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Old 29th Nov 2022, 7:08 pm   #1
Gabe001
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Default Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Like most of you, I assume, I'm constantly on the lookout for unusual and interesting sets.

So when the Ekco a182 came up for sale within pickup distance for the princely sum of £20, I pounced.

I had never come across this set before, but a quick Google revealed a few photos, a short thread on this forum and a radiomuseum post. It is a continental set, boasting multiple short wave bands, MW (no LW), a push pull output stage, a rotating drum for a tuning dial, a high and low PU input, bass and treble controls, a DM70 tuning indicator, and 2 massive speakers.

The impressive valve lineup can be seen here. https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/ekco_a182.html

Upon pickup I was first struck by how massive the set was. Not possible to sneak this past swmbo I thought. Cosmetically it was rather poor. The brown "paint" was scratched all over, the inside was mouldy but it was solid, there was no woodworm and the brass was rather good without damage. The wood would need to be sanded down. The dial pointer was missing. I expected to find it in the case

In any case, time to get to work. The first problem was the size. I lugged it around with difficulty. Taking it out of the case required help. So did transporting the chassis with the two large speakers to the study/workshop. Anyway, swmbo was happy to help.

Dismantling the set revealed the first and major problem. The dial pointer including the cursor assembly, the brass collar around the tuning spindle and the dial cord were missing. Probably someone tried to have a go at restringing in the past and didn't put the parts back in. They were lost forever. The rest was however original and unmolested.

I decided to put this problem aside for now and work on the case. Now, I'm a some woodworking wizard, but I get by. Usually on a normal sized radio, the working surfaces are small, which is quite forgiving. On this massive behemoth, any mistake stood out like a sore thumb. I made the error of staining with naphta stain before applying Danish oil, which was a mistake because the Danish oil is a solvent for the naphta stain. In any case, with some luck more than anything, after a lot of elbow grease, I ended up with a rather acceptable result. The original lacquer came off with Polycell Paint remover quite easily at least. I really need to learn to use polyurethane varnish.

With the case done, time to polish the brass. Due to the amount of brass involved, this took a whole day. Brasso worked wonders.

With the cosmetics done, time to address the main problem, the missing tuning apparatus. After opening a thread on this forum, a kind forum member with a lathe offered to do the spindle collar for me. The problem here was the size. Too thick and the pointer will move more than intended. Too thin and it wouldn't move enough. Pi revealed the appropriate thickness. However this made lathing technically complex (thin walls). In the end the collar ended up a fraction thicker than the original. Regardless, the effect on the movement of the pointer is minimal. The second problem was the cursor apparatus itself, which was missing. This involved two pulleys with the pointer in the middle. I decided to try to 3D print this, which I did. For the actual pointer I used a copper "ground bus" solid wire. You can see pictures of all this and a video of how it works, following restringing which wasn't too technically complex. I'm pleased with it, it tracks well enough and although there is a slight wobble when the tuning dial changes direction, this isn't too bad.

Having sorted this, it was time to handle the actual electrics. This was actually quite straightforward. The on and off switch was stuck, but after working it and a bit of servisol and it started working well again. The pots were crackly, so again servisol did the trick, but I had to loosen the tags to create a gap to spray the servisol into the pot itself. The main smoothing cap was fine. I replaced the cathode bypass electrolytic caps and all the waxies and Tcc caps; some of the latter were visibly leaking yellow fluid. The main challenge here was the sheer number of replacements, about 3 radio's worth. It was torture. The resistors were checked and I replaced 3 that were significantly out of range. Moving parts cleaned and lubricated as appropriate. The end job is shown. Finally I gave the set a decent mains cable and fitted a 1A fuse in the plug and it was done. No major dramas.

And there we go. Put it back together and voila, job done. No realignment was necessary.

So how good is it?

