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Author Topic: Want a Collins station-  (Read 11949 times)
KB8ZF
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« on: July 26, 2012, 05:21:54 PM »

I have been in this hobby for 35 years now, I have owned all the Japanese radios that I think that I want to. I am at the point now to where I am just wanting to get me a nice Collins S-line or KMW2A station and some Drake C line equipment. Some of the Collins radios have been going for over 50 years and will continue to go far beyond any of the "rice boxes" out there. Don't get me wrong they are some awesome rigs out there but I just want to go to a simple radio, I love the glow of tubes and the sound of a tube receiver, anyway my question is what should I look for and what are some of the Red Flags on the Collins stuff. I pretty much know the Drake line I owned a lot of it back in the day. Looking to trade my Yaesu FT-1000mp Mark V Field station for some of this older gear. Thanks in advance.
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AC5UP
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2012, 07:01:23 PM »

Before you lay out the serious coin it takes to buy such things, and you may not realize how insane the pricing has become since eBay became an enabler for the more-money-than-common-sense crowd, do yourself a favor and pay attention to something right here on eHam................

There is a rotating gallery of shack pics that display on the top page. You'll also see them in user profiles. You can often click the pic for a better look and when you do, notice how many of them have something in common. They're brag photos of the toy collection with only the bottom row being easily accessible. The rest are on display unless the owner likes to operate while standing, which I don't see as likely.

The Collins / Drake / Heathshkit / Hallicrafters / Etc. gear will always be up top and the farthest reach. On the desktop next to the key and computer will be newer items with the familiar look of KenYaeCom. Guess which rig gets the most use?

I should also mention that hardly a week goes by without a new thread along the lines of: " I just bought a vintage XXX and it has a problem with... Can anyone help me fix it? " Like older cars, older radios tend to have a little extra personality and once they're fixed doesn't mean they stay fixed. Every time you flip the power switch it's a fresh roll of the dice. Some days you'll spend more time working on the rig than using it so best of luck and don't forget to stock up on spare parts 'cuz you'll need 'em..........  Tongue
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KC2VDM
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2012, 07:48:03 PM »

I have to agree with AC5UP, the vintage radio game is not for the faint of heart. It takes 5 seconds to turn on and use a new fashioned rice box. With vintage radios, it takes more time than that for it to get warmed up, let alone tune up. The farther back in time you go, the harder it becomes to use, repair, and find parts for old radios. I'm running into trouble just finding parts for a simple tube qrp transmitter project. If the parts are there, the prices are huge. Most rigs will also require some work just to get going. The costs can add up quickly.

He'd also right about Collins being the most expensive. All the others are the same way. Unless there's a local ham looking to get rid of one, you'll have to pay eBays prices.

Not trying to discourage you from this part of the hobby.   It's fun to use these rigs, just don't expect big performance.

If you're up for the challenge, have a good soldering iron, and a huge parts bin, go ahead and dip that plate! Grin It is rewarding to see those tubes glow.


Oh, and one last thing, I wouldn't trade your Yaesu for boatanchor. If that new rig has a big failure (Power transformer, hard to find part, or otherwise) at least you wont be out of a radio.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 07:51:21 PM by KC2VDM » Logged
G3RZP
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2012, 11:31:55 PM »

Not so sure about just plug and play with new radios. The menus seem so complex that you need driving course just to start with them!
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KC4MOP
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2012, 04:42:12 AM »

If you still have an interest in Collins gear, you might want to get in touch with Hams who deal with estate sales.
It may be equipment that has sat idle for years and may not even be operational, but you buy the gear before antique dealers and Collins Radio worshippers open up their bank accounts.
To buy operating and clean rating of "8 out of 10" (eBay term) will cost ya!!
The others have very good points about Collins.
My R390A will not do what a Flex SDR will do. But the audio out of the Diode load is out of this world in non-battlefield conditions. Contesting, bad band condx, etc etc
And G3RZP...the menu driven radios take all the fun out of turning it on for the first time and find out what the new rig is all about. The new radio novelty wear off in two hours of pressing buttons and reading poorly translated manuals.
Fred
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K8AXW
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2012, 09:01:14 AM »

ZF:  The urge to "return to your roots" can be a very strong emotion.  I've been there, done that, got a T-shirt. 

