This "Recent Repair" was kindly contributed by Steve Pendlebury.
There's been quite a bit of talk in Radiophile magazine, and indeed on Paul Stenning's website, about the Pye Piper sets, which are said to "Aspire to Mediocrity".
About 5 years ago, at a Radiophile auction, Dilys took pity on one such set, that Paul and I were standing laughing at. "It just needs someone to take it home and love it!", she declared. As Paul and I sniggered even more, my bidding card went in the air and the hammer went down. We were now the proud owner of a battered, dusty, filthy Pye Piper. When I took the set home, I gave it a cursory once over along with the rest of the sets from the day's haul, and declared it a "sometime, when I get round to it" set.
Dilys, as you might expect, was determined to prove that Paul and I were both Philistines as well as electronic snobs. She set to with the polish and the cleaning materials and made this rather sad looking set look eminently respectable (her words not mine!), with its fine green leather-effect frontage and best quality bent plywood case. It ended up on a shelf in our bedroom next to its AM/FM counterpart (also picked by Dilys despite Paul and I making dersisive comments about its paint job) and waited its turn…..
Whilst recovering from an operation, I read Rob Rushbridge's comments in 'Wireless Waffle', then saw Paul's restoration of the same set on his vintage radio website.
'Hmm……… ', I thought. 'I wonder how well Dilys's set would work here in Bolton, less than 30 miles from Moorside Edge and on the slopes of Winter Hill.'. We have good AM signals here, albeit with somewhat dubious programme content.
The set was dead.
My first find was that someone had forced the UL41 into its socket the wrong way around, and had achieved this by some judicious bending of the locating hole on the valve holder. The Phantom had been here. I removed all the valves, and noticed that the UY41 showed that it had been somewhat distressed, so I got another one and fitted all the valves in the correct places, the right way around. Some more judicious bending of the UL41's socket ensured correct insertion.
The mains dropper was open circuit, so although we had HT, there was no heater supply to the valves. Rather than muck about with mains taps, I fitted a 1.2K wirewound resistor (930 Ohms + 300 Ohms... near enough!)
Power was reapplied, and after a few seconds, the valve heaters began to glow. Keeping my hand on the on-off switch in case of any fireworks when the rectified HT came up, I waited, and was soon rewarded with a somewhat distorted discussion about Manchester United. Like Rob said, these sets do aspire to mediocrity. I rotated the wavechange and tuner and found life across the MW and LW bands, selecting Radio 4 LW.
There was a nice positive voltage on the control grid of the UL41. The AF coupling capacitor is C22, 0.01uF 400v. This was replaced and we now had clear audio.
The set is built on a PCB, so I went over the whole PCB and sorted out the few dry joints that there were and resoldered all the valveholders.
We were now left with a mechanical problem, and I do confess that what I did about this would have done the Phantom proud! The spring from the tuning knob was missing, and there appeared to be no reduction drive. Not sure whether there should be or not, I decided that this set would have to manage without one until I found the relevant bits or someone comfirmed my suspicions that there was no such refinement.
The tuning knob and perspex pointer disc came away separately, and there appeared to be no way to attach them together on the tuning shaft. The knob was held on by a grub screw. The pointer seemed just to sit there...... so I have to confess that I got an accurate working tuner and pointer by super-gluing the two together. (If anyone has the correct bits for this part of the set, and can spare them, please let me know so I can do the job properly).
Our set doesn't appear to have a throw-out antenna, but it doesn't seem to need it. I receive good signals across both bands, and even in the daytime, I'm able to receive some continental stations. Selectivity and gain are good, and there was no need for any alignment. As evening fell, a German Station offered up a selection of classic hits from the 1960s, and the set was left to run on this. There was little tuning drift.
The Piper is a very basic set with a low component count. Like Paul's example, it needed very little work to restore it to life. Perhaps the less there is in a set, the less there is to go wrong?
This goes to show that even the dustiest, cheapest and long-disused, abandoned set can be made into a useful radio in the end!
Dilys adds: "And it also proves that it doesn't always do to laugh at one's wife and her fancies!!!"
Text Copyright © 2003 Steve Pendlebury