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 Post subject: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Wed 03, 2018 6:02 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 1679
Location: Eagan, Minnesota, USA
On New Years Day, I was able to get an RME 69 receiver, pre-selector, and speaker. It is in excellent condition. All of the
components underneath the chassis are original, and there are no modifications to any of it. This is an AC only set, but the
speaker is permanent magnet. The magnet is huge, and the cabinet is shaped around that magnet. All of the controls feel
smooth, especially the tuning mechanisms. Something that I don't find with sets this old. Right now, I'm unsure as to what
direction I'm going to take with this set. Because of the condition and originality, I almost don't want to replace anything
on it. Just to a very slow and patient cleanup and preserve it as it is. I may consider replacing just the capacitors and possibly stuff the old caps with new ones to look original. Not an easy call at this point.

There is an RME service label on the bottom of the cabinet that shows a list of items performed on the receiver.
It has a date of 1938 on it. I was able to get it off without damage, and there is one underneath it that probably was
from the factory. Holes were in it to access the trimmer caps.

The serial number is 1449. I'm very happy to have acquired these pieces. I never owned an RME before, but I can see
that the build quality was top notch. Nice workmanship and good quality parts. Any comments on RME 69 sets would
be appreciated. I want to learn what I can about them.

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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Wed 03, 2018 6:59 pm 
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Frank,

Resist the urge to power it up unless you first do something with the electrolytic filter caps and output stage cathode bypass cap along with the other wax/paper caps in the set. It sounds like this one is nice enough that it should get the capacitors re-stuffed. Operating it, even brief testing, with the original electrolytic and paper caps in place IS putting a lot of other components at risk.

Depending upon the build date it may have line bypass caps soldered directly to the power transformer primary terminals and hidden under a shield. RME used different transformers and didn't always use line bypass caps consistently until later but if you have the style with the caps on the terminals failure here will damage the power transformer. Also make sure to add a fuse if it doesn't have one already, non-invasive possibilities are either an inline fuse hidden under the chassis OR you can carefully use a fuse type plug to avoid any changes inside the set. Safe use of a fuse type plug means that first you follow the old safety adage that ground is the first wire to connect and the last to disconnect when installing/removing a piece of gear. Then clearly mark the plug which prong goes into the hot/load (smaller prong) of the AC outlet, of course making sure the outlet is wired correctly also since reversed load and neutral is very common in household wiring. The proper fuse for the set, 2 amp should do, goes into the hot side and the neutral side should have a 20 or 30 amp fuse so that the hot side fuse will always be the one to open; this is for safety since some faults with an open neutral create the situation where a person becomes the new neutral return via another grounded piece of gear. The fuse should go in the lead that goes to the power switch.

The RME-69 (6 bands 9 tubes) was the receiver that brought fame to RME. At the time of its introduction it was considered a leading receiver and RME never quite reached that level again although the later RME-70, RME-99, RME-4300/4350, and RME-6900 were all quite good receivers. But it seems RME played the role in the communications receiver industry like AMC of the auto industry in the 60s and just like AMC didn't have the resources to compete with the big 3 of the time RME couldn't afford the resources to compete with Hallicrafters, Hammarlund, and National. But just like AMC did many years later RME adopted and developed innovative practices, like their use of loctal tubes for the RME-99, that allowed them to continue producing innovative products.

RME component quality generally was more in line with Hallicrafters receivers of the time while National and Hammarlund tended to go a step up. The majority of RME output during this time has great build quality because each receiver was built by a single worker so there was no hiding from who created a defect in the set.

And out of respect to RME founder E.G. Shalkhauser, when you start the alignment process do so carefully and properly. Shalk was asked one year at the nearby Peoria hamfest why the early RME receivers didn't originally have alignment instructions included in the owner's manual and his view was, "any damned ham who needs instructions to align a superhet has no business trying to align one of my receivers". I have met some old timers in the area who knew him and the consensus was he was actually a great person but he was as proud and protective of his creations as a father would be about his children.

I have a couple of RME-69 receivers, an early one and a later production model with the noise silencer installed. Both still do a very credible job as a station receiver and the predecessor RME-9D isn't bad either.

Rodger WQ9E


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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Wed 03, 2018 7:15 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 1679
Location: Eagan, Minnesota, USA
Rodger,

That is interesting that one employee would build the entire radio! No way to hide from any mistakes!

That RME founder sounds a lot like Paul Klipsch, of Klipsch speaker fame. Quite the personalities.

I read something about why RME didn't label the controls on the front panel. Shalkhauser felt that mainly
engineering type people would be the buyers of the sets, and they could figure out what the controls do, and
no labeling was necessary. Somehow, I don't think he'd have much patience with me!

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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Wed 03, 2018 8:03 pm 
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Frank,

My Hammarlund Comet Pro along with several different Breting and Patterson receivers don't have labels either and I have little cheat cheats for several of them. A simple set like the National SW-3 is no problem without labels but for these more complex superhets unless you own only one old vintage receiver and use it frequently having a panel diagram is very helpful.

