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Newcomers to our hobby frequently ask where they can find service data for their newly acquired treasures. The most obvious producer of service information is the original manufacturer, who would have printed the genuine service manual. In addition, several trade magazines issued service information of their own and third-party publishers would also supply this information in book form. This applies not just to the United Kingdom but to continental Europe and the United States as well.

As far as Britain is concerned, photocopies can be had of most official service manuals and of the so-called 'Trader Sheets', which are summaries of the same information that was once published by the magazine Electrical & Radio Trader. Many sets were also described in the annual volumes of the book Radio & TV Servicing, which can be bought cheaply second-hand or borrowed from the library.

In the States there are several ‘bibles’ akin to Radio & TV Servicing. Howard W. Sams & Company started publishing their Sams Photofacts in 1946 and these are accepted as the standard for accuracy. Complete chassis photographs are included and each component is clearly labelled. Photofacts are still available, sold in numbered folders and volumes, and to obtain the correct Photofact, you need to find the reference number for your particular