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Component drawers.

Famed V-Ratter Rest in Peace

There are three basic problems with component drawers.  The first is that they are usually much to big for the small number of resistors, etc. that you are likely to have. The second is that they take up acres of wall space and the third is that the cost of them makes them a major investment - and that's before you put a single component in them!

So here's a cheap and effective alternative from an idea inspired by Mullard.

In the beginning ...

When I started work in 1960, the only resistors that we had a full range of were Erie ½W types in their chunky white ceramic tubes. They came in boxes of 12, wrapped round a card, and neatly fitted into sleeves provided by Erie which took 12 boxes - i.e one decade. These sleeves sat neatly side by side on a shelf and that was that. 

Smaller resistors were becoming increasingly common but there was usually plenty of room available, so not a problem. It was easy enough to order the smaller types, from RS usually, but they came in stupid cellophane packets. Solution? Keep the Erie boxes and pop in the RS ones!

The real problems didn't start until 1962, the year when what our American cousins call Vest Pocket Radios flooded in from Japan and Hong Kong.

One ended up on my bench one day - dead. Easy enough to find that it had been caused by the owner being a bit clumsy when changing the PP3. The detector and its load resistor sat in a very vulnerable position on the bottom left hand corner of the PCB and the resistor was now in two pieces. A 4k7 ⅛W resistor! Of course, we had nothing to fit it so I had to order some. More cellophane packets! Where would it all end ...?

Mullard 'Mustards' to the rescue!

The prices of semiconductors were, of course, coming down and the ability of being able to experiment with electronics without the shock risk attached to valves attracted an increasing number of schoolboys, in particular, to the hobby. By the end of 1964 it had resulted in a new magazine to cater for this and Practical Electronics arrived. Wow betide my stationer if my copy of PW and PE didn't arrive first thing on the day of issue so that I could get some idea of what I might expect when the lads from the local grammar school started turning up in the afternoon!

We'd always sold the odd component to anyone who wanted them but it wasn't an everyday occurrence but gradually it had built up to a trickle and continued to increase month by month. Some of values of the small quantities of many components which were more than adequate for our servicing needs could be exhausted in a day or two! We really needed more storage but it had to be possible to find any component quickly - and rummaging through a box of cellophane packets wasn't it!

Component drawers would have been nice but not only was wall space at a premium but our tight fisted boss would never fork out for them - after all, we'd been doing perfectly alright for 40 years without them, so why would we need them now?

Mullard had been heavily promoting the C296 capacitor range - usually known as 'mustards' - so I ordered some. When they turned up, they were in valve boxes!

Different sizes dependent on value but valve boxes just the same - but with one important modification. A panel nearly as long as one side was perforated! Just pull it off and you had a tray that fitted in a valve rack with the value and voltage clearly marked on the end!

I started collecting valve boxes ...

(To be continued.)


Topic starter Posted : 05/01/2020 5:41 pm
Famed V-Ratter Rest in Peace

Oops! I'd forgotten that I'd already covered this topic 5 years ago!

Topic starter Posted : 05/01/2020 5:55 pm