Michael Crestohl mc at SOVER.NET
Sun Oct 3 09:46:19 EDT 1999

Hello Gang:

This is the Editorial column from the 3rd Quarter issue of the COLLINS
COLLECTORS newsletter THE SIGNAL. I am posting it because I feel it is
important for all interested in vintage radio equipment to read
it.  However as you read it keep in mind that something is presently being
done to find out exactly why this is being done and what measures can be
taken to stop it.


Michael Crestohl, W1RC/VE2XZ

This is the Editorial from the September 1999 issue of

Don't read this if you have a weak stomach or get upset easily.

Last June 4th and 5th I was at the Rochester (NY) Hamfest which has been an
annual haunt of mine for over thirty years.  While wandering about in the
flea market at 6:00 AM I spotted a pile of RE Collins KWM-2As, 30L-1s,
312B-4s and 516F-2s laying on the ground.  They had been unceremoniously
and systematically beaten with a small sledge hammer.  One of the M-2s had
been hit square in the front; another on the top of the slug rack and a
third dead on the power amplifier cage.  A crowd had gathered and animated
negotiations were in progress. Hmmm, yeah, I want one too!  In and amidst
the confusion one fellow pulled a wad of cash from his pocket and managed
to convince the overwhelmed and slightly befuddled seller to give them all
to him for the proffered sum which I found out later was $700.00.

As the lucky buyer busied himself carrying away his trophies I took a
closer look at these unfortunate radios.  Most of the KWM-2As had sustained
direct blows to the slug rack, PTO assemblies as well as the power
amplifier cage. I figure he'd be able to make a couple of workable units
out of the lot - but with a lot of time and effort. Whatever the case
they'd be good for parts if nothing else.  I offered to buy one of each
unit from him but he wasn't interested in selling anything there and
then.  He beat a hasty retreat and kept a low profile for the rest of the
flea market as I suspect he didn't want to discuss anything with anybody.

After the crowd had dispersed, grumbling about the guy who "bought them
all",  I wandered back to have a chat with the seller.  He was unloading
more stuff and I spotted a lone 516F-2 supply that had taken a couple of
whacks and had its' cords cut.  He wanted $20.00 for it.  So at least I got
something!  I asked him where he had come across this pile and he told me
he got them from somebody who works at the Tobyhanna Army Depot in
PA.  Tobyhanna is a storage and repair facility for electronic equipment
well known to many hams in this part of the country.  Their DRMO sales
sheets used to feature lots consisting of  nice R-390As,  KWM-2As, even
cool spy radio sets like the RS-1 and RS-6, M-209 crypto machines and other
very neat things.  A lot of us got great things from Tobyhanna.  However
for reasons unknown in the past couple of years the government in its'
infinite wisdom has decided it is better to "demilitarize" all radio
equipment lest it fall into the hands of enemies and terrorists.  I'd heard
about this independently from Mike Baranowsky and Jim Williams, both
surplus equipment merchants and good guys to deal with.  In past years they
both had overflowing tables at Dayton but in recent years pickings were
slim.  This power supply is visual evidence of that policy.

Whoever swung the hammer either wasn't very capable or intelligent about
doing his dastardly work.  The only damage the unit sustained was a
crumpled bleeder resistor cage and one of the bells on the small choke that
sits behind the two rectifier tubes was dented.  The two tube bases were
still in their sockets but the tubes were obviously smashed to smithereens
in the attack.  From looking at this unit I am guessing that it was in very
clean condition until the day came for its' execution when it was casually
piled up with other unfortunates to be "demilled".  It probably spent most
of its' working life on some military base or perhaps in an embassy
somewhere.  Judging from the heat marks above the rectifier tubes it had
seen little use.  The cabinet had a few scratches but no dents.  There was
little dust on the chassis.  I jury-rigged a power cord and plugged in two
new rectifiers and, you guessed it, the supply worked perfectly.  When I
get time I'll make up a new cable set and I'll have a nice spare 516F-2
supply for $20.00 and a few hours work.

Who can figure the mind of a bureaucrat?  What possible justification can
there be for this desecration of this fine equipment?  It cannot be for
security reasons, or can it?  This equipment was freely available back in
the 1950s and 60s and the stuff never was classified.  Today anyone can buy
a much more modern compact  HF radio set on the open market so keeping it
out of evil hands surely cannot have any validity.  It just strikes me that
the authorities responsible for getting rid of unwanted and unneeded
equipment are just too lazy to go through all the steps required by law to
sell it.  In other words it's just easier to smash the stuff.  What an outrage!

I have written to Senator Leahy (D-VT) asking him to look into this.  Sen.
Leahy is no real friend of radio enthusiasts (remember the ECPA of 1986!)
but he was seen publicly after the terrible Ice Storm of 1998 lauding and
thanking the radio amateurs here in VT for their fine work providing
communications during the long emergency.  In addition I have also
contacted the Public Affairs Officer at the D.R.M.S. (the government agency
responsible for disposing materiel that is no longer needed).  We had a
long talk (on Uncle Sam's nickel!) and I explained the situation to her and
I believe she understood what I was saying.  She said she'd look into it
and let me know the rational and reason behind this outrageous policy.  I
told her I see no reason why this equipment cannot be given to us hams so
we might have it available for future emergencies.  It's much better than
the alternative!

If this editorial outrages and angers you too - good!  That's what it is
intended to do. Write your elected officials (at least the ones that can
read) and ask them why this is being done? Demand an answer.  Next year is
an election year and many of these bozos are now thinking about getting
themselves re-elected so some of them may actually be
responsive.   Emphasize the public service and emergency preparedness
aspect of our hobby.  I don't hold out much hope, friends, but we can't
just sit there and let our beloved radios be violated and desecrated under
a moronic government policy that makes absolutely no sense to any thinking
person, Collins radio enthusiast or not!

As my good friend Tim Smith WA1HLR would say "I'm just so yellified....I
just don't know!"

Copyright 1999
Michael Crestohl,


Michael Crestohl
mc at

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