Monday, May 18, 2009

Spring Break

I flew in from Ronald Reagan to Indy on Thursday and the car rental people said the only thing left was this Camaro, with eleven miles on it. They insisted I take it. Done!

This car was a real attention-getter. People waved, pointed, shouted and honked. The damned thing was WAY too powerful and even had paddle-shifters.

This called for some careful and judicious driving between Indy and Dayton, as the Ohio State Police are not known for their (collective) sense of humor, and a brand-spanking-new fiery-red Camaro with Mississippi plates would represent an irresistible temptation!

With Roberta X as my guide, we set off early Friday morning and reached our destination around ten thirty.

Our first stop was “Telegraph Row” and the booth of the Begali family of Italy. The Begalis make some of the most eye-popping, museum-quality telegraph keys on this (or any other) planet. Here, Roberta is discussing the details of the Begali “Intrepid” bug with Signor Begali The Younger.

And before I could pick up my teeth, the deal was done, for this breathtaking single-paddle key. Before moving on, I extracted a promise from Roberta that this would be absolutely, positively, the last telegraph key she would ever buy. I think I got her promise, although, I realize now that I was not able to see both of her hands at the same time; she may have been crossing her fingers. Time will tell.

The vintage gear was the big draw for both of us. If it has big, honkin' knife switches, we're interested. And this bad boy has two kinds of knife switches: a regular one and a very unusual “rotary” version. Roberta identified this gadget as a powerline inductance test set.

There are a zillion old cardboard boxes spread out over a huge parking lot, and we're going to give each one a frisk.

What kinds of things are in those boxes? Have a look. We couldn't ID the three olive-drab thingies in the middle, but for $4 you can buy a Bakelite microphone with a cable covered in real India-rubber! Or maybe it's gutta-perchia. Either way, it's a steal!

What have we here? Seems to be a final output meter for a high-altitude circularly-polarized 1937 Teslatron Linear Plasma Injector, new and unused, in original box. Fifty cents.

Roberta spotted this from more than a block away and called it right. It's a control panel from an Army mobile radio set.

There are lots of big, scary-looking vacuum tubes, some the size of fire hydrants. This is a little one. It's about 18-inches tall.

Here we have a most amazing and phantabulous telegraph key. It is electrically-powered and fan cooled! Completely unnecessary and yet, absolutely essential!

Two very unusual “bugs”. The one on the right is an absolutely unique “clockwork” key: you have to wind it up before you can send anything.

There was surplus military and aviation electronics by the long-tonne. Roberta nearly scored a 1950's vintage military aviation “Command Set” transmitter for 40-meters. This is the oxygen control panel for a commercial airliner. The red cover protects the switch that drops the passengers' emergency oxygen masks into their laps.

We identified this as a control panel from a commercial flight simulator.

How about a little wheel-well fire? Why, my little party is just beginning!

Something for the workplace?

Why, yes! To measure her co-workers.

This was a little sobering for me. Three state-of-the-art (in 1980) Tektronix waveform monitors from a TV station. Excellent condition. Cost new: $2,000 each. Today only, special price: $10 each.

Four mint-condition vintage radios in a mint-condition cabinet. My hand is over the “SOLD” sign.

This is a Soviet cipher machine from the Cold War era. It has ten rotors. It appears to be complete, intact and in working order. It is one of two known to exist. The NSA has the other one.

Roberta taking a snap of the 12-gauge black-powder cannon.
We were on our feet continuously from 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM, skipped lunch and got badly sunburned. But we saw absolutely everything and we had a blast doing it!

Sunday morning at Eagle Creek range. Roberta is trying out a Winchester side-by-side with two-triggers. I got to fire a .22 with a silencer!

Then back to Broad Ripple. There was an outdoor art fair.

And Sunday afternoon at Locally Grown Gardens. Clockwise from left: Shootin' Buddy, Shermlock Shomes, Roberta X, Old Grouch, Shermlock, Jr, Joanna and Tam. Not shown: Mad Saint Jack and Turk Turon. A few minutes after this picture was taken, a man walked up and introduced himself as a blog-reader from Milwaukee who was in town and suddenly realized that he was only a few blocks from the Indy Blogmeet, and couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet Tam.

LGG is located in a former gas station, as you can see. They have the most delicious locally-grown produce, barbecued pork and salmon, homemade pies (try the crumbly-topped apple pie) and bread. My goodness, they're tasty! And bottled soft drinks made with real cane sugar! Wow!

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Monday it was back to D.C. The contractors had torn out the bathroom to replace, well, just about everything.

This is the underside of the old tub, waiting to be hauled away. It was made in 1950.


Carteach0 said...

Thanks for the grand tour!

The Hamvention looks like a blast, and one day I will have to go... not that I need to ignite another hobby.

Looks like Ya'll had fun. Good!

Bob said...

I recognize a couple of the radios in the bay with the "sold" sticker you were standing beside, they are R-390 HF receivers, we still used those in the Navy back in the 1980's, both for intercept of Russian HF radio signals and also for time ticks from WWV to synchronized cryptographic gear. Great old receivers, we loved them. If we were near enough to a coastline or in port we used them to listen to the AM band.

Lorimor said...

Oh yeah, the good ol' R-390. :) I thought they were old in the late '70's. :)

Anonymous said...

Even though the R-390's don't have a BFO, I really really want one.

And yes, the were old in the '70's :)