In a nutshell, outstanding. I am currently listening to football in my study without an aerial connected, and talksport is coming through crystal clear with full diode deflection, despite the WiFi, mobile chargers, led lights, cordless phone, powerline adapters and so forth. None of my other sets can do this. It's as good as a DAC 90a/cossor 464 , if not better, and these sets have an internal aerial.

The rotating drum tuning dial is quite a novelty. The dial lamp is a standard 25w incandescent bulbs, because ekco don't do things in half. The set doubles up as a lamp. The two speakers are completely unnecessary. The phonola has an el84 push pull output stage as opposed to an el42 p-p stage in this set, and has only a single speaker. The noise limiter doesn't work particularly well and goes from minimum to maximum quite suddenly. I think it needed to be a linear pot instead of a log pot. The bass and treble control work very well. It has a high and low Pu input (4 sockets), possibly one for crystal and the other for ceramic cartridges?. Sound through the pickup with my phone as a source is good but not as good as the phonola; the el84 would have been a better choice.

In conclusion, I think ekco put this set together to show what they can do on an international stage, maybe to try to out do the Germans? I'm sure it would have cost a small fortune at the time, and that this set was someone's pride and joy. I don't think it was sold on the local market,but I could be wrong. Has anyone got one?

The rotating dial is certainly interesting and works well. The multiple sw bands may have been useful in the 50s, now less so. The dinky tuning indicator works great. I like the bass and treble control. The quieting pot at the back is probably a bit unnecessary and I feel they missed a bit of a trick by using el42s instead of el84s, given the two large speakers. Radio reception is outstanding however and it is loud enough, probably about 5-6w at max volume.

Some pics below and I'll post links to some videos in the next post

I hope this post helps someone in future. This set is rare in the UK and there's very little about it online.

Regards
Gabriel
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Last edited by Gabe001; 29th Nov 2022 at 7:35 pm.
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Old 29th Nov 2022, 7:20 pm   #2
Gabe001
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Radio reception - without an aerial! https://youtu.be/Xmmn-IUW4Xc

New tuning apparatus - tracking of pointer on scale (turn volume up) https://youtu.be/ds6JqVFIGyE

And some more pictures including one of the very modest waveband switch
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Old 29th Nov 2022, 7:54 pm   #3
Gabe001
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

I should also mention that the set is all permeability tuned. Picture below
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Old 29th Nov 2022, 9:11 pm   #4
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Wow - that is a beast! I wonder why they went of permeability tuning ? I realise c@r radios used it which I assumed to be because of vibration and space restrictions but none of those problems on a big set like this... Unless the designer worried about the amount of vibration caused by the two big speakers at high volume settings?

Rich
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 8:11 am   #5
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Quite a few of the British setmakers offered relatively elaborate bandspread SW models, mostly for the export market, in the early 1950s, mostly during the Rimlock valve era. There has been some prior discussion of these, for example see: https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...ad.php?t=52484.

A partial list would include:

Ambassador Viscount (original model)
Bush EBS44
Ekco A182
GEC BC5045
Murphy TA160
Pye PE80

I think there were some others, and some essentially 1940s models, such as the Ace 600, did just make it into the 1950s. Also, probably more so in the later 1950s, there were some pseuds, namely receivers that had some form of bandspread SW tuning but lacked an RF stage; these may be laughed out of court.

Some setmakers devised their own bandspread systems, whilst others used proprietary units, e.g. the Weyrad.

In the Ekco case, as far as I know, the A182 bandspread tuning system was derived from that of one of its car radios, the CR61, I think.

All of the above had three-gang front ends with an RF stage, and then usually one IF stage. The A182 differed in having two IF stages. Also, unusually, it had “double delayed AGC”, with a second delay for the RF stage bias.

In practice, the one RF, two IF combination provided more than enough gain for broadcast reception (as distinct from communications purposes). If one looks at the high tier bandspread tuners with the same configuration, such as the Chapman S6BS and Dynatron T139, then they typically had gain presets early in the IF strip in order to backoff the overall gain in situations where it was not needed.

