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Author Topic: ALPHA 86  (Read 3040 times)

Posts: 122

« on: November 24, 2003, 06:38:27 PM »

I wanted to know what is a good price for and Alpha 86? I am not sure about purchasing one yet because another ham has one for sale at $1875.00 . Are the tubes real expensive? What is the life expectancy of the tubes? When was the years the amp was made and is it made here or overseas? Also any knowen problems with the amp? As you can see the price is pretty high for this amp so I am concerned about these issues?
Would I be better off purchasing an Ameritron?

Posts: 4859

« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2003, 07:07:44 PM »

The price for this amp is not high. The amplifier is made in Bolder Colorado by CrossLink and is considered to be one of the finest amplifiers made and has a loyal following. The amp is an older unit but has been well engineered. Tubes are the Eimac 3CX800A7's which can be somewhat expensive but given the level of control circuitry in the Alpha amp should give you many years of service if not abused.  Get the serial number and call Alpha amplifier to find out if there have been any service problems before you buy the amp. Ask for the drive and power output levels on each band.

A review of the amplifier appears on the product review column in

73's K6AER

Posts: 3585

« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2003, 07:58:42 PM »

That's a good price for an excellent if somewhat uncommon amplifier. Quality is excellent, and if you watch the grid current your tubes should be good for many years to come.

73  Pete Allen  AC5E

Posts: 21758

« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2003, 08:13:14 PM »

To further answer your question, I'd ask, "an Ameritron *what*?"

A new Ameritron AL1200, for example, will run at least as much power as the Alpha 86, and just as conservatively, but uses a tube that's almost impossible to overdrive, and has instant warm-up to boot (3CX1200A7).  It also comes with a new equipment warranty, although I've never heard of anyone actually exercising that because these amps rarely fail.

The Alpha 86 is a very solid amp, is low-profile and takes up less space.  But it's older now, uses a finnicky tube that has very little grid dissipation and takes 2-3 minutes to warm up.

Given my choice, I'd go for a new AL-1200, although I think that's more than $1875.

I've owned a few Alpha amps, and they're good but every one I've ever owned developed some sort of interesting problem.  One of the most interesting is the use of Molex connectors to interconnect practically everything (in lieu of simply soldering cable harness).  One loose contact can take you off the air in an instant, and this has happened not only to me, but to many people I know...


Posts: 36

« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2003, 09:06:29 PM »

Among the amplifiers that are considered to be the "Cadillacs" are Alpha, Henry, Collins, and National.   Ameritron isn't on that list.

I would not be afraid to buy that Alpha 86 if it checks out clean and fully functional on all bands.  As someone suggested, call the Alpha tech support guys and chat with them about it.  Find out what they think of that model and any "quirks" they have.  They also should have service records on that exact amplifier if it's ever been sent back to them for work.  These guys are super to deal with and very proud of their gear.  They can also tell you what to look for in that particular model of amp for signs of abuse.

If an amp is not (has not been) abused, the tubes should last a very long time.  The Alpha amps are very conservatively rated and the tubes are not pushed anywhere near their limits.  Load it up on all bands with a wattmeter and a dummy load connected.  Key it down for several minutes continously and watch the meters like a hawk for signs of instability.  Then put it on the air and get some signal reports.  I wouldn't buy it unless I could test it out thoroughly first.

Alpha amps were built to last a lifetime and the one I have now outlasted it's first owner by 15+ years and is still going strong.  


Posts: 2

« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2012, 06:33:16 PM »

Here I am - the owner of Alpha 86 in excellent condition! After my old TL-922, Alpha 86- Great amp!
Friends, there is one question - I want to slightly increase the cathodic bias voltage to slightly increase the quiescent current tubes. Someone will say, what you can do?

Posts: 1551


« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2012, 01:07:56 AM »

$1875 is not high at all for an Alpha 86, in fact it's a very good price.  I paid more than that for my Alpha 86 for about 4 1/2 years now and I've been very happy with it, no problems at all.  The tubes are expensive new, but if you watch the swap and classified boards regularly, good used tubes at a fair price are not difficult to find.  If it's in good working condition I would certainly buy it.
And I would certainly buy it long before I'd buy a new Ameritron AL-1200.  I've had both and there's simply no comparison.


Don, K2DC
« Last Edit: January 16, 2012, 07:03:32 AM by K2DC » Logged

Posts: 6661

« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2012, 07:53:42 AM »

Alpha is in the same category as Cadillac and Lincoln autos.  Quite often it's possible to come up with the money to buy one but then when it comes time to service or fix it, then you find yourself in a world of hurt!

While you're questioning Alpha about.... whatever.... ask about repair costs, shipping costs/requirements, etc.  That is unless you're fully capable of repairs on high power equipment and have the necessary test equipment.

I'm not trying to scare you off..... just pointing out more of the picture than the pretty girl in the middle.  :-)

A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 9930

« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2012, 01:03:16 PM »

I do not have the 86 but paid $5500 for my used alpha 87 A and it is a great amp.  I have had several alpha 76's ( 2 tubers) but I love my 87 a.  also Molly and the gang at alpha/rf concepts are great and do wonderful in the service department. Yea, it can cost a few bucks to ship, but hey that thing weighs a ton.

In my shack I have the alpha 87 A, a tl 922, an als 600, an IC 2-KL and a al1200.  They all work as advertised, but I use the alpha 99 % of the time I need an amp.  I have multiple stations set up, but the Orion/ alpha / steppir 3 ele beam, makes for a wonderful no hands  follow you any where station.  I can click on a spot and the radio, amp and antenna all go there and tune themselves up and all I have to do is send.  1500 watts of sweet no messing around power if I need it.  I usually only run a KW and around 800 for rtty, but tha 87 a will run at 1500 watts most of the day, no problem.

also call the folks up at alpha and see what they have in their Used, certified amps available, and what do they think about your deal.

Posts: 1214


« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2012, 01:11:14 PM »

Alpha makes good amps.  I had an 89 for 10 years and it worked flawlessly.  The tubes are expensive.  RF Parts lists the price as $899 for one tube.  The 86 has been around for quite some was the predessor to the 89 which I purchased 22 years ago.  My guess would be that the tubes have nearly reached the end of their useful lives at this point.  I seem to recall that Alpha discontinued the 86 because they were having PIN diode problems with it and replaced it with the 89.  I sold my 89 about 5 years ago for $3K and had new tubes in it...I had purchased the tubes in the 90's when they were only $350 each.

Posts: 3161

« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2012, 01:36:44 PM »

There is an old adage, that my Elmers (now silent keys) always told me,

IF you have to ASK about the PRICE of replacement tubes for an Amateur Radio amplifier --
you probably can not afford ($, your income) to own and use one.  

Ferrari's are nice to look at also, but I don't own one!
The 3CX800 triode is used in medical equipment (CAT, MRI) and industrial (plasma generators) -
so you can sometimes find used "maintenance pulls"

BTW, the CHEAP tube era is OVER, the surplus ceramic Russian military tubes are also rising in price !  
Supply versus demand

« Last Edit: January 18, 2012, 01:40:07 PM by W9GB » Logged

Posts: 129

« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2012, 02:39:25 PM »

Folks, this thread is over 8 years old...

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