I never had the pleasure of meeting the founder of RME but according to the old timers he and Central Electronics founder Wes Schum were regulars at the Peoria IL hamfest for many years. About 20 years ago one of the local club members shared a home movie of the two of them together at Peoria back in the days when hams dressed up to go to hamfests.

I am sure Shalk would be very pleased that his receivers are still being used and enjoyed many decades after his company produced them. The RME-69 was a very good basic design and coupled with the matching preselector it also provides very good image rejection. It sounds like this one found an excellent home!

Rodger WQ9E


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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Thu 04, 2018 12:02 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 1270
Location: Morris Plains, N.J. 07950
Frank, here's an article on the RME-69 and it may help you identify the person who built your receiver.

http://www.skywaves.ar88.net/commrx/RME ... rticle.pdf

Here's a page that identifies the front-panel controls:

http://www.skywaves.ar88.net/commrx/RME/RME.html


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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Thu 04, 2018 5:38 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 1679
Location: Eagan, Minnesota, USA
Joe, thanks for the info and links!

I found an article in Electric Radio from Feb 2017 that talked about an RME 69 rebuild. Got it on my bench to reference as I work on this one. I'm trying to determine if the transformers were painted or cadmium plated. There are some marks that I'd like to touch up on them and also on the chassis. I haven't taken the front panel off yet. Hope to do that this weekend. That way I can get to everything and do a proper cleanup and detailing. Does anyone know how the pointers get lined up to their proper position referencing the dial? It looks like one screw is what holds them to the shaft, but I'm wondering if they have a lineup cut in them or just go back on flat then require some method to get them pointing correctly.

Also, any hints on what to use to clean up the cans on top of the chassis would help. They look like aluminum, but I could be
wrong about that.

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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Thu 04, 2018 9:08 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
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Location: Monterey California USA
The transformers on mine were painted silver, as I recall. The IF cans are just drawn aluminum.

There was an early Electric Radio article on the RME 69, quite a few years ago, and it was not that useful. The author seemed to not realize that the power supply filter electrolytic is topside of the chassis in a metal box, right at the RF section, and getting at it is an ordeal.

There are assorted variations of the 69 depending on the options it had. Such as the noise limiter.

I am under the impression the pointers just go on with that one screw and it's up to you to tighten it at the right spot.

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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Fri 05, 2018 4:27 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 1679
Location: Eagan, Minnesota, USA
The info about the assembly line workers initialing each chassis that they worked on made me curious about mine.
So, last night I took a look and found three sets of initials. 'VR' was found near the power transformer location. A very stylized 'AES' was found on the bracket for the volume/send-receive control. At least that's what I think the letters are. And also 'HLL" on one of the coil cans nearest the back of the chassis. So it appears that my set had three people on it, or possibly someone added their initials when the set went back to RME for service in 1938.

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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Sat 06, 2018 4:34 am 
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Joined: Mar Wed 16, 2011 10:44 pm
Posts: 669
Location: Peekskill, NY
At least one RME 69 had factory installed silkscreen identifiers for the various controls.

I know, I own it.

Plus, another one, without.


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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Mon 08, 2018 5:14 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 1679
Location: Eagan, Minnesota, USA
Made the decision to rebuild this set. And the weekend was spent taking the front panel, subpanel, etc. off and perform a very through cleaning. The paint on the transformers and choke showed some loss and wear, so I found a match to the factory silver at O'Reilly Auto Parts. I took the bells of the transformers off and sprayed them separately. Then did the transformers. It was a big improvement over the worn paint that was there. I removed the variable resonator capacitor to give it a good cleaning, and have access to the chassis area around it.

Since this set is in very good condition as it is, the front panel cleaned up to just about new condition. Nothing to touch up there. The dials are very clean, so I simply buffed them out with a soft cloth. I went over the subpanel that holds the dials with car wax, and that cleaned off the surface layer of grime. The chassis does have some small marks here and there that look like they could have come from dirt laying there over time. I just used car wax on the flat steel chassis panel, and let it go at that. The aluminum parts cleaned up with a cleaner, then wax over them. All of the knobs got cleaned up with cleaner and then a coat of wax. I did find two of the set screws were broken at the top where the slot should be. If anyone knows what size these are, please let me know.

So, the cleanup on the receiver is now done, and I'm about to start reassembly. Then recapping the chassis over the next few weekends.

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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Mon 08, 2018 9:26 pm 
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Frank,

Looking forward to seeing the photos of this beauty. You will also enjoy using it on the air.

Rodger WQ9E


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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Mon 08, 2018 10:11 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 1679
Location: Eagan, Minnesota, USA
Rodger,

It was the simplicity of this set that really got me wanting to rebuild it. The tuning feels very smooth and precise. I agree, this should be a fun set to operate and search the bands with. Especially on the cold nights like we've been having lately.

First, I'll rebuild the receiver. Then the pre-selector. I hear that using it with the receiver will make a big difference in performance. For me, this will be a fun project.

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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Mon 08, 2018 10:18 pm 
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Frank,

One of our fellow forum members, Geoff Fors, kindly sent me a copy of a telegram sent to RME about the preselector. Attached image below.

