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 Post subject: Japanese Tubes under the U.S. Brand
PostPosted: Jul Wed 31, 2019 3:24 am 
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I heard that many Japanese firms made tubes for the U.S. companies, such as Raytheon and RCA (GE too?) after WW2. Complicated, however, the relationship between the American brands and Japanese factories were not mutually exclusive. For instance, I read that Matsushita, Hitachi, and Toshiba (maybe even NEC as well?) made Raytheon tubes. In addition, these Jpn factories probably made tubes for other American brands as well. 1) Could any of you explain what American brand tubes Matsushita, Toshiba, Hitachi, NEC, and others made? Minor, unknown American brand tubes made by Japanese are welcome too. 2) could you give your evaluation on their quality? 3) Are these Jpn tubes similar across the different brands? For instance, are Toshiba-made Ray and Toshiba-made RCA similar? Thank you very much.


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese Tubes under the U.S. Brand
PostPosted: Jul Wed 31, 2019 12:14 pm 
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I don't think you will ever get a definitive answer to your question. There were a lot of companies in the tube business worldwide and each one had its own policies and practices, subject to change over time. What's more, the very nature of the private label tube business was that the tube would be branded with the selling company's name and logo, and the original manufacturer would not be known to the end user. You might see "Japan" on the bottom of a horizontal output tube with a US company's name on it, or silk screened under the date code on other tubes, but that could be the only clue you get. Contracts and workflow being what they are, the same supplier in Japan would not necessarily make all the tubes imported by a US brand, even of one particular type. Who made the tube for the US company might be impossible to determine with certainty unless you can find somebody who was working there at the time.

There were some small tube companies in the 1920s and 1930s that could claim to have made every tube they ever sold themselves. Same is true for companies that made transmitting tubes, industrial tubes, and tubes for special applications. But before the early 1930s, all RCA tubes were made for them by Westinghouse and GE. As tubes became more complicated, it got more expensive and difficult to set up production lines. Generally speaking, unless they could sell at least 10,000 of a particular number in a year, it did not pay to set a production line up. So for lesser volumes, and for tubes which had to be made on special machinery or using patented processes which had to be licensed at great cost, it became common for tube companies to purchase the tubes they did not want to make themselves from other companies. The practice became so ingrained that some of the larger tube factories had the logo screens and inks on hand to brand and label tubes for their competitors.

It should be understood that some companies like Philco and Zenith did not make receiving tubes themselves but contracted with tube companies for private label tubes which were installed in radios and TVs in the factories, and also sold by dealers as replacements. Tube manufacturers had a "pecking order" when a tube production line was up and running. Before branding and labeling, the tubes would be tested and graded. The very best ones were snapped up for the military and premium commercial users willing to pay extra for selected tubes. The next cut of "run of the mill" tubes would go to the house brand and preferred private labels. The remaining tubes which were irregular or on the low end of the bell curve were then sold to cut-rate "re-labelers" with names you never heard of, and typically sold in local drug stores and "five-and-dime" outlets.

With the reconstruction and modernization of Japan following WW-2, they had a number of tube companies producing very competitive products. Unlike the US, Japan had a closed-door policy towards foreign electronic components, so every Japanese tube radio or TV shipped to the US had Japanese tubes in it. Like every other group or nationality that ever made tubes commercially, they hit an average quality for performance and longevity that was quite good, with some tubes that were superb and a few that were sub par. So it was natural that US tube companies would turn to Japan as a resource for tubes that they didn't want to make here. It became very common in the mid to late 1970s as the replacement tube business shrank to just a few numbers needed to keep older color TVs in service, and certain types that were still needed by the military and government agencies like the FAA.

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese Tubes under the U.S. Brand
PostPosted: Jul Wed 31, 2019 2:01 pm 
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The short answer would be "everybody", but for most companies, it is not a direct link. It also did not all happen at the same time. Matsushita appears to have been the major supplier to the US, with much less from Hitachi and NEC. "After WWII" is better stated as "After the mid-1960s".

