I became interested in radio after inheriting my grandfather's collection of old radio spares in the early fifties. At that time there was a tremendous amount of World War II surplus equipment around and many shops all over the country selling it. In Liverpool there was "Super Radio" which had a small shop in Whitechapel and a large old house in the suburbs in Rathbone Road which I recall was surrounded by a veritable mountain of stuff that was being systematically broken up for its copper content. I recall wobbling home on my bike with all sorts of goodies which I tried to get working ("18 sets", "19 sets", SCR522s etc.). There was also a shop in Brownlow Hill which dealt in similar stuff and I remember staggering home with a T1154 from there. My first receiver was probably an old pre-war set which tuned down to 11 metres and on which I used to listen to Australian broadcast stations and puzzle over the origin of the huge number of musical tuning signals. I eventually graduated to an R1155 which I bought, already modified, from my school teacher for £3 in about 1954. About this time a friend and I bought a couple of "17 sets " which had been used by men operating Searchlights during the war. These were beautifully designed sets operating in the VHF TV band and working very well into the standard TV aerials of the day.

  Soon after, I spotted for sale some receivers called R206 Mk I for £20, and after saving up, purchased one which arrived on a lorry in an enormous crate. I still have this set which I reckon is the best wartime receiver ever made. In the early sixties I helped start up the University of Liverpool Amateur Radio Society which used the callsign G3OUL. Shortly afterwards after taking my morse test at the Liver Buildings I became G3PIY, using homebrew transmitters with my R206. I converted various surplus VHF transmitters and receivers and built an SSB 2 metre rig with a QQV06-40A amplifier. In those days one usually operated on a specific frequency in the 2 meter band using a government surplus 8MHz crystal which had been taken apart and rubbed with Vim to place the output clear of other band users. You generally called CQ then optimistically tuned the band for a reply. I decided to improve on this, and after obtaining various free samples from Plessey Semiconductors, and using a bit of knowledge gained in my job with a large Defence Contractor, I made a fully tunable, frequency synthesised, 2 metre transceiver and with a homebrew amplifier and managed to work lots of stations from Liverpool as far as Switzerland. (I suppose this is commonplace today with Japanese black boxes). See Story No.34 for a description of this rig.
While all this was going on I continued to mend TV sets and radios for neighbours and I still do more than 50 years later but I had to extend my repertoire, since leaving the Defence Industry (because I now do it for a living) to virtually anything that works off electricity excluding washing machines! The smallest things I've tackled, I suppose, are electronic keyfobs and the largest to-date a plastic extrusion machine over 30 foot long and weighing 6 tons. The keyfobs were brought to the workshop but, naturally- to fix the latter, the machine being too big to go in the owner's car boot, I had to visit the factory. For the last few years I've stopped repairing run-of-the-mill items because they're too inexpensive and now fix mainly circuit boards for lifts and escalators.

PS The photo was taken in 1964 and the young lady is G3SGL, the mother of our 4 children

Allan Isaacs, B.Eng., C.Eng., M.I.E.T., G3PIY


 Recognise anyone in this picture from the 60s?


Ringo broke my cousin's nose when they had a fight at the factory where they both worked in the 50s. The factory made children's playground equipment...

My brother, Roy, worked at André Bernards in Liverpool. This was an up-market ladies hairdressers in Liverpool city centre. Another apprentice at that time was Paul's younger brother Mike who later joined the Scaffold.... When Roy (who'd gained an MA in Fine Arts after he'd retired), had an exhibition of his work 50 years later he invited Mike... and he turned up!

I remember standing watching Liberace being driven through Liverpool past André Bernards shop, which was just opposite NEM's record store, in his pink Cadillac....

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Mary Elizabeth Mercer