I want to become a "car enthusiast"

Most everything mechanical in my parents house was disassembled and put back together so I could see how they worked. Unfortunately for Mom and Dad it wasn’t until I was 16 years old until I could put a few things back together again so that they actually worked again.


when my son was about 10 I use to bring home old VCR’s or stereo’s that people were throwing out or I get at a garage sale for about $5. and he would take them apart. it kept him busy and he would learn how things were put together, and I would explain what they did.

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Friend is quite the elec tech. He buys broke electronics and fixes them. Capacitors, power supply’s, chips. Is talented. Took apart his whole house vac and fixed it. But wife said buy new $2200 unit. They have money. He is so so on car repairs though.

How do you fix a capacitor or computer chip? This I’ve got to hear.

You replace it. What’s your narrow definition of “fix”?
90% of electronics over 20yrs old have bad caps.
You learned something today.

Hat’s off to folks that can fix this stuff. Most of it is beyond me now. The electronics store in Minneapolis I used to go to closed, and local Radio Shack closed, so even if you knew what to do you’d need to mail order the part.

One of our scout leaders worked on radio transmission towers and had built the track used for the Pinewood Derby races. We had set up at the mall for a derby but the timer that determines the winning car didn’t work. He did some checking with the meter, went up to Radio Shack and got a part and not too long after everything worked again. Not likely to happen now.

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That’s true even in Silicon Valley, not much in the way of electronics parts retail stores here. There used to be a lot of them, but they’ve all closed. I guess the economics just doesn’t pan out. There an electronics surplus place here though, which I use sometimes. I’m trying to restore my long-deceased grandma’s old tube radio, she used to enjoy listening to the news on that radio, it was almost always on. I inherited it, the surplus shop has most of the tubes. Doesn’t work correctly, hums like banshee. As mentioned above, the capacitors have dried out and need to be replaced.

I’ve got my Grandfather’s old floor model radio. The only thing I have of his and had to buy it at the auction. (Shortwave, aircraft, police band etc.) Used to work when I was in high school but needs some work now. There is at least one outfit that restores them with the new wiring etc. so guess that’s what I would do. I don’t know where you would go to buy a tube and surely no place that would have a tester that I know of. @Triedaq would be the tube expert.

I miss Radio Shack, but that niche has disappeared. Few people repair stuff, just replace the item.
As far as tubes, in High School, my first job was pump jockey/grease monkey at a service station, the one with the flying horse logo. I had a 49 Studebaker. Pulled the radio, stepped next door to the drug store that had a tube tester, tested the tubes, replaced the bad ones. Voila, a working radio.

Fry’s is gone?

To bad there are not things that can be fixed that easy today instead of throwing away and buying new.

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@bing. I grew up with vacuum tube radios, televisions and high fidelity equipment. I just gave away my Hallicrafters S20R receiver I bought in 1957. This receiver was made in 1939. I no longer used it and I was glad to put it in the hands of a collector who restores old radios.
I do have a few old car radios that wound up at my house. One is a Western Auto aftermarket radio for a 1941-1948 Chevrolet that my father-in-law bought for his 1941 Chevrolet he purchased after he returned from WW II. He pulled the radio out when he sold the car. A colleague gave me the factory radio from his 1951 Studebaker when he junked the car many years ago.
If anyone wants these radios for parts, let me know how to get them to you. I also have a few old tubes laying around. I will let anyone have them for just the cost of shipping. If someone can use the tubes from these radios, I am happy to give them away.

Yes, they’ve closed all the remaining retail stores in early 2021, citing Covid as the primary difficulty. In my opinion the problem was actually they were trying to carry too many products, and the cost of customer support and their inventory expense crushed their cash flow. At the end, besides computer equipment, they were selling a full line of tv’s, stereos, washing machines, refrigerators, DVD’s, CD’s, etc. When they first opened, mid-1980’s as I recall, basically all they sold were specialty circuit boards for diy home computer enthusiasts, electronic parts and tools, a very complete line of integrated circuits, men’s magazines, soda, and potato chips. Chips and Chips was their nickname at the time. For a while I think their plan was to continue selling products on their website, but I don’t think they are even doing that now.

Those older tube radios often produce excellent sensitivity and sound quality, some even better than their more modern semiconductor counterparts. The physics of how tubes work, especially as diodes and their ability to be multi-transistors, make them nearly ideal electronics components, at least from the point of view of circuit theory. Size, warm up time, reliability, and power requirements brought about their ruin. Still many audio enthusiasts still prefer tube amplifiers for their home stereos. I expect it’s relatively easy to purchase tubes mail order, but finding a place with a tube tester might definitely be a challenge.

Dang! Your right! I used to look forward to shopping for parts like motherboards or hard disks.