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Reviews For: Johnson Viking Valiant

Category: Transmitters: Amateur radio

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Review Summary For : Johnson Viking Valiant
Reviews: 16MSRP: 349.50 kit, 439.50 wired and tes
160 - 10 Meter Plate Modulated CW/AM Transmitter
Product is not in production
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# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
KG6AOH Rating: 2005-06-21
Pound for pound, a heavy rig! Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
A Valiant entered my life quite by mistake. Someone at my work knew I liked old radios and said he had a pile of them that his wife's father left him. He was a CBer, and had no interest in ham gear, so I accepted. I had no idea what would be in this 'pile'. I got a phone call from the receptionist one day saying there was a pile of radios waiting for me and nobody could lift them. What did I get myself into???

Upon arriving at the office, there was a couple B.A. receivers sitting on top of a Valiant! I really did not want to be rude for this wonderful gift, so I loaded everything into the truck and took it home where they sat in a storage shed. And sat.

All three radios were full of rat and mouse leavins, so they were not allowed in the house. The Valiant had about the least amount of rust and crud, but was heavily modified (cabinet had 2 huge fans on the back, extra wires hanging out etc.). I bought a manual and schematic for the Valiant and when it arrived, asked a friend if he would help (he did a great job on the cabinet!). After recapping it and removing all the CBer modifications, the Valiant was full of other problems like burnt switch pins, melted 0A2 and burnt VFO, bad resistors, bad or burnt pots, etc. Several mod removals and repair parts later, it again matched the diagram on the schematic and working well. I did use 3B28's instead of the 866's just because that is what I had on hand.

Since I am not a big 'talker', I let my friend use it for quite a while. He really liked it a lot. After he got tired of it, I did bring it home and hooked it up to an antenna relay which also switches the break-in circuit on my R390A for a complete AM TX/RX station. I have played with it a short while, and really like the sound (no audio mods, btw). Using a Shure desk mic, it sounds 'tooby'. Performance is head and shoulders above the solid state radios made today. Why doesn't anyone make a modern radio that works good on AM? Oh well...

If you buy a Valiant and use it, you will like it. And so will your power company.
K3HVG Rating: 2003-06-17
Excellent AM/CW rig! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I currently own and operate 2 Valiant I's. Both have had the "ER" audio mods, etc., performed on them. After 3-4 years of operation, I have had good success on all fronts. I would give the V-1 an excellent rating, but there are a couple of things one should/must do (some apply to Rangers, too!). The VFO screen resistor must be changed and moved. Its a good idea to move the VR tube, too. The phonelic mount inside the VFO box will eventually begin to burn up in the immediate area of the VR tube. Another reviewer mentioned the HV meter shunt problem. The Ranger and Valiant share this problem. The shunts should be checked an "adjusted" (lengthened or shortened) to re-calibrate the meter. The PA loading fixed capacitors, provided in a 4-cap pinwheel, are an abomination. These prone to short caps, coupled with changing course loading while key-down, will burn up the switch wafer. I've changed both mine over to doorknob type caps and I don't change course loading while key down. There's no reason to do that, anyway! Subbing 3B28's for the 866's is another must... unless, of course, you enjoy the blinding flash of mercury! I have solid-state replacements but have decided not to subject the rig to increased B+. I also fused each transformer separately to better protect the iron. As with any boatanchor, each Valiant must be judged on its own merits. Be it factory wired or kit, the good ones are where you find them. After 3 disasters on Ebay and the net, I discovered both my current units, locally. If you do find a good one at some distant point, please insist (and pay) for proper crating... yes, crating. I have 2 units that will fully attest that Valiants will not survive most cardboard box shipments. The "Browns" appear to give Valiants an especially rough ride! I've had transformes pull loose from the chassis, front panels folded back, and the VFO drive mechanism destroyed. EFJ shipped wired units via crate, so should you. If you find an especially nice Valiant, inside, but the front panel is rough? Not to worry, W4PNT does a nice job (too nice?) factory-quality refinishing. Save a few bucks, though, and do the cabinet yourself. So, if you're desirous of a very nice, and actually quite reliable, 150 watt AM/CW rig, the Valiant is a very good bet. Rangers are OK, but you can have double the power at the same price with a Valiant! And, your cocoa (or whatever)will stay warm, on top!
W4PTO Rating: 2002-07-12
One of the all-time best Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I love my Johnson Ranger. Only one problem: on 75 meters, sometimes she can't punch through the QRN and get away from QSB. Enter the Johnson Viking Valiant, a 1950's vintage transmitter that boasts 150 watts out via a triple entente' of three 6146's modulated by a pair of the same. Think about the Valiant as a Ranger on steriods. Probably weighing about twice the weight of a Ranger, it's power out will deal with the QRN and QSB that the Ranger can't deal with.