However, to swap your present incredible "rice box" for a Collins line really needs to be reconsidered ...perhaps a third or forth time!  While Collins as one time was the "ultimate," compared now to your FT-1000mp Mark V, they were really primitive. 

If you need to satisfy this present urge, perhaps it would be more prudent to simply go out and buy a Collins transceiver to start with and leave the Mark V exactly where it is.  This way you can have the best of both worlds.

5UP makes a very perceptive observation that is spot on.

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AC5UP
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2012, 09:40:47 AM »

If I were to flash back into the 60's the first thing I'd do is score some Levi big bells, then realize how much I miss a digital frequency readout, frequency & mode memories, all-mode capability, general coverage receive and the always popular automatic antenna tuner. I wouldn't miss the WARC bands 'cuz they're still in the future, but I'd damn sure miss them today.

The appeal of going retro is based on the belief that it is possible to score a really nice vintage radio at a decent price, fix it up without much hassle until it looks & works as good as new, then be told how good it sounds with every Q. Everyone needs a dream, and that's not a bad one, but to think a 60+ year old radio can run with the new iron and be as reliable as it was 60 years ago is quite a stretch. The older gear has its charms, but zero drift operation isn't one of them and we really want to believe that anything Collins is better than everything KenYaeCom.

'Taint True!
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KB8ZF
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2012, 02:39:14 PM »

Well seems like I stirred the pot here! LOL I guess I just get in those moods to where I feel just "burnt out" and think if I get something new (older in this case) it will refuel the fire. I had been off the air for ten years until this past Feburary when I bought the Mark V Field, it is an excellent radio in every respect, I may just need to try a different mode of operation, maybe go back to cw, or even try something I never have before, maybe some digital mode. After thinking about it all and looking at it in a different light I guess I have really reconsidered it all the way around, thanks for all the advice, may try home brewing me another amp, like a pair of 3-500z's. Thanks again.
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K3RZB
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2012, 03:46:52 PM »

if you're  still interested (I saw your last comment), here's what I've got:

A Collins 75S-1

Drake "B" line including the R4-B and TX4-B. Includes mic, AC-4 and MS-4 all in cabinet and everything is functional.

If you're interested in any of this, or all for a "swap", let me know.

Thanks,

Stu, K3RZB
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K0OD
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2012, 03:54:10 PM »

Got a chuckle out of this Eham classified ad:

Quote
CENTRAL ELECTRONICS RESTORED Central Electronics model 100V multi-mode transmitter restored by Nick Tusa (see: http://www.ce-multiphase.com/) Covers 80-10 meters. In near perfect condition. For pick up only at Greer, SC (that means NO shipping). It's on a shelf I can't reach to take photos and it's too heavy for me to move alone. Asking $1100. or best offer.

Likely most of these "valuable" classics will be sold for scrap within 20-30 years.

I can't think of many curses worse than to have some distant ham relative bequeath me his collection of dozens of 70 pound boat anchors! 
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W2RKJ
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Posts: 55




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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2012, 06:51:03 PM »

