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Author Topic: Restore to Original? or Modify to make better?  (Read 49777 times)
K4TFJ
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Posts: 31




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« on: July 08, 2014, 07:20:59 AM »

I am not a collector per-say. I have a few older tube rigs that are still stock original, as far as I know. They sit on the shelf or shack table, functioning and sometimes used. There are modifications that can be made to make them better than they were, without overly changing their design. Add a component, change a component, etc.. I don't mean adding a digital display to an old analog receiver. I will probably never sell them. But I am torn, should I make it better, play with it a little, or leave it as is?

Thoughts and opinions?
TJ, K4TFJ
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AA4PB
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Posts: 15049




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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2014, 09:18:06 AM »

It's rather up to individual preference. If you use them on the air and you are never going to sell them then you don't need to worry about resale value. If the modifications are "professional looking" and don't involve altering the external appearance then probably the value wouldn't be changed much anyway.
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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
G3RZP
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Posts: 1284




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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2014, 10:26:20 AM »

It all depends. My main transceiver is an FT102:it's over 30 years old and had one previous owner - my father. It had (still has!) some problems, basically due to design faults. Fixing those meant some fairly hefty modifications, and adding the facility of bringing a digital number out depending on band to allow automatic antenna selection meant some more. On the FT102, if you want to chase CW DX at the bottom of 80m, there's no option. There's also a design flaw with the use of unsealed relays in low level switching: some people change the relays, but I chose to bleed some current through them to break the oxide film and that's worked now with the original relays for over 25 years. But I have a rig now which as far as RF performance is concerned on receive, is up there with the best of them
in phase noise terms and is more than adequate in IMD. In transmit, the IMD is much better than the vast majority of modern rigs.

So it depends what the shortcomings are that you are getting over by modifying. Perhaps my biggest modification ever was to add 160m to a Heathkit DX40, while still keeping all the other bands!
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W8RXL
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Posts: 70




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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2014, 03:39:59 PM »

As mentioned it is a personal preference.

I am a purist to a point. An SX-88 I would restore to original, the same with a R-390 or an SP-600 but a Heathkit DX 35, Apache or Marauder would be open for modifications and cosmetic restoration. I have a Drake B line set with an external digital display, DDS replacing the crystals (both put into a spare case to match the set) and a few other mods done for performance, the same goes for the Heathkit SB line I have, it is modified but looks stock.
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AC5UP
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Posts: 4546




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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2014, 07:42:15 PM »

We have to remember that back in the 40's, 50's and 60's no radio amateur ever modified their equipment. Just as no teenage boy ever tweaked a carburetor and no teenage girl ever went to the prom wearing an extra pair of socks, it was simply never done. Not even once. Ever.

And I'm the king of the moon.

One could argue that a modified vintage ham rig is more true to the hobby than a box-stock factory rig. And, taken to a logical extreme, one might say a home brew rig that was never exactly finished (as in always one more thing to try) is the truest expression of the era. It wasn't until the 60's and 70's that plug & play factory iron became the norm thanks in part to the rising popularity of SSB.

AM fone was a major investment beyond CW with sideband another step beyond that so it made sense to let the factory work out the nitty gritty details and buy something with a warranty...

Before then?  My mod is better than your mod.
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GW3OQK
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Posts: 446




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« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2014, 02:00:44 AM »

TJ, go ahead, modify and make it better for yourself!

I was and am one of the Kings of Mod. In 60s all TXs were home made and RXs highly modded. Couldnt afford a carburetter or teenage girls. Nearly everything in my modern vintage shack (see QRZ) is modified to make it work and improve it for my own use.   

Last week I modified my 1940s R1155 IF for a 1 kHz single-signal CW bandwidth. Now I want to have a home brew TX to go with it as I did in 1960.

Sometimes there is desirable looking gear on ebay but, curses, its been modified!

73
Andrew

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G3RZP
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Posts: 1284




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« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2014, 08:24:19 AM »

Another point is that a number of the old BA transmitters (especially military ones) will not meet today's regulatory standards for purity of emissions in their original form.
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KB4QAA
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Posts: 3339




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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2014, 08:46:45 AM »

I'm not in favor of blasting and drilling.