If you do get a hold of one, the first thing you should do is ditch the 866 mercury vapor rectifiers (no matter how "purty" they look during key down) and replace them with solid state 866's (or if you have to use tubes, a pair of 3B28's will do).

The only problem that one may encounter is the "tight" audio of the Valiant (usually referred to as that "Valiant sound"). I left my old Valiant stock because historically, it was the way it left the factory. Others do away with the clipper circuits and whatnot, trying to compete with the local broadcast AM stations for fidelity. Nah, not me. Sometimes you need that thin audio to get through the muck (but that's my opinion).

On CW, the Valiant also is no slouch. It also has one of the best keying "sounds" on the band. A few years ago, when my rig was teamed up with a National HRO-50T, there was one OM in Nevada who asked me "what was I running"? Sure enough, it was the time sequenced keying that he liked. Like a glass of bourbon, a properly tuned t.s. keying of a Johnson is smooth as silk to a CW ops ear.

One more thing: got a stock Valiant II? If you haven't done so, get the cabinet refinished! The factory paint peels off with just a scratch from a fingernail!

So if you do happen to stumble across a Valiant (I or II), snap that puppy up and hang on for dear life! The don't make these classics any more and a Valiant is a premiere medium power transmitter to own!
WB9GKZ Rating: 2002-07-05
Be Careful! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I have owned a Valiant for about 10 years and have helped repair several other Valiant transmitters. The Valiant transmitter has several inherent problems my humble opinion....put this transmitter in the "needs help" catagory.

First problem: The Bandswitch. There are several amps of antenna current flowing through the switch contacts connected to the load capacitor bank. The switch cannot handle this and breaks down, eventually destroying itself. Have seen this on several Valiants. The switch belongs in a Ranger or DX-60, not the Valiant.

Second problem: The Filament/Low Voltage transformer is an accident waiting to happen. The fuse for this transformer blows when the correct-rated fuse is installed. Many owners install a higher amperage fuse to "hold" the transformer. Bad idea. Transformer melt-down imminent.

Third problem: Low power output. Caused by Johnson's choice of cheap meter shunt resistors in the transmitter. My Valiant Plate meter reads
500mA for an actual 335mA of Plate Current. Loading to a front-panel meter reading of 335mA of
Ip (recommended value in manual) is acutually about 195mA of plate current and the power output is about 70-watts. Don't beleive the meter.

Before buying a Valiant, ask will find out that most owners have modified the audio stage to get it to "sound decent". It is my opinion that the amount of mods assigned to a rig is inversely proportional to the quality of the unit. How many mods are out there for the Ranger.
Not's design and quality is light-years ahead of the shakey Valiant.

My recommendation: Forget the Valiant (unless you like constantly repairing and tinkering) a nice, clean Ranger and drive it into a pair of 3-500's in grounded-grid. You'll have more power and alot less grief.

One last note: I laugh out loud when I see Valiants go for $500-$1000 on eBay. Good reason!
W1EBI Rating: 2002-07-05
I loved this rig! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
OK, I was a Johnson baby. Started with the Adventurer as a Novice in '55, had a brief fling with a Globe Scout and Globe Linear when I got my General, then moved to the Viking II/VFO/Matchbox as caretaker for the local radio club in between FD's. Finally got my own Valiant as a teenager and LOVED it. I could barely lift it, but it kept the basement shack in PA warm in the winter and with low (and I mean low) dipoles on 40 and 20, I managed WAS, WAC and 70 countries on CW and some AM before going to grad school. Sold the rig in '64 and have been off the air until last week. I'm loving my new FT-920, but I admit my heart did a pitty-pat when I saw the photo of the Valiant. Johnson stuff was solid, and this rig was the Buick vs. the DX-100's Pontiac. Great piece of tube gear. Kinda wish I still had it.

