Drake TR4 story

Drake TR4 Restauration

My Drake TR4 snr 32.514 (1972) came alive today (September 25, 2010) in a CW qso with Rune, SM2EKA on 14.036 MHz

I used my left-handed Vibroplex key, a wonderful combination.

Since today (November 7th 2010) working in phone in combination with Turner +3B microphone. (Thanks to Martin PE1PRM) See story below.

My Drake TR4 story:

Saturday 12th of june 2010, radio flee-market of our own radio club NOV (Noord-Oost Veluwe)

One of the stands is presenting a Drake TR4. It catched my eye in the very first moment, already half an hour before the market was opened. I was part of the organisation-team and “on-duty” at the parking place entrance.

2 hours later I had the first opportunity to pay a visit to the stand and after a short negociation I bought this good looking old tube type rig for a reasonable 180€. (For nostalgic and practical reasons, HI)

Returned at home I decided to wait with the first smoke test, and started to make a first inventarisation.

I could find a lot of helpful information on:

  • WB4HFN.com
  • Some good pictures and hints on EA1GAR
  • The reviews summary for Drake TR4 on Eham.com
  • Manual and modifications after some hours “googling” on the internet

The TR4 looked pretty good, hardly any scratces on the covers, a bright looking frontpanel and shiney knobs. Under the cover the good looking copper plated chassis with some dust and a dusty looking PA-unit with the three 6JB6 sweep tubes.

Week 1: I wrote down a little plan, step by step, and tried to be “not in a hurry for quick results”.

  1. Inspection and describe all details
  2. First pictures
  3. Download manual
  4. Brochures and pictures on the internet
  5. Find a nice cover for my TR4 paper Notebook
  6. QST reference 1962
  7. Gathering of all intersting links and save these somewhere
  8. Serial number information and date of production
  9. Modifications information on the internet
  10. User references
  11. Drake user Clubs etc.
  12. Removing of covers and further inspection.
  13. Wiring and soldering information, details
  14. Cleaning nessecary?
  15. Decide to do smoke test yes or no?
  16. If not fuck, don’t fix it!
  17. Cleaning plan:
    1. Brush, Cotton tipps
    2. Vacuum cleaner
    3. Removing all tubes
    4. Cleaning the chassis
    5. Cleaning the tubes

I found the First “black and white” copied manual from a TR4 on website and started reading.

Later I found an overview of serial numers and production years at website and discovered that my 32.514 was born in 1972. This means that this is one of the later produced TR4’s. Some nostalgic and technical info was found in a QST article “Recent Equipment” dated December 1965.

Week 2: Saturday 19th of june.

I decided to just try and do the “Smoke Test”

After all, it could be that the rig was OK, and would that still be the case, after cleaning it and removing all the tubes?

I started to look for my variac to bring things up and put this baby “back on the air”.

It came slowly alive, squeaking, and I heard a RTTY riddle on 20 meters. WOW !

Just turning the bandswitch a few times and I had a clean reception for some short moments. All switches needed some cleaning, but I knew that my baby was OK. (receiving)

The Transmitter came alive on saturday september 25 on 14 MHZ, see above.

Sunday September 26:

40 meter CW test, 140 Watts out. Changed from straight key to Vibroplex and Installed MFJ keyer and my bencher Paddle. I found the Sidetone adjustment and S-meter zero-adjustment. Finding the CW BFO shift of 1 KHz is something to get used to. Some qso’s proved that the TR4 is doing OK:  G4XHZ, OK1WF, F5IYU/P and DJ2OD, Tnx fer cw qso.

80 meter test, WOW !! 190 Watts output, who ever designed it using these tube finals was a genius (as I read on Eham)

This evening ended in making 6 qso,s on 3.528 with abt 150 watts (reduced a little bit, just in case, HI): PA, DL, S5, G, SM, OE. 599 and plus.

6 and 7 November 2011: Surfin’ around for Microphone information ended up in trying to use a Turner +3B (from radiofriend Martin PE1PRM) Finally found the correct plug and after completing the assembly it seemed to be working. First few qso’s in UK DX contest on 40M and finally a qso with Gerrit PD3GVA, who gave me a nice report on audio and modulation level.

Next step is trying the Drake in AM. Gert PE1RTC and Jozef ON4MNE were the two “firsts” on 3703kHz on 12 December sunday afternoon.

To be updated and completed soon.

Any tips and reactions, please let me know!

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