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Old 10th Dec 2019, 10:12 pm   #1
David G4EBT
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Default Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

In another thread, there was reference to a 'Suggested Circuit' from the long running Radio Constructor series by 'G.A. French'.

Rather than to take that thread off topic, I thought G.A. French deserved a mention in his own right.

There was no such person in reality.

G.A. French - who wrote the marvellous ‘Suggested Circuits’ series, and the much-loved Dick & Smithy series, were pseudonyms for J. R. Davies who was Technical Editor of Radio Constructor Magazine for many years. He also wrote under the pseudonym W.G. Morley as well as his own name. Assuming that no-on else but he used those names, he must have been quite young when he started writing for Radio Constructor. For example, there were articles in 1949 Radio Constructor by W. G. Morley and J. R Davies at which time he’d have been aged just 25.

https://www.americanradiohistory.com...RC-1949-12.pdf

There were other names of authors in Radio Constructor that look to me to be fictitious pseudonyms such as ‘Centre Tap’, H Dudley Stilton, ‘R.E.H’. and 'Len Miller'. I guess it was a technique used by the magazine and no doubt others, to infer that there was a wider range of authors. It makes J. R. Davies’s output even more prodigious and impressive.

Sadly, J. R. David passed away after a short illness at the young age of 57 in February 1981. His obituary was published in April 1981 Radio Constructor. The last issue of R.C. was August/September 1981, and on the scanned copy of the magazine at this link, it will be seen that the reader had scribbled ‘Where is Suggested Circuits – G.A. French has obviously opted out!’ See the scrawl at the bottom of page 705 here:

https://www.americanradiohistory.com...RC-1981-09.pdf

Had that person have read the April issue, he’d have known that the truth was much sadder than that.

In October 1981, Radio Constructor morphed into Radio and Electronics World.

Here’s the Obituary of J. R. Davies, AKA G.A. French, W. G Morley and Dick & Smithy from April 1981 Radio Constructor:

Quote:

8-<

It is with deep regret that we have to inform readers that our Technical Editor, Mr. J. R. Davies, died on 7th. February after a very short illness. Mr. Davies was 57 years of age and, prior to becoming a technical journalist, he was engineer in charge of the television component and sub -assembly factory of Ferguson Radio Corporation Ltd., (now Thorn Electric) at Enfield, Middlesex. Before being appointed Technical Editor of this magazine he had frequently written articles which appeared in these pages and his writing and his editing were notable for their thoroughness and accuracy. All of us who worked with him at Data Publications looked upon him as a personal friend and regarded him with affection - he will be greatly missed. The funeral service took place at Taunton Crematorium on Wednesday 11th. February at which we were represented by the Production Editor and Advertisement Manager. To his daughter we extend our deep sympathy and condolences.

8-<

End quote.

https://www.americanradiohistory.com...RC-1981-04.pdf

How wonderful that this splendid American Radio History archive site enables us to access a treasure trove of articles, including many British magazines, and what a fitting tribute to the likes of J. R. Davies, F.G. Rayer et al who left us this wonderful legacy, (as did F.J. Camm of course, who also died quite young at the age of 64). I know that some members of this forum were instrumental in sourcing and scanning missing copes of R.C. P.W etc to upload to American Radio History, and all credit to them.

Hope that might be of interest.
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Old 10th Dec 2019, 11:10 pm   #2
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

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Originally Posted by David G4EBT View Post
How wonderful that this splendid American Radio History archive site enables us to access a treasure trove of articles, including many British magazines
It is great to have this information. I really enjoy reading the old magazines, especially with the focus on construction articles for radios and other projects.
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Old 10th Dec 2019, 11:20 pm   #3
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

I recall an episode of IYW where Dick mentioned G A French in a complimentary but casual way, Smithy reprimanded him saying he should have more respect for his elders and betters.

Another episode of IYW, Smithy explained something to Dick, who replied, "W G Morley could scarcely have put that more succinctly," to Smithy's pleasure.

