Great story! I wonder if the organ was the Heathkit version of the Thomas? From your description (missing cathode resistor bypass cap) I suspect it was a build-it-yourself kit.
I started out similar working for a piano sales/repair shop when the owner got into selling Lowrey organs and needed someone to do part-time repairs and sales demos. My parents had a Lowrey vacuum tube model, but the shop carried the new transistor versions. Learned a lot about transistors working on those.
Nothing about the Thomas struck me as being assembled from a kit. I spent a lot of time with Heathkits (I had a Heathkit VTVM and oscilloscope that I used repairing those organs) and I think I would have noticed anything that looked like a Heathkit product.
I remember an engineer from Lowrey telling me that I shouldn't take the oscilloscope on house calls because it makes the customer think that they are paying too much for repairs with such fancy equipment. My thought was that Hoot only charged customers the $7 plus parts so I don't think anyone was going to think they were overpaying. Hoot treated all repair calls as customer service and didn't make any money on them.
Yes, although at the time I thought he was paying too little. I felt I couldn't complain though, because he also had a guy that did TV repair as his day job repairing organs on the weekend. He was paid exactly the same as I was. So while I thought he was paying too little, I certainly couldn't say he was being unfair. I guess he figured the flat rate would work out better, since greater skill should get the job done faster, resulting in a higher effective hourly rate.
I did feel that I got some of the more challenging repairs from some of the tradeins. The Thomas was just the worst of them. Once Hoot got me out of school to do an emergency repair. He pretended to be my father when he called the office at the school!
Good story indeed! Half your luck Mark, when I was that age all I could find was a job in a fish and chip shop! Nevertheless it did help pay for transistors and stuff I wanted. And in Rhodesia where I grew up, by the time I was 18 I was conscripted, fortunately into the police radio section where I got training and was in 7th heaven.
@davidashton Ha! My first job was scooping ice cream, though I did learn early about what it meant to be an unscrupulous business. We were taught a technique to create a "hollow" scoop of ice cream, so though it looked like a completely scoop, the customer was getting far less. The boss even did spot weighing checks to make sure we weren't actually serving an honest cone.
@Kfield so that's where you acquired your razor-sharp business acumen? My Fish-and-Chip shop job was more staid, but (apart from providing me with a few $ for electronics and records) it taught me a lot about how life and businesses worked. I once ventured to suggest to my headmaster that I learned more in my job than I did at his school. He was not impressed. Although it was mostly true, in hindsight I must have been a little sod to teach.....
@Caleb - School teaches you the basics - the 3 Rs if you will - how to Read & wRite and how to do basic aRithmetic (Math to you). Beyond that it's pretty hopeless, my complaint was they specialised far too much in the later stages. For the last two years I wanted to do Math, French and English. They were horrified. "You can't do that, it's mixing Arts and Sciences!". So I did Physics, Chemistry and Biology, and pretty much lost interest, and it was only when I was when I got more or less expelled, 6 weeks before final exams, and got sent to a private college at vast expense to my father, that I decided I better do some work and JUST got through. Schools these days seem to offer a wider array of subjects until you leave school, which I'd have appreciated.
My first job was in a fish and chip shop too, I would peel and chip ~ 2 bags of potatoes (using machines of course!) , gave me enough money to buy my first transistor , a BC108 .
I subsequentially used this to upgrade the burglar alarm at same fish and chip shop , it used a battery and a 12v relay that was always on unless the trip wire was broken. The battery needed monthly replacement, but with a transistor, the standby current was ~ 100 x less.
The same fish and chip shop bought some pinball machines , which I used to fix, then some pong and space invader machines , which I also fixed. Eventually I earned enough to buy my first car ($400 back in 1978).
@salbayeng....it's always interesting to hear how other guys started. I used to hitch-hike +/- 10 Km out of town to get 2N3055'S for $ 3.10 rather than pay $5.50 in town. Built guitar amps for my friends with them,,,,
Those were the days - when electronics could be repaired. With modern electronics it is scary how a small failure requires scrapping the device. Not only is there an environmental burden but also the knowledge gained by repairing things is being lost when monolithic devices must be discarded when they fail. I guess the tiny home businesses that repair iPhones are a ray of entrepreneurial hope.
There are so many cool electronic instruments being made these days. I was in Red Dog Music, a great instrument store in Edinburgh this week and saw a new line of Casio digital harpsichords and organs. The sounds they made were sweet!
Not sure you'd want to try repairing one of them as a first job though!
I didn't realize anyone actually made physical digital harpsichords. I checked around and found the Roland C-30 digital harpsichord, but couldn't find anything similar from Casio. But Casio has been making inroads into the digital piano market in recent years (and their pianos of course offer all sorts of built-in sounds including harpsichord), so I guess it wouldn't be surprising to see the company come out with something more specialized, and probably at a very competitive price point!
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