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 Post subject: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 18, 2019 7:27 pm 
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I found a person selling 2 Armco radio receivers on kijiji.ca. At first glance I thought they might be Heathkits. I don't know much about Armco but would like to know if Armco built a decent radio. Perhaps one could use Heathkit as a comparison so the question is not so subjective.

They are asking $45 USD. each for them. They are said to be untested, which means not working in my books, so it could be an adventure getting them running.

Here is the.link: https://www.kijiji.ca/v-view-details.ht ... 1347742721

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 18, 2019 7:35 pm 
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Never heard of the brand before, but the photos show the units are clearly imports, almost certainly Japanese based on the age. There's no way of knowing very much more based on that limited information. They would definitely be lower quality than Heathkits.

They might work acceptably when everything is right, but they are old enough that they could easily need some repair so I have to agree with your observation that they probably don't work now. I see nothing that would make them desirable unless one collects unusual brands and wanted them for that reason.

A big issue would be locating documentation such as schematics, or any specialized parts that might be needed.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 18, 2019 8:42 pm 
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Those are early FM stereo tuners, although one might be the hybrid AM/FM pseudo stereo. Just tuners, no amps. The one with the FM stereo multiplexer might be ok. Still just a tuner.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 18, 2019 8:47 pm 
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That is a tuner designed with separate AM and FM sections to receive "stereo" by tuning one band to a left channel, and the other band to the other channel. Not MPX stereo. Mono only each band. Looks like a not high end tuner.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 18, 2019 9:51 pm 
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Similar in quality to Lafayette radio (LRE). That means in working condition, OK quality. There is no difference in sound between a tube tuner and solid state. Some people prefer the sound of a tube audio power amp because the way they distort is different from a solid state amp. But here you have no amp.
So the tuner with two dials might be good for AM listening to a hockey game in one ear and FM music in the other ear. The middle tuner has shields missing on two of the IF transformers. Why? If bad, could be hard to find replacements for the coils. The third has obvious corrosion on shields and other metal. Could be the best of the lot or the worst. The phono uses a low-fi crystal cartridge. These go bad with age and no one is making replacements. A ceramic cartridge is available that puts out half the voltage of a crystal and might work if the amplifier has enough gain. If you can get the items for $10 each and want to play around, go for it. My advice is to walk away, fast.


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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 18, 2019 11:25 pm 
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Mr. Detrola wrote:
Never heard of the brand before, but the photos show the units are clearly imports, almost certainly Japanese based on the age.

As soon as I read this my desire for the radio plummeted.



Quote:
There's no way of knowing very much more based on that limited information. They would definitely be lower quality than Heathkits.

I'll stick to looking around for a Heathkit then.

Quote:
They might work acceptably when everything is right, but they are old enough that they could easily need some repair so I have to agree with your observation that they probably don't work now. I see nothing that would make them desirable unless one collects unusual brands and wanted them for that reason.

Yep, not my thing; I prefer Canadian/American units.

Quote:
Those are early FM stereo tuners, although one might be the hybrid AM/FM pseudo stereo. Just tuners, no amps. The one with the FM stereo multiplexer might be ok. Still just a tuner.

I figured they were just pre-amped. That would be okay as I could connect them to my Heathkit amp.

Quote:
That is a tuner designed with separate AM and FM sections to receive "stereo" by tuning one band to a left channel, and the other band to the other channel. Not MPX stereo. Mono only each band. Looks like a not high end tuner.

I have to say that it would be quite unique in that case.

Quote:
So the tuner with two dials might be good for AM listening to a hockey game in one ear and FM music in the other ear.

That does sound interesting. A plus for its singularity.

Quote:
The middle tuner has shields missing on two of the IF transformers. Why? If bad, could be hard to find replacements for the coils.

You guys never fail to give me great answers. What a catch there! I'd never have seen that nor looked for it.

Quote:
The phono uses a low-fi crystal cartridge. These go bad with age and no one is making replacements. A ceramic cartridge is available that puts out half the voltage of a crystal and might work if the amplifier has enough gain. If you can get the items for $10 each and want to play around, go for it. My advice is to walk away, fast.

That's exactly what I'll be doing. No point with what I've heard so far. Wasn't considering the phono in any event, but nice to know.

...

I found a Heathkit AM/FM tuner + amp some time ago, and while we're on the subject, I'd like some opinions on it if poasible. It is the only other Heathkit amp close enough to consider meeting for and buying. The price $400 CDN. ($300 USD.).

The link is here: https://www.kijiji.ca/v-general-electro ... nFlag=true

Perhaps I'm naive, but the lighting on those radios really makes me consider them. Looks awesome! It also includes the stereo separation gear. Could be quite nice!

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 18, 2019 11:40 pm 
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You can only listen to am or fm at one time not both as suggested.
Henry


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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Wed 19, 2019 1:02 am 
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radiohenry wrote:
You can only listen to am or fm at one time not both as suggested.
Henry

Right, the sets were made when some AM and FM programming was simulcast, in order to give a stereo like effect. That disappeared a good 50 years ago or so.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Wed 19, 2019 1:01 pm 
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radiohenry wrote:
You can only listen to am or fm at one time not both as suggested.
Henry


True with two of the tuners but the one tuner with the seperate AM and FM bands, it was specifically designed so that one AM station and one FM station could be tuned in independently and both listened to at the same time.

