CRT Color Champion Rebuilding
In the 50s and 60s, picture tube rebuilding was a common practice. There
were large companies rebuilding tubes, which were sold through the major
parts distributors. There were also hundreds of small one-man rebuilding plants located all over the country. These were sold to TV repair shops, and
installed in garages and basements.
In early 2008, a collector on the west coast offered a small CRT rebuilding
setup to the museum. We later learned that it was a CRT Color Champion Rebuilding Plant,
made by C. R. T. Equipment Co., Inc. of Nashville.
Here is a description:
I have a never used CRT rebuilding station. It is a
product of C.R.T. Equipment Company of Nashville and it was
shipped in 1970. It was listed on eBay last February but
closed with no takers. I had many reservations about making
this rescue attempt but I could imagine it in a museum if
nothing else. It was in imminent danger of being parted out
for the motor, pump, and steel. This is heavy equipment. The
fact that it was less than an hour by pickup truck from my
location made it possible. The owner accepted my offer and
it now sits in my San Francisco Bay area garage. This outfit
was designed for a mom and pop TV repair shop, artisan work
in limited space, one jug at a time. It's not a
multi-tube production outfit, not automated, but it is state
of the art for the 1960s. It consists of two units: first
there is the impressive vertical lathe with a variac on the
motor and with oxygen and natural gas jets for welding
necks, neck-gun units, buttons, or whatever is needed.
Second, there is the gas oven to bake gasses out of the
glass and a two-stage pump system to evacuate the air.
There's a tipoff coil and an RF bomber (using big ol' honkin'
jumbo tubes) to vaporize or flash the new gun''s getter
material in 20 seconds or so by induction heating through
the glass neck of the tube. There is a panel of gauges and
switches and pots to monitor and control voltages, current
draw, etc. including the process of aging the new rebuild.
This kit came with a variety of small hand tools such
as the hot wire neck cutter, a file to nick the glass, a
ruler for neck length, and the heater to soften and collapse
(tip off) the glass evacuation tube to seal the new vacuum.
It even included some now unlabeled chemical, probably for
cleaning the tube necks. Yes, it also came with a few trays
of new guns and bases. The assortment was what you would
expect for 1970. There are some for the old roundie black
and whites as well as for the 21 inch roundie colors. There
are also some that would be for the newer 110 degree small
The kit also included an interesting factory
instruction manual. Alas, it does not even include a
schematic of the RF unit, but that's not a big deal.
|The vertical lathe, used to rotate the CRT shell as the new neck
and stem are attached
The oven and vacuum pumps
The RF "bombarder" (used to flash the getters) and
the control panel
We have a room at the museum that would be
ideal for this setup, and could provide the necessary gas and electric
supply of tubes from junk sets is used up, we will find ourselves with
no replacement CRTs within a few years. Already 3KP4s are nearly
impossible to find, and good 7JP4s are rare. There are plenty of 10BP4s,
but 12K/LP4s are getting scarce. And, if the 15GP22 rebuilding
experiment is successful, there will a need to do the rebuilding of
Getting the rebuilding equipment is only part of the problem. Someone (or
some people) must learn the art of rebuilding, so that the equipment can
be successfully used. Another collector has volunteered to visit Hawkeye
and document the process on video:
I discussed the subject of making a video of his craft to
document the process for all of us collectors. Scotty agreed to
allow me to make a video of the rebuilding process. I have been
waiting to hear from Scotty as to when he is going to make the
next attempt on the 15GP22 project. When he has set a date, I
will be traveling to Iowa to spend a couple of days observing
and taking video of Scotty working his craft.
I would then take the raw footage and make a nice DVD using the
video editing software I have. Steve has volunteered to place
the video on the ETF website for anyone to view. I will also
make available DVD's for anyone that wants one. [The video is
now complete and is now available from the museum].
So the video end of this thing is already in the works. Just
need to coordinate with Scotty's next attempt at the 15G
The plant has been transported to Hilliard and
installed. Many thanks to Roger Dreyfoos, who rescued the plant from
being demolished, and donated it to the museum, and to John and
Christine Chan, who provided storage space for the plant for