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Old 12th Dec 2015, 1:01 pm   #21
turretslug
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Dealers might also be fighting shy of liability concerns (perceived or otherwise) with selling electrically-powered items to the Great British Public.
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Old 12th Dec 2015, 5:06 pm   #22
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Just to add to post 18 - which in my opinion, sums up the situation quite nicely.

Two additional factors spring to mind.
1. In the early post-WWII years, yes, there was a lot of ex-gov't. surplus to be had.
2. In the years that followed, there were a lot of U.K. electronics companies, but that substantially shrank after about the mid-1970s early 1980s.

With the products of that early era, the 'final user' could easily modify or scrap for salvage the kit that had been purchased, but with the onset of miniaturisation and 'new technology', that activity became increasingly difficult - eventually impossible in many cases. So the demand dropped; hence, the supply dropped and with that the interest in the associated hobbies started to vanish as well. Short-wave listening is now going the same way, with the ever decreasing number of SW broadcasting stations and more and more would-be Amateur Radio operators using alternative means to communicate.

So where does that leave the future for electronics as a hobby? Probably D-I-Y mini-computer projects like the Raspberry Pi, etc.

Al.
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Old 12th Dec 2015, 5:27 pm   #23
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

We've had stuff from the Honeypot Lane (Colchester) place...Witham Specialist Vehicles & Auctions. They are a major MOD surplus auction house. They're tender sales. Dad once came back with 2 mobile telephone exchanges that had seen action in Basra. Lots in there to strip!
I used to love looking through the Bull Electrical pages in the magazines and bought a few nicknaks off them from time to time..alot of that was mod surplus and I think I remember them having to recall some guided missile wire as it was apparently still classified...I never had any of that!
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Old 13th Dec 2015, 11:50 am   #24
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

I think David hit it on the head, but to sum it up..... Progress..... not our sort of progress, but the financial, technological, and other inventions. Most of us on the forum, remember the "Old days", when we shuffle off, all our knowledge will go with us. Leaving the younger generation to think... "How did they do that". Amen
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Old 13th Dec 2015, 1:14 pm   #25
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

I seem to recall that the Govt. changed their disposal contractor arrangements in the mid to late 90s.

I used to attend some surplus disposal auctions, but in the main these were USAF - got some really great stillages of mixed components (about two tons of them!) and lots of very nice Heliax.

The UK stuff at that time was all dealt with by either Babcock, Ramco, or Anchor - Anchor loat the contract, and Babcock pulled out.

The situation now as I understand it, is much harder, you have to become a bonded end of life recycling agent, this basically means that all equipment that once would have been deemed "useful" in our eyes is fragmented to recover the base materials, the only real exceptions to this is the sort of stuff that is offered by Ramco and Witham SV - not classified, and of no value to foreign friendly nations.

So some cabling, some radio kit, and test gear is about the lot.

There arent many individuals that can cope with the sorts of conditions that apply to the auctions run by the MOD or DRMO sites - When the Jaguar flight sims at Lossiemouth were made redundant they were offered to any contractor for nothing on the proviso that they were removed, and the building was returned to as built conditions prior to the installation - in most other cases the volume of the lots offered are far beyond most domestic situations - 3 cubic metres of components take up a lot of room!

The situation is of course made much worse by the shifting interests of the modern world, most modern kit has no real practical value as salvage - any parts gained by stripping the kit are almost useless to the hobbyist, so base metals are the way to go.

Sad really, used to be a lot of fun
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Old 13th Dec 2015, 2:31 pm   #26
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Oh dear, that takes me back!- I recall having a go in the Jaguar sim at Lossiemouth as a kid and being shown around the installation by the techs, some time in the late 'seventies. The "flight" was the result of the output of a TV camera mounted on what was effectively a huge X-Y plotter moving about over a vast relief scale model that must have been a long-winded labour of love by a whole team of people. To cope with the camera sensitivity of the day, this swathe of Lilliput was illuminated by a tremendous and close-packed array of colour-corrected lights hanging above it. Lore had it that this lighting gantry made it the second-biggest electricity consumer in the north of Scotland, the biggest supposedly being the aluminium smelter down the road at Corpach.

