This is an archived website which has not been updated since 2002.
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Old Television Hardware FAQs

What is the fascination of obsolete television equipment?

Either you love it or you hate it! Many people have a thrill owning something that once they could only dream of affording; this stuff was horrendously expensive when first marketed.

Is this stuff a maintenance problem?

It can be but generally it is not. You may find certain specialist spare parts impossible to find, although it is often possible to find substitutes or cannibalise another piece of equipment. 'Generic' spares (valves, transistors, capacitors and resistors) are easy to find. The biggest problem is with certain transistors, which deteriorate with age, even if never used; fortunately valves do not suffer the same problem. Broadcast equipment was designed for easy repair; domestic apparatus was not.

Do I need special skills?

No, any reasonably competent electronics hobbyist can repair equipment. It helps if you have the relevant service manual and a feel for the older types of components. You'll find a lot of information on all kinds of repair and restoration skills in the book Electronic Classics. There is also some valuable material on the web at the Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration site,

Where does one find this old equipment?

At specialist auctions, on surplus dealers' premises, through advertisements in broadcast trade magazines (e.g. Production Solutions) and in the small ads of 405 Alive and in the British Amateur Television Club's CQ-TV magazine (see for information on how to join). You may find something to your taste at the BATC's swapmeets and at other amateur radio rallies (advertised in Practical Wireless and Ham Radio Today magazines). Also check out BB List ( ); this is an online bazaar where professionals sell off old kit. It's all a matter of luck and patient searching really.

Surplus dealers include:

What about the auctions of ex-broadcast equipment I've heard about?

Nearly all of these auctions are organised by Henry Butcher Ltd, whose catalogue request line is 020-7405 5501 (fax 020-7242 2809). If you ask to go on the mailing list for broadcast equipment auctions, you will get notifications automatically. Bear in mind that these people are professionals and expect to deal with fellow professionals. The auctions are run on a 'what you see is what you get' basis, with all responsibility resting on you to ascertain the equipment is what you really want. Prices, too, are professional, reflecting the re-use value of the item in question. Sometimes prices can be remarkably low (and even lower if there are no bids on an item; speak to the auctioneer after the sale and he may do you a special deal to clear the merchandise).

Any tips?

It is vital to read all the conditions in the sale catalogue, particularly about obtaining a bidder's card before the sale starts and understanding that the buyer's premium and VAT are added to the hammer price. When you request a catalogue, it is prudent to quote a business name and address; industrial auctioneers feel uncomfortable dealing with private individuals so this may even involve inventing a name for your 'business' such as 'Eastern Equipment Rentals' or whatever.

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