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Tech Chat British valve manufacturing

 
sideband
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I came across an interesting project Great British Valve Project - Brimar Thermionic Products - Official Site (brimaruk.com)

Is anyone else aware of this? Apparently at the moment Brimar Thermionic Products are supplying valves from various sources, mainly Russia and China but their long-term plan is to produce affordable valves (admittedly the audio standards) in the UK.  I haven't fully read the article but it seems they are looking for volunteers, particularly anyone who was involved in valve production. 

 

I came across this via the Philips Pension Association of which I am a member. They contacted the association to see if there were any members who used to work at the Mullard Blackburn factory.

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Topic starter Posted : 28/01/2022 10:11 pm
sideband
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Brimar Thermionic Products
 
Brimar is a small UK start-up organisation near Bromsgrove who are in the process of starting to manufacture valves. Much of the equipment they have originally came from Mullard Blackburn. So far, they have successfully manufactured a few of the very earliest valves. Their website is here.
 
I copied the above text and that below from the pensions website. For obvious reasons I can't give links to what is a Philips members only site.
 
 
You may wonder why anyone would wish to make valves now. The type glowing in the photo, an R type, is similar to what was employed in the very early radios. Brimar’s intention is to move on and make more complicated and larger valves as are still used by “audiophiles” in their beloved valve amplifiers. There is a market for producing the likes of PX4s, ECC83s and EL34s. At the moment, Brimar import these types and others from, for instance, Russia and China. Indeed a company in Russia uses the old Mullard logo on their valves.
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Topic starter Posted : 28/01/2022 10:30 pm
WayneD and PYE625 liked
PYE625
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It is a very interesting prospect that valves may once again be made here.

I wish them every success and look forward to any progress.

Perhaps looking even further forward, there could exist the possibility of CRT's being re-gunned.

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Posted : 28/01/2022 11:25 pm
WayneD liked
Nuvistor
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It’s certainly a challenging undertaking and I wish them well. Yes I expect it will be audio valves to get first production, if there is enough market for other types then they could expand. The NOS valve suppliers seem to have a good stock of radio and TV valves from the last 60 years or so and it’s probable the market for new production is not there.

Anyway good luck to them and I really hope it works out for them.

 

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Posted : 29/01/2022 11:05 am
Cathovisor
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Posted by: @sideband

There is a market for producing the likes of PX4s, ECC83s and EL34s.

I always got the impression that "audiophiles" - who seem to spend more time listening to their system than the music - are far more likely to prefer the originals to any repro, especially that bloody triode... 🤬 

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Posted : 29/01/2022 12:29 pm
WayneD
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Posted by: @pye625

It is a very interesting prospect that valves may once again be made here.

I wish them every success and look forward to any progress.

Perhaps looking even further forward, there could exist the possibility of CRT's being re-gunned.

I can certainly see the demand for CRTs being re-gunned for the retro gaming community as old games look terrible on LCD screens. I'm currently repairing two Commodore monitors for a local chap and the amount of enquiries I'm getting on repairs is climbing. 

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Posted : 29/01/2022 4:05 pm
crustytv
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Posted by: @wayned

can certainly see the demand for CRTs being re-gunned for the retro gaming community

The topic of CRT regunning is a perennial at VRAT and other vintage TV forums. More of a wistful dream than ever a reality. I can certainly agree there may be some, but limited demand, I think I can be bold enough though, to predict it will never happen.

Many reasons, not least of which is the acquisition of the required speicalised equipment. Then there's the very important gun assemblies, how are you going to source them. Finally, the skills required to do it, almost all the people who knew how, have long passed.

However, if all of that could be overcome, the chief reason for it never happening, is the cost. Unless the people who run the operation are rich, or have a rich benefactor, the cost is phenominal. Assuming the money and equipment could be found, unless the people running it are altruistic and happy to make a loss, harldy anyone would pay the price of a regun.  

I can't be 100% certain, but I'm sure it's pretty close, a RACS regun, ran at around £800, and that was almost 10-years ago.

I can see all the retro gamers running for the hills at that price. It's never going to be low enough to be affordable, for the vast majority. A few members here, some sadly departed, used RACS, mainly for their pre-war TVs and were very pleased with the results. However, they were not without the occasional fault, I'm aware of one that had to be returned due a poor phosphor coating.

Then there is the shipping, no point sending this by Parcel Farce, you'll have more to worry about than a low emission cathode, a box of shards! That reminds me, I remember member @murphyV310 trying to organise a trip around the UK to collect CRT's from members, for regunning. The idea being to avoid the shipping issue, he would hire a Van, collect the CRT's drive them to RACS in France, stay there and then return them all to the UK member on his route home to Kilmarnock. The response, shall we say, was less than favourable. This was back when a fair few people had expressed an interest in getting their TVs regunned. When the time came, they all baulked, or made unreasonable requests to Trevor to detour rather than meet en-route. At the time I was up for this as I had a low emission MW14-22 and was gutted it never came to fruition.

Background

The last remaining two regunners were RACS in France and Hawkeye in the USA, both now closed. I believe most of the Kit from both RACS and Hawkeye ended up with Steve McVoy at the Early Television museum in the USA. I don't think outside of the museum, there are any plans to operate this as a commercial venture.

One of the chaps from ETM, travelled to RACS in  France to receive on site training before they closed, some of which you can watch here.

If you want to see Scott, the master at Hawkeye at work, this video documents the entire process, very absorbing, definitely a cuppa and biccy time.

 

Outside of the ETM, I believe there is one company left, but that being in Russia, hardly a viable option for most. Furthermore, I'm not sure they even do colour.

I was aware of the Brimar project, I think it was mentioned at least a couple of years ago both here and at UKVRRR. They have more than a fair chance of success, but will have to compete with the mythology of Mullard Yellow labels, and legendary Blackburn codes.

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Posted : 29/01/2022 5:41 pm
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MurphyV310
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Hi Chris. 

There is actually still a regunner in Russia. He's far from cheap and there is a snag. The faulty CRT has to be delivered in person, its regunned, shown working and then collected by car only. Allegedly a horrendous journey, the quality though is exceptional. My friend in Poland has done this but said never again. Russian drivers consume more Vodka than the cars use in petrol!! 

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Posted : 29/01/2022 6:06 pm
WayneD
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@crustytv Ah, yeah that's not exactly viable is it? 😬 

Apparently there's warehouses full of new old stock 14" and 21" CRTs in Indonesia and China. I suppose that would satisfy the retro gaming community.

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Posted : 29/01/2022 6:22 pm
Katie Bush
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Posted by: @cathovisor
Posted by: @sideband

There is a market for producing the likes of PX4s, ECC83s and EL34s.

I always got the impression that "audiophiles" - who seem to spend more time listening to their system than the music - are far more likely to prefer the originals to any repro, especially that bloody triode... 🤬 

Aye, but then, that could mean plenty of repros for those of us who ain't so picky - As long as the price isn't out by Pluto!

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Posted : 29/01/2022 9:43 pm