Friday, October 23, 2009


It starts with this: I have new cloth-covered cordage for the incoming line and the receiver, a new receiver and a nicely-rebuilt dial. There's a network, bell, hookswitch and condenser inside the phone, condition unknown. Dirt appears to be the biggest issue. (That's a genuine Bell System screwdriver next to it, which fits the front panel screw that holds the phone closed like it was...made for it? Hey, how about that!) Step One, careful removal of the Inner Workings (with photos), followed by a little paint & body work.

Does anyone out there have any tips for removing the old schematic intact? Still glued in two spots. Distilled water on a cotton swab didn't help.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


A sticker for your "beater" typewriter?
The pen: mightier than the sword. The typewriter: more powerful than the pen. Q.E.D.
(Image links to a larger version which you may use it at will).

Monday, October 19, 2009


Another old skill, a good one: cable lacing. Before there were Velcro strips, before there was split-loom tubing or even zip-ties, 'way, 'way back -- and on fiber-optic bundles, even now -- there was cable lacing, the art of turning a jumble of wire into a neat bundle* using flat, waxed string or similar, in the proper knots.

There's an art to it and a learning curve; you can still learn it, thanks to a tip from a clever lurker, who pointed out Make: Lost Knowledge: Cable Lacing! And now I've linked it for you. Enjoy!

Older ARRL Handbooks also cover this skill.

If you can't find lacing twine, look for waxed saddler's (or leatherworking) thread, a heavy thread (almost string) which will work as well. Might as well pick up a cake of beeswax at the same time, it's handy stuff.
* It kinda has to be neat to start with. This holds true for any other cable-bundling method, too. If you start with a rat's nest and mash it together with whatever, it'll just be a worse mess. Neatness counts when you're trying to figure it out later!


Ever see a power tube getting rebuilt? Didja know it could be done? One of my favorite tube rebuilders, Kennetron, has a bit of a virtual tour of their plant!

Sure, there are other rebuilders; many years ago, I used Econco for big Class C power tubes in FM service (now a wholly-owned division of CPI, which also owns Eimac, it looks like they have dropped their old, irreverent "use a transistor, go to jail" tagline) and I've always heard good things about Freeland Products. Still, I have a soft spot for Kennetron, who have so far been the only outfit willing to take on rebuilding small (1000 Watt!) ceramic external-anode power tetrodes used at ultra high frequencies in Class AB1 -- and their rebuilds work! This is a fussy task, combining the skills of jeweler, machinist, welder and more for devices that operate in about the same power range as chainsaws.

It's a heck of a thing to send in old, worn-out, even shorted "empties" and get 'em back at half the price or less of new tubes, ready to go.

Power tube rebuilders are a scarce breed. The collection of skills and equipment to do the job, from vacuum engineering to glass building to fabricating the intricate internal assemblies, is rare and unlikely -- we're lucky there are at least three left!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


The Edison, an amazing-looking bar in Los Angeles, has a website. It's in what was an early private electrical generating plant. (And it has a dress code requiring customers to, at least, dress up a bit -- T-shirts, sandals and athletic shoes being Right Out). It's something of a steampunk speakeasy.