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Old Cars and Ham Radio


Roger Frazee
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As a lifelong gearhead and a ham radio newbie, I am wondering how many old car folks are also amateur radio operators.  I'd love to check out some car related ham nets but I haven't found any yet. 

 

Maybe some hams on this forum can point me in the right direction.

 

73,

KQ4RKF

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Hi Roger,

 

   I cannot help you with any car related Ham nets as I am not active on the radio. However there have been several threads on the different  car forums  I am on & it appears there are a pretty good number of folks that cross over between the two hobbies!

 

   I am WB8SVW & have had my license for 47 years now! Got my Novice Ticket @ 11 years old, General Class at 13.

   Dad is N8WS & Mom is WD8ASV

 

  God Bless

Bill

https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/nationwide-single-car-transport-hauling-open-or-enclosed.614419/

Edited by Bills Auto Works (see edit history)
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5 hours ago, padgett said:

Never mastered the morse part but had a long string of Zenith Transoceanic Radios & did quite a bit of BCrement BDXing from south Florida. Became a little silly to collect radios when hearing went south.

They dropped the code requirement years ago.  Always good to see another Ham on the forum.

WB4SUV

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2 hours ago, 29hupp said:

They dropped the code requirement years ago.  Always good to see another Ham on the forum.

WB4SUV

What's the test like? I've always been interested but the licensing part always scared me off a bit. How many people still broadcast in code?

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My dad was a Ham radio enthusiast in his earlier years. He also worked in the radio room of ships when he was in the navy during WW2 and took Morse code. He tried to get me interested in the hobby when I was about 11 to 13 years old, but I just never developed an interest. And likewise, he never had much of an interest in my pursuits - playing traditional music, cars, sports (when I was that age.) Although I didn't articulate it this way back then, I saw Ham radio as an anachronistic - and therefore "pointless" - technology. I don't see things that way now, of course, but did when I was a teenager.  I therefore try to be understanding of my own kids when they don't have an interest in old cars. They probably think, what's the point of driving a manual transmission when I'll never need to? (That probably is actually true now, where it wasn't just 15 years ago.) I think it was when I got old enough to see things change within my own lifetime that I gained a deeper appreciation for the past. Hopefully that'll happen with them.

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When I was in the army and sent to Germany after getting out of Walter Reed they didn’t know what to do with me, so they made me a radio operator. On 8 off 24 with a 3 day pass every 3 weeks. We would pull a double just before the pass and actually have a week off. We had to transmit in code from the secure radio code room. As it was a secure room we non-coms would hold our short timers parties in it as the officers could not have access. One night a message came in when we were having one of the send offs that I decoded saying the battalion (we were headquarters co and had 4 more companies-about 1200 troops)  was being sent out on alert. I took it up to S3 or S4 what ever the intelligence group was called. They said I was nuts and go back and check again. So I sent a request for a resend. Same thing. Again S3 said no way they always have advantage notice about an alert. So back to the radio and instead of  using the radio I called battalion and told them we were in the middle of a short timers party what were they sending me?  They were asking for a radio status report. I was not very good at deciding Morris code. I went from a Spec5 to a Spec4 the next day!  I can also say I made Spec5 more than  twice in my two years. 
dave s 

Edited by SC38DLS (see edit history)
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26 minutes ago, JamesR said:

My dad was a Ham radio enthusiast in his earlier years. He also worked in the radio room of ships when he was in the navy during WW2 and took Morse code. He tried to get me interested in the hobby when I was about 11 to 13 years old, but I just never developed an interest. And likewise, he never had much of an interest in my pursuits - playing traditional music, cars, sports (when I was that age.) Although I didn't articulate it this way back then, I saw Ham radio as an anachronistic - and therefore "pointless" - technology. I don't see things that way now, of course, but did when I was a teenager.  I therefore try to be understanding of my own kids when they don't have an interest in old cars. They probably think, what's the point of driving a manual transmission when I'll never need to? (That probably is actually true now, where it wasn't just 15 years ago.) I think it was when I got old enough to see things change within my own lifetime that I gained a deeper appreciation for the past. Hopefully that'll happen with them.

Has Skype, Zoom, Facetime, and all these other social meeting up via the computer essentially replaced ham radio, just as online internet streaming has replaced the shortwave radio band?  Or is there something still special with it, that can't be done via a computer chat that it I'm missing? 

