarium. That's another hobby I've grown past. Not before I accumulated enough glass to start a small fish store, though! Know anybody that wants it?