As with much of the stuff we like here, an impressive achievement in its day, but doomed in short order to become "just sad old junk". Shame that more things can't be preserved as examples but there's only so much room on the planet, and I fear that only a small proportion of each generation is genuinely interested in the achievements of the past, the rest roll their eyes, yawn and revert to the iPad....
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Old 13th Dec 2015, 2:53 pm   #27
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Yes I've noticed that dismissive attitude turrett. Ironically the "eye rollers" would probaly themselves be surplus to requirements in the event of any real world carastrophe that required a practical intervention

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Old 13th Dec 2015, 2:58 pm   #28
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

I wasn't aware of where surplus stuff was going so thanks for the pointer, Sean.

I had a trudge through RAMCO's website and wasn't seeing any bargains. Tools I'd buy new considering their prices... then I spotted something:

Agilent (Used to be called Hewlett-Packard, currently called Keysight) 10074C Scope probes. 10:1 150MHz 1.5metre intended for 1 meg Ohm scope inputs New and boxed 20 inc VAT. Usually decent branded probes are well over the hundred quid mark. These aren't the wide band types and ought to trim up for most common analogue scopes. Electronics, page 6.

But only one interesting item out of a whole surplus dealer...

David
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Old 13th Dec 2015, 5:43 pm   #29
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

In my late teens and well into electronics, a mate ordered a 'a hundredweight of surplus components' from a supplier in an electronics monthly mag. He was equally surprised and disappointed to receive a huge tea chest full of (heavy) ex military chassis! He explained to me how he thought that he would be receiving bundles of unused resistors, caps, valves, transistors, that kind of thing. Instead he faced the task of unsoldering or clipping off (with shortened leads) as many components as he could muster from the heap. In truth, I know that he never did that. I don't know what he ever did with the stuff though. Probably went to landfill years later I suspect. I guess in two hundred years time (if no-one has pressed the button) a future 'Time Team' will dig the dump and unearth all of these 1950s tank panels and the like!

That was the death of surplus as I remember it - literally!
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Old 13th Dec 2015, 6:04 pm   #30
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

I remember a place that I used to frequent very often in the 70’s; A.H.Thacker and Sons, in Cheslyn Hay who used to sell ex mod equipment/components, I bought my first AVO meter from there and I still have it, and it still works, happy days.

Paul.

Last edited by Paul Adams; 13th Dec 2015 at 6:05 pm. Reason: Addition to text
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Old 13th Dec 2015, 7:25 pm   #31
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio Wrangler View Post
I had a trudge through RAMCO's website and wasn't seeing any bargains. Tools I'd buy new considering their prices... then I spotted something
Had a look myself - I agree, it's not over-brimming with what I'd call bargains - need a nit comb I think to find something worthwhile!
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Old 14th Dec 2015, 1:01 am   #32
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

A work colleague who had been involved in the TSR2 fighter aircraft project told me that, when it got axed, rather than ending up on the surplus market, pretty well everything associated with its production was ordered to be destroyed, including brand new standard test gear such as signal generators and oscilloscopes.

I well remember visiting the last surviving surplus store in London's Lisle Street, in the early 1980's I think, and the proprietor commenting on the fact that he got few visits from the younger generation.
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Old 14th Dec 2015, 1:16 am   #33
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Another MOD surplus handler is Air & Ground in Hixon...Drew Pritchard went there on his programme. Their auctions often entail lots comprising a stillage-full of 'misc parts'. You only find out what's in there once you've bought one. Dad bought a few, one was full of brand new titanium bolts and fasteners, which went for scrap, another full of radar calibration equipment from the 80's, which I stripped painstakingly, and another full of fibreglass aircraft fittings which were worthless unless you owned a Hawker Nimrod. We decided it was just too much trouble!
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Old 14th Dec 2015, 1:23 am   #34
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

One factor that hasn't been mentioned directly is the paranoia surrounding the WEEE legislation. The priority seems to be to avoid surplus gear falling into the hands of dodgy contractors who will dump it down disused mineshafts (a perfectly acceptable way of disposing of surplus equipment for many years). If you sell stuff to a licensed contractor who will feed it all into a granulating machine there will be no legal difficulties or potential bad publicity. It's a pity though.
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Old 14th Dec 2015, 1:24 am   #35
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Exclamation Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Back in the early 1960s, occasionally I would visit a local Amateur Radio operator. He had spent a good deal of WWII in the military and in the tropics as a radio operator. He once told me an anecdote whereby very soon after hostilities had ended and when he was packing up to return to Blighty, he saw a very large hole in the ground, previously dug my excavators, being filled with fully-functional AR88 receivers.