 

Craig

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1 minute ago, 8E45E said:

Has Skype, Zoom, Facetime, and all these other social meeting up via the computer essentially replaced ham radio, just as online internet streaming has replaced the shortwave radio band?  Or is there something still special with it, that can't be done via a computer chat that it I'm missing? 

 

Craig

 

Yes, I had a neighbor about my age with an intense interest in Ham radio also try to get me interested in Ham a few years ago, but again the practicality issue was a barrier for me.

 

Having said that, Ham does have one advantage over those other things you mentioned: it doesn't require infrastructure, per se. Just a back up generator and a good antenna...along with the ability to repair your own equipment, which would be a long term concern.

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  The .303 Enfield is a 'peddled scheme' piece manufactured in 1916 and like most went through at least one FTP prior to WWII. It shoots as well as any of the SMLEs. Its strong point is it will shoot in sub-zero to desert heat, covered with mud or sand, wet or dry, it doesn't mind. Ten rounds, action like butter.

 

  Of course ham radio is  anachronistic.  So am I, proudly.  I suspect there a certain amount of cross- pollination in the personalities of old car people and hams.

 

  A good friend was a Naval Reserve RO before he went to OCS and spent a  few years flying S2Fs off carriers. 

 

  A ham license has never been easier to get, plenty of info on line, lots of YT videos.  Just like old cars there are many levels of involvement.

 

Stay well, everyone.

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3 hours ago, AL1630 said:

What's the test like? I've always been interested but the licensing part always scared me off a bit. How many people still broadcast in code?

I began studying ham radio for the mental exercise.  After a little reading and taking some practice tests online, I was ready to take the first "Technician" exam.  A month later I took the next "General" exam.  I'm studying now for the final "Extra" exam.  It's not hard if you have a basic understanding of electricity.  

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I rarely post- in fact, I'm not sure I ever have, but I lurk here everyday. Love to read about some of the beautiful old classics, although I am confined to owning old pickups, all of which have in some form been modified. ('46 Chevy  pickup, mild street rod; '52 Chevy 3100, stock-ish) Someday, though, a late 30s Packard WILL find a home with me. 

Been a ham for the past seven years after they removed morse, which I never could get a grasp on. It's a great hobby when conditions are right. Nice to talk to folks and learn about their part of the world. I may never get to see the Holy Land, ect, but at least I can chat with folks there. And yeah, you can do so online, but there is still a magic to hearing voices crackling across the airwaves.

Don't know of any Old car nets, but if someone starts or finds one, I'd love to join in. -AC5RM, Bob Moses

Edited by Roscoe (see edit history)
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I find old cars and ham radio go together quite well. It's all making something work.

 

Of course there are "appliance operators" in both hobbies, those that buy something ready to operate or show and just polish it from time to time. What's the fun in that?🤣

 

WA4CWM almost 50 years.

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KB1MCV, you seem to like  Hallicrafter's equipment!😉

Edited by Frank DuVal (see edit history)
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Old cars, mostly pre-war, give off a delicious smell , unmistakable in the garage where they live. A rack of old vacuum tube communications equipment gives off its own fine aroma in the shack from which it transmits and receives. Each, once very common, now rare, late, lamented; we old guys grew up with, and remember..................   -   Carl 

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My father bought me a 2-tube, shortwave listening radio kit for my 10th birthday.  In high school, I got a novice license but didn't go beyond that at the time.  A few years ago, I got interested again, took the technician, general, and amateur extra class licenses all in one day, not bad for being 50 years out of electrical engineering school.  I have a small 100 watt rig (Yaesu FT-450D) and a couple of off-center fed dipole antennas, one 83 ft long one in the attic and a 265 ft long one for 10-160 m running between some tall pine trees outside.  I'm not on the air much, but it's fun to "chew the rag" with people all over the world.

 

Gary, AB1XD

 

374169711_gary1954dicksparks-radio.thumb.png.738236e2b02107446246d45fddbcc171.png

Listening to the 2-tube radio the first time, 1954.  A neighbor, who was a ham, brought over his multimeter to help sort my wiring problems.

 

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The Meissner 2BK short-wave radio (photo from the Web).  To change bands, the coil was unplugged and exchanged with another.

