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Old 7th Apr 2021, 5:38 pm   #1
Jez1234
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Default Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

I don't know if this is the best place for a childhood recollection of a radio Aladdin's cave but here goes...

Back around I guess 1974 ish when I was around 9 I was already very much into electronics and had reached an age where I was for the first time allowed to go up that last mysterious flight of stairs and door at my grandparents multi storey house and into what I was told was the attic...

I recall getting an immediate feeling/impression that I was maybe the first person to enter this realm for many years and that it had been "abandoned" for decades... however be aware that this tale is the memories of a then 9 year old! It was dusty everywhere and there were no footprints in the dust other than the ones I was creating though... IIRC!

I can't pretend to know what was/is normal as an attic in such a house but I recall that after going through this door it was in effect another storey of the house, with a corridor and certainly 3 rooms that I can remember and a door to each room.

What I found in these attic rooms would certainly warrant my borrowing a time machine!

It was an absolute treasure trove of vintage, indeed probably veteran, radios and components!

I had the impression that they were all/nearly all home made. They dated from the period of around 1915 to 1927-30 ISH I would guess. Sets were built breadboard style and some had early bright emitter type valves. There were horn speakers, early mains energised extension speakers which I recall one having a woodland scene front and another which I now know was probably Pye and had the rising sun design, valves still in their boxes, coils still in their boxes and which I vividly remember one having "What are the wild waves saying" printed on the box. None of this was on shelves or appeared to have been "carefully stored". All the sets were just placed on the floorboards seemingly at random. As a rough estimate based on my probably unreliable memory as a 9 year old there were maybe 8 or so complete sets, a few dozen boxed valves and a few more just laying around, 5 or so speakers, a dozen or more boxed "NOS" tuning condensers, coils etc and all sorts of sundry paraphernalia such as long turned to a corroded heap HT dry batteries, glass 2V accumulators.... just sitting there seemingly where they'd been left in say 1930 at the latest judging from the kit.

In a third smaller room there was a large HMV acoustic gramophone in a wooden console with boxes of needles next to the platter and a selection of more radio components.

Twice a month visits to the grandparents became a much more looked forward to adventure for a short while! I was not allowed to take anything from this new found wonderland and under strict orders not to mess with it! Of course yes I wound up the gramophone to see if it still went round... it did! I can even recall the scraping noise it made at a point on each revolution. I can't recall hearing it play though so not sure if there were no records or if I didn't dare allow its sound to give away the fact that I had in fact "messed with stuff"!

Unfortunately after 5 or so hour longish visits after discovering Narnia's world (to a young electronics geek anyway) both of my grandparents on that side of the family died within around 3 weeks of each other and I was never to visit the house or its treasure trove ever again...

What happened to all this vintage wireless treasure I have no idea. 9 year olds were not involved in the clearance and disposal of contents of their late grandparents house and when I asked my own parents about it many years later they had no specific recollection of what happened to it all. Just a vague "ah I believe your great uncle was really into wireless so it must have been his".
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Old 7th Apr 2021, 8:12 pm   #2
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

Wonderful, it is a shame that we are so squeezed for space these days that there is no room for a bit of the house for "contemplative storage". Having said that, I have a loft "conversion", an unused darkroom and a workshop. I am converting the darkroom into an electronics workshop and leave the other for mechanical. I think I will now make the darkroom a collection room. Thank you for the image!
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Old 7th Apr 2021, 8:58 pm   #3
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

Oddly I had a "What If" pondering a day or two ago about what I would do if I found a way to travel into the past (say 25 years) & how I could make use of this.

One possibility would be to buy some cheap second hand TVs that would have been common at car boot sales. Black & white portables & 1980s large colour sets without remote controls or stereo sound would have been available for a song.
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Old 7th Apr 2021, 9:58 pm   #4
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

Probably your great uncle died young and his stuff was stored away to be sorted out on a day that never came.

