EDITOR'S COMMENTS From Antique Radio Classified for March 2002
(Copyright 1996-2002 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
What better subject for the windy month of March than windchargers and their role in the use of radios before universal electrification reached rural farms? In the 1920s, radios operated on batteries. Operators bought B batteries and used auto storage batteries for the A supply. If the B battery ran out, it had to be replaced, while the A battery had to be recharged.
Radio manufacturers addressed the expense and inconvenience of batteries by developing AC-powered radios. Consumers could now hook up their radios to power lines -- an option not available to distant farms; hence, the windcharger as a rural source of energy.
We have covered windchargers and farm radios in the past. (See A.R.C., Sept. 1988, April 1996, July 1996, May 1997, and March 1998.) However, in our lead article, Ron Russell has brought the two subjects together in a most interesting way. His restoration of a farm radio led to his look into life on a 1930s farm that relied on wind-driven generators for a radio connection.
We are reminded of the mid-1970s energy crisis when alternate energy was big news. Nuclear, solar, and wind power were among the popular proposals, but wind remains a miniscule part of the total picture. Even though we remain dependent on foreign oil, we haven't learned to foster alternate energy sources.
Still, proponents of such sources continue to surface. For example, a recent Boston Globe article described a resident's attempt to build a windmill on his 8-acre plot in an affluent suburb. He was amazed to find himself the object of much opposition from a not-in-my-back-yard (nimby) contingent. And so, the wind-for-power argument seems to refuse to die.
If windchargers are uncommon as collector items, so too are home brews, as most of us prefer factory-made sets. However, in an article on home-brew superhets of the 1920s, Konrad Birkner, our subscriber from Germany, expresses great enthusiasm for the work of the "passionate amateurs" who built these sets. Although the sets Konrad describes have different national origins, he gives them an international flavor.
Past A.R.C. articles have reflected other collectors' interest in home brews. A series by Chris Cuff (October 1991, May 1992, and September 1994), describes superhets of the 1920s, which were so expensive that millions built their own from kits, often with only a magazine article as a guide. In a March 2001 article, Bill Corkutt connects his pleasure in collecting home brews to that of the many who built their own sets in the 1920s. Our hats are off to Konrad, Chris, and Bill for preserving and writing about this side of our hobby.
Photo Review features several nice items. A Chelsea Model 104 serves as a follow-up to last month's article by Wally Worth on the Chelsea Radio Company of Chelsea, Mass. Another rare item is the 1-tube Bowman Airophone, with its striking tube sticking out of the top.
As mentioned earlier, Bill Corkutt is an ardent collector of home brews, and his search for them sometimes leads to what he calls "radio relics." He describes the restoration of three such sets, two of which turn out not to be home brews -- an unidentified 3-tuber and a Great Eastern Radio Corp. Model C-3. The third -- an early Cockaday home brew -- proved to be a great find. Bill enhances the description of his restoration of this set with much information about Cockaday's contributions to radio history.
Looking over this month's articles, we realize that the 1920s are a continuing theme. Howard Stone has reviewed Ian Sanders' book on British crystal sets of the 1920s, which fills a gap in radio history. Ian's long list of articles on this subject appearing in A.R.C. in past years prepared us for the expertise reflected in his book. Howard Stone, also a longtime contributor of articles, says that if crystal sets are a subject of your interest, you'll find the book "a joy to look at and an invaluable aid."
In a short article, Bill Moore reports on tests of AC/DC sets working at different voltages with surprising results -- the sets worked at unusually low voltages.
Thanks to Ron Ramirez for his report on Eric's 12th annual radio auction in Olney, Illinois. In general, prices were moderate, and tombstones and cathedrals were in abundance. Top bids were $400 for a De Forest F-5 battery set and $525 for a Federal 110.
Radio Miscellanea contains two announcements of note: the availability of the 2002 Antique Electronic Supply catalog to all active and new customers, and the AWA Conference location in 2002. Many will be sorry to learn that the RIT Conference Center (the old Marriott) in Rochester, New York, remains the venue.
A.R.C. Benefits. Our toll-free number, 866-371-0512; Discover and American Express added to Visa and MasterCard on our list of acceptable credit cards, books shipped free to addresses in the U. S. by book rate; and for current subscribers, a ten percent discount on all book orders -- all add up to ways we try to make your radio actvivities easier. Subscribers should remember that they must request the discount when they order, and shipping must be to the address to which we send your magazine.
Coming Radio Events. The spring meet season begins with 40 events in March. Among them are the BARPC Spring Auction, the VRPS Spring Auction, the CC-AWA's 26th Spring Meet, an Estes Auction, and the Museum of Radio & Technology show and auction.
John V. Terrey, Editor
ON THE COVER
Photos of individual windchargers and ads for the Zenith Wincharger have appeared in A.R.C. before. However, David Ballinger's photo of two Zenith Winchargers, along with a third windcharger with the Airline name, seems unique. How often do you see three windchargers lined up in one place?