 

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Visiting W1AW, headquarters of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) in Connecticut in 2017.

 

 

 

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First were were VOMs, then VTVMs, now all are DVMs. 'nother, 'nother' hobby is vintage test equipment for my Transoceanics. Have a collection of Hickok Tube Testers. Just had a sine wave generator out to troubleshoot some Bose amp/speakers.

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Gary you just brought back a flood of memories for me . The local ham operator my town had license plates with his call letters on it W9JWI  I had one of the receivers that you changed the coil on to change the band you could listen to . I think the cord had some kind of resistance in it as the cord would get very warm   He had Chevrolet car he had his short wave radio in when he would transmit there was a noise from the trunk that sounded like a starter motor running it was a 1950 Chevy had to be a6volt   Mike

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When my late brother Al Krugler was a teenager he became interested in radio controlled model airplanes.  His hobby pre-dated widespread use of the transistor, the receivers in the aircraft he built were vacuum tube devices requiring a 45volt battery to run the plates in the vacuum tubes.  Those setups were so heavy the airplane models that could carry them were 1/4 the size of a real aircraft.  Al lost interest in that but then become very interested, first in electronics, then ham radio.  One year for Christmas Al made a classic Quaker Oats box galena crystal radio receiver and gave it to me as a Christmas gift.  I used to lay in bed at night and listen to Amos and Andy carried on WJR in Detroit on that radio.  Al had his novice morse code license (KA8DDX) when he was 14 and had a General DX (voice) license (K8DDX) when he was a sophomore in high school.  His first good receiver was a Hallicrafters SX99 and he built his own transmitter.  He participated in the MARS Net (Military Affiliated Radio Service) and earned points that could be redeemed for surplus military radio equipment at the PX at Selfridge Air Force Base.  We had OD green steel drum shipping containers around the house with brand new dynamometers and ARC5 radios from military aircraft which Al converted to work the 2meter ham band.  Al was also a member of The American Radio Relay League and competed for and got published in the ARRL publication, QST for some of his innovations in electronics.

 

When Al was a senior in high school my dad found a 1931 Buick 8-86 coupe on a watermelon farm he drove past every day on his way to work at Ford Research and Engineering Center in Dearborn, MI.  He bought that car and gave it to Al for a graduation present and father-son project.  The Buick was also intended to be a distraction to get some daylight between Al and a certain 2 stroke 1947 Villiers James motorcycle that came home in the trunk of my mother's car.  Al got the thing running and I got my first motorcycle ride on it which turned out to be an addiction.  Al lost control of the Villiers on a gravel road one day and crashed into a deep ditch, but luckily was not seriously injured. 

 

The Buick barely ran, had a huge braze patch on the left side of the block where at some time in it's life #6 connecting rod became disinterested in it's relationship with the crankshaft and crashed through the side of the block.  Removal of the head revealed 6 original iron Buick pistons and 2 aluminum pistons whose rings had seized in the bores and were shorn off the pistons and lay on top of them when the head was removed.   Al took the head to Wayne Motors and magnaflux inspection revealed a crack from the combustion chamber to the water jacket and a couple of valves too badly burned to be used.  Al's other car was a new Austin Healy Sprite, the first model year after the bugeyes (1963?).  Al located a Buick 80 series chassis at Spring Lake Auto Parts, a junkyard on the west side of the state that at the time had just a treasure trove of antique cars and parts.  The weeds and brush were high enough where the Buick chassis lay the yard attendant issued us a 1951 Plymouth Savoy to tote us and our tools out to the tall grass, the Sprite wasn't cut out for brush busting.  We recovered a head, lots of bolts, pushrods and a few other parts, loaded them into the boot of the Sprite and drove home after dark being continuously flashed by high beams of oncoming cars, such was the chassis upset of the Sprite with all that weight in the boot.  Wayne Motors made a good head out of 2 and came to our house and bored the Buick cylinders +0.020 in the driveway to receive 8 new Ogden Nash aluminum pistons my dad got from a buddy at Ford.   

