1) In some ways Heath
kit had the same marketing knack in the 60's and 70's as Volkswagen. They saw good sales figures working a niche market for the better part of two decades. Which means there is a buttload of old Heath
kit gear still circulating through the swaps waiting for the next generation of Hams eager to relive the alleged glory of owning a Benton Harbor green station.........
2) Unfortunately, that glory is more imagined than real as vintage Heath
kit gear now pushing 50 years old suffers from two areas of disappointment:
a) It wasn't that good to begin with, and by modern standards you can do better for the same or less money.
b) Most of it wasn't built to last and hasn't improved with age. So it ends up being turned at a future swap. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The attraction of Heath
kit was in the sales premise of owning quality gear on the cheap. Back in the days of point-to-point chassis wiring there was validity in the cost of labor as a significant part of the total, but unfortunately Heath
kit went beyond that level of cost-cutting by using some seriously cheap parts. You see it today in the phenolic rotary switches and tube sockets that are such a joy to replace. The avid kit builder wanted to believe then, as they do today, a first-time builder could do well enough to build a really cool radio while they were learning how to solder. Heath
kit did all they could to keep the design as cheap and simple as possible. You're thinking super-duper world class signal grabber, Heath is thinking idiot-proof econo box that works well enough to sell.
To use a car analogy, when you strip something down to the nitty gritty you get a Volkswagen Beetle. Not a Mercedes SLS...http://www.roadandtrack.com/var/ezflow_site/storage_RT_NEW/storage/images/future-cars/sports-cars-of-the-future-2012-mercedes-benz-sls-amg-roadster/1779551-1-eng-US/sports-cars-of-the-future-2012-mercedes-benz-sls-amg-roadster.jpg
But, as an advertising copy writer would be quick to point out, the Beetle can do everything the red item from Stuttgart can do but at a fraction of the cost. Therefore they are comparable, perhaps almost identical. Anyone believe that? Anyone want to buy a bridge in New York?
So... What's my point? Heath
kit gear has been a cult item for better than 20 years. It's rare to see more than a day or two go by without a new thread started here by someone struggling to fix the rig they bought a year or more ago that has never and may never work as expected, but they still want to believe that someday it will happen. And if they can't fix it, maybe the next owner will and that's why I say there are two primary reasons you'll see Heath
kit gear at almost every swapmeet:
* There was plenty of it sold back in the day and much of it is still around because.............
* The true believers are loathe to throw it out or admit that maybe the Benton Harbor reputation isn't all that it's cracked up to be.