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 Post subject: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Tue 14, 2019 6:29 pm 
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Joined: Feb Thu 28, 2019 7:48 pm
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Location: Lawrenceville, Illinois 62439
It's always intrigued me how many manufacturers were located within a few hours of me in central Illinois and Indiana.
Trav-Ler I always assumed was made in Chicago, but while going through some old service literature to see about posting for sale on here and VK, I found this reference to Bedford and Orleans, IN. factories. Never too old to learn.
Dan


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Tue 14, 2019 10:34 pm 
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Location: Detroit, Michigan
When I was a teen in the 60's I had a 50's 21" Trav-ler black and white wood cabinet table tv in my space in the basement. It had a vertical chassis, and worked well, with a Blonder-Tongue UHF converter attached to it. It was till down there when I moved out of the house, I don't know what happened to it.


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Tue 14, 2019 11:07 pm 
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Location: Ohio 45177
Meck radios and TVs were made in a factory in north Indiana where I was born. The company was started by a guy that left out of the Chicago radio rat race, as I understand it. Even had a relative work there for a time. I have several of the radios and I can say they are interesting to me but are nothing to get excited about as far as quality or performance. Also have one or two Meck crystals made for gov't contracts. I can say the radios are kinda el-cheapo, but I have never seen one of the TVs that they made so cannot judge them.

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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Tue 14, 2019 11:10 pm 
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wazz wrote:
Meck radios and TVs were made in a factory in north Indiana where I was born. The company was started by a guy that left out of the Chicago radio rat race, as I understand it. Even had a relative work there for a time. I have several of the radios and I can say they are interesting to me but are nothing to get excited about as far as quality or performance. Also have one or two Meck crystals made for gov't contracts. I can say the radios are kinda el-cheapo, but I have never seen one of the TVs that they made so cannot judge them.

I acquired a Meck TV for the ETF. It was pretty mediocre construction. It's interesting for the fact that you rarely see them. http://www.earlytelevision.org/meck_xa-701.html


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Wed 15, 2019 6:56 am 
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Pre-WWII manufacturing of radios and auto parts was generally from Indianapolis north. A major exception was Arvin, which started in autos but was a major manufacturer from the mid 1930s. Arvin had 5 radio factories centered on Columbus and scattered +/1 20 miles north and south. South central Indiana was heavily lumbered from the late 19th century. Most of it was sent out of the area, but a few factories making furniture, pianos, and radios existed. Except for radios, some of this remains. Lumbering is still done in the area. Truckloads of oak logs are moved from my neighborhood daily for shipment to Japan. Several veneer factories and rough lumber operations remain in the area. It was an ideal area for anyone making wooden radio cases which were then veneered with more exotic woods.

The 5 Arvin factories and the Trav-Ler factories were all within 40 miles of me to the north, south, and east. There was and is a general shortage of technology, but that was improved during and after WWII with Indiana University, Crane Naval Surface Warfare, and the Cook biomedical operations.

John


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Wed 15, 2019 11:49 am 
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I thought John Meck came from a background of making higher quality stuff in Chicago, thus seems odd he decided a reliable income stream was to build towards the bottom end of the scale. Must have been a held over depression-era attitude. But once you have established yourself as being low grade, cheap, how could you ever work towards marketing any prestige products, unless you sold under another upscale brand name, I guess. I think my dad said he worked punching out TV chassis there, for a time, but I don't recall what year. They made some rebranded stuff, I think, but it was just their cheap line relabeled for someone. Ah, well. I would not give these cheap radios a second glance if not for the fact that they were made local to my origins.

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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Wed 15, 2019 3:16 pm 
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One of the largest TV plants in the world, RCA, was south of Indianapolis.

http://www.bloomingpedia.org/wiki/RCA

Rich


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Wed 15, 2019 3:26 pm 
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Meissner made radios, a variety of radio parts, and radio kits just down the road from Lawrenceville in Mt Carmel, Illinois. That's about as small of a town I have heard of where there was such an operation, and I believe at one time they were the largest employer in Mt Carmel. The old factory building is still standing at the corner of W 7th and Bellmont streets, and Meissner which is still in business moved to a new but smaller facility north of Mt Carmel several years ago.

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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Wed 15, 2019 3:48 pm 
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Location: Lawrenceville, Illinois 62439
Rich, W3HWJ wrote:
One of the largest TV plants in the world, RCA, was south of Indianapolis.

http://www.bloomingpedia.org/wiki/RCA

Rich

Back in (1954-55?), my dad had to go up to Bloomington and pickup the 'first' color TV to be sold in Lawrence County (I've had a half dozen old customers tell me they had the first color TV in the county), bring it back, and fix it before the next mornings big advertised demonstration of said TV.
Dan


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Wed 15, 2019 3:49 pm 
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Location: Lawrenceville, Illinois 62439
Mr. Detrola wrote:
Meissner made radios, a variety of radio parts, and radio kits just down the road from Lawrenceville in Mt Carmel, Illinois. That's about as small of a town I have heard of where there was such an operation, and I believe at one time they were the largest employer in Mt Carmel. The old factory building is still standing at the corner of W 7th and Bellmont streets, and Meissner which is still in business moved to a new but smaller facility north of Mt Carmel several years ago.

