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Monday, 13 February 2017

Sam's Bush VHF90

Sam popped by with her much beloved, but sadly non-working Bush VHF90 radio...

"It sometimes picks up Radio 2, but nothing else.. Can you take a look?"

Yeah , why not?


It's a dual-band MW and VHF (FM) set, dating from 1956. Now, back then, VHF was in it's infancy. There wasn't any commercial radio in the UK until the 70's, so it was all BBC only. The band extended from 88 - 100 MHz only, not up to the current band edge at 108 MHz.


Removal of the back, and the first thing I notice...













...the mains tap is set to 200-210 Volts .... aghh ! This is never a good sign. The mains voltage in the UK is 240V (listed as 230V since European "harmonisation", but nothing actually changed). As a set's valves aged, unscrupulous repairers (bodgers) would lower the tap setting, giving the warn out valves a bit more voltage in an attempt to eek a little more life out of them, but putting the rest of the set under undue stresses and strains..... It's a practice known as "tapping up the set". Bad news...



Putting the UL84 output valve on test shows the sorry state of things...

Every valve in the set tests bad, and will require replacement.

Thankfully, they're all U pre-fix (designed for 100mA series heaters) valves, and are reasonably inexpensive.




So, I've got a couple of valves in stock, and a couple sourced locally... I can get on with the rest of the chassis whilst the others turn up from the internet.

First off, let's check out the dropper resistor, as it's going to have a hard life, having had the wrong tap selected....

.... hang on a minute... the bodger's been here again! There's a section physically missing! It's the 240-250V section. The 220-230V section is also open circuit... both are replaced.










Whilst most of the wiring is PVC, there's some rubber insulated wire which has perished. It's replaced with PVC....








In a break with usual tradition, the whole chassis recapped wholesale...












After a couple of days, the new valves turned up, and the set was powered up... sure enough BBC Radio Two on 88.6 MHz is all that can be received... and with the tuning dial set to 100 MHz! There's absolutely nothing on Medium wave at all .... not even a crackle...

I start with the lack of medium wave. Much head-scratching, staring at the circuit diagram, drinking of tea, and measuring of components followed.... There's a positive voltage on the grid of the UCH81 mixer-oscillator which shouldn't be there. Tests proved the new valve wasn't the fault, so where was this voltage coming from? I disconnected the wire to the valve pin, and the voltage is on the wire... medium wave starts working (ish) but the voltage should be disconnected by the switch...

Then I found this ... http://www.vintage-radio.com/recent-repairs/bush-vhf90-1.html

The switch has become conductive and is leaking! I cleaned it up.. it didn't help. Thankfully the webpage describes a work-around...










... which is duly implemented, and works well...

Medium wave is restored, but it's really weak.

Re-aligning the set provides great improvements, the second IF amp being way off the mark, as was the front end... Mr Bodger again?

The cathode resistor to the UL84 output pentode was also found to be low in value!


Next to sort out the VHF....

The tuning drive cord had been replaced (bodged) with string at some stage in it's life, it was slipping badly... The pointer had been replaced with a bit of copper wire, something I've done in the past when the original is missing and unobtainable..

The whole drive was slipping badly. There should be a spring in there somewhere, to tension the cord around the drum and pulleys too. The drum is directly connected to the AM tuning capacitor. VHF tuning, is that piece of cord you can see disappearing into the grey VHF front end to the left. It pulls a spring-loaded ferrite core out of an inductor inside the can, thus changing the frequency. It looks like the whole lot had been assembled wrongly.

After more tea, a new drive cord, some more tea, and some considerable head scratching, it all works as it should.

After a quick re-alignment of the VHF stages, it happily tunes from 87.5 -102.5 MHz.


Now Sam was keen to do the cabinet herself... but we had a problem...

I won't let it leave my workshop with a gaping hole in the bottom, as the chassis is connected to the neutral, and there's all sorts of live bits accessible through that hole... Electric shock is not an option.






A small piece of glass-fibre matt is cut...













... and hardened with resin to make it safe.

Sam seems to think she knows where the bit that fell out is, so she can cut this out at a later date and refit.








The guilty parties ...












Here's a quick video description and the thing finally working on AM....

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating Mr D! I thoroughly enjoyed your latest presentation, these are a treat as I seldom get a chance myself these days working at the sanatorium... ;-)
    Your comments about your "leaky" switch remind me of a multi phono-plug panel I purchased from a certain emporium in Cheltenham. I think it was six pairs of phono sockets on what appeared to be paxolin. (similar to this. http://static-8.yourspares.co.uk/media/p/ev/f_jpegs/l/F262D.jpg). Anyway, the preamplifier had a most horrendous hum, I could not find the cause and as always blamed my design, layout and construction, components everything except... that damned phono socket panel. Ater two days of nearly going mad I removed the PS and PCB from the case, this necessitated removing the sockets. Trying it out on the bench unscreened with the wires all over the place NO HUM! A tacky looking one from the big electronics emporium once fitted worked like a dream and is to this day. Who would have thought it?

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