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Old 12th May 2024, 3:38 pm   #1
TheEnquirer
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Default GEC BC5542L information needed

Hi All,

Sorry for the obscure message but my uncle passed away recently and we found this “Radio?” amongst his things.

I’m Just trying to find some information on it if anyone can help - pics attached
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Last edited by Cobaltblue; 12th May 2024 at 3:47 pm. Reason: Better title
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Old 12th May 2024, 3:44 pm   #2
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed.

This is an export Radio manufactured by GEC in the UK in the mid 1950's

It's a nice radio

More info here:

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/gec_bc5542l.html

Cheers

Mike T
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Old 12th May 2024, 4:04 pm   #3
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed

GEC used their own proprietary valve types which can be difficult to find, but there are more standard near equivalents which can be fitted if necessary, sometimes with a minor base rewire. This may have already been done given that the radio has lived in SA for 70 years.

This radio will need electrical restoration before use, especially if it's been out of use for a long time. Don't power it up to 'see if it works' as this can cause damage.
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Old 12th May 2024, 4:05 pm   #4
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed

Also a short thread by Steve FPV GEC 5542 Radio 8/11/15.

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=120952

Confirms export set, permeability tuning and an odd set of valves. I only know this because I bought one at a Radio Meet last year and this was the only info on here: shrug: [£5].

Dave W

Last edited by Station X; 13th May 2024 at 10:16 am. Reason: Link added.
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Old 13th May 2024, 6:59 am   #5
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
GEC used their own proprietary valve types which can be difficult to find, but there are more standard near equivalents which can be fitted if necessary, sometimes with a minor base rewire. This may have already been done given that the radio has lived in SA for 70 years.

This radio will need electrical restoration before use, especially if it's been out of use for a long time. Don't power it up to 'see if it works' as this can cause damage.
Ah, thanks for the tip, I was considering plugging it in to see what it does! Thanks for the comment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobaltblue View Post
This is an export Radio manufactured by GEC in the UK in the mid 1950's

It's a nice radio

More info here:

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/gec_bc5542l.html

Cheers

Mike T
Thanks for the feedback! Question and excuse my ignorance - you said radio - but on the dial it has Moscow and all sorts of other countries on it - does it pick up international airways?

Mustve been quite a collectors piece then in our country back in the day i'd imagine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dave walsh View Post
Also a short thread by Steve FPV GEC 5542 Radio 8/11/15. Confirms export set, perambility tuning and an odd set of valves. I only know this because I bought one at a Radio Meet last year and this was the only info on here [£5].

Dave W

Did you buy one for 5 pounds? Is that what it's worth? We're trying to figure out what to do with it. Thought there may be a vintage collector or someone that might appreciate it.
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Old 13th May 2024, 11:06 am   #6
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed

It's difficult to say what it's worth, particularly in the SA market. If it was in Britain it wouldn't be worth a fortune, but it seems to be in very good cosmetic condition which is important. I'd value it at £20-£40 here, but it may be worth more locally as it will be rarer.

All AM radios can receive stations across the world given the right conditions, particularly on the short wave bands. Export radios of this type weren't designed for a single market and could end up anywhere, so the tuning scales were marked with a range of important stations across the world that owners might want to listen to. The fact that a station is marked on the tuning scale doesn't mean it will be receivable in your location.

Although quite handsome, the radio is technically a pretty standard design for the mid 50s and isn't especially high performance. British export radios of that era are sometimes referred to as 'tea planter specials' because they were often bought by British expats in far flung corners of the British Empire.
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Old 13th May 2024, 12:17 pm   #7
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed

Agree with all the other comments.

Note that if you find someone to buy it, be extremely cautious about shipping it (i.e. don't!), as the huge dial glass would be very vulnerable to damage and is irreplacable.
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Old 13th May 2024, 1:02 pm   #8
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheEnquirer View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobaltblue View Post
This is an export Radio manufactured by GEC in the UK in the mid 1950's

It's a nice radio

More info here:

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/gec_bc5542l.html

Cheers

Mike T
Thanks for the feedback! Question and excuse my ignorance - you said radio - but on the dial it has Moscow and all sorts of other countries on it - does it pick up international airways?

Must've been quite a collectors piece then in our country back in the day I'd imagine.
Yes this is a radio (or wireless if you prefer) and it was capable with a long wire aerial it could pick up stations all over the world when conditions were right, but you must bear in mind just because it's on the dial doesn't guarantee you can receive it.

