By Member Marion
It was cold and dark Winter’s afternoon when a green Morris Minor drew up outside and an elderly couple emerged. “Mr Cope?” they enquired. “Yes, can I help you?” his reply… “Aye, we have an old telly that’s suddenly stopped working, and wondered if you might take a look at at it for us?” – “No problem, do want a hand to bring in?” – “Oh, it’s not in the car, too big for that. We were hoping you’d come over and look at it at home for us” – “Okay, what’s actually wrong with it?” – “Well, we don’t know really, it was working last night, and then it suddenly ‘went off’…..” – “I see, what set is it?” – “It’s a big ‘un! and it won’t fit in our Morris!” – “Do you know what make? What model?” – “Aye, it’s a big old Bush” – “Err, when you say old, how old?” – “Oh, middle fifties we think”.
Anyway, to cut to the chase, granddad went to look at this set, and it was not that big, but it was a console, and admittedly, it wouldn’t stand upright in the back of the Morris, but it almost certainly would have laid down in there. Now, not knowing all of this, granddad enlisted the help of his mate ‘Bob’ who started in business with my granddad, after the war, running a bicycle shop in the village, and Bob had nice big van to fetch the telly back to base.
A cursory look at the set showed it was dead, nowt doing, and for the mid 60’s was hardly the most up-to-date of viewing apparatus (granddad loved that word – apparatus, and always pronounced it “apper-rat-uss”). Not being one to shrink from a challenge he agreed to look it over, but it would be a chassis out job, and that meant taking it back to the shop. So into Bob’s van went the telly and the pair set off. Back at the shop the telly was unloaded and wheeled into the workshop, and on the face of it, it wasn’t in bad shape. The chassis was clean as a whistle, not much dust, no soot and no nicotine, so he and Bob ‘uncrated’ the chassis and hoisted it onto the bench whereupon granddad set to work. It wasn’t much of repair job as I recall him saying but not something you could do in a customer’s living room – the set was quite repairable and at a price that made it worth doing. As I recall, the main fuse had blown (quite spectacularly ‘chrome plating’ the inside of the glass tube), but there was no obvious short circuit. One section in the HT dropper had gone open circuit, and was duly replaced, but still no sign of a short, so a new fuse was inserted and the set switched on. All seemed well, so it was left on all afternoon, then quite quietly the set stopped working – no heaters, no HT, no nowt! The fuse had failed again. How odd, but this time there was a dead short across the mains input. A bit of head scratching and some inverse logic revealed a shorted section in the HT smoothing can, and the can was hot to the touch, especially in one small spot. Sure enough, out of the set, the smoother showed a dead short. So, no bother, just change the smoother, but why did the main fuse fail and not the HT fuse? Because someone had been there before my granddad! the main fuse was rated at 1.5A, but the HT fuse was rated at 3.75A! – Hang on a minute, that’s a bit “strong” isn’t it? So a more conservatively rated 500mA was inserted.
All fixed up and fettled, the set, or moreover, the chassis was left to run on the bench all day, next day, and it behaved admirably, and so, it was duly crated up back into its cabinet, whereupon “Oh bloody hell! – How did that happen?” – there was a long, broad, but shallow scrape down one side of the cabinet. “It must’ve happened in the van” .Quick as flash, Bob nipped into the house and came back with a jar of Nescafe instant coffee (my granny had just bought some to try out). It was that newfangled granulated stuff that everyone was getting excited about. Bob mixed about a teaspoonful with some warm water and rubbed it into the scrape, and then set about gently wiping over with a damp rag until the scrape was as near as possible to a match with the rest of the cabinet, and then buffed to a shine with some beeswax polish – lovely job!
The following morning, and no idea why, granddad decided to put his AVO across that duff cap, and what? – No short. Now that has to be weird. Anyway no time muck about duff caps, just bin it. More important was to get the telly back to its owners, so neatly wrapped in an old blanket, Bob and Granddad took the set home, unloaded it from the van and wheeled it indoors. Just then, the lady of the house shrieked out “Eeh, Reg, come and look at this – now that’s service for you!”. Granddad and Bob, mystified by her excitement, one of them asked, “Er, what’s up love?”. She said “We’d heard you good at tellies, but never expected you to sort out that ruddy great scratch and all!”. The penny dropped, so with a smile, granddad said “All part of the service…”. Apparently, “Reg” had had a bit of a tussle with a fireguard (spark guard) that was usually stowed away beside the telly. “He got a bit ‘airiated’ with it when it wouldn’t come out a couple of years back” according to the old lady “And that’s how it got that big scratch”.
Back at the shop, granddad reckoned he was just about get all apologetic for scraping the cabinet before the old lady got all excited about the ‘fix’ – “Didn’t see any point in shattering her illusion” he said. Bob’s reply? “I wonder if they would have preferred ‘freshly ground’….”.