I can appreciate the OP position. I had no intention of getting into that vintage stuff. I had a Ten Tec Jupiter, Kenwood TS-450 and 2 Icom 706MKIIG's. Then I had a SK's widow dump a clean 75S-3B (RE) and 32S-3 (WE) into my lap who's husband was a doctor. She told me to get it out of here or it goes in the trash. I didn't want it. I took it home put it under my desk for about 5 years and never gave it much thought. Then one day I got the urge to see what this stuff was I got after reading about the way people were raving over this Collins equipment. I went to activate it and realized I had no clue how to transmit on this thing it was way too complicated for me. I had only been a ham since 1998. All the stuff I had aquired since was fairly simple to operate. I would up sending the Collins gear to Peter Wittenberg to bring it back to life. I also had a gentleman drive 2 hours to show me the proper way to operate it and give some serious instructions (KE2LZ). After I got comfortable with the gear I RARELY listen to my solid state gear. The sound that comes out of that Collins is just unreal. If you get one, they tell you you don't need the station console but that speaker just made that thing pop!. Yes the pricing is insane for everything connected with the vintage Collins gear but who cares. I had a close ham friend ask me why I have that Collins gear, my response to him was because I can. Get it and enjoy but don't be so quick to sell your Field, you'll need it too. The Collins gear is not for band hoping and it's not that easy to work split but the smell and glow can't be beat. BTW during all of this, a friend calls me and tells me his neighbor is throwing away an old radio in the garage and did I want it, I'm thinking do I need more junk only to cart it away on my time. I reluctantly agreed and he brings over a Collins R-388 reciever. Have a look at my station on QRZ. Yes All of the bulbs are led's. Good luck
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K3STX
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2012, 08:15:40 PM »

One of the most fun with BAs is fixing them up! I am not very technically adept, but I surely cannot fix a modern rig. But a tube rig, I can usually get that working. But you don't have to get a Collins to have fun. I started my Ham career with an Hallicrafters S-20R and Heathkit DX-100 in 1978. Then went to Kenwood till about 2008. Bought a Hallicrafters SX-71, then a Heathkit DX-20, then a DX-60 with VFO, and I have lots of fun using the Hallicrafters and the Heathkit just chatting with guys (on CW). Sure, I need a T/R relay, but it smells good and is more of a challenge than simply turning on my TS-850S.  For real DXing I use my modern rigs, but old BAs work great for most of what many of us do on the air.

Have fun. And yes, don't buy too many, they are big and heavy.

paul
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G3RZP
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« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2012, 03:31:58 AM »

Paul,

With some of the modern rigs, it really doesn't matter how technically adept you are or are not when it comes to fixing them. This is because you may not be able to get the parts, especially integrated circuits. If it's an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) made for that manufacturer and he no longer has any stock, that's it. Or if the device is a 256 or 512 BGA (Ball Grid Array) part, you need some very special machinery and experience to change it, and even then success is not guaranteed.

Even some of the simpler older op-amps are hard to get, and are not necessarily easily substituted. But you can still get a 6D6 as used in the pre-WW2 HRO and RME 69!
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KC4MOP
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« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2012, 05:30:13 AM »

A lot of replies are definitely on track on the maintenance side of owning a BA. These old soldiers aren't going to sit there and serve us as they did in their day. And even in their day gave typical problems of tube equipment. Heat and or the mobile environment and abusive operators in a comm center.
The specialized parts are drying up.
I got into the BA thing about 10 yrs ago and missed the stability and accuracy of digital readouts. Had to get used to the SPOT button on the BA transmitters. Sold off the Drakes and the Nationals and Heathkits and kept the R390A.
My R390A was sold to me by a Ham who received it for free from a MARS station in return for wiring up their station. It was new in the crate about 17 years ago. (EAC contract)
But it was age related failures and almost a yearly battle of alignment and this and that becoming defective. The radio has settled down for the first time and the last three years happy as a lark. On 24/7 unless there is lightning or prolonged period of no usage. Those I.F. filters are almost non-existent.......so I isolated them from any B+ with mica caps.
You might get lucky with the economic uncertainty that is here now. Someone might let go of their collection cheap!
Fred
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K8AXW
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« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2012, 08:39:06 AM »

RKJ:  Absolutely beautiful setup!!!  Art Collins was decades ahead of his time when it came to styling.... as well as other features.  Even today, the Collins line is nothing but beautiful!
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