House Calls: Don’t Worry - The TV Repairman is On His Way!
Author: Peggy Epstein
You would think,
after paying $199.95 (less trade-in) on a 1953 Deluxe Zenith Buckingham
model TV with its giant 21” screen, its new Super Automatic Station
Selector, its sensational K-53 chassis, and its
built in “Picturemagnet” Antenna, you’d be all set. After all, the
average salary in 1953 was around $4,000. That means you would have
spent five percent of one year’s income on your television set. Today
that would translate to a two thousand dollar TV!
As it turned out, my dad did so well at replacing tubes that word got around, and an old friend of his who had just started a new business called. A-1 TV Service was owned by my father's friend Sam who my father said “just happened to get lucky when he came up with the idea that all these people buying television sets would need somebody to come out and fix them when they went ‘kaplooey’.” My dad had worked with radios in the Army, so Sam thought my dad would be a natural at it.
I remember pretty clearly
the night Sam came over to try to get Dad work for him. The conversation
went something like this:
“The people who sell TV's tell their customers that it's ok to monkey with their sets to try and adjust them,” Sam said. “They tell them that there's no way you can hurt a television set unless you throw your shoe through the screen or something.”
“No kidding,” my father said.
"But as soon as you start talking about the horizontal oscillator, they're gonna give it up. They'll know they're in over their heads," Sam said.
"So just what is a horizontal oscillator," my father asked.
"Ok, you see here," he said, pulling our TV away from the wall. You look for this perforated black metal box. Inside here you're gonna find a 6SN7-CT. I brought you a dozen or so of those babies."
He pointed to a cardboard carton filled with glass tubes in little sleeves.
“You check to make sure it's
in tight, and then you turn the set on and see if the tube is lit,” said
Sam. “If it isn't, or even if it's kinda glowing purple, then you gotta
replace it with a new one."
"Nothing to it,” Sam said. “See, I made this little chart--like a troubleshooter. You look over here to see what's wrong; you look across to see what you do to fix it.”
"Take for instance there's no sound," he said. "Happens. Happens more than you'd think. So what do you do? See, tells you right here."
My father read aloud, "Look on the same side of the chassis as the channel selector switch and look for a row of tubes. It will probably be a burned out 6AU6, and it could be several of them; they're all in a row."
"See there? And look," Sam said, pointing to the chart. 'There's sub-categories. Like 'Ringing sound.' Tap each of the tubes with a pencil; that's how you'll find your ringer; that'll be the one that needs to be replaced.”
My father reluctantly
took the job. He got a big tool kit he called a tube caddy with
stuff inside like a plastic tool alignment kit, a soldering gun and
solder, wire cutters and wire strippers, and lots of other tools. We got
to play with it sometimes. My father had brought home an old Sears
Silvertone TV cabinet without the insides. Sometimes we stuck our heads
inside and pretended we were on TV, but what we mostly liked to do was
play TV repairman.
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