TA12 USAF WW2 transmitter and 1938 Truphonic MA5T receiver

Like all engineers and particularly radio engineers I have a squirrel mentality heavily influenced by emotional attachment. I tend to keep stuff. This is part ‘might be useful one day’, a symptom of my ‘make do and mend’ upbringing and part not being able to bear parting with things.

This weekend is the Newbury Amateur Radio Club annual meet and sale. Together with two likeminded techies we have booked a couple of tables to offload some of our accumulated junk.

I have decided to take two items that meet the emotional attachment category. They both have a story attached that relate to how my interest in radio evolved.

The first is my maternal grandparents Truphonic MA5T domestic radio. As a family we regularly visited them at their ‘2 up – 2 down’ terraced house in York. The radio sat on their sideboard in the kitchen and it totally absorbed me as I would tune up and down the bands and fiddle with the preset station levers. Truphonic were a London based manufacturer and the MA5T was an upright version of the MA5, both of which dated around 1938. The valve line up was TH4B\TDD4\VP43\PENA4\1W3. When I wasn’t playing with their radio I was taking their torches to pieces and making circuits with light bulbs. The technical seed was sown.

The second piece for disposal is a TA12 USAF airborne transmitter as used in WW2 on board B17s etc. It runs a pair of 807s. The story around this is similar.

My radio interest had blossomed and through a contact of my father I had acquired a WW2 R1155A receiver from a radio amateur in York. I became an avid shortwave listener. Wire antennas festooned the back garden and I spent hours with headphones clamped to my head searching for signals from round the globe.

Those familiar with the R1155A will know that its short wave coverage begins at around 3MHz and completely misses the 1.8MHz to 2MHz amateur band known as Top Band. If you were lucky enough to own a R1155N this band was covered but the N model was much less common being used mainly for marine comms rather than bomber command.

However as a family we had a Pilot Blue Peter domestic radio which covered LW/MW and SW frequencies. Unusually it had continuous coverage across these bands. This meant it covered Top Band. This was somewhat unusual for a domestic radio. Occasionally I would switch it on and tune around and one night happened upon a very strong amateur signal on Top Band. Given that the Pilot had little or no antenna connected the transmission had to be local. This was my first contact with Alf Whitelock whose callsign was G3BNM. He was indeed local and lived in Alne which was around 9 miles away.

This was the start of a long and close relationship with Alf. He took me under his wing and taught me so much about radio both operating and building. He was regularly on Top Band with his nephew John G3WQM and Ted G3TNM. Alf ran a pseudo crossband duplex transmission retransmitting the incoming audio from John (4m) and Ted (2m) and so all three of them and anyone listening to Alf could hear everyone talking.

Alf helped me improve my R1155 with external pre-amps and converters so I had full coverage of all the amateur short wave bands. I would regularly bike to and from Alne and would always struggle on the return journey with so many donated radio parts strapped to my bike.

Alf was not young and inevitably he died when I was in my late teens. I was devastated. I felt like I had lost a very special adopted grandfather. He left me his HF station. It was a 6 foot high rack with huge power supplies, modulators and antenna tuner. The heart of the station was the TA12 airborne transmitter. While all the other components have long since gone, I could not bear to part with the TA12 and it has remained with me now for over 50 years. He voice came to me via this radio and it has a very emotional connection.

So what to do ? Two items of huge sentimental value that is personal only to me. My kids don’t care for granddad’s weird hobbies and my accumulated ‘junk’. On my passing both these radios will go to landfill or similar. Taking them to the Newbury event might stir some interest with a historic preservation body. I can then rest knowing that these two radios have moved on and will have an extended life.

But maybe I’m just hoping that nobody shows any interest and I can bring them back home and put them back in the attic for a few more years …..

UPDATE : Both the TA12 and the MA5T sold. Both went to heritage radio collectors. The buyer of the MA5T said he had never seen this particular model and thought it very rare. He was looking forward to restoring it. Result.

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