The point of owning and operating old radios (to me) is the experience.

Modest, reversible, mods that improve stability; filtering; selectivity for today's crowded bands, are reasonable to me.

Safety is always paramount.  There is no excuse for not having fusing and three wire safety grounding.
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KA0HCP, ex-KB4QAA Relocated to Ks. April 2019.
G3RZP
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Posts: 1284




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« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2014, 02:12:43 PM »

Because the necessary mods are dependent on the equipment and can't be fixed in stone as to what they are, the basic philosophy of KB4QAA is one that I agree with 100%.
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AC2EU
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Posts: 1488


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« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2014, 06:24:19 PM »

I'm not in favor of blasting and drilling.

The point of owning and operating old radios (to me) is the experience.

Modest, reversible, mods that improve stability; filtering; selectivity for today's crowded bands, are reasonable to me.

Safety is always paramount.  There is no excuse for not having fusing and three wire safety grounding.

Me Three!
I'm setting up some ARC 5's for mobile use. All of my mods are reversible.
1) rewire the series parallel tube filaments to all parallel for 12V, using the original tubes in a non destructive manor.
2) swap the 28v dynamotor for 12V plus i am making switch mode supply that will plug on too when I'm not doing a "historic demo".
3) Thinking about some kind of solid state filter to improve the selectivity.
4) most importantly...NO HOLES, use original connectors and racks.

The things work rather well considering their age and look rather cool in the back of the jeep. They were designed for use with electrically short antennas, which is also good or mobile operation.
 
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G3RZP
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Posts: 1284




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« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2014, 02:12:48 AM »

Unless you're using a loaded resonant whip, rather than a length of wire, you are most unlikely to meet the FCC requirements on harmonic radiation.
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AC2EU
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« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2014, 05:59:15 AM »

Unless you're using a loaded resonant whip, rather than a length of wire, you are most unlikely to meet the FCC requirements on harmonic radiation.

good point,Ill look into that. There is no LPF on the output, but the roller inductor is used to resonate the wire.
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W8AAZ
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Posts: 379




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« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2014, 08:50:38 AM »

I won't address modding old mil. surp.  Not much experience with that, and these days, I think people will pay more for unhacked milsurps especially WW2 stuff.   As for commercial ham gear,  you can always see hints and kinks in old ham mags for fixing minor problems, usually changing a part, fixing a ground, etc. to debug something.  Not a big deal.  No reason not to do something that fixes a design problem or updates a unit to later production status like amended component values that makes some improvement.  Drilling visble holes in vintage radios does devalue irreversibly, though.  Adding switches, etc. same.   Any internal mods should be done well and professionally and perhaps keep documentation of these changes with or within the radio so they are reversible or not "mystery mods" is a really good idea. IF you admit mods, it may devalue the set.  If you don't, you may get ripped by the buyer.  If you say you did something that was factory approved, like changed a component to improve this or that per the manufactures data, that should not have much of an impact, to me. Nobody likes finding haywire undocumented mods or hack repairs in something they just bought. Be nice to future users!  They may say a prayer for you instead of cursing you to hades. ADDENDUM-if a radio is a shelf queen or rarely used, it may be a good idea to leave original or restore to original to hold value. 
« Last Edit: July 10, 2014, 08:54:08 AM by W8AAZ » Logged
G3RZP
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Posts: 1284




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« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2014, 09:10:23 AM »

Certainly, if you want to use a piece of old gear, rather than have it as a 'shelf queen', you have to look carefully at meeting the regulations - such as they are. It also depends on what it is - I have an absolute basket case HRO I'm intending to rebuild into double conversion hambands only. Lacking a bottom plate, proper cabinet (it's got the one for the navy version pushed over it), few HF coils, lots of LF ones which will allow me to build new coils. So it's a redesign job from scratch - sort of what they could have done with the HRO60  with attention to IMD.
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KB2FCV
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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2014, 08:37:55 AM »

For the most part I try to keep the older rigs as original as possible (with the exception of replacement caps, etc). If I want something improved I have my everyday modern HF transceiver sitting on the desk. The only mods I might consider is if it designed to prevent component failure of some sort.. otherwise I accept the older rights as they are and use them as intended.
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