George W1EBI, ex-W3CMN
W9LBB Rating: 2002-07-04
The 160 Meter Warhorse... Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Ham rigs in the 1950s and 60s were roughly anologous to cars. Your choices in cars and rigs said a lot about your place in the American social food chain / pecking order.

If you were a working stiff, you probably drove a Chevy and your shack was probably home to some Hallicrafters, and later Heathkit, gear.

If you were higher in the scheme of things, you drove a Chrysler or Caddy and you ran National, Hammarlund, or maybe even Collins stuff.

The car and rig for the upwardly mobile Ford owners was unquestionably Johnson... and the Valiant was the one we ALL wanted, tho if bucks were tight it's little brother, the Ranger would do until better times.

The Heathkit DX-100 (aka, the "Benton Harbor Kilowatt") was an upstart in the scheme of things; it was in direct competition with the Johnson Viking, and a hell of a lot cheaper. Both designs ran high level plate modulated AM, and the later version of the Viking matched the DX-100 in that the PA ran the (then new) 6146 PA tubes. They were about the same power level, but Heath beat the pants off of Johnson by including a VFO; the Viking was crystal controlled, and the VFO was an optional external box. The Heathkit also endeared itself to a lot of us by including 160 meter coverage; at that time most manufacturers ignored the band because of the fact that amateur operation was severely restricted by our shared status with LORAN A at 1850 and 1950 KHz.

Back then, if you wanted a manufactured rig for 160 that wasn't military surplus your transmitter was marked either Heathkit or Johnson.

The Valiant was Johnson's broadside salvo to the Heathkit upstart.

Besides adding a VFO to what was essentially the same design as the Viking, they went one better; the PA stage ran about 50% MORE power by using THREE 6146 tubes instead of DX-100s two.

The old gal STILL gives an excellent account of herself on the air, especially on 160 AM.

Look up the word BOATANCHOR in the dictionary, and you'll see a picture of a Valiant! This is ONE HEAVY TRANSMITTER... a big time hernia generator. Everything about this rig screams CONTINUOUS DUTY. The modulator uses ANOTHER pair of 6146s, bringing the grand total to five of 'em... BTW, it was never cheap to keep a Valiant in tubes, but nowadays it's getting downright painful! While Heathkit got by with a pair of 5R4 rectifiers to provide the PA and mod plate voltage, the Valiant had to step up in the world a bit; it's fitted with a pair of 866A mercury rectifiers!

BTW, to keep expenses down and the hassles of mercury vapor tubes to a minimum, my Valiant runs a pair of 3B28 Xenon gas tubes in place of the 866As. They're a direct replacement, they last a WHOLE lot longer, and are much harder to destroy by accident than the old mercs... but I sort of miss the blue glow of the mercury tubes.

The rest of the tube lineup is pretty much standard for the era... 5763 RF driver / multiplier, 6CL6 crystal oscillator / multiplier / buffer, and 6AU6 VFO. Throw in a few incidental tubes (voltage regulators, bias rectifiers, speech amplifiers and audio drivers), and you've got the idea here.

Operating is pretty simple, assuming you know how to tune a transmitter (nowadays, not everyone does), but the PA was a bit unnerving for those of us who'd graduated from lesser transmitters; there's something about dipping & loading the PA plate current to 450 MA @ 750 VDC that makes you sweat a little bit... that's a HELL of a LOTTA PA current! With a DX-100, a current reading like that means that the PA tubes are running cherry red and getting ready to blow at any moment!

The rig is a real joy on CW; there's enough power output (225 watts or better) to give you a fighting chance in pileups, and if you've done your homework with modifications the CW note is clean and crisp on all bands. If you HAVEN'T, the note can get a bit funky on 15 and 10 meters.

On AM, the rig stands out of the crowd. Even without reworking audio stages, the modulator packs a POWERFUL audio wallop! In a way, the great AM performance was the rig's downfall; like most AM rigs of the period, they went cheap at hamfests, toppled from thier places of honor by SSB gear. Far too many Valiants wound up getting abused and butchered by 60's vintage CBers who wanted to run a rig more powerful than the rules allowed.

In the new century, there are STILL Johnson Valiants on the air out there in day to day use, and they'll be around, especially on 160 and 80 meters, for a long time to come. They were built to last, and they'll still perform in the hands of an operator who knows how to get the best out of them.