Rodger WQ9E


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Preselector.jpg
Preselector.jpg [ 235.3 KiB | Viewed 1056 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Mon 08, 2018 11:32 pm 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
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Location: Eagan, Minnesota, USA
Thanks Rodger for posting that memo!

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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Tue 09, 2018 5:08 am 
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Joined: Mar Sat 08, 2008 3:21 am
Posts: 323
Location: hillsborough, nc
The DB-20 is a fairly hot front end, tunable, that really perks up receivers low on front end gain.
Note that there were receivers and preselectors built together in the same cabinet.
Ungainly to move, but neat.
WL


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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Tue 09, 2018 1:50 pm 
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infomet wrote:
The DB-20 is a fairly hot front end, tunable, that really perks up receivers low on front end gain.
Note that there were receivers and preselectors built together in the same cabinet.
Ungainly to move, but neat.
WL


This is my RME-70 with the built in DB-20 and it takes up most of a tabletop. RME also made a version with both the preselector and VHF converter but I have never seen one in person and it would definitely take up a lot of a tabletop.

The later DB-22 preselector, updated to miniature tube types, shows up fairly frequently also. The final RME preselector was the DB-23 which came out during the Electrovoice ownership era and it is far different, and for vintage gear use inferior, to the earlier units. The DB-20 and DB-22 have two stages of amplification and most importantly three sets of tuned circuits which greatly improve image rejection of most single conversion receivers at higher frequencies.

The DB-23 was an oddball design with a single tuned circuit at the input with two stages of amplification and another stage acting as an impedance converter with the stages all coupled via un-tuned circuits. The DB-23 uses three 6J6 twin triodes which were commonly used as the mixer oscillator in TV tuners. The DB-23 is designed as a balanced circuit from input through output with each 6J6 having one triode section connected to each side of the balanced circuit. The DB-23 is probably a decent choice for the RME-4350 and other dual conversion designs that didn't have an image issue but could use a little more gain on the highest ranges but it would have been much more useful had it also covered 6 meters which is where a lot of vintage receivers had reduced performance. The NC-183D could definitely have used a little low noise gain on its 6 meter range and the HQ-110A and HQ-170A VHF version have a nuvistor preamp stage in the added two meter converter that functions as a very useful preamp on 6 meters making their 6 meter coverage much more useful. But by the time the DB-23 came out Electrovoice was fully in control and the original RME company and culture was very much dead.

The DB-23 is basically designed for ham band only use for 80 through 10 meters but the earlier models cover from the broadcast band up through and slightly higher than 10 meters. If you have a simple crystal receiver for the BCB try experimenting with the DB-20 or DB-22 where it makes a huge difference for these simple sets.

Rodger WQ9E


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RME Model 70.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Tue 09, 2018 2:28 pm 
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Wow, Rodger, that RME-70 is some kind of eye candy!

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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Tue 09, 2018 2:55 pm 
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Thanks Chuck,

I have had it setup with a Hallicrafters HT-9 transmitter which makes a nice vintage station but it takes up a lot of real estate. The HT-9 is 30" wide and weighs around 165 pounds which is a LOT for a 70 watt output AM transmitter but it is rugged.

I am not planning on adding any more large gear but it would be hard to resist if I found one of the RME monsters with both the preselector and VHF converter built into a single enclosure.

I am glad that Frank is going through a full restore of his RME-69 and it will be nice to have more of these nice vintage RME rigs on the air. If anyone runs across a RME-99 don't pass it up because it is really the last of the classic high performance early RME receivers. The RME-4350 is OK but RME didn't really hit its stride again until near the end with the RME-6900. The RME-45 series was popular but it didn't stand out from the pack like the earlier RME series and was basically a lower middle of the line model with RME ceding the high performance market to others during this time period. I believe the RME-99 was the last of the dual tuning capacitor sets and the RME-45 used a cheaper and less effective mechanical bandspread system. The 99 prominently featured the ham bands on its large center dial.

Rodger WQ9E


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RME-99 Lysco 600.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Tue 09, 2018 3:31 pm 
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Those large center dials can't be beat - for looks anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: RME 69
PostPosted: Jan Tue 09, 2018 7:30 pm 
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Location: Wood River, Ill.
Looking over these posts made me curious. I think I have a RME DB-22 or DB-22A sitting on the shelf in the shop. It was given to me by an old ham, (now SK), who thought that I needed it in my collection of radio stuff. It was old, large, and heavy, so it fit right in. It came with no paperwork, and to be honest, I really didn’t know what it was or what to do with it. So on the shelf it went. As I recall, it is dusty, but appears to be in pretty good shape.

Rodger, with your discussion above, you have peeked my interest! I will have to look around for a manual and schematic and take a closer look at it. I am always interested in radio equipment from the state of Illinois, and this fits right in. From what you are saying it sounds like I don’t really have to have the mating receiver to take advantage of it, although I will continue looking. Sometimes RME equipment comes up at the local hamfests. Thanks for putting another bee in my bonnet! :D

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