My eBay adventure

Last month I saw on eBay a shortwave radio that I had possessed many years ago (probably late 1970’s/early 1980’s. It’s a Grundig Satellit 2000, and the eBay seller (a German, natch) described it as in full working order, having been checked by a technician before shipping.

The radio has a full, lush sound, tunes the entire LW, MW, SW, and FM bands, with the SW broadcast bands in service then being tuned in finer detail. Each band is selected by turning a turret, which places a different set of coils into the circuit. There is a huge speaker, with treble and bass controls along with the volume control.

So, I received the receiver before Christmas. The FM band worked fine. However, none of the LW, SW, or AM bands worked particular well: the audio was barely detectable. The turret didn’t turn; it was “stuck” or “blocked”. I was in despair. The packing had been, well, loose to say the least. There were bits of styrofoam interspersed with newspapers.

So I looked around on the web, and discovered London Sound. It’s way the heck out in Rayners Lane, almost in Uxbridge at the end of the northern branch of the Piccadilly Line. It takes about an hour to get there on the tube. But when I contacted Mike Solomons, the proprietor, he said that he could fix the radio. I went out there after Christmas, and he was delightful! We spent about an hour gabbing about radio, business, and various other subjects. I paid a lot of money as a deposit, and he reminded me that with my money I would get a 1-year guarantee on his work.

Today I got the radio back. There was at least one surprise: there was a rechargeable lead-acid battery in it, and Mike had taken the casing of that battery and replaced the innards with AA cells and a resistor so that it would recharge just as the original one did. When he took the innards out of the radio, one switch on the front, rather than being slipped onto its post, had been glued on as it had been broken. Mike drilled two tiny holes in the post, put a bent piece of paper clip into the holes, and slipped the switch knob onto that. What workmanship! The radio now works perfectly; the mechanics of keeping the “piano key” switches on the top from getting gummed up, and the intricacies of getting the coil that fell out of the turret back into the radio were explained by Mike.

I won’t mention the cost, but it was perhaps the most expensive radio I’ve ever purchased (and had repaired). However, I would recommend that anyone in the London area who has old-time audio equipment to be repaired (hi-fi sets that were transistorised rather than computerised like today’s are, or old-style SW radio receivers) go see Mike right away (and I suppose you should mention me and my Grundig too). Mike is someone who is absolutely dedicated to his work, someone who stands by it and guarantees it for more than a perfunctory period of time, and who is immensely knowledgeable and ingenious and inventive.

Now I’d better get upstairs and start SWLing, to amortise the enormous cost.

Oh, and BTW, I’m suggesting to the seller that his packing was seriously deficient and telling him that I’m “minded” to give him a negative rating. Hopefully that will give him food for thought and maybe I’ll even get some of my money back.

4 Responses to “My eBay adventure”

  1. anonymous says:

    hmpf. to think you talked me out of considering buying a shortwave radio.

    Brad Macdonald
    p.s. hope you are having fun in Asia. If you venture to e. Malaysia let me know as I have a friend there.

  2. chrishansenhome says:

    I shall look at that entry. I’m here and am very tired, but otherwise unbowed. We made a partially unscheduled stop in Frankfurt because of the oil depot fire in Herts. There isn’t enough jet fuel in Britain, it seems, to fuel the plane for the whole trip to Singapore, so we had to stop over to take on more fuel. We were on the plane for 15 hours or so. Very tiring.

    Yes, we will be in Malaysia at the end of this week: KL and Malacca. Happy to look anyone up!

  3. chrishansenhome says:

    Oh, and in addition I reserve the right, like all ladies, to change my mind occasionally. And isn’t that a beautiful radio!!! It’s a joy to have in the house!

  4. anonymous says:

    my friend is in Sarawak, e. Malaysia (on Borneo). Would be happy to give you a reference if you might be headed that way.