Collins 21E Adventure

Paul K2ORC                                                                                                                       Click on thumbnails to enlarge

Chapter 5



Before sunset on February 16, 2002, the Collins 21E was two-thirds of the way into its new home. All that remained was to trek one last time to the WEBO transmitter site to load up the third cabinet and take it to Norm's.

It was another two Saturdays -- March 2nd -- before the third cabinet made the trip.  This was the final cabinet, at the bottom of which was a heavy -- and filthy -- blower assembly that Norm had removed beforehand.


This move was a speedy affair, with less drama than the first one.  The cabinet was loaded with no trouble, then driven to Endicott where it was taken from the truck, carried through Norm's front door and wheeled across the dining room to the stairway opening.  Once it was coupled
to the winch and Rigger Joe's ropes, it went into the basement with little difficulty.  Practice makes perfect!

Now, the hard work could begin.

A couple of weeks after the third cabinet's arrival at his house, Norm was sitting with an evening visitor in his first floor shack -- the one with the beautiful array of Drake 4 Line rigs along one wall.  The talk was about radios, and the 21E in particular.  Suddenly, Norm murmured, "What have I gotten myself into?"  What indeed


Norm had done the finish work on the removable stairs to the landing and bolted them in place. He had painted their underside and the walls along the stairs to the basement a
glossy white.  The first floor of his home had been restored to its customary neat appearance.  But downstairs was the 21E. Its size and the boxes and boxes of its components, quietly spread out across tables and benches,
although out of sight, were seldom out of mind.


Take a look at some of the pictures in this chapter.  That is what the 21E looked like in the weeks following its arrival at Norm's house.  Then go back to the Chapter 2 and take a look at the transmitter as depicted in the Collins
21E manual -- or, take a look at Gary, W2INR's 21E on his website.

Do the two look alike? After a lot of work, they will.  It looks like a monumental task though, so you can hardly blame someone for wondering every once in a while just what in the hell he's gotten himself into.



Before we take a look at the steps Norm's taken to date, as he preps and cleans the cabinets and the myriad components for the reassembly work ahead, some of you have probably wondered why someone would let themselves in for months of work on a monster broadcast transmitter in the name of a hobby?  Isn't a hobby supposed to be relaxing?

For an answer, think about the nearest dedicated homebrewer -- and for many reading this, that means simply looking in a mirror. 

A project of this dimension is simply not meant for everyone. Hardcore radio builders and restorers seem content to spend hours working alone. Working on radios, whether fixing, rebuilding, or building from scratch, is, like rock climbing or running a marathon, a solitary pursuit.  There is camaraderie with others who share the same interest, but the deed itself involves one person, working focused and alone.  When discouragement and fatigue
take hold, there is only a vision of the finish in the
mind's eye, shimmering Oz-like in the distance.  It requires self-motivation, long range planning and the ability to defer gratification.  Norm has all these traits.

With the Collins 21E come three cabinets of work, each cabinet full of wires and parts that must be evaluated to see whether they are useable, or whether they need to be replaced.  And when that is done, the whole thing will have
to be pulled together, wired up, supplied with power and altered to permit legal operation on the ham bands. 

If considered as one big job, it seems insurmountable, but taken one piece at a time, it appears manageable. So, each trip to Norm's basement reveals a project progressing
slowly, but surely.  A little more has been done each time; a few more components are clean; a few more pieces have been taken apart and carefully laid out on tables.
In some of the pictures in this chapter, you'll see the tank circuit following cleaning, and portions of a choke circuit prior to cleaning.  The sparkling clean coil you see on the table, with an equally clean filament transformer, went into a dish tub full of soapy water quite a few shades darker than it is in the photo.


The blower motor from the final cabinet resting on a handcart had been oiled countless times during its years of commercial service, but it had evidently never been cleaned.  When the photo was taken, it was still encased in layers of oily dirt. 

Next up, we will  check up on how work is progressing.  If you have a question you'd like to ask Norm about the 21E project, email the question in care of my
email address: dalmatians98@yahoo.com.  In the Subject section of the email, please put "21E Question".


    Paul ORC

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