Of the above list, the Ekco A182 and Murphy TA160 probably stand apart in circuitry terms, the Ekco as already noted and the Murphy for its use of the Moxon front end in which an image rejection filter was included in the RF to FC interstage. This required the use of a high slope pentode RF amplifier (6F1 in that case), but that was anyway beneficial from a noise viewpoint at above around 20 MHz. The quieting circuit and noise limiter on the A182 were both unusual. The only other UK bandspread units of the period that I am aware of that had noise limiters were the Armstrong EXP119 and BS125 chassis.

Anyway, very well done. It might be a vanity receiver, but more than that an example of excellent setmaker engineering, addressing the needs of those who regularly undertook hands off listening to international shortwave broadcast programme content, whether for entertainment or information, which is I think, a different case to hands on DX’ing.


Cheers,
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 10:19 am   #6
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Well done for sorting it out the case & getting it up & running.

According to the Radio Museum profile there was a A182B with Long Wave.

As the profile was written by someone based in Australia I assumed this was aimed at aimed at Commonwealth countries, as most European countries had a Long Wave service.
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 10:34 am   #7
Edward Huggins
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Note from the Radio Musueum site this uses two same size speakers, but of different make. EKCO also did the same with their FM only table radios. I suspect that the cone suspension/construction was different on each.
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 10:49 am   #8
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Lovely, thanks for sharing!

I wonder where in the world it's been and what stories it could tell.

Looks like the speakers are one Elac plus one Goodmans, following the fashion of the time for two dissimilar (but same sized) speakers in big sets, cf. Bush VHF64 and VHF94 and Pye Fenman II. Are they 8"?
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 11:43 am   #9
Gabe001
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Huggins View Post
Note from the Radio Musueum site this uses two same size speakers, but of different make. EKCO also did the same with their FM only table radios. I suspect that the cone suspension/construction was different on each.

Yes they are different, I wondered why. This makes sense
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 11:53 am   #10
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Radios of this type are sometimes known as 'tea planter specials' because they were mostly sold to British expats living in far flung corners of the Empire. This is a particularly nice example though, and might have been found in a governor's residence or an embassy.
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 12:19 pm   #11
Gabe001
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard_FM View Post
Well done for sorting it out the case & getting it up & running.

According to the Radio Museum profile there was a A182B with Long Wave.

As the profile was written by someone based in Australia I assumed this was aimed at aimed at Commonwealth countries, as most European countries had a Long Wave service.
Yes he is the same person who started the thread on this forum I think. I wonder if he ever go his set up and running.
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 12:26 pm   #12
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickthedentist View Post
Lovely, thanks for sharing!

I wonder where in the world it's been and what stories it could tell.

Looks like the speakers are one Elac plus one Goodmans, following the fashion of the time for two dissimilar (but same sized) speakers in big sets, cf. Bush VHF64 and VHF94 and Pye Fenman II. Are they 8"?
Yes nick, they're 8 inch. I am still intimidated by your perfectly parallel row of caps on the bush dac90a you posted a while ago. So when I replace a row of waxies now, I try to do a job that nickthedenstist would be happy with. I suppose people pick up things they like from other people's work and try to do the same.
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 12:38 pm   #13
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

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Originally Posted by Gabe001 View Post
I suppose people pick up things they like from other people's work and try to do the same.
Exactly that! I've learned a lot from people here.

There's more to life than parallel capacitors, but I always like to try me best to make things look nice. It's strangely satisfying, and maybe the next person to glance inside might appreciate it too. I have to say that the tagstrips on Bush sets lend themselves to neat work though. This is not the case with some sets which really do look like rats' nest, however hard you try.
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 3:25 pm   #14
David G4EBT
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Well done on a successful restoration of such a complex radio Gabriel - it sounds great on the video!

Thankfully, the Ekco service data is comprehensive and runs to 12 pages.