J R Davies really WAS the Radio Constructor in my opinion. He had a good grasp of his subjects coupled with the ability to explain clearly and well. His error rate was very low, I can think of just a couple of explanations which are not quite right. His writing was a great help to me in my formative years, and no doubt many, many others.

RIP JRD.
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 10:14 am   #4
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

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Originally Posted by David G4EBT View Post
... I guess it was a technique used by the magazine and no doubt others, to infer that there was a wider range of authors ...
I know of one example. My father wrote occasional pieces in the 1960s and '70s for Practical Wireless and Practical Electronics, and one or two other mags. He used his own name most of the time. But when that would have meant him getting published in consecutive issues (or even, I think on one occasion, the same issue) he used my first name and my sister's middle name to create a new name.

Cheers,

GJ
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 11:25 am   #5
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

Thank you for that. I can remember avidly reading the IYW articles in RC. Particularly remember the one where Dick was fixing a TV and ended up with the chassis resting on his soldering iron just before he fell over.

Like Scroggie in WW, you can still learn from their writings.

Trying to learn about electromagnetism, books after the mid-1960s are just full of maths, not explanations. I have said this before and been moaned at, but try Alternating Current Machinery by Bailey as an example.
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Old 11th Dec 2019, 1:48 pm   #6
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

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Thank you for that. I can remember avidly reading the IYW articles in RC. Particularly remember the one where Dick was fixing a TV and ended up with the chassis resting on his soldering iron just before he fell over.
Was that the one where, as he fell over, his iron flipped the chassis in the air and as it swung crazily in an arc (pulling out the staples in the wall securing the still-attached aerial lead), Dick caught it and a valve loosened by the motion fell out into his mouth?

I also remember that although Dick's service time was on average significantly longer than Smithy's, he did occasionally diagnose a fault by intuition in an amazingly shorter time than the methodical and slightly plodding Smithy would have done.
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Old 12th Dec 2019, 10:22 am   #7
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

Yes, that is what I remember.

The weird things you remember over, what, must be 50 years! Made an impression.
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Old 12th Dec 2019, 1:25 pm   #8
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

Reading the exploits of Dick and Smithy was something I looked forward to each month, I must have been about 12 then and was allowed a subscription to Radio Constructor whereas my school mates read the Beano and such like.

To give this a seasonal note, I recall when Dick fell into Smithy's bad books after he attached christmas decorations to the workshop windows using araldite.

I remember to this day Smithy's reason for drinking copious amounts of tea - "to keep the body's fluids in equilibrium". Funny what remains stored in the brain.

I do miss the magazines of this era - happy days.
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Old 12th Dec 2019, 1:56 pm   #9
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

Anybody else remember the Christmas Eve when Smithy took his hod-rodded domestic TV into the workshop for something minor and Dick, all unawares, robbed it for bits all day?
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Old 12th Dec 2019, 2:35 pm   #10
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

Hi!

. . .And when Dick attempted to service the Workshop Typewriter with so much oil that there a geyser of it every time Smithy pressed a key?! And the carriage bar that lovingly detached itself from the end and plomped straight into the waste bin with a fuming Smithy looking in disbelief?

Or the 1964 episode of the Burnt Out Gram Transformer where Dick wound Smithy up to the point where he nearly clobbered Dick with it?

. . .And does any Member remember the episodes of Smithy's car radio diagnosed by the muckiest farmer's boy in all creation, or the cafe owner that nearly chased Smithy out of a Seaside Cafe for scribbling about Thick Film Elements on the tablecloth in the glorious Summer of 1975?

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Old 12th Dec 2019, 6:50 pm   #11
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

Or (another Christmas-themed one), Dick persuading Smithy to first, pull a cracker and then second, wear the tinsel-edged hat which popped out? Only for the loose tinsel, later, to flop down on the exposed EHT clip in the TV under repair that episode...

