1930s W1UJR Station Now Ready

Had a few minutes this morning to get Scott W9WFA’s old National NC-101X out of storage and onto the new 1930s station desk. I’ll be moving the other 101X over once the restoration is finished, but it’ll be on the workbench for a bit, so time to fire up something else.

Listening to 40 meter CW on the National NC-101X receiver with the green “magic eye” tuning indicator. Bands are pretty lousy this morning, much static.

Transmitter is a MOPA (Master Oscillator Power Amplifier) built by amateur radio operator AB9ZG, modeled after one of the early Aero designs.

CW “Bug” (keying device for transmitter) is an early Vibroplex “Zephyr” model built in New York City. Believe this belonged to my Elmer Dick W2UJR. “Cans” (headphones) are vintage Brandes “Superior” model, built also in New York City in the late 1920s or early 30s.

Antenna is a traditional balanced feed line 160 meter dipole up about 50’, right on the coast.

Photos on wall are of a teenage ham radio operator from the 1930s who lived in Kennebunk, Maine. The other of some young radio hams from Syracuse, NY in a home built ham shack.

73 DE Bruce W1UJR

Opening The “Catacomb” – National NC-101X Set

Continued on with the restoration of the National NC-101X today. Removed the sheet metal enclosure, which required removal of all knobs again, then carefully undid the front drive gear, part of the rack and pinion gear set that moves the “catacomb” coil holder from band to band.

Once the sheet metal was removed, I could access the two large flat head screws on each side of the case, that held the rod on which the catacomb coil slides on. Both screws came out with minimal effort, but removal of the rod was another story. Two large “dimples” on either side of the case go into the countersunk ends of the rod, effectively locking it in place. The side on the left, receiver front facing me, had an additional star washer on it’s end. I debated using some sort of small jack to move the chassis walls apart enough to get the rod to pop out, but was able to do it with some strong “elbow grease” and a large screwdriver. There is a small braided ground wire on the rod that must be detached as well.

Once the rod was out, it was a simple matter to remove the lower catacomb cover, and then individually remove each coil, which is really a tuned circuit, consisting of an inductor and air variable capacitor. They were held in by two flat head screws and star washers, to avoid mix up during assembly, I sort in the order they came out, and also used a Sharpie to made a line or dot on each coil to indicate it’s position – 1, 2, 3.

Both halves of the catacomb were then put in the dishwasher to remove the decades of hardened grease and grime that had built up. I’ll clean each coil set by hand during assembly.

National NC-101X – Time Capsule

Fall Project – 1938 National NC-101X Shortwave Receiver

I left Maine last night for a small town in New Hampshire, right near the Vermont border. Purpose of the road trip was to pick up this shortwave set from the grandson of the original purchaser back in 1938. For nearly 80 years this radio was with this family. The original owner Richard W1KEK passed away in 2010 and the radio sat in storage until today. It’s now, along with the original speaker, safely on my workbench. This will be my fall project, to disassemble, clean, test, and repair where needed, with the goal of getting the set on the air sometime this fall. 
The photos are from Richard as a young man, and later in life.

“My Dad (W1KEK) bought this Receiver in 1938. The photos of him are from 1954 and 2010. It was working perfectly when boxed in 2010. Condition is exceptional as he always kept it dry and covered.”

I’ll be sharing the details here as the work progress. I’m not so much an owner as I am a caretaker of these wonderful icons of an age gone by.

– Bruce

W1KEK in 2010, with the same radio.

W1KEK in 1954, with the NC-101X he brought new in 1938.
W1KEK in 2010, with the same radio.