Tube Lore

Tube Lore
By Ludwell Sibley


From Antique Radio Classified
(Copyright 1997 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)

What do you do with your leg immobilized in a cast for the better part of a year? If you're Lud Sibley you produce the "ultimate" tube resource book -- Tube Lore.

There are already histories, tube manuals, substitution guides, and collectors' reference books, new and old. This book complements all of them. You won't find in it a history of the Audion, but there is an amazing amount of material on later tubes. You won't find the level of detail found in a tube manual, but there are major specs for almost every tube ever made in the U. S. (some post-1950 TV types excepted). You won't find an oversimplified list of substitutions, but there are cross-references to all variants, including 4-digit types with upgraded characteristics. You won't find the concentration on one subject as in Tyne's Saga of the Vacuum Tube or Stokes' 70 Years of Radio Tubes and Valves, but a collector will have this book dogeared in a week.

What more will you find? The list goes on and on: Manufacturers' date codes; EIA registration (introduction) dates; model numbers of military gear and broadcast transmitters that use certain tubes; comparative specs for sweep tubes, and lists of ham gear and audio amplifiers that use each type; compiled auction prices for collectible tubes; rejuvenation data; tube testing; manufacturer code numbers (who really made those tubes?); explanations of the numbering systems; trivia and not-so-trivia galore. It's all here, over and above the play-by-play on the tubes themselves.

I was slightly disappointed to find nothing on several vertical-output tubes that have audio applications: 6BL7, 6BX7, 6EA7, 6CK4; the 6CK4 was even promoted by Sylvania for audio use. Granted this data is all in standard tube manuals, but the EIA registration dates might have been instructive, since other "worthless" TV types made the roster.

There are a few mistakes and typos, but considering the sheer quantity of information, the error rate must be down around 0.0001 percent.

Lud and I have an ongoing discussion about indexing and organization. Editors like to categorize (all the RCA 2000-series in one section; all the EIA 5500-series listed in order, etc.), while users would be better served by a single alphanumerical listing, so they wouldn't have to decipher the author's classification scheme before looking up a tube each time.

The historian or browser who wants an overview of, say, the RCA 800-series transmitting tubes will appreciate the chosen format. The guy who finds an S856 in a box of tubes and wonders what it is (an 0-A2) will have to search for it in the "general" section, while an SB846 appears in the "Sylvania developmental" section.

Yes, there is an index, but it says all "800" tubes are in the RCA listing, and does not show any "S" prefixes. Looking up an S856 would require knowing beforehand that it is "nonregistered" (the chapter heading "general" does not appear in the index). This indexing dilemma may be insoluble, but the reviewer's job is to point these things out.

Do you really need the specs on an 8568 (20-megawatt klystron used in the Stanford Linear Accelerator)? Maybe not, but if you were given a pair of 8122s, it might be useful to know that they fit a National NCL-2000 linear. Do you need to know the manufacturing date of a tube? Yes, if you wonder if a radio still has any of its original tubes. Can't recall where you saw that article on rejuvenation voltages or times? No matter, it's all here in one place. Wish Tyne and Stokes in their books on tubes hadn't stopped in 1930 and 1940 respectively? Right up to Nuvistors and Compactrons, there's a lot of later tube lore in Tube Lore.

Tube Lore, ISBN 0-9654683-0-5, contains 186 pages in 8 1/2" by 11" softbound format. It may be ordered from Ludwell Sibley, 44 E. Main St., Flemington, NJ 08822, and from A.R.C and other vendors. The price is $19.95 postpaid in North America, or $24.95 elsewhere.

(Alan Douglas, P.O. Box 225, Pocasset, MA 02559)

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Copyright © 1996 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.
Last revised: December 29, 1997. Pages designed by Wayward Fluffy Publications