JRD adopted a very different style of writing for IYW and his W G Morley articles.
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Old 12th Dec 2019, 6:59 pm   #12
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

I remember the episode where a radio without a repair tag turned up, Smithy was told to polish it well. It was Dicks radio. Suffer the poor apprentice.
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Old 12th Dec 2019, 7:14 pm   #13
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

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Smithy was told to polish it well. It was Dicks radio. Suffer the poor apprentice.
If it's the one I'm thinking of wasn't it the other way around? Dick picked the radio off the repair rack and proceeded to check it with Smithy giving instructions on how to proceed on the 'venerable receiver'. Smithy said it could probably be fixed if there wasn't too much wrong with it. After the repair, Dick polished it and then commented on how good it sounded......then realised the lack of repair tag.....and it turned out that Smithy had sneaked it in for Dick to find.....
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Old 12th Dec 2019, 7:49 pm   #14
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

Correct (I think!) was a long time ago, good story.
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Old 12th Dec 2019, 9:30 pm   #15
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

Hi

I built a few of the GA French 'Suggested Circuits' and found the transistor gain meter to be very useful.
I enjoyed reading the 'In Your Workshop' episodes. The one (May 1970) where Smithy decides it's long overdue to clear out Dick's spares junk box was a good one. They did a summer break episode each year that was often amusing. I recall the visit to the dentist was good as well.

I also miss the style and format of the Radio Constructor magazine, it was easy to understand and I learnt a lot.

Re JR Davies, I have a very useful TV book written by him entitled 'Understanding Television' Inside the back cover sleeve is printed:

"J. R. Davies was born in 1923 and was educated at Swansea Grammar School until 1940, when he joined the Royal Air Force as an Aircraft Apprentice. After leaving in 1953, as a sergeant Air Wireless Fitter, he took charge of design and development at Allen Components Ltd. In 1955 he joined Ferguson Radio Corporation, Ltd., to become engineer in charge of this company's television component and sub-assembly factory at Enfield. Since 1960 he has devoted his time fully to technical writing, under the pen-name "W. G. Morley", and to technical editorial work."

Regards,
Symon
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Old 12th Dec 2019, 10:04 pm   #16
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

Hi

I recall a Dick and Smithy set on New Years Day, which didn't become a public holiday in the UK until 1st January 1974. Unsurprisingly, both men were in a delicate state and if I recall correctly, had a gentle 'theory' day, not risking any radio or TV repairs.

Does anyone remember working in such a state?

best regards ... Stef
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Old 12th Dec 2019, 10:56 pm   #17
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

Wasn't there one where Dick started to fix a telly, without discharging the EHT caps first?

Fixing the Christmas Santa beard to his face with superglue?

Smithy driving like a lunatic on the summer day out?

You couldn't somehow do the same style articles about using a Raspberry Pi, or needing another GB ram to do something, how to throw away your iPad because it no longer runs the software. Something seems to have been lost somewhere.
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Old 12th Dec 2019, 10:56 pm   #18
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

Yes....I left the chassis screws out of a TV (drop down type frame with PCBs fitted). I'd put the back on and it was all working OK. A few months later it was back in again for another fault. I took the back off.....and the chassis frame dropped down taking the neck of the tube with it.....
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Old 13th Dec 2019, 12:49 am   #19
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

There were the various other characters whom we never met - Joe of Joe's Caff, continually reinventing his establishment and re-naming it; Dick's many aunts, who were all slightly screwy; and Dick's cousin, who happened to be steward of Smithy's club. But their activities often impacted on Workshop life.

I don't think we ever found out if the Workshop was Smithy's own business, or if he was himself employed. There was at least one other staff member, the van driver, who (according to Smithy in one episode) had a grudge against the dustbins outside, as he gave them extra dents by parking into them, but that was the nearest he came into the stories.
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Old 13th Dec 2019, 6:21 am   #20
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Default Re: Radio Constructor 'G.A. French' and Dick and Smithy unmasked!

I guess Smithy and Dick must have been employed by someone or other, simply because in the first issue of Radio & Electronics World a reference was made to the 'New Owners having spruced the place up' (or words to that effect!)
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