Raytheon, specifically, stopped making their own tubes for the consumer market in 1966, and Matsushita became their main supplier. Raytheon continued to make tubes for the military. They made their last glass subminiature tubes in 1986.

For most of the other companies, large scale use of imported tubes came later, as they wound down production in the USA. Imported tubes were also used to supplement their product lines with mostly European types that most US manufacturers did not make.

Most US companies selling Japanese tubes with under their own brand did not buy from Japan directly. Most got their tubes from International Electronics Corporation (IEC) and later the related International Components Corporation (ICC). Matsushita was IEC's main Japanese supplier.

In the case of Amperex, after they were unable to get tubes from Philips, they rebranded and sold GE tubes. And after they could no longer get those, they got Japanese tubes.

RCA ceased production in the US in 1976. For a few years they did get tubes from their factories in Mexico and Brazil, but also purchased stocks from IEC.

IEC was also the source of Realistic Lifetime tubes for Radioshack.

Sylvania appears to have been the most immune from the problem, as they had historically been one of the few US manufacturers who had tooled up to make foreign types themselves, and were one of the last companies to cease production of consumer tubes in the mid-1980s.

IEC/ICC is/are a source of all sorts of tube shenannigans, such as Russian 6L6GC they sold to RCA, Westinghouse, and Raytheon (at least) branded "made in Germany" or "made in Belgium". This is one example, but space does not permit more depth.


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese Tubes under the U.S. Brand
PostPosted: Jul Wed 31, 2019 8:40 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
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Location: Near Portland, OR
Towards the end of the tube era, replacement tubes sold by Westinghouse had cut rate prices. Most of them came from Japan, although I don't know who made them.


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese Tubes under the U.S. Brand
PostPosted: Jul Wed 31, 2019 9:11 pm 
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Location: Santa Rosa, CA
I worked for Westinghouse and sold the last lot of horizontal output tubes to Zenith around 1969. The plants in Bath and Elmira, NY were closed and the production machinery moved to Westinghouse Canada. Power tube production stayed at Horseheads, NY for several more years. I switched to the Power Semiconductor business in 1969. Horseheads continued to make tubes and vacuum interrupters. Toshiba took over the plant and ran it for some years.

As far as I remember, we never bought Japanese tubes. We did buy and sell with RCA and Sylvania. Trading with GE was consider to be heresy. If we met a GE guy at a trade show, we had to write a memo to the legal department so there wouldn't be an anti-trust issues. It just wasn't economical to make small batches of tubes, but distributors wanted to buy the whole line, so we swapped with other OEMs. At least, we were smart enough not to waste money developing Nuvistors or Compactrons.

Companies like GE, Westinghouse, and RCA were so invested, especially mentally, in the tube business that they tried to stay in business even when it was clear the business was dying. As I recall, our selenium division tried to compete with silicon for about 5 years, then reduced its emphasis to voltage transient suppressors (Voltrap). Old ways die hard.
Rich


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese Tubes under the U.S. Brand
PostPosted: Aug Thu 01, 2019 12:52 am 
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Do you mean Japanese people at Toshiba came to Westinghouse at Horseheads and administered American workers to make the Westinhouse brand tubes? In the 60s? Thats crazy!

Rich, W3HWJ wrote:
I worked for Westinghouse and sold the last lot of horizontal output tubes to Zenith around 1969. The plants in Bath and Elmira, NY were closed and the production machinery moved to Westinghouse Canada. Power tube production stayed at Horseheads, NY for several more years. I switched to the Power Semiconductor business in 1969. Horseheads continued to make tubes and vacuum interrupters. Toshiba took over the plant and ran it for some years.

