I am a big believer in the old adage that “A man needs a hobby to stay out of trouble”. I realized this when my husband and I were in the early stages of our relationship. He would come home, and after dinner he would sit, look at television and drink a six-pack. Now I knew this could develop into something serious, so wanting to stop the habit before it took a firm hold, I gently suggested a hobby. My suggestion wasn’t for just any old hobby, it was for one that was very interesting but needed coursework to develop – gun-smithing! Initially my husband drank as usual while going through the coursework. But very soon he realized falling asleep while trying to learn wasn’t going to get him very far. So little by little the drinking got less and less – the six-pack went from daily to only on weekends, to only once a month, then only on holidays to finally once a year. This didn’t happen overnight, but quickly enough to make a difference in our relationship. The gun-smithing classes evolved into getting a federal license, to a 20 year hobby of buying and selling guns, fixing all types of guns and long arms, entering competitions and even building a black powder gun – from turning the barrel on a lathe to carving the stock from a hunk of wood. About 5 years ago, Robert, my husband decided he was bored with guns and wanted to try his hand at something else.
Well 20 years is about a quarter of a lifetime. With 2 quarters down and two quarters remaining, what now? Hum…… I have an old tube radio – something my parents bought when I was a little girl and I grew up with, plus, I inherited the old tube, console radio and record player, my father bought in Germany. My husband used to ask me why I was hanging on to these old radios and I used to tell him “Someday I’ll find someone who can fix them, and I’ll enjoy my record collection once again”. When I used to say this to him, I never thought, that someone, would be my husband! But guess what….it was/is. When he got tired of the guns and gave up our Firearms Dealer License he started reading forums on the internet (that’s another story for another day) and figured he had nothing to lose by trying to fix the table top, green, Zenith, tube radio I’d been toting around all these years. I was a bit skeptical, but Robert not only did research on the internet, but read books on electronics and one day decided to go for it. He replaced resistors, capacitors, wires, and tubes – he cleaned not only the outside but the interior chassis – where the tubes sit – as well. Lo and behold, the AM/FM Zenith was resurrected and now sits in my office where I listen to it while working on the computer. But wait, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Listening to over the air programming wasn’t enough, the music one could find on the computer was so much better. The next question was how to stream it from the computer to the antique radio? Build a transmitter said Robert, and he did! That was all it took, now Robert could be seen glued to the computer screen, searching high and low for the next deal on a radio that needed to be brought back to life. The radios became like children, they each had a pet name and a special place in our home once restored. There was a radio for every corner of a room, and some rooms needed radios in the center as well as the corners. It took a few years, but Robert finally got the courage to tackle the “Grundig” – that console my father bought in Germany. It wasn’t easy, since the schematics were in German and neither one of us spoke German. But once again, the internet was a big help in translating the schematic. Once the Grundig was working, Robert turned his attention to resurrecting old record players. To date, other than the Grundig, Robert has a 78 RPM record player with a radio, that was built-in the early 1940’s and a three speed RCA record player from the early 1950’s which plays 78, 33, & 45 RPM records, and they each get their turns at playing records. Oh, I forgot to mention the collection of 78 RPM records Robert is amassing. Some of the records are almost 100 years old and they still play – amazing! Of course, every now and then, a radio gets jealous and decides to give Robert problems. That just means, that radio gets special one on one attention when Robert brings it to his man cave to fix.
It seems radio electronics wasn’t as big a challenge as I would have thought. No matter the condition of the radio or record player when Robert gets it, it only takes a week or so for him to fix and restore. Now he is trying his hand at computers. He’s already fixed 4 computers and is on his 5th computer. This 5th one seems to be giving him a bigger problem than the others. It may take him a few months, but I know he will keep at it until he figures it out. In the meantime, Robert is still scouring the internet for deals on antique radios, record players and of course, records.