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Cynical Definitions

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Peter W.

Sep 19, 2022, 9:01:55 AM9/19/22
I just spent most of Thursday, Friday and Saturday here:

Some observations based on some eBay descriptions and terms, and how they translate into actuality:

Not working/For parts: Dead. Stone dead. Usually with a cut cord.
Untested: A less direct statement, but as above.
Lights up: Not stone-dead. But not much better.
Works: Definition a) Does not blow up immediately. Definition b) Makes noise - quality of noise undetermined.
Works well: Makes discernable noise, or stays cool. The noise may be wildly distorted, or the unit may not function at all - but it is not burning up.
Fully restored and working: Just enough was done to it that it works to minimal adequacy.
Working - Tested: At least at Kutztown, that generally means a fully functional device.

One of the reasons I run the Kutztown Klinic is so that buyers (and sellers, often enough) can do honest assessments of whatever it is they buy, or have to sell. And, as it happens, on Set-up Thursday, I am getting more and more items to look at and assess. Not only vintage radios but three examples:

Dynaco SCA80Q, late Blackwood version - all the mods and so a better-than-decent solid-state integrated amp. It had been heavily repaired at some point by a less than neat individual. The seller stated that 'it does not light up, and the fuse is good'. Onto the variac: Pulling 25 watts, steady, no heat -but no light either. I sent him down to another table for a NE-2 lamp, replaced it in the switch, replaced some bad wiring (not incorrect, but the wrong kind of wire for the purpose), checked the caps, checked output levels, all good. Cleaned the controls. Done. So, a simple $0.85 neon lamp became the difference between "not working" and "working - tested".

Different seller: Dynaco FM5 tuner - Jefferson Street version: Not passing signal. No 'stereo' or 'tuned' lights. I keep those, and replaced them for him. All of a sudden, a nice, effective, simple FM-only tuner. Cleaned the controls. Done.

Different seller: Cut-cord Zenith shortwave component tuner (S-120A) - jumped in a power-cord - watched the ammeter start to spike, just lagging the voltage, so not quite a dead-short. "For Parts". Done.

And so forth.

It should not be surprising that many sellers, even at a vintage electronics meet, have no clue as to the actual condition of what they are selling, and neither do the buyers. But as often as not, that item found at a garage sale, curbside rescue or similar got that way becomes something simple failed and the owner has no means to know that, or make the proper repairs. And, to find a tech that will charge less than US$75 to replace $0.95 worth of parts is unlikely to happen.

Did I charge the sellers for those repairs? Absolutely not! And why it is a hobby, not a business. Both did make a small contribution to the club, however.

Peter Wieck
Melrose Park, PA

Sep 19, 2022, 11:52:13 AM9/19/22
Sounds like descriptions on car sales:

Low mileage - "Low mileage to anyone who drives less than 25K a year"
Reasonable - "I'm asking more than it's worth which is why I didn't put the actual price in"
Serious Inquiries Only - "Yeah, I know it's a common turd but I'm trying to portray this as an in-demand car with people knocking my doors down trying to get a chance to buy it."


Sep 19, 2022, 1:29:47 PM9/19/22
On Monday, September 19, 2022 at 9:01:55 AM UTC-4, Peter W. wrote:
Having spent many years on ebay, I'd say your definitions are fairly accurate. Over the last year, the electronic stuff I tend to look at falls under the category of Untested (or a 'active' statement - plugged it in and nothing blew up/light came on). Most of the postings seem to be done by people who are clueless about electronic things. They stumbled on something electronic and want to make a buck on ebay. The garage sale recyclers are some of the types that drive me nuts. They find something that 'looks complicated' (e.g. a older ham transceiver for example), with the 'untested' label, and list it for the price of a 'working-tested' unit.

If you are into vintage TV and broadcasting, you may want to check out this site:
Some years ago, I helped diagnose some old TV sets and a vidicon on their mobile broadcast truck. At one point they had intentions of setting up a 'early 50's' broadcast studio.
Neat place if you want to get a look of early TV receivers from their inception through the 70s

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