First I need to set the scene. A busy workshop in a small family-run business and the chief engineer and myself have been beavering away trying to get all the radios and TV’s fixed for Christmas. It is December 24th 1970, I’m (just) 18 years old, had left school six months before and it’s my first Christmas Eve at work. It was a tradition that everyone went down the pub on Christmas Eve and although I was the ‘New Boy’, there were no excuses. I had just changed some frame capacitors in a Pye Pioneer TV when I was more-or-less dragged away.
Cue an hour and a half and about four pints of Courage Directors later (I only ever drink Real Ale), somewhat light-headed, I find my way back up to the workshop and finish the Pye TV. The chief engineer (hereafter referred to as Harry) is keen to get his van loaded up with the last sets from the workshop and hopefully get finished early. The Pye TV works well, I fit the back, give it a final test and help Harry load it onto the van (remember the Morris Minor vans)? Harry, being sensible, has only had a half of bitter and is soon off on his way leaving me to find my way back to the workshop (the fresh air has made me more light-headed) to finish off a couple of radio’s due for collection by customers later.
Fast forward to February 1971 and a further call has been received regarding the Pye Pioneer. Harry had stopped at the customer’s home on the way in to work and the TV was on my bench waiting for me when I arrived. ‘No sound’ he said. Probably something dead simple’. ‘I didn’t look at it in the house as the customer was just going off to work, which is why I made an early call’.
I put my workshop coat on and then switched on the Pye, confirming the ‘no sound’ fault. As the picture was perfect and everything else worked OK I also assumed something dead simple. I switched the set off, turned it around and unscrewed the back. As I removed it, there was a loud crash followed by a brief ‘whooshing’ noise and the chassis, complete with the neck of the tube and scan-coils still attached, fell out and hung suspended on various cables just above the floor. I stood there for what seemed like ages rather white faced with a sinking feeling and a vision that my career as a TV engineer was about to come to an abrupt halt.
I turned round expecting the worst but instead Harry was doubled-up with laughter making a noise reminiscent of a seal. He reached for something at the back of his bench and handed me a small plastic pot containing some screws. ‘I wondered where those had come from’ he said. ‘I found them a while ago but there was no TV to fit them to’! I was then reminded of that afternoon on Christmas Eve when I returned in my rather light-headed state. ‘I thought you’d assembled the set rather quickly but thought no more about it’.
We then got sensible and assessed what damage had been done. Apart from the CRT, nothing else appeared to be damaged except for a couple of broken wires, easily fixed. Fortunately we had a number of scrap TV’s in the back room and were able to find a good tube. Harry removed the donor tube, cleaned it up then handed it to me and said, ‘You broke it so you fix it! I’ve got my calls to make’, and with that, promptly left me to it!
Well when Harry returned just before lunchtime, the Pye TV was sitting on the soak bench, fully assembled with a good picture and sound as well. Just to prove it was done properly, I had left the back off to show that the screws had indeed been fitted. ‘ The sound fault was just a PCL82 and a cathode resistor’ I said.
It was a very sobering experience for me and the outcome could have been a lot worse. Harry was a great guy , sadly no longer with us and just took the incident in his stride. ‘If you’d seen some of the things I’ve done in the past…..’ is what he said. I wasn’t allowed to forget the incident though. For as long as I remained with that company, whenever I took a set apart, there was often a mumbled ‘Don’t forget the screws’ from the other side of the workshop!