Obviously, I cannot categorically claim that that story is true - but by what I have read elsewhere, it seems more that just a distinct possibility. Some would say that that action could constitute a war crime - and just to avoid any misunderstandings here, that's not meant to be a humourous remark either, nor necessarily my own opinion.

Al.
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Old 14th Dec 2015, 4:36 am   #36
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Does anyone have any dealings with Methodical Engineers Ltd in Benfleet? Although primarily for aircraft spares they had huge quantities of exgov stuff. Thousands of tea chests stacked 10 or more high and yet the guy there could find whatever they had in stock. Amazing place!
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Old 14th Dec 2015, 12:02 pm   #37
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Hello,
I used to know a scrap dealer and about 15 years ago he acquired about 30 bench power supplies from the MOD. I asked if I could buy one, and he said he couldn't sell them because he had had to sign a document that they would be broken up and not resold.
I may be wrong but my understanding was that they couldn't be sold not for security or waste regulation reasons but because with the defence cuts a lot of of equipment that was still current and not obsolete was being sold and this had reduced the sales of, and so upset, the defence equipment manufacturers so the MOD had agreed to prevent such equipment from being resold.
Yours, Richard
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Old 14th Dec 2015, 12:24 pm   #38
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Also as a kid, I recall Dad taking his beloved classic aircrew watch in for regulation and being aghast that he was presented with a shiny new one (a nasty, value-engineered shadow of the original that soon packed up), whilst the storeman took his old watch to one side and pounded it to fragments with a hammer. When he questioned this, a policy document was produced where it was stated that "witnessed destruction" was the way of things. Supposedly, this was to prevent "back door" leakage but he wondered how much it was to do with concerns as outlined in post 37.
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Old 14th Dec 2015, 5:41 pm   #39
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Quote:
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Their auctions often entail lots comprising a stillage-full of 'misc parts'. You only find out what's in there once you've bought one.
Some time ago, a friend did some research into the US surplus scene- surely the world's most technically advanced and lavishly resourced military should have some tasty stuff on offer? It seems that a great many lots were of this nature and, moreover, that this was used by disposal contractors as a subterfuge to move "awkward" things on- supposedly, one could feel rather smug at hooking a shiny R390A for a bargain price at a depot just down the road and then find that you were also the sole, proud and responsible owner of a few dozen rusting-through drums of Agent Orange in the corner of a dump in Hawaii or Okinawa. An extreme and hypothetical example for sure, but something that apparently made a lot of people wary of the scene. There have been a few notorious cases in the US of things such as cheaply-acquired surplus tanker-loads of PCB and the like being fly-tipped, so it would be entirely understandable if the UK/EU authorities were very circumspect indeed about who gets their hands on surplus materials. Not long ago, Depleted Uranium turnings from an MoD ordnance contractor were allegedly found in a Bedfordshire layby, only serving to increase paranoia about the whole handling chain.

I think we just have to reflect on the fact that it was "good while it lasted", look after what we've got and keep our eyes peeled for what does come up.

Last edited by turretslug; 14th Dec 2015 at 5:48 pm. Reason: Predictive-be-damned!
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Old 14th Dec 2015, 9:13 pm   #40
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Default Re: "The Death of Surplus".

Sixteen years ago, I worked in a large venue that was kitted out with huge amounts of specialised AV equipment, all state of the art stuff from major manufacturers. (Some of it so state of the art and new-fangled digital that it never worked properly, but we'll let that pass...)

The place was only intended to operate for a fixed period, and a lot of the kit was bought from a group of companies owned by a major conglomerate. A very large discount was involved, and part of the deal was that it all went back to into the manufacturers' ownership at the end of the run. They would then tidy it up and trickle it out onto the market via their dealers as "used, manufacturer refurbished", at a speed of disposal of their choosing.

The reason for this was that if such a large amount of 12-month-old secondhand kit suddenly flooded the market it would have lost them a large proportion of the next year's planned sales.

There was also a well-publicised general auction of redundant equipment, but that was only for a small proportion of the inventory.

No doubt other deals are still being made in similar circumstances. So much for a "free market"...

Last edited by m0cemdave; 14th Dec 2015 at 9:21 pm.
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