These sets were shipped all over the world some closer to Moscow than others.

Cheers

Mike T
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Old 13th May 2024, 6:16 pm   #9
dave walsh
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed

I wouldn't have paid much more for the set Enquirer. There was more interest in Export Radios at one time because they were rare on the home market, tended to have more SW bands and sometimes impressive dials with pre-selection systems to enable users in distant parts to keep in touch.

SW listening is [in general] much more restricted now as it's a lot cheaper to use the Internet to Broadcast rather than paying for the cost of a Transmitter and maintaining it's enormous aerial There was no rush to buy this otherwise unusual and quite smart looking radio It was priced at £5 from the start. I wouldn't even have bought it as a more standard domestic UK set [ie without the "Bandspread" dials to assist "tuning in"] but you never know.... a specialist enthusiast might just offer more via an auction site? Give that a try for a valuation but only somewhere that has an established vintage/electronics section. Other places might have no real knowledge or interest. Good luck!

Dave W

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Last edited by dave walsh; 13th May 2024 at 6:31 pm.
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Old 13th May 2024, 6:32 pm   #10
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed

There is a lot more SW broadcasting directed towards Africa than there is in Europe and North America. I'm not sure about the state of MW broadcasting in SA.
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Old 13th May 2024, 6:48 pm   #11
dave walsh
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed

I'm not sure if there much out in the direction of Russia or the Far East Paul?
As a matter of interest [I think I've mentioned it here already] my son bought me a subscription to the UK "Idler" magazine a couple of years ago. Some said "Very Approriate" but I just put it down to Jealousy. Despite a popular belief, it's not just aimed at old Fogies and has some high quality content. I was surprised, though, to see a quite recent article recommending SW listening as a hobby It's often the case that vintage things get revived so maybe there's more out there than I thought. The OP's SA location might have a wider, higher frequency, radio "window on the world" perhaps?

Dave
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Old 13th May 2024, 9:57 pm   #12
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed

This general class of radio is often referred to as a "Tea-planter's set" meaning something made in the UK and sold to ex-pats living in far-flung countries wanting to keep in touch with the foreign broadcast services of their home countries.

Short wave radio range varies tremendously with variations in the amount of radiation from the sun, especially the number of sunspots. Sunsputs vary in something close to an 11 year cycle and we are just coming up to the best conditions of our current cycle - it's connected to the news you may have seen of strong aurorae bing seen in the night sky in places nearer the magnetic poles.

So you can't expect to hear all those exotic places all the time, or from anywhere. Of course the frequancy allocations are long out of date, and many countries have stopped international broadcasting, but various events have brought about at least a temporary reversal in the decline. However, this is exactly the type of radio all those shortwave broadcasters were targeting back in the day.

It'ds a nice object in itself, and it has some family connection for you. One option you could choose would be to get a few (rather cheap) parts changed to make it safe to power up, string up a long wire antenna and have a listen to what you can find. There are long range aviation radio systems, strange military indecipherable things, people reading coded letter groups with secret instructions to spies out in the field. There are over the hoeizon radars etc etc. With war in Ukraine there are all sorts of things. The militaries of the world have realised that some countries can kill communications satellites, so they're making sure they have long range radio to fall back on.

To see where your uncle's radio fits in, you can grade radio receivers into several groups:

*Basic consumer entertainment. Medium, long, FM at most
*More up-market consumer... might have shortwave band(s) but very limited ability to hear things on them
*Tea-Planters sets..... have more shortwave coverage and better sensitivity.
*Communications receivers.... full shortwave and beoadcast coverage up to usually 30MHz with high sensitivity and the facilities needed to better hear signals in noisy circumstances and close to bigger signals.

If you decide to have a go, either you can get guidance from the folk on here, or you need to find someone with a bit of experience. You could gain a new hobby, but you'll have a functioning heirloom to show the next generation ither way.

David
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Old 13th May 2024, 10:58 pm   #13
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Default Re: GEC BC5542L information needed

Agreed, you should think of this as a family heirloom rather than junk to be disposed of. Several generations of your family will have spent many hours listening to it in complex political times, perhaps straining to hear the BBC or other broadcasters for independent news about local events. Even if you choose not to have it restored electrically, it will make a nice static exhibit which recalls a different era in SA history.
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