Knowing of my interests a colleague told me his mother-in-law had a large collection of 78s that had belonged to her late husband. Trouble was they'd been stored away for many years in a shed with a leaky roof. He brought a couple of discs for me to play, but the condition and surface noise were appalling. There was sadly no point in trying to rescue any more of the discs.
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Old 7th Apr 2021, 10:16 pm   #5
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

Great story, I remember when at about the same age I accompanied my mother to a neighbour's house to look after their cat while they were on holiday. They had a teenage son who was interested in wireless and I sneaked into his den and was fascinated by unusual looking valves that I now realise were V24's. I'm still fascinated by early valves, especially bright emitters like the V24 and R valve.
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Old 8th Apr 2021, 8:53 am   #6
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

"What if " is a great nostalgia pipe dream. Back in 1951 we were moving house and my parents very nearly bought a detached 4 bedroom victorian house. I thought it was great! It had the above mentioned corridor and three attic room, and also a nice dry cellar. Unfortunately the deal fell through much to my disappointment.
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Old 8th Apr 2021, 9:28 am   #7
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wd40addict View Post
Knowing of my interests a colleague told me his mother-in-law had a large collection of 78s that had belonged to her late husband. Trouble was they'd been stored away for many years in a shed with a leaky roof. He brought a couple of discs for me to play, but the condition and surface noise were appalling. There was sadly no point in trying to rescue any more of the discs.
Did you try to wash them? I bought a collection of old 78s at a local flea market. The seller had bought an old derelict house and found them in the barn. They were covered with dirt and mouse droppings and had been leaked on. When I gave them a good wash they came up almost mint. Turned out to be a collection of 1950s French jazz. Fantastic
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Old 8th Apr 2021, 10:33 am   #8
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

I have similar memories of my grandparents house . A huge rambling place with chicken houses and a pig sty at the bottom of the garden. There was a large shed stuffed with old stuff . I found an old TV chassis which I now know was a PYE the one with all the EF50s. I was given permission to have it and it started my interest in TV. There was a horse drawn ambulance buried in the garden which had been an air-raid shelter during the war. This was very spooky to young lad. In it were the rusting remains of an old radio chassis oil lamps and even a little stove with kettle.
The front bedroom had a large clock on the wall. I would climb up on the bed and turn the hands around to make it chime. Grandad promised me that one day when I was older I could have it. That day came when I was around 16 .
Grandma had died some years earlier and Grandad was moving to a smaller place so the clock became mine and is in my lounge to this day.
The old ambulance was beginning to cave in at this point the walls had a horrible slimy mould on them and soil was dropping through the roof so before Grandad moved out My dad assisted by my uncle broke the roof in and attempted to fill it in. a lot of old stuff from my Grandads house and sheds was thrown in and then topped with soil. (apparently when it had been originally buried all the neighbours had helped dig and everyone had taken some soil for their gardens!).
The house and all of the other crescent of houses was demolished sometime in the 1980s and there is now a huge estate of sheltered housing in their place. I wonder if the builders found the remains of the ambulance filled with stuff when they dug the foundations?
I better not mention all the old balloon type radio valves I used for air rifle targets in the 1970's....
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Old 8th Apr 2021, 11:29 am   #9
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Did you try to wash them?
Yes I did, stiff brush and hot water with a splash of washing up liquid. This technique had worked ok on other junk shop finds, but these discs were immune. I tried more drastic treatments too, but nothing seemed to help.
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Old 8th Apr 2021, 6:42 pm   #10
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

Wow Jez1234 what memories you evoke and what a story.I really enjoyed reading about your adventures in the past. The coils you mention were probably Igranic and I remember the very detailed wave winding of them from my childhood in the 50s. The question "What are the Wild Waves Saying" fascinated me at the time and I have thought about it many times since. Thanks for taking the time to share. Peter.

Last edited by peterpixel; 8th Apr 2021 at 6:45 pm. Reason: Bad grammar.Must try harder.
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Old 8th Apr 2021, 7:17 pm   #11
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

As a kid in the school Cadet Force sometime in the early-70s I went to visit the "Signals Stores" at COD Donnington in order to collect a bunch of new dry-batteries for our 88-sets. The WS88 was long-since obsolete in Service use, the stockpile of batteries were coming to the end of their storage-life and they were happy for me to take as many [oblong things in brown waxed-cardboard cases] as I could carry - so I did.. In said stores they also had _huge_ piles of Pye C12 transceivers/ATUs/power-supplies/antenna-kits/vehicle-appliques - kit I was rather familiar with since I regularly operated one on the Cadet Force HF national radio-net. The QM Sergeant-Major said these were all going to be sold for scrap... if only I could have found out where they went and 'liberated' a few en-route...