The circuit looks quite daunting, with a high component count:

Ten 9-way switch wafers. (Your bandswitch picture looked so scary I had to view it from behind the sofa!
24 inductors.
8 bands.
11 valves, (including the DM70 magic eye).
70 resistors.
91 capacitors.

With its two 10" speakers, push-pull output stage, noise limiter, bandspread tuning, it must have been a really expensive radio in its day. From the diagram, the stringing of the dial looks quite complex so you did really well with that, including 3-D printing of the cursor assembly.

I see that it was fully tropicalised and wonder if that had any influence on their decision to use permeability tuning (evocative of car radios)? Probably not. With a pair of EL42s in push pull, it seems that they too often featured in car radios, as referred to in post #7 by forum member 'synchrodyne' in this thread:

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=134309

There was a forum thread in 2010 by someone in Oz who had an A182:

https://vintage-radio.net/forum/showthread.php?t=50789

Being an export model, the A182 must be a rarity in the UK.

Here's a thought as to how it might have found its way back here:

Brought back to Britain from Australia by a returning 'Ten-Pound Pom' who didn't settle there, (as many didn't)?

The 'assisted passage scheme' attracted some 1.5 million migrants from the UK between 1945 and 1972, but 250,000 came back. (If they didn't stay 2 years, not only did they have to pay the fare back to the UK, they also had to pay the full fare for their journey out there). Adult migrants were charged only ten pounds for the fare, thus the colloquial nickname 'Ten Pound Poms'. Only a fraction of the full fare, but it wasn’t a trifling sum. Ten pounds in 1945 when adjusted for inflation amounts to equivalent to £475 in 2022. (Children travelled free of charge).

The scheme was created in Australia in 1945 as part of their "Populate or Perish" policy to substantially increase the population and supply workers for the country's booming industries. In return for subsidising the cost of travel to Australia, the Government promised jobs, affordable housing, and a better life. But migrants were housed in basic migration hostels, job opportunities weren't always readily available, and not everyone 'put out the welcome mat'.

Obviously off topic for further discussion but the link below is well worth a look - particularly the video, which says much about prevailing attitudes of that era, both in the UK and 'down under':

https://www.exodus2013.co.uk/the-ten-pound-pom/
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 3:57 pm   #15
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

I wonder why they used a DM70 in such an upmarket design.
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 4:51 pm   #16
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe001 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard_FM View Post
Well done for sorting it out the case & getting it up & running.

According to the Radio Museum profile there was a A182B with Long Wave.

As the profile was written by someone based in Australia I assumed this was aimed at aimed at Commonwealth countries, as most European countries had a Long Wave service.
Yes he is the same person who started the thread on this forum I think. I wonder if he ever go his set up and running.
I was reading the earlier thread & he was struggling to find any service information, but that was 12 years ago.
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 5:47 pm   #17
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

I'll try to submit some better pictures to radiomuseum
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 5:57 pm   #18
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
I wonder why they used a DM70 in such an upmarket design.
Looking at the gears system to rotate the drum with the tuning dial, the valve is located in the small amount of space between the lower end of the dial and the chassis. I don't think they could have physically fit anything larger. See picture
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Old 30th Nov 2022, 9:23 pm   #19
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Great work there Gabriel, quite a job to undertake on this large and sophisticated set. I like this category of radios, fitting in between run-of-the-mill 4+R types and effective but dour and functional comms receivers. It must have been a source of pride and fascination in its day- as Synchrodyne says, a satisfying and dependable way of listening to overseas radio as opposed to just logging it.

Colin.
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Old 1st Dec 2022, 11:08 am   #20
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Default Re: Ekco A182 restoration. An Ekco vanity set?

Nice work, Gabriel. Now that some of the remaining MW transmitters have reduced their power, sets like this with an RF amplifier are a better bet, particularly if you happen to be in a hissy reception area. Jerry
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