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Old 08-17-2014, 02:05 AM
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Tom Albrecht Tom Albrecht is offline
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DuMont RA-106 Club 20

Earlier this week I was forwarded an email from someone who had contacted Radiomuseum.org mentioning that they had an old DuMont TV (large format) that they wanted to find a home for. Most such contacts don't turn out to be anything interesting, but given that this was a Dumont, I contacted the person and asked for pictures. It quickly became apparent that the set was a Dumont RA-106 Club 20.

I've been looking for a 20BP4 CRT for my DuMont RA-101 Westminster for quite some time, and the RA-106 is the only other model of DuMont that has it.

The set was in Inglewood, CA (Los Angeles area), and rather than simply driving down there to check it out, I contacted our fine fellow VKer Cherokeeroad, who agreed to go test the CRT. His test indicated that there was at least some life in the CRT, which made me rather happy.

Today I made the trip from San Jose to Inglewood and picked up the set. This ended up being the kind of find one might think is pretty rare these days. The set was in an old mansion (known as La Colina on a street of the same name in Inglewood) which had been abandoned for a number of years. The children of the owner (who had grown up in this house) were cleaning it out and preparing to sell the house. Check out the first two pictures to see the old mansion.

The third picture shows the set in the main living room, where it was currently sitting. The fourth picture shows the corner of the master bedroom where the kids remembered watching the set in the 1960s.

What's terrific here is that the person I bought the set from is the granddaughter of the original owner of the set, and she provided a wealth of information about it. DuMont sold the Club 20 to bars, and this was no exception. It had been purchased in late 1946 or in 1947 for a bar called the Green Cat in Santa Monica. The fifth picture is a copy of a business card from the Green Cat, which I was told opened in 1938 and closed in 1950.

The location of the Green Cat was 4th and Santa Monica Blvd. The building is still there today (see sixth picture).

The person I bought the set from spoke to her father (the son of the original owner) and here is an excerpt from the information she provided about this conversation:

"Just got off phone with my dad. In WWII he was in the radio operators training program for the Navy. When he got out in 1946 he recommended that his parents purchase this, based upon his knowledge of DuMont from the Navy program, to help bring in business to The Green Cat. The bar was located on the southwest corner of Santa Monica and 4th in a 1920s converted former bank building. It was 1 and a half stories tall. The vault was converted to the kitchen. I don't know if it's still there. DuMont was purchased for 950 and installation was another 250. They had to erect an extra tall antenna to get reception past the 4 story Hensheys building. Also, it was late 1946 or early 1947 when it was acquired."

More to follow...
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Old 08-17-2014, 02:13 AM
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I got the set home this evening, and retested the CRT. A little low on emissions at first, but after cooking with 8 volts on the filament for 10 minutes or so, it's looking pretty decent (see first picture). They apparently didn't run this set enough to kill the CRT at the Green Cat. Having heard that there were memories of watching this set still working in the 1960s, I thought there was a pretty good chance the CRT was alive.

The remaining pictures are self-explanatory. There are two chassis in this set -- one main chassis and the high voltage subchassis.

The dial is quite interesting, with a spiral pattern for the Inductuner. There is a shrouded lamp behind the dial that moves up and down on an elevator mechanism to illuminate just the correct part of the spiral for the particular revolution of the dial that is currently active. That's quite a bit different than the dial on the RA-103. Also interesting to note that even though this is a very early set (1946 or 1947), it does not show Channel 1, even though it tunes down to 48 MHz (all Inductuners were that way, even into the 1950s). This dial might have been replaced at some point, since I found a small piece of what may be a broken dial in the cabinet. So maybe the dial is newer than the set.

And a little more to come...
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Old 08-17-2014, 02:18 AM
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The family still had the original instructions that came with the set, as well as the card that labeled the controls on the front panel when the set was new.

Interesting that the instructions are just five duplicated pages, made with the purple ink from a stencil on a typewriter, just like the duplicated worksheets many of us used as school kids many decades ago. Sometime soon I'll scan the pages individually and try to bring out the severely faded text so it can be read.

Even the original envelope from DuMont is there.

I'll start working on restoration tomorrow. Hopefully the restoration will go smoothly and we'll have a picture on it soon.
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Old 08-17-2014, 11:14 AM
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Kevin Kuehn Kevin Kuehn is offline
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Fascinating! It always amazes me how time capsules like this old mansion get abandoned. When was that house last lived in?
Thanks for sharing this great adventure.
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Old 08-17-2014, 11:45 AM
kramden66 kramden66 is offline
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just think some people hae taken such things and just tossed them before asking around or selling , gems like this are rare and getting rarer
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Old 08-17-2014, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Albrecht View Post
Interesting that the instructions are just five duplicated pages, made with the purple ink from a stencil on a typewriter, just like the duplicated worksheets many of us used as school kids many decades ago. Sometime soon I'll scan the pages individually and try to bring out the severely faded text so it can be read.
Hey now, I graduated in 2002 and we still used the spirit duplicators reasonably often. I also was not in an excessively poor or low budget school district, I think it was just that the damned machines are more or less armageddon-proof and the teachers had been using them for many decades and it was just part of the habit. I'm thinking it wasn't a coincidence that most of the machines were located in rooms only slightly larger than most home bathrooms are. Cheap buzz.


