Care and Feeding of your 1011 Transceiver

I've seen a lot of Hacks, Technicians and Engineers modify many of the Swan and Siltronix radios through the years. Some were pretty wild and wacky mods. Around Northern California where I live, I know of three or four mod packages which were offered to 1011 owners. Many of these modifications involved the addition of an internal "Albatross type Frequency Counter" (of which I don't really like) in what I term a half-ass method of operational frequency display. The internal counter required you press a button to see the display in the receive mode. The VFO band range - switch sometimes went away and the single range was "broad banded" to work much of the entire 26 to 28MHz bandwidth (on some modified units). Internal Counter units with the orignal dual ranges would not display the second band position. In my opinion a poorly applied modification when the radio lost so much usable frequency.
I found one up for sale on Ebay and placed a picture of it below. Notice the dial set is now replaced with a red push button and the vfo dial is a Red LED type lens. The dual band switch remained on this unit, other radio owners mod requests removed the bandswitch. Shawn, North of us ended up with this tranceiver from an Ebay Seller. It's a real nice unit... strange to operate, but still a workhorse on SSB.

Albatross Electronics was Joe in Northern California modifying Siltronix radios with package of features/options he felt a serious Siltronix Operator would desire. His Paper Brochure Listed Updates included the mentioned onboard frequency counter, tighter crystal filter, constant ac power mods and a basic rework of the radio. To be honest, his work was real quality, but the reason for his mods don't make much sense to me or others which included folks at Siltronix. I'm told there was a meeting of Joe and the Siltronix crew which never really went anywhere. Still, Joe was able to convince many an owner to let him rework their radios and I've seen many around like the one shown below. His resultant owners manual doesn't really make a lot of common sense, but I do have copies of it if you end up with an Albatross Radio. I would be cautious about following some of his instructions as I believe some of the tune - adjustment steps described are pretty non conventional.

This to me, most all of these mods were almost hack jobs as the VFO stability suffered a great deal. I inherited two or three of these units, some called "Albatross" refurbished rigs... some day I'll rework them to a better full time counter display circuit or Ebay them off to many a fan of this type mod/"update." I know there's a better way to deal with an on board frequency counter. Maybe I'll attribute the mod to the technology of the time period. If time allows, I'll pop a few more pictures of these hybrid rigs I have stored here, their internal views. I repair many brand HF, Siltronix and Swan radios as my limited time allows, but if possible, I prefer to enjoy them in original/stock operation. Other newer solid state radios work much better when heavily modified... if your so inclined to blow your way up and down a band. A vintage radio modification has to really enhance regular operation to be worth the time.

Other odd ball mods included a power on standby switch which constantly kept the tube heaters on. Bad news in my opinion... many a rig power supply was lost while long unused idle times allowed a power surge/spike to wack the unit. Not to mention the heat and increasing price of the utility power bills these days. The reasons given on the mod advertisements I have were in the interest of better vfo stability. Well heck, if people wouldn't hack up the original vfo from the start, the long term stability would remain pretty darn good. Considering the technology of the time, the solid state VFO circuit is a real winner. Adding that standby switch... all you end up with is a lot of wasted/lost tube life, heat and a potential for trouble when your not around.

Another popular modification was to remove the onboard power supply and place it into the matching speaker... The modification never made much sense to me but a lot of people had it done. You can see there was ample power supply space in the original 1011C shown above. This rather dirty rig (sold on Ebay) still worked well, lacking years of proper care. Hopefully the new owner cleaned it up a bit...

A few other Techs removed the stock crystal filter and installed a 2.7KHz wide in the interest of "tight" SSB only operation. Not my cup of tea because the stock filter worked very well for SSB thank you. AM operation was lost after this mod which was sold to "the serious SSB Only Operators." I've installed crystal filter switch kits in this radio for the real die-hard ops, but again one defeats the practical cost and operation of a great radio, for such a little benefit. Most modern ham rigs use a "standard" 3.3KHz filter bandwidth for "generic SSB and switching is done to a 6 or 10Khz filter for AM operation."

One of the most wild rigs I saw was a bare chassis buildup with a 4cx250 final tube. Wow..! This well known Fairfield, California Technician mentioned to me that he was working on a dual 4CX250 rig (how about a 1kw plus Siltronix..?). If you've ever heard of the famous Glenn VFO or Northern Calif. "tpl" amplifiers (not the solid state commerial line you now see sold on the used market and Ebay), you might know about some of the overkill designs these Stockton, Fairfield, Auburn and Vacaville, California Radio Techs were up to. I've done more than a few PA section mods myself, but a scheme to cool a ceramic tetrode inside that small chassis box was nuts. I never saw it in operation, but I saw it pretty close to completion many years ago. I prefer to keep my ceramic tetrodes in a larger box thank you.

So there you have a little history and information about the Siltronix line up. They hold up well when they're kept clean. The 8950 final tube is getting to be a hens tooth to find cheap enough, but resourceful people shouldn't have a problem finding a replacement. Worst case when the 8950 supply dries up and goes away, you can retrofit the 6HF5 on board using the proper circuit mods (described in the 80's vintage ARRL Book "Hints and Kinks for the Radio Amateur). Another popular retrofit tube is the 6LB6 which I like a lot. I saw a few early (pre "late 70's boom") cb'ers using 1011 stations to work DX and wow... I was hooked. That lead to a ham ticket and all the fun that includes. Legal operation of the Siltronix in the Ten Meter Ham band is very enjoyable.

Other 70's "Radio Camps" included the very popular Yaseu FT-101, Henry Tempo-One, Kenwood and a few other early multiband HF rigs. Some of which I've had and still own now in storage. Keep your Siltronix covered when not in use, Dust and excessive heat are The Killers of This Rig! If you still have the original power supply filter electrolytic "can" capacitor in service, consider a very slow power-up with an AC Variac or some type of equivalent "AC line step start circuit" each time you power the rig up from a long storage time or down period. This will allow the power supply electrolytic capacitor(s) dilectrics to slowly reform as best possible. I will often give a very long term stored radio a few days of a very slow increasing voltage through a variac.

Blow out your rig with moderate pressure air. Buy and only use a small amount of Caig Labs ProGold, DeOxit, G5, B2 or B5 Control-Cleaner/Spray. Trust me on this one thing if nothing else you learn here. This stuff "IS-IT" for keeping volume pots, switches and controls in order. If it won't clean or lubricate the contacts back in shape, they really need replacement.
First, use a Q-Tip with a common silver contact cleaner like "Tarn-X" on the plated band switch controls to remove the oxide buildup. After cleaning, displace the Tarn-X with a non-residue spray cleaner (available from most all Electronic Supply Stores) followed by the Craig Labs Contact Treatment or whatever control preservative type you obtain. Dirty and oxidated band switch contacts are the very common problem with many older radios and there are bandswitch contacts inside the Siltronix VFO box which might also need cleaning. It just depends on how clean, dry and well kept the radio is.
Place a small slow to moderate speed boxer fan on top of the chassis above the PA Tube Section, sucking air up out of the radio. This little addition will really help the chassis temperature normalize from a "cold start" and save your expensive PA Tube many hours of potential life.

Last Update: 04/28/04