If I had a time-machine I'd go back to the 1970s and invest some of my earnings in a pallet or two of genuine GEC "Gold Lion" KT88s to lay-down in a cellar somewhere...

And on the way back from the 70s I'd arrange to leave a mesage-for-myself to be discovered sometime around 2012 saying "buy Tesla, Google and Bitcoin".
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Old 8th Apr 2021, 9:17 pm   #12
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluepilot View Post
Did you try to wash them?
Yes I did, stiff brush and hot water with a splash of washing up liquid. This technique had worked ok on other junk shop finds, but these discs were immune. I tried more drastic treatments too, but nothing seemed to help.
I've heard distilled tap water is kinder to shellac, but these were probably too far gone.
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Old 9th Apr 2021, 8:32 am   #13
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I have found that 78's that have been exposed to abrasive dusts eg sand cement plaster etc are usually beyond rescue.

I also used to have a load of ex juke box 78's. Most of the "A " sides were worn out but often the "B" sides were pristine
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Old 9th Apr 2021, 11:36 am   #14
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

My grandmother had a more superior [end] terraced house to ours. [Well she did have six children-including my mother]. It had a bathroom and inside toilet. The front room" was quite grand, always cold and seldom used. Mostly we were in the kitchen with the open range that produced the best bread and butter pudding in the world. In that daunting front room, there was a disused nineteen twenties "wireless" [I'm guessing!] in an ornate cabinet, left behind the chaise lounge! When I was seven or eight she gave this to me and I pulled it apart. I even painted some of the valves white! This seems daft but I think I was trying to somehow emulate a rare Sc Fi program I'd seen on the 9" screen 405 line TV at home.

Grandma Florence had been widowed for a long time. Eventually she came to live with us in a new "semi". On holiday she met a very cultured retired gentleman who had worked at Rolls Royce and subsequently got married again. I was a teenager by then and only visited their home in Derby perhaps once or twice. It was quite modern but I was amazed to see he had a [definitely] 1920's wireless of some sort-green wiring brass and copper components including two large tuning dials that had to be adjusted separately [reaction or an early un-ganged Superhet design perhaps? It took pride of place on the sideboard but seemed enormous as it was laid out "bread board" style, not encased at all. Mr Saunders had built it as a young man and it was a prized possession so I couldn't get too close. It was tuned exclusively to the Longwave program and used everyday. I think it might even have been powered by re-chargeable cells but I might be making that up. After ten years he had a heart attack and died while polishing his Mini. My Gran was hospitalised and the house sold. I was never able to find out what happened to the set despite hints dropped via my aunts. Only one of the six children was a male, my uncle Jack. I used to tell people that he had been killed by a 500lb bomb during the war! Jack was a bomb loader in the RAF. One slipped in it's sling and struck his head. He died on Xmas Eve 1942.

At one point I was in Social Work and responsible for children on my caseload who were subject to Supervision Orders. One teenage girl was in a relatively up-market Detention Centre. This was by no means usual but I suspect it was because the Headmistress of this single sex school was quite posh [but very friendly]. Think Ealing Comedy or St Trinian's! During one of my Statutory visits she reported that my charge was doing well. In fact she had been one of a group of girls from the school that had helped her to clear out her late brothers house two weeks previously. I got the sense that it was a rather grand property. She said that one of the biggest tasks had been emptying the Attics of all her brothers radio equipment, a lot of it dating back as far as the twenties.....and taking it to the dump! I remember her saying "Are you all right Mr Walsh?" as I choked on my cup of tea.

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Old 11th Apr 2021, 10:43 pm   #15
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Default Re: Anyone have a time machine I could borrow?

Quote:
Originally Posted by G6Tanuki View Post
...

If I had a time-machine I'd go back to the 1970s and invest some of my earnings in a pallet or two of genuine GEC "Gold Lion" KT88s to lay-down in a cellar somewhere...

I suspect that even in the 1970s, a pallet or two of GEC KT88s of any ilk would have cost more than just "some of my earnings" though they would still have been a decent long term investment!
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