Sadly there's no real non-destructive way to attempt to un-fade them if they're totally gone. Hopefully yours are still dark enough to scan and enhance!
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Old 08-17-2014, 01:46 PM
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Fantastic find Tom. If the house was abandoned it is amazing the scavengers did not get to the set. Interesting though about the operation instructions. The original "Club" (the one that shares the RA-102 chassis with the Clifton but had a 15" CRT) had its own illustrated operation manual.

It is posted here on Chuck's site: http://www.myvintagetv.com/Apple%20P...mont_RA102.pdf
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Old 08-17-2014, 02:30 PM
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StellarTV StellarTV is offline
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Wow, not that's an adventure... and to see that old mansion and know the history of the set like that. Congratulations! I second Tim on his amazement at how the house had not been scavenged.
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Old 08-17-2014, 03:13 PM
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John Folsom John Folsom is offline
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Tom, glad to see you finally found the elusive 20BP4. BTW, the DuMont RA106 chassis was the only one to use the 20BP4, and the Manchu model also uses the 20BP4 in addition to the Westminster and Club 20 . I just took delivery of a Manchu, but my set has had its 20BP4 replaced with a rectangular 20CP4. However it fits almost identically, and no modifications were required to make the substitution. So until I can find a good 20BP4 (good luck!) it will do quite nicely.

Good luck with your set!
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:39 PM
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ChrisW6ATV ChrisW6ATV is offline
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That is a great acquisition and fascinating story, Tom. I look forward to your restoration notes. Now, I would think that you have a big question on your hands: Move the 20BP4 to your RA-101 (and move that CRT to the '106), or keep it in this set?
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Old 08-18-2014, 12:28 AM
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Phil Nelson Phil Nelson is offline
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Wow, what a treasure -- with an interesting backstory, to boot.

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Old 08-18-2014, 01:17 AM
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Tom, sooo happy you were finally able to locate one!!!
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Old 08-18-2014, 02:26 AM
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Tom Albrecht Tom Albrecht is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisW6ATV View Post
Now, I would think that you have a big question on your hands: Move the 20BP4 to your RA-101 (and move that CRT to the '106), or keep it in this set?
First, I'll think I'll restore the Club 20 with the 20BP4 in it. After a little time to enjoy it, I'll probably transfer the 20BP4 to the Westminster, and put the 19DP4 sub into the Club 20. It's hard to say which set is more rare -- I'm only aware of 1 other Club 20 out there. There are 2 or 3 other Westminsters, but the Westminster is a more elaborate and interesting set, so I'll give it the edge on overall value and being deserving of the 20BP4.

The Westminster has a much higher CRT anode voltage (18 kV or something like that). That actually exceeds the spec of the 19DP4 in there now. Also, the raster is too small on the 19DP4 in the Westminster. Lowering the anode voltage might not completely solve the problem, since there is some neck shadowing. Looks like the yoke was designed for the 54 degree deflection angle of the 20BP4, and won't work correctly for the 66 degree angle of the 19DP4.

The Club 20 appears to have a lower anode voltage (there is a tag inside that says "Danger 12,000 volts") and that might work better with the 19DP4. I may still have the yoke neck shadow problem, and if so, perhaps I'll try swapping in a different yoke in the Club 20. The Club 20 will be generally easier to work on, since the rear end of the CRT is much more accessible in the Club 20 than the Westminster, with its CRT tilt mechanism.

Progress today on the Club 20: My time was very limited, but I was able to take apart, clean, and reassemble the various gears and linkages in the Inductuner assembly. It was frozen solid. The problem was not in the tuner itself, but in the bearings for the main dial shaft. Turns well now, and I also gave the Inductuner a good shot of De-Oxit, which generally seems to be necessary on these.

I also confirmed that the little chip of plastic I found in the cabinet is definitely part of a dial, and not the one in there now, since it has no chips out of it. So I think the dial was replaced at some point, which might explain the absence of Channel 1 on the dial. (Or is this set a little newer than the 1946-47 purchase date the family cites?) Maybe someone with a Manchu (should have the same dial) can comment as to whether Channel 1 is shown on the Manchu's dial.

Last edited by Tom Albrecht; 08-18-2014 at 02:32 AM.
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Old 08-22-2014, 10:44 AM
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bigaudioal bigaudioal is offline
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The dial on that is the same as the dial on my RA-108 Mansfield. The colors on yours are still OUTSTANDING. My colors have faded. My RA-108 is from 1949. Original ad for the Club 20 located at below link if you scroll down. Hard to tell exactly what dial is on it, but sure looks "busy" like the RA-108 dial and the one you have pictured above:

http://www.earlytelevision.org/dumont_postwar_ads.html
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File Type: jpg DuMont Dial.jpg (113.7 KB, 51 views)
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Last edited by bigaudioal; 08-22-2014 at 10:54 AM.
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  #15  
Old 08-23-2014, 01:11 AM
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Tom Albrecht Tom Albrecht is offline
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Well, here's the first picture on the big 20BP4. This set came to life without much drama -- just a full recap and cleaning of tube sockets and controls, as well as the mechanical work on the tuner as mentioned above.



The CRT is reasonably bright. The set needs quite a bit of adjustment, and I'm going to have to find a big enough mirror to do it. The depth of this set makes it totally impossible to see the front while adjusting something on the back.

Regarding the color on the dial: The colors are on the back side of the dial, and there is some back lighting in the picture I took. Without back lighting, the dial doesn't show much color.
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File Type: jpg DuMont RA-106 Club 20 First Picture.jpg (56.2 KB, 341 views)
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