Image

Image
Separate tuners, each with their own flywheels for smoother tuning. The "Stereo" selection allows you to listen to the AM and FM stations at the same time.

Unfortunately, many people, today, either don't remember this crude stereo setup or have never heard of it and because of this, wind up buying what they think are AM/FM MPX stereo receivers only to find out later that they are incomparable to today's FM stereo broadcasting.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Wed 19, 2019 2:03 pm 
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The OP is in Canada, so with that one dual receiver Armaco tuner, can hear the CBC on AM and FM simultaneously - Public broadcast in 'stereo'. They have occasional music programs, such as Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap.

If that was near me, would get it plus one of the others for its parts. No, wouldn't pay those prices.

We can do the same thing with two radios, one on CBC FM and the other on AM. Not true stereo as both 'channels' are identical broadcasts.

Watch your spelling, those are Armaco brand units, which company went into car stereo systems, 8-track and cassette players.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Wed 19, 2019 8:09 pm 
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Quote:
Separate tuners, each with their own flywheels for smoother tuning. The "Stereo" selection allows you to listen to the AM and FM stations at the same time.

The Heathkit I posted has two separate tuners as well. Looks interesting, and again, quite uncommon compared to today's radios.

I offered the seller $300 (he was asking $400), and he met me in the middle at $350. Seems fair. If my financial situation is decent, I might go for it. Still considering.

Indiana Radios wrote:
Unfortunately, many people, today, either don't remember this crude stereo setup or have never heard of it and because of this, wind up buying what they think are AM/FM MPX stereo receivers only to find out later that they are incomparable to today's FM stereo broadcasting.

Is the MPX (multiplexer) in this link below that comes with the Heathkit receiver incompatible with today's stations?

https://www.kijiji.ca/v-view-details.ht ... 1416498168

Not a deal-breaker but nice to at least know.

Wow, was looking at the information on the Heathkit AJ-30 radio. It has 16 tubes! :shock: Maybe doesn't come as a shock to you guys, but the most I've seen in radios that I own is 7 (in my AM/FM DuMont). What could they all be used for? I'm thinking AFC and AVC would take up 2?

Heathkit AJ-30 AM/FM tuner.
https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/heath_am_ ... 0_aj3.html

Quote:
Watch your spelling, those are Armaco brand units, which company went into car stereo systems, 8-track and cassette players.

Thank you for the correction. :oops:

Quote:
If that was near me, would get it plus one of the others for its parts. No, wouldn't pay those prices.

If it was half that price, I'd not do it. My rule is that the radio must be quite special to come into my house. No use cluttering up my space with stuff I'll not likely use. As is I'd like to get rid of a radio to make room if I did decide on the Heathkit units.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 12:05 am 
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bedtime wrote:
Quote:
I offered the seller $300 (he was asking $400), and he met me in the middle at $350. Seems fair. If my financial situation is decent, I might go for it. Still considering.


ImageImageImage

That external FM MPX Stereo unit, along with matching tuner and amp, definitely makes this setup a little more interesting. The tuner and amp certainty have that wild and wacky late 50s/early 60s mid century modern look to them. I think that would be a really fun system for you to restore and use. I don't think the $350 price is all that much out of line. Being Heathkit, schematics and service manuals should be fairly easy to acquire. I think you should go out and get that Heathkit setup.

Forget those Armcos. They may not be junk but the ones that are up for sale definitely are.

A little more on your tuner and amp. http://www.vintageradio.com/history/Heath1961.pdf

Here's a similar but lesser setup that sold for $500. https://www.ebay.com/itm/HEATHKIT-PREAM ... _cvip=true

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 1:17 am 
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It is Ar-maco, Amigo. :lol: I'd pay $20 for the Armaco dually and build a stereo system around it, put money in NOS sockets and tubes.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 3:42 am 
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Browning Laboratories made some nice tuners.

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 Post subject: Re: Vintage Armco tube radios: are they decent?
PostPosted: Jun Thu 20, 2019 12:18 pm 
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Indiana Radios wrote:
That external FM MPX Stereo unit, along with matching tuner and amp, definitely makes this setup a little more interesting. The tuner and amp certainty have that wild and wacky late 50s/early 60s mid century modern look to them. I think that would be a really fun system for you to restore and use. I don't think the $350 price is all that much out of line. Being Heathkit, schematics and service manuals should be fairly easy to acquire. I think you should go out and get that Heathkit setup.

The more I hear about this unit, the more I respect and want it. The price is Canadian, so about $280 American. I think that is quite low compared to the other prices people are asking and getting on ebay. And I really dig the look and colours.

Quote:
Forget those Armcos. They may not be junk but the ones that are up for sale definitely are.

As soon as the first reply mentioned they were imports, they were forgotten.

Quote:
A little more on your tuner and amp. http://www.vintageradio.com/history/Heath1961.pdf

This seems to be one of their better (or even best models?) at the time in that catalog. Thanks for the link! It said that the AM and FM receivers within it are in fact completely separate and able to be listened to simultaneously! How cool is that!?! :D

Quote:
Here's a similar but lesser setup that sold for $500. https://www.ebay.com/itm/HEATHKIT-PREAM ... _cvip=true

Yes, and that was a bid; bids generally go for less than asking!

Just a warning that if I do end up getting that unit, then I will have to bug you guys about speakers for it! :wink:

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