Give us the beans! 1
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’….”.

Job done!

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6 years ago

Fantastic tale Marion, its great to relive all these old stories.

In a small way by telling these tales we make the folk who have passed on, live once again. By telling their story they’re back with us, we can share their deeds and its preserved, to be shared by all who visit here.

Katie Bush
6 years ago

Hi Chris,

Yeah, it must have been around 1967/68, when I think about it. If memory serves me it was during the Christmas festivities, or just after (with it still fresh in our minds). I was not at school at the time, and remember a lot of it at first hand, and the rest from granddad’s account of what happened.

I remember that smoothing can, and it having a hot-spot on the side. I wanted to know why, but it ended up in the bin and I never got to know what went on inside.

Perhaps not a very technical tale, but it shows a human side to life, and key element was the unnoticed scrape and Bob’s miracle cure. Bob and granddad (Robert Trott and Akeroyd Cope) started out after the war with a bicycle shop – radio repairs came afterwards. Granddad was the sole survivor of three brothers in WW1, and though he was passed as “A1” at the time of WW2 he wasn’t allowed to go on active service overseas – he was a Corporal in the army, but I know not where, not what his expertise. He was one of those who went through both wars, and rarely ever spoke of it – by the time I found an interest in family history it was too late to ask him. He was on my mum’s side of the family and always just our “Gan-Gan”. He worked at Rowntrees in York, and did his part in the bike shop when he wasn’t at his day job. He was always pretty handy with the electronics of the day and even guided me and my brother through building a crystal radio – I enjoyed that, my brother was not so enthusiastic. My sister was always clean and pink and pretty, I was always up to my elbows in mud and muck! My brother was just a destructive little oik who got more fun out smashing things up – remember all those G6s (and others) I mentioned in the past?

Granddad’s shop was more of ‘lean-to’ at the side of the house, and was a spin-off from the bike shop. Bob went on to become sole owner of that enterprise, and granddad took on the radio and TV jobs – I personally believe he was in either “Army Signals” or “REME”. To be honest, I think he was old enough to retire when he started doing the electronic stuff, and was all but scuppered by lung cancer in about 1962, but pulled through after having a lung removed – he was a lucky one, or was he? In the army he got his army issue Woodbine’s and continued to smoke them in civvy street, and as we know, they were recognised as one of the worst brands for cancer risk. Anyway, he stuck at radio and TV until about 1970/71, and maintained it as a hobby until about 1978. He died suddenly in York Hospital in late 1980 – That’s when I acquired all those tellies, amongst other things. I was never a telly engineer, but some of it rubbed off on me, and I wasn’t going to let all that stuff end up in the tip, so salted it all away, until that is, my brother decided he was going to flatten that shed with his JCB and smashed the lot in a single afternoon whilst I was at work.

From about 7 or 8 years old I was awe struck by the magic of television, found thoroughly fascinated by the notion of a transmitter, miles away, sending pictures and sounds invisibly through the air to our TV sets. There’s nothing like a dark and foggy night for setting the atmosphere of magic and mystery as the TV aerial, in its silent vigil on the chimney stack, collects the signals and sends them down a wire to the TV which stands in the corner of the warm and cosy room – you couldn’t get a more stark contrast. I always loved telly aerials, so many different types and designs, all doing the same job, blackened by years of exposure to the elements and the soot from chimneys, stoic in their proud and silent vigil in the service of the people down below.

Funny how memories come flooding back again……?

Wolfgang Sch
Wolfgang Sch
Reply to 
1 month ago

I’d like to contact Katie Bush with regard to Technics ST-X990L-Problems
But it is not possible to register an account for a new member

Last edited 1 month ago by crustytv
6 years ago

Hi Marion,
Working with the public always had some human interest stories, wish I could remember them, many long forgotten but nice at the time.

To help your interest in aerials along have a look at some of the TV magazines on americanradiohistory. Lots of fascinating designs that that will work 200 miles from the transmitter, well the power of advertising and all that.
I was going to post a photo but I don’t think it’s allowed in this section, if it does I don’t know how.

Anyway here is a link with lots of magazines, I am sure you will find many TV and FM radio aerials in their pages.


6 years ago

That reminds me of a time back in the early 70’s when we went to look at a customer’s old Fergy 306….huge great beast it was and we took it back to the workshop to fix. It had a frame collapse and required a valve plus some caps changing. Once we’d got a picture we realised the screen was filthy. After we’d cleaned the screen and the protection glass it had a really excellent picture. When we took it back to the customer they were convinced we’d fitted a new tube as part of the service…..

6 years ago

A couple of tales from the 60s that spring to mind.

Ken walked in one day with a broad grin on his face. When we asked him for an explanation he told us he’d been to a call at a large house in the ‘posh’ part of town. He rang the bell and when the lady of the house answered, she said “Oh, I wasn’t expecting you this soon – I haven’t had time to lay newspaper down yet!” Ken looked down and said ” Oh! I see you’ve got fitted carpets! We’ve had them in our house for years!”

Ray, like me, was usually in the workshop but one day he was asked to help out with a couple of field calls. Tom looked up when he heard one of the addresses and said “Oh – you won’t like going there!” “Why not, Tom?” “Well”, said Tom, “you know what it smells like when you pee on a hot stove?” With a look of pure innocence on his face, Ray replied “No, Tom, I’ve never tried it. What does it smell like when you pee on a hot stove?”

I repaired a Bush TR82 one day that was so black that it was virtually impossible to see what the original colour was (light blue). Anyway, I left it playing on the side of the bench while I dismantled a TV to clean the screen. I was merrily polishing away when the end of the duster flicked across the TR82, leaving a streak of the Windolene I was using (the traditional pink stuff). I just wiped it off with a clean part of the duster and, to my surprise, the original colour appeared, as if by magic! It took, literally, a couple of minutes with the Windolene to restore the cabinet to almost ‘as new’ condition – it was unbelievable!

I wasn’t around when the customer collected the radio so I’ve no idea what reaction, if any, there was.

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