Dennis, I was just down there the other day and snapped a photo of 628 Belmont St. My dad took me there once when I was a pup to get a few parts.
I found an old invoice dated 1955 in one of my NOS transformers - their phone number at the time was "1200".
Dan


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Wed 15, 2019 3:58 pm 
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Location: Detroit, MI USA
Yarehobbiesso$ wrote:
Mr. Detrola wrote:
Meissner made radios, a variety of radio parts, and radio kits just down the road from Lawrenceville in Mt Carmel, Illinois. That's about as small of a town I have heard of where there was such an operation, and I believe at one time they were the largest employer in Mt Carmel. The old factory building is still standing at the corner of W 7th and Bellmont streets, and Meissner which is still in business moved to a new but smaller facility north of Mt Carmel several years ago.

Dennis, I was just down there the other day and snapped a photo of 628 Bellmont St. My dad took me there once when I was a pup to get a few parts.
Dan



That photo looks exactly like I remember it, they probably never did any upgrades to the old building.

Both of my parents were born and raised in Mt Carmel and some of their relatives used to work at Meissner a long time ago. I have been down in that area dozens of times over the years.

In fact Brace Beemer the Lone Ranger was born in Mt Carmel and his family lived just up the street from my mom's family in the early 1900's on Cherry Street. No doubt they were playmates when they were little kids. I'm told some of her relatives used to baby sit the Lone Ranger as a toddler.

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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Wed 15, 2019 4:06 pm 
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Joined: Feb Thu 28, 2019 7:48 pm
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Location: Lawrenceville, Illinois 62439
Small world indeed!
I bought a Maguire radio last year (model 6L I think) and proudly stated on the back cover - manufactured in Mt. Carmel, Ill. I have hopes of restoring it and giving it to the Wabash County Museum along with a NOS Thordarson transformer and a NOS Meissner coil.
If I ever get time...
Dan


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Thu 16, 2019 1:11 pm 
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Joined: May Wed 23, 2018 6:28 am
Posts: 432
Rich,

I should have thought of the RCA TV factory. It was built in the 1940s, after some of the radio factories were gone, and closed in the 1990s, after the French bought RCA and moved production to Mexico. The site is now Catalent Pharma, since they bought Cook Pharmica. The Cook empire has dissolved since he died, which is unfortunate for Indiana because he was a major philanthropist. I drive past the site a couple of times a month. All traces of the RCA plant are gone, except for vague outlines of the old roads. As large as it was, I don't run into many people who remember RCA. I do know several people who worked at the GE plant that closed in 2013.

John


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Thu 16, 2019 2:01 pm 
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Joined: May Wed 23, 2018 6:28 am
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I was reminded of two other closed facilities in Indiana.

A Navy plant was built in Indianapolis in WWII to manufacture the Norden bombsight. At first it was called Naval Ordnance, Indianapolis, but later named Naval Air Warfare Center, but was commonly called Naval Avionics. It once employed 3,000 workers. It closed in the 1990s and is now a Raytheon research facility.

The Field Artillery Direction and Control (FADAC) computer was a part of my fire control maintenance responsibilities. It was made by Magnavox in Fort Wayne in the 1960s. In the late 1930s Magnavox production moved from Chicago to Fort Wayne. In 1974, the consumer operation was bought by Philips and operations were moved to Tennessee. The military group remained in Fort Wayne and was bought by Hughes in 1998 and later Raytheon. Among other things it made AN/ARC-164 UHF radios used in many military aircraft and the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS), which is MS Windows based software that integrates data from dozens of different weapons systems mostly through radio datalinks. Most of Raytheon's presence seems to be related to Crane NSW southwest of Bloomington.

John


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Thu 16, 2019 3:40 pm 
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Location: Indianapolis, IN
Orleans, Indiana? I've lived in Indiana 23 years now and never heard of it. Found it on Google Earth. So small....hard to believe there was a factory there. Maybe it was very small..

Peter


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Thu 16, 2019 4:58 pm 
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Peter,

Arvin factories were located in North Vernon and Seymour, which were also small at the time. Franklin and Columbus were a little larger. Bartholomew County, where Columbus is located had a population of only 68,000 around 1980. Columbus had a population of 10,000 in the 1930s.

Orleans is in Orange County, which is now probably the poorest Indiana County. Until the 1960s Orange County was a center of furniture manufacturing. THe northern towns of Orleans was past the hilly forest from which the lumber came and on the flat plain. Once, there was a railroad. It once had 3 of the 120 airports in the state. As a percent of the state population, the county population dropped dramatically. It had benefited from the state road system, but the interstate system bypassed it. Most towns in the county have a lower population now than in 1940.

The post WWII period has been a period of decline for most of southern Indiana, but it has preserved its rural character, which some of us appreciate.

John


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Thu 16, 2019 5:10 pm 
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Location: Bedford, IN
Interesting to read another Indiana radio maker, especially in my hometown. I'll have to ask around and see what I can find locally. Much like the old Cola-Cola building here in Bedford (nice limestone carvings too) that is hard to find if someone didn't know about it.


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Thu 16, 2019 7:08 pm 
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Kevin Clark wrote:
When I was a teen in the 60's I had a 50's 21" Trav-ler black and white wood cabinet table tv in my space in the basement. It had a vertical chassis, and worked well, with a Blonder-Tongue UHF converter attached to it. It was till down there when I moved out of the house, I don't know what happened to it.

Your Mom threw it out or sold it in a Garage Sale...it's what always happens. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Thu 16, 2019 9:59 pm 
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Then there's Zenith. I think all but one of these buildings is gone, right Martin?


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 Post subject: Re: Long ago radio TV factories
PostPosted: May Thu 16, 2019 11:10 pm 
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I worked on my share of the Magnavox ARC-164. UHF radio. Flat ten watts output power over the band. Not much to work on, it was assembled from "slices" modules joined together with a flexible "mother board" sort of arrangement. TX bad, order TX module and slap it in there. Not a high failure item in my experience.

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