My Finest Radios
by Ron Chester ★ Wednesday, December 16, 2020

At 2:45 am it suddenly occurred to me that the time has come for a complete reorganization of all my ham gear! I need to make a thorough inventory of all the equipment I have, with what bands each one covers. Some of it can be sold on the Internet. Most of it is fully operational, but needs to be moved from the basement to my current station location upstairs, as well as to some new stations to be located elsewhere about the house. That would apply to my many QRP rigs, but I also have two Drake stations I want to put into service, and the same for one or more Ten Tec stations.  

I also need to get my AM gear into service, including my gorgeous W0BP restored Viking Valiant transmitter (tune up procedure) and a Howard Mills restored Collins 51J-4 receiver. These receivers sold new in 1963 for $1,464, which is equivalent to about $12,450 in today's dollars! Howard upgraded it with a brand new 4:1 vernier drive, a $300 part that makes tuning the PTO an extremely smooth operation. He had the radio for about two months and when I got it back it basically looked like a brand new radio, inside and out, even though it was over 45 years old at the time. Howard just retired from the business of restoring radios in early 2020. He had been considered the master of restoring Collins equipment for many years.

I also have a pretty special WWII RCA AR-88 receiver that deserves an antenna. Those radios had a significant impact on winning the war, as banks of them were used to intercept encrypted German communications and were then converted to plain text by a huge staff at Bletchley Park in the UK. Mine is one of the special versions of the receiver, the AR-88LF, which is suitable for LF and MF, covering 70 to 550 kHz (continuously) as well as the usual 1.5 to 30 MHz (continuously).