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BOOK REVIEW:Radios by Hallicrafters, By Chuck Dachis
REVIEWED BY RAY BINTLIFF, K1YDG
From Antique Radio Classified
(Copyright 1996 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
If you have heard of Hallicrafters, then you must know of Chuck Dachis, "The Hallicrafter Collector." As a collector, Dachis began concentrating on Hallicrafters equipment in 1974, and he is widely known as an authority on the Hallicrafters Company and its products.Radios by Hallicrafters is truly an authoritative work.
WHAT IS COVERED?
As you might expect, the line of Hallicrafters communications receivers and ham gear is well documented. But also covered are Hallicrafters products as diverse as Citizen's Band (CB) transceivers, low-end Short Wave Listening (SWL) receivers, consumer electronics, military radios, TV sets and knock-offs of the Zenith Trans-Oceanic-style radios.
One chapter is devoted to the H and Z series of Silver-Marshall radios and Hallicrafters radios from 1933 and 1934. The Hallicrafters and Silver-Marshall relationship has been described in other publications, but Dachis reminds us of this connection. Another chapter dealing with radio restoration offers a number of basic, very practical guidelines for restoring old radios. Logically, the book begins with a short chapter devoted to the history of Hallicrafters and containing some interesting old photographs of buildings, products and personnel. Various versions of the Hallicrafters logo are also illustrated. A price guide is included in the book's index.
THE SKY BUDDY AND ITS OFFSPRING
It is amazing just how many hams and SWLs remember the Sky Buddy as their first commercially-built radio. A separate chapter is devoted to this series of affordable beginner's radios. The original Model 5-T Sky Buddy is illustrated and described along with the follow-up models -- the S-19 and the S-19R.
Although not known as a Sky Buddy, the S-38 can trace its lineage to the Sky Buddy line. The various versions of the S-38 along with the Model S-120 are described in detail. Also included is the late and unlamented S-119, the Sky Buddy II. This chapter of the book is written at a level that will be comfortable for the novice collector.
THE S AND SX SERIES
Many readers will find the "real meat" in this chapter of the book. Starting with the Model S-1 Skyrider dating from 1933, the book illustrates and describes the S and SX series radios up to the Model S-240 of 1967. The chapter ends with a photograph and description of a mock-up of a concept radio designated a Model SX-1000A.
With a few exceptions, the material in this chapter is presented in model number and chronological order. The quality of the illustrations is outstanding. Remarkably, most of the radios shown are from Dachis' collection. Photographs of radios from other collections are credited.
The descriptions are detailed and informative. For example, we learn that the Model S-1 was a TRF regenerative set that tuned from 1.5 MHz to 22 MHz. Coverage of the broadcast band began with the Model S-5, a superhet. The descriptions follow a similar format and include the model number, name (when one was given), the period of production, and original list price. The descriptions are augmented by sidebars that alert the readers to schematic errors and differences in production runs.
So read the book and drool over the offerings from Hallicrafters, especially those early beauties. For those readers who lust for the high-end stuff, the DD-1 dual diversity receiver is covered in great detail.
TRANSMITTERS AND TRANSCEIVERS
The coverage of these products spans the period from 1937 to 1977, and includes an impressive array of exciters, transmitters and transceivers. Some features found in the early models are unique. For example, the Model HT-1 covered the 40-, 20- and 10-meter ham bands and automatically switched antenna connectors when a band change was made. Not bad for 1937! Some transmitters were real heavyweights -- the Model HT-4 weighed in at 390 pounds. The book contains a great deal of interesting information on these old rigs.
Like the other major manufacturers of ham gear, Hallicrafters produced a wide range of accessories -- keyers, VFOs, antenna tuners, external S-meters, speakers, etc. These units are also well documented with a separate chapter devoted to speakers. The coverage of Hallicrafters speakers should be especially useful to collectors, since this is a relatively undocumented area of radio collecting.
