Collins Corner   A timeless classic

It’s not about performance—it's radio art and a time machine, built when I was 4 years old.

THERE HAVE BEEN many interesting and successful lines of equipment and particular models, since the inception of ham radio. I'm not a historian, and there are as many opinions and personal preferences about each manufacturer's offerings, especially during the heyday of the U.S. radio manufacturing.

This is to preface my opinion that Collins equipment is the epitome of radio design at the height of the U.S. ham radio tradition of engineering and manufacturing. It was "the gear I couldn't afford," the first time around, so I bought and used a Drake B-Line as a very serviceable alternative, back when I would have preferred the Collins S/Line.

I continue to use and enjoy the S/Line, recently replacing both the 75S-1 with a 75S-3, and the 32S-1 with a 32S-3, gaining a more flexible receiver, and a more suitable transmitter for CW.

A KWM-2A with 312B-5 external speaker, VFO and phone patch is now part of my collection, and is an enjoyable SSB rig, especially after adding service bulletins and some "secrets" shared generously by Dave Harmon, K6XYZ, a maven/guru on these rigs.

There are other albums on Google at 1962 Collins 75S-3

and the album of my current transmitter1966 Collins 32S-3
and the album of my current amplifier1971 Collins 30L-1

Here's a nice item, provided by my friend Buddy, WD4AKS. I discovered that Command Hooks do stick to concrete, and this is hanging in the basement, above the S/Line.

After 5 years of enjoying the 1958/59 S/Line I purchased from Maury, W4HYB, I decided to upgrade to the S-3 line. The first step was the receiver, and a unit was purchased on ebay, which had plenty of potential, however, it needed more than just cleaning to make it useful. The PTO had a binding problem than caused it to spring back in frequency after releasing the knob, and it needed a teardown, cleaning, and lubrication to fix the problem. It was initially a bit daunting, but I received a lot of encouragement and information from others, especially on the CCA reflector, and the result is excellent. It cleaned up well also, and I expect to have it in the shack for years to come. 

Receiver as it arrived after purchase, before any cleaning or repairs.
1962 75S-3 Refurbishment

Receiver after cleaning and repair to PTO and replacement of original paper and electrolytic capacitors. The image is linked to my album of the process and may be helpful if you undertake the same process.

The PTO rebuild is a subset of the album and may be helpful as a reference if you find the need to perform the same process on your rig. Take notes, be careful not to lose parts (especially the little clear ball at the back of the PTO shaft!0, and don't force anything, and you'll enjoy the original feel and performance Collins designed.

3-27-2009. Thanks to Chris, W2PA, my 30L-1 is now "famous" on Wikipedia. This was in better shape when I started than the 312B-4, but almost as dirty. I think they were a pair in their former, covert lives, both bearing Air American identification medallions, when they were obtained.

Chris has done a nice job adding information to the Collins page and the R.L. Drake pages, particularly about their amateur radio products.

Here is a shot of Chris in my shack on 7-14-2009. Chris was in Washington for business, and made the trip down to Nokesville later in the evening despite difficult traffic. We have shared a great deal during the restoration and operation of Collins equipment. Chris did a true "restoration" on his later series S/Line, and I recommend his site to you for both entertainment and education. W2PA website.

A nice S/Line did grace my shack for a time in the early 1980s for perhaps as long as 2 years, but my competitive operating in that era demanded something slicker and more contemporary. Tuning up the transmitter and the peaking of preselectors was deemed too great an effort and for quick inter- and intra-band excursions during a contest, and it was. The pleasures of the warm glow of tubes and pilot lights, rich sound, and even shack heating, was just not something I could appreciate then. Fast forward to March 2008, and the acquisition of a 1958 S/Line, with all the paperwork, purchased from the original owner.

I only managed to work 4 of the Special Event stations, but it was great fun, getting to tell them, "This IS a 50-year-old S-Line that I'm working you with." 

 Here's an S/Line of similar vintage to mine. This was clearly not so well cared for, but you know, it all will end up this way someday. BTW, the asking price was $400 :-)