R-388 Visual Inspection

I don’t have any of my radio repair equipment at the house, so I couldn’t do much with the radio besides download a “pdf” copy of the maintenance manual, read what others have said online about the radio, and complete a visual inspection of the radio.

The manual is a typical military manual with *EVERYTHING* that could ever be needed included in the text and illustrations.

Nearly all of the people posting online about the radio agreed in saying this radio was very reliable, very well built and had few “gotcha” issues.

So, it was time for the visual inspection.

The covers on the radio were all there, as were *all* (probably 25, but I didn’t count them) of the 4-40 screws with the internal tooth lock washers that secure the covers in place. According to the online posts, the covers are often missing.

The fungus resistant coating on the wiring bundles and components appears to be undisturbed nor did I notice any “period incorrect” components. This leads me to believe that the radio’s wiring is undisturbed. Undocumented modifications can make it very difficult to fix a failed radio, so no disturbances to the wiring and components is good.

On the screw adjustments is a red insulating varnish that looks like red fingernail polish. This is “Glyptal 1202” and is made by Glyptal (Corporation). In this radio, the “stuff” is used to prevent vibration from affecting the adjustment points. If something is deliberately changed with a screwdriver, the varnish flakes away. None of the adjustments appear to be disturbed. This is good. I suppose it is possible that someone reapplied the product, but in my experience, most people don’t bother to “repaint” screw adjustments that they have moved.

The only possible problem that I could see is the rectifier tube, is missing. 99% of the radio operates on DC power and the rectifier tube is what converts the AC power to DC power. Without it, there is no DC power anywhere within the radio. Sometimes people will wire solid state diodes under chassis to replace the tube and then remove the tube. This was not the case here, so the tube could have been removed for use in another project, or it could have been removed after an electrical fault damaged the tube and the prior owner never bothered to fix the problem. When I get my shop set up again, I’ll be able to check for anything that could have damaged the tube and, if needed, fix whatever might have failed.

If I get impatient, I’ll go over and use my friend’s (Test Daughter‘s father) shop.

Since I have very weak self-control, I’ll very likely end up in my friend’s house.

Swap Meet Meets Self Control

Today, I went to a swap meet (flea market, tag sale, street market, whatever) . It’s not that I needed anything, but I just decided to go and just walk around awhile to see “what was out”.

Well, I found exactly what I didn’t need, especially with the impending move, and I bought it.

There was a seller there with some old electronics parts and a R-388 receiver that was in fairly good condition. The receiver was untested, but complete and the seller had been marking the price down and down and down and then down some more. If the asking price had not been so cheap, I would not have had the cash in my wallet to buy it. But I had recently used the $60 “cash back” option when I last used my debit card at a store and, well, sometimes I have very weak self control. Sigh… 🙂

The Collins Radio Company made the receiver during the 1950s and gave it the model number of 51J-3. The US Army Signal Corps bought it for use in the military and gave it the designation of R-388/URR.

I haven’t had a chance to take it out of the cabinet to look at and I have fought the temptation to “just plug it in and see if it works”. Old radios can have parts that can fail after long periods of non-use and a failed part can cause damage to other parts in the radio, some that are not easily replaceable, so I need to be check things first.

Still, it’s neat old radio and the engineer geek in me finds it intriguing. I am looking forward to when we have moved and I have the electronics shop set back up again. For what it’s worth, 90% of the parts in the radio are fairly common items that I have in my collection of old parts, so unless there is something wrong with one of the more unusual parts, it shouldn’t be a big deal to fix…if it even needs to be fixed….radios made by Collins have a reputation for reliability.

As an aside, a few hours after I got back from the swap meet, I was at the grocery store and I noticed the store now has a box full of used books, where one can put a dollar into a can and take a book. In with the romance novels and stock market advice, circa 1970, I found a book with an interesting cover. “One Second After”. I put my dollar into the can and brought the book home. This book is a fictional account on the aftermath of an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack on the United States of America as told from the point of view of the townsfolk of a small North Carolina town.

I’ll let you, the reader, look up EMP on the web. The book is rather grim about how things devolve after the attack.

Connecting the two threads……this kind of radio, with no solid state, or computer stuff in it, is far more resistant, but not totally immune, to the effects of an EMP event. It seems odd that I would buy this radio, and then end up getting “that” book.

For what it’s worth, I hope the book’s depressing storyline never comes to pass. I’m much too old for such stuff.