 

My parents were away on a vacation in Niagara Falls, NY the night Al got the Buick engine reassembled and was ready to try starting it.  I was summoned away from the living room TV where I was watching The Day The Earth Stood Still to help Al get the car started.  The new pistons and rings were tight in the freshly honed bores and I was stationed inside the car to operate the starter pedal while Al helped the starter with the hand crank.  Al's motor head high school buddy Butch Feitzer came roaring up in the driveway in his black 1963 Dodge Polara, 426 Max Wedge rumbling away, just in time for the show.  The Buick did start and run.  Al was worried it didn't have oil pressure but after cracking an oil filter branch fitting loose and getting sprayed with hot oil he learned otherwise, the gauge line in the car was just plugged.

 

Time moved on, the Buick got driven from Wayne to the Ford Livonia Transmission and Chassis Plant at the height of it's career so Al could show it off to his co-workers.  Al was a co-op employee over summer semester breaks at the time while he completed his EE degree at Purdue.  The Buick came home with a wrist pin knock caused by a mickey-mouse resizing repair of the small end of #6 rod.  The rod had been bored out to accommodate an oversize pin in one of the aluminum pistons the car came home with which had to be bushed down to fit the standard pins in the Nash slugs.  The car was summarily parked in the garage and became the smoking room of choice as I enjoyed stealing my dad's cigarettes at the ripe old age of 14.  One of Al's high school buddies whom Al got interested in electronic and ham radio, Ralph Bugg, K8HSQ, was often pressed into service to watch me and my younger sister when Al and older sister Diane were away at college and my folks went out some place.  Ralph would often be busy in Al's radio shack having a QSO (radio contact) with another ham which became a perfect opportunity for me to polish off a few of my dad's Salem filters...

 

I talked my dad into giving me the Buick when I was 19, towed it home and took it apart.  I had bearings re-babbited, small ends of 2 rods welded at Massey Welding and bridgeported back to size by no less than Leo Gonzales,  gave the heat riser to Jim Patrick at Mayfair Auto Parts who re-sleeved the burned out riser with stainless tube, re-assembled the chassis, installed a new Burt Waldron Exhaust system with a NOS muffler out of his barn hoard in Nottawa, MI, installed a newly re-faced and relined dual disc clutch and the rest of the running gear and got the car running.    This was my official entry into the antique car hobby.    I put the body back on the car and wound up selling it because part of it's history was a body fire which burned out much of the body wood, seat frames and upholstery, damage to areas where I had no expertise or wherewithall to overcome.  

 

Both Al and I followed my dad's lead into Ford and spent our careers there.  I was hooked on mechanical things by the age of 10, my folks spent vacations at Jerry's Marina in East Tawas, MI.  I liked boating but the reason I went on those early vacations was to hang around with the marina's mechanic where I learned how to work on Johnson outboard motors and eventually was approached by Jerry's owner to go to the Johnson Service School in Waukegan IL after which I worked in that marina, then several others before going to Ford.  Al's last gasp with motorcycles was purchase of a new Yamaha YDS3 250 Catalina which was opportunely parked in the garage with keys left on Al's work table when I came home from Jr. High and  no one else was around for a few hours.   I was converting as Schwinn Stingray and 5hp horizontal shaft lawn mower engine into my first motorcycle but secretly learning to start then ride the Yamaha.  Al always wondered where his gas was going and I made the excuse that I was draining the tank of the Yamaha to get gas for the project bike.  that wore thin the day Al came home a little early with the intent to go for a ride on the Yamaha but decided to do a plug reading before going out.  When he nearly burned his hands on the hot engine he never said anything but, well, the keys just weren't around anymore.   Later, after Al was married, the Yamaha was parked in his garage and never ridden.  Al became of the opinion that motorcycles were probably a bit dangerous and gave them up as a hobby.

 

More years went by, Al rose to the position of Mfg Manager for the Ford Electronics Fuel Handling Division.  He got a pilot's license and instruments rating.  He flew his wife and daughters as far Spokane, WA in a conventional tail Beechcraft Bonanza with nary a problem.  I gave up motorcycles for a few years when I married the first time but owned 23 motorcycles and enjoyed the hobby safely for 50 years of riding.  Al built a tandem cockpit Sonnerai mono plane which was an experimental class kit aircraft designed for Volkswagen power.  Those kit planes were commonly modified to accommodate a real Continental 4cyl aircraft engine which was heavier and required ballast to trim the airplane to offset the altered CG due to the extra weight of the Continental.  Al spent almost 10 years working on the Sonnerai and had numerous friends who helped in the construction including Jack Roush, owner of Roush Industries.  Sadly in November of 1995, Al was conducting high speed taxi testing at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, MI when the plane unintentially became airborn.  Al, having 10 years of work invested made the mistake of trying to fly the Sonnerai but it was a tail-dragger, it had too much ballast weight aft of the design intent center of gravity.  He struggled with it and lost control of it at about 600ft altitude and went straight into the ground which killed him.   Al was a great fan of antique automobiles and a ham radio operator.   Al might well have known of antique related car ham networks that started this thread.

