[AMRadio] Re: GB> FREE Collins KW-1 and a question

Todd, KA1KAQ ka1kaq at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 24 10:03:29 EDT 2007

On 10/20/07, Bry Carling <bcarling at cfl.rr.com> wrote:

> I have been told that at least one of them - perhaps two or more,
> have found their way over to Japan, back in the days when
> you could still get one for $14K - $15K or so.

I can address this somewhat, Bry. Bit of a lenghty story, though.

Back in the early 1990s I was trying to find a manual for my 30K-5, no
small feat in the days before the 'net. One of the resources available
was the early CCA 20m sideband net which was only held on weekends
then (Sunday afternoon/evening, IIRC). Every now and then
(translation: when I remembered to sign in) I'd post a
want/need/desperate plea for said manual.

Time goes by, and I get complacent. As the net is drawing to a close,
I go into the house (my radio room at the previous location was in an
old room between the barn and house) to get some refreshment. Upon
returning, I hear a fellow saying "Well, I guess the guy looking for
the 30K manual must've left" which causes me to nearly break my neck
getting to the mic.

After making contact with the fellow who luckily was still there, he
gave me a phone number to reach him at. Turns out he had just retired
from Collins and put me in touch with his replacement, who made me a
splendid copy of the Collins Library copy of the manual, and shipped
it to me at no cost. Collins was still a class act even then, helping
out a lowly ham like myself.

While talking with the retired gent, we have a discussion about old
Collins gear. He asks me what I use and what else is kicking around,
which inevitably gets back to the 'antique shop' KW-1 I picked up in
1988. We marvel at the design and longevity of the transmitter, as
well as the escalating price required to obtain one. Boatanchors and
AM were becoming fashionable, along with Collins gear.

He then tells me about of a friend of his (from AZ, I believe) who
completely restored one of these transmitters down to the last bolt.
New paint, new lettering, etc.Looked and worked 100% new. Turns out he
had recently sold it to a guy from Japan for something over $46,000.
Then the JA paid to air-freight it to Japan on top of that. I asked if
the $46K might include the shipping, he said no, he was sure that was
the selling price only.

Someone out there must know of the seller, the transmitter, or have
heard of the deal. At this point, it's still just a story relayed to
me by a recently-retired Collins employee back in the early 90s. I
can't believe he lied or had any ulterior motives to inflate the
market price, since word-of-mouth and the USPS were still the main
means of spreading rumors back then. Maybe the seller didn't want the
IRS finding out.

I've turned down offers over the years from several individuals for
#89, the highest being $25K. Received a letter just last year from a
fellow in Mass. looking to buy one. Still not for sale. To me, the
only true value is in its history and utility, not some perceived
financial investment. If AM was outlawed tomorrow, I'd have some
really nice pieces of industrial art but not be hurting financially
because I'd bought them as investments. As the so-called 'market'
value of these relics overall continues to drop, anyone holding them
as investments should see the writing on the wall and get into pork
futures instead. The tiny fraction of the population interested in
radio is relatively small. Old radios, fewer still. Old amateur radios
a.k.a. 'boatanchors', well....What will your SX-88 be worth when
broadcasting moves to digital? More importantly, who will care?

~ Todd,  KA1KAQ

BTW - there are a few KW-1s outside the USA: at least 2 in Canada at
the Hammond Museum, 1 in Germany, and 1 in Belgium according to the
registry kept by W0YVA:


There is also a rumor that 2 were left behind in Cuba by the CIA when
the commies took over, with persistent stories of the transmitters
being pressed into broadcast service with more hacks and mods than a
'54 Chevy in downtown Havana. Who knows what may yet be found?

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