Perhaps of limited interest is Citizens Band equipment. However, the book does not overlook Hallicrafters production of this equipment during the period from 1959 to 1967. Did you know that Hallicrafters built CB radios for Sears?
Another unknown, or possibly just forgotten fact is that Hallicrafters sold test equipment in wired or kit form during the mid-1960s. The equipment resembled Heathkit products and included such items as an RC bridge, a decade box, an oscilloscope, and a VTVM. These and other items are documented in this book.
Hallicrafters also produced radios for the consumer market. These radios and radio-phonographs ranged from small clock radios and portables to large consoles. Hallicrafters' answer to the Zenith Trans-Oceanic radios was its Worldwide portable. The color photographs of the Worldwide models, beautifully reproduced in this book, should be of interest to the collector of portable radios. Other colorful table radios are also illustrated.
Like many other manufacturers, Hallicrafters joined the TV manufacturing frenzy of the late 1940s and produced TV sets until 1956. The book's coverage of TV sets begins with a 7-inch set -- Model T-54-- and a 16" x 22" rear projection set, both from 1947. The T-54 was sold under a number of brand names, including Sears and Montgomery Ward. The photographs and descriptions of other TV sets span a total of nineteen pages.
The equipment shown under the title "Miscellaneous Units of Various Models Series" is a curious mixture that includes a hi-fi amplifier, some garden variety radios with and without clocks, military radios, aircraft gear and, surprisingly enough, a nifty looking 1936 Model H8PA called the "Sky Master." Coverage of some hand-held transceivers, some home entertainment sets and a collection of specialty devices round out this chapter.
Another chapter covers miscellaneous ham gear, consisting of paired receivers and transmitters such as the S-53 and HT-17 from 1948.
For nostalgia buffs, the book contains some excellent color photographs of employee incentives (remember tie clips?), promotional items, signs and dealer displays. There are also black and white reproductions of advertisements, catalog covers and related ephemera.
INDEX AND PRICE GUIDE
The scope of Radios by Hallicrafters is impressive. If Hallicrafters ever built the equipment, it is most likely covered in this book. Because the chapters are arranged by model series, all communications receivers, for example, are not to be found in a single chapter. But no problem -- the index is arranged in model number order and the page number of a particular piece of gear can be found with ease.
The index also contains an estimated range of values for most models. It is understandable that it is not possible to determine the value of equipment that is seldom sold or is extremely rare. Also a range of values for a particular model seems more practical than a single figure. Dachis explains his rationale and ground rules for his value system, and his approach seems reasonable.
The production quality of the book is excellent. A publisher's note reads: "During production, this wonderful book grew well beyond its original scope with information and photographs. Because of this, combined with the tremendous increase in paper prices and increased cost of color printing, the publisher has printed many photographs in black and white instead of color as originally planned."
Even so, more than 60 pages appear in color. And the quality of the black and white illustrations are of such high quality that color is hardly missed. Besides, with so much black crackle paint who needs color?
Some typos and misspellings appear. The most glaring errors appear in the "List of Technical Abbreviations" box in the preface. But these minor flaws are insignificant when the book is viewed as a whole.
Reviewers will frequently describe a book as a "must" and the term may be over used, but in this case, Radios by Hallicrafters easily falls into the "must buy" category. It is a trip down memory lane, a buyer's guide, and an introduction to radio restoration all wrapped up in one impressive book. It reflects the more than twenty years of effort that Chuck Dachis has invested in gathering data about Hallicrafters.
Radios by Hallicrafters is published by Schiffer Publishing Limited, 77 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310. Priced at $29.95, this softbound book is printed in an 8 1/2" x 11" format and contains 224 pages. Copies may be ordered from the publisher, A.R.C., and other A.R.C. advertisers. Be sure to check with the suppliers for ordering and shipping information.
(Ray Bintliff, 2 Powder Horn Ln., Acton, MA 01720)