 

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Had I had an "Elmer" as a teenager I very likely would have taken the test; I've been collecting & tinkering with old radios & TV's since I was a dozen years old but never quite had the calling to give it a try. I went to a few larger hamfests a few years back and really enjoyed the swapmeets. If I were to ever do it I think it would have to be with vintage equipment. I have a couple decent boat anchor receivers collecting dust, especially a fine old National that worked well until I mis-wired something while replacing the filter capacitors. 

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When growing up we had a TV with channel 1. Did some TVDXing which is a lot different from BCBDXing. Farthest was Tampa from Indiana.

Funniest receiver legend was the Helena Rubenstein R-390s. Meanwhile back at antique radios: 1958 GM Sportable.

 

536751.jpg

 

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With all the on line help It is actually never been easier to get a license.  You can do it two ways.  1. You can learn the material and actually know how things work.  2. Since the test is taken from a published list of questions you can memorize all the questions and answers.  Ham radio for me is a good balance between enjoying working on the car in the garage and spending time on the radio in the house.  I got my license 52 years ago because that was the only way to call home from GTMO and later from the USS Saratoga aircraft carrier.  I literally ran thousands of phone patches (telephone calls via radio) for others in my spare time.  Makes you feel good when the captain ask you if you would make a call for him. 

WB4SUV

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Add me to the count, KD6UTT (General Class) here.  I've never heard of an auto-related net, but that doesn't mean someone couldn't start one.  It could be like a real-time version of this forum.

 

As others have noted, it's never been easier to get your ticket (ham radio license.)  No Morse code requirement for decades now.  And courtesy of the pandemic, some amateur radio clubs (including the one that I belong to) are now doing the license classes via Zoom and other teleconferencing services. So you don't even need to travel to class.

 

I got into the hobby in the mid-1970s, when many amateurs were armed service veterans that had been trained in radio during their service.  They knew their stuff and their ability to design and make whatever was needed, sometimes entirely out of the "good junk" pile was really amazing.

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On 12/1/2020 at 9:03 PM, Roger Frazee said:

I began studying ham radio for the mental exercise.  After a little reading and taking some practice tests online, I was ready to take the first "Technician" exam.  A month later I took the next "General" exam.  I'm studying now for the final "Extra" exam.  It's not hard if you have a basic understanding of electricity.  

 

Back in the early 1970s at the ripe old age of 8, I took an evening course with Ms. Evelyn Penney and Mr. Bob Barker (not of Let's Make a Deal fame) at Emerson Junior High School.  Of course, dad was the inspiration for me to take the class and go for my Tech Ticket.  I think it was a challenge for him as most of his ham buddies' kids were getting their Novice.  A lot of coaching, extra schooling by dad including long division before we learned it at school and of course, practice soldering on the weekends in dad's ham shack. 

 

I still remember the thrill of coming home from 3rd grade and finding my new ham radio license came int he mail that day.  Its still active though I haven't been since dad passed over 30 years ago.  Still have a couple old Motorola HTs but that's about it. 

 

Sharing some pics of dad's ham shack and his talk power through the years.  Wish I had more of them.  Dad was one of those guys who could build, modify or repair anything with a specialty in electronics.  I remember often his friends coming over to have dad figure out a problem on their radios.  Dad didn't have military experience, only 2 years of electronics trade school, but he definitely had the 'fix-it gene'. 

 

Oh yeah, can't forget Field Day every June.  Us kids loved going there and hanging out with other ham kids.  And vacations were occasionally to the Findlay Swap Meet or Dayton Hamvention. 

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Beginning of WR8AFM Nov 74.jpg

June 28 Field Day 69 Set offa Truck!.jpg

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