Digest" column regularly reported on issues relevant to the electronics
servicemen who repaired radios, television sets, phonographs, recorders, and
similar items - often in the customers' homes. Then, as now, professionalism and
courteous behavior was often rewarded with word-of-mouth referrals to friends
and relatives, resulting in new business opportunities. An interesting topic
also included was the need to observe extreme caution when working around TV
tubes (CRT's) not just because of the lethally high voltages present, but
because of the danger of tube implosion and the resulting scattering of glass
shards. An example given is that due to standard atmospheric press of 14.7 lbs/in2
on the outside of the evacuated volume, a 17-inch screen CRT tube supports a
total pressure of 3,322 pounds, or 1.66 tons!
September 1953 Radio-Electronics
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Electronics,
published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Service Digest ... Useful Information For Service Technicians
By Hugo Gernsback
Extra Service. Many service technicians continue to complain in letters to the
editor how difficult it is to make a living these days. This is not particularly
new, because it has been going on ever since radio servicing started. Nor is it
a complaint of radio and television technicians alone - it seems to be universal
in all branches, whether radio, plumbing, automotive, typewriter repairing, watch
repairing, or hundreds of other servicing lines.
There will always be those service technicians - and they are by far in the majority
- who do make a good living and always have more work than they can handle. Then
there is the minority who never can make ends meet, complain of competition and
other troubles. This, too, is true of all services of every kind. After all, the
wide-awake, businesslike individual knows what he is about, is a good student of
human nature, and gives service plus. Usually he complains little.
This brings to mind a recent case we came across and which might be apropos.
A householder had called in a radio technician to make a minor television repair.
There was one tube to be replaced and within ten minutes the service technician
had finished the job. This man, however, is the type who gives extra service. He
always carries with him a wood finishing kit, which takes up remarkably little room.
He proceeded to polish the television set, which had a few scratches on it. This
took less than five minutes. He did not charge for this. The lady of the house was
amazed at this, it being the first servicing call this technician had made on her.
She was so pleased that she asked him to call on her sister, who lived a few blocks
away, and who owned a very expensive television set that had a bad dent in it. She
wondered if he could fix it; he affirmed he could.
A phone conversation arranged that the service technician should make the call
At the other house he found a rather large and deep dent in the top of the expensive
walnut cabinet. It was caused by a large oil painting falling upon the set when
the rusty wire holding the painting had given way. The service technician filled
up the hole with a special plastic cement he carried for that purpose, and told
the new customer that no one was to touch the set until the cement had set. He would
be back after 48 hours to finish the job. This he did, and after sandpapering the
cement and refinishing the top, the dent had become almost invisible.
The lady of the household was so impressed with this job, for which he had charged
a reasonable sum that she asked him to go over the TV set and replace all weak tubes.
As she was living alone and used the television receiver constantly, she asked the
technician to come back once every six months and put in new tubes wherever required.
Evidently well-to-do, she could well afford this.
The moral of this story is that extra service usually pays real dividends at
little extra cost to the service technician.
TV Implosion. Television picture tubes are well protected in the average receiver
by glass or heavy plastic in front of the screen. But when the chassis is removed
from the cabinet, the service technician no longer has adequate protection. Sometimes
he becomes careless and forgets what may happen when a picture tube "lets go." It
should always be remembered that the vacuum in such tubes is high and in consequence,
the atmospheric pressure exerts a tremendous force on the face of the tube. Thus
a 17-inch screen tube supports a pressure of 3322 lbs., or 1.66 tons; a 30-inch.
tube supports a weight of 10,318 lbs., or 5.19 tons!
If a picture tube caves in suddenly, the air within the vicinity is pulled into
the tube violently, creating a powerful implosion. Immediately thereafter particles
of glass are ejected forcefully on the rebound and frequently also the electron
gun is pulled out and possibly hurled a varying distance.
Recently in Chicago, at a hospital which we visited, we met a TV service technician
who told us the following account. He had taken a set apart and when he was carrying
the picture tube to his bench, it "let go." His face was showered with glass and
his nose in particular was fearfully cut. He did not know what had caused the implosion
and had to be hospitalized.
While picture tube implosions are comparatively rare, technicians frequently
handle these tubes carelessly. Often they are touched while the technician has a
screw driver or other tool in one hand. It should be noted that a tiny scratch on
the face of the tube is a serious matter; such a tube may implode at any time thereafter.
The face of the tube should never be touched with anything metallic, such as screwdrivers
Not so long ago, while we visited a large tube plant, one of the men was severely
reprimanded by his superior because he used a steel, 6-inch pocket ruler to make
a measurement on the face of the tube. Most rulers of this type have sharp corners
which may scratch the face of the picture tube - even a microscopic scratch may
spread and cause an implosion later.
When picture tubes must be handled by the service technician, a piece of heavy
cloth should always be used, and the bare hand should never be placed on the face
of the tube. "Insulate" yourself with a thick piece of cloth, wool preferably.
Free TV Service. A Buffalo appliance store - Meyers - offers "5-Year Free Service"
with each TV receiver it sells. The "free service" does not include parts out of
warranty, however. About 90% of the firm's service calls are completed in the customer's
home and service is restricted to the hours between 9 am and 5:30 pm. The store
has been offering similar free service on other appliances since 1936. It does a
big business, selling television sets at list price. Presumably this idea may spread.
It would seem to be good business for a retail store.
Naturally, this is not good news for the independent service technician. But
inasmuch as he has come across free deals of all types before, this threat is probably
no more of a menace than other "free" deals. To begin with, only large stores, doing
an annual business of over a million dollars, can give such free service - if it
is really free, which we doubt - so the competition probably will not be too severe
for the independent service technician in the future.
In the nature of the thing, after-hours service probably will not be given by
such establishments, and it is here where the independent technician, if he is alert,
can cash in. In his community or in his servicing zone, where he normally operates,
it should not be too difficult to find out who owns television sets. Every up-to-date
independent service technician should have a mailing list of all the owners of television
sets in his neighborhood. If he can possibly arrange it, either he or a partner,
or a special employee should be able to give service after hours, say from 5 to
9 pm. Inasmuch as most people use television sets in the evening, a large percentage
of television troubles occur - or are discovered - during that period. Often an
important program is to go on the air that evening and the owner wishes to see it;
therefore he requires immediate service. If the service technician can circularize
his prospective customers with a post card which may read "Get TV Service When You
Need It. We make calls from 5 to 9 pm at reasonable prices. Phone us in case of
trouble", he is sure to find it worth his while, This or similar literature to prospects
will often bring in a good deal of business, particularly over the weekend when
most people do not wish to be without a live radio or TV set. Such special service
rates higher prices too.
As has often been experienced, once you get a new customer and have done him
a favor, he will remember it. It is true that night service may be a nuisance, but
the work can be arranged in such a manner that if the service technician himself
cannot take on the job, he may have an alternate or alternates who can be reached
by telephone. That is up-to-date servicing that pays dividends.
Posted November 4, 2020