As far as I remember, we never bought Japanese tubes. We did buy and sell with RCA and Sylvania. Trading with GE was consider to be heresy. If we met a GE guy at a trade show, we had to write a memo to the legal department so there wouldn't be an anti-trust issues. It just wasn't economical to make small batches of tubes, but distributors wanted to buy the whole line, so we swapped with other OEMs. At least, we were smart enough not to waste money developing Nuvistors or Compactrons.

Companies like GE, Westinghouse, and RCA were so invested, especially mentally, in the tube business that they tried to stay in business even when it was clear the business was dying. As I recall, our selenium division tried to compete with silicon for about 5 years, then reduced its emphasis to voltage transient suppressors (Voltrap). Old ways die hard.
Rich


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese Tubes under the U.S. Brand
PostPosted: Aug Thu 01, 2019 3:21 am 
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Joined: May Tue 30, 2006 4:46 pm
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Location: Santa Rosa, CA
No, I didn't say that.

Toshiba bought the assets and ran the plant for Toshiba. Power tubes only. I don't mean 6AQ5, I mean 6146, multi-kilowatt RF tubes, and ignitrons.

Westinghouse made tubes until the late 60s then closed some plants, moving the gear to Canada, and sold another plant to Toshiba. I think Eaton/Cutler-Hammer eventually bought the Horseheads plant (for vacuum interrupter manufacturing).
https://www.weny.com/story/37883963/eat ... s-facility

Rich

PS: Westinghouse Semiconductor, where I worked was part of a joint venture with GE and Mitsubishi in 1986. Several Mitsubishi professionals came over, but when I left in '86, the management and manufacturing workers were all Americans. Later, Westinghouse pulled out and Mitsubishi became the majority partner. Still a few old timers that I knew working there now.


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese Tubes under the U.S. Brand
PostPosted: Aug Thu 01, 2019 4:04 am 
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Joined: Jul Wed 31, 2019 3:00 am
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Great info. Thanks a lot. Still I am surprised.

Rich, W3HWJ wrote:
No, I didn't say that.

Toshiba bought the assets and ran the plant for Toshiba. Power tubes only. I don't mean 6AQ5, I mean 6146, multi-kilowatt RF tubes, and ignitrons.

Westinghouse made tubes until the late 60s then closed some plants, moving the gear to Canada, and sold another plant to Toshiba. I think Eaton/Cutler-Hammer eventually bought the Horseheads plant (for vacuum interrupter manufacturing).
https://www.weny.com/story/37883963/eat ... s-facility

Rich

PS: Westinghouse Semiconductor, where I worked was part of a joint venture with GE and Mitsubishi in 1986. Several Mitsubishi professionals came over, but when I left in '86, the management and manufacturing workers were all Americans. Later, Westinghouse pulled out and Mitsubishi became the majority partner. Still a few old timers that I knew working there now.


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese Tubes under the U.S. Brand
PostPosted: Aug Sat 03, 2019 11:08 pm 
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Location: Aurora, CO 80013
I have 2 5AR4 tubes branded Westinghouse. One of them came with the original blue and white Westinghouse box. One tube is dated 7409 and probably is Japanese, made on old Mullard equipment. It has a seam on the top. The other is dated 8901 and is probably Eastern European. The "Japanese" one has had some of the markings rubbed off so I can't tell the alleged country of origin. The newer one claims 5AR4 USA, though that is very unlikely. It came in the correctly labeled box.

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese Tubes under the U.S. Brand
PostPosted: Aug Mon 05, 2019 1:50 pm 
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Location: Beaver Falls, PA. USA
I have encountered a few Westinghouse replacement tubes which were made in Japan.

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 Post subject: Re: Japanese Tubes under the U.S. Brand
PostPosted: Aug Mon 05, 2019 10:22 pm 
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Location: Fernandina Beach, FL
Tim Tress wrote:
I have encountered a few Westinghouse replacement tubes which were made in Japan.

Me too. And, I have had some that were made in Eastern Europe. Blue and White Box.

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Don


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