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Picture Tubes

CRT Color Champion Rebuilding Plant

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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.


Operating manual
Sales booklet (courtesy of the family of Marshall F. Tackett)
More pictures
Antelope Valley Picture Tube Rebuilding Co.
Video tour


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 neck tubes.

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.


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The vertical lathe, used to rotate the CRT shell as the new neck and stem are attached

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The oven and vacuum pumps

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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 connections.

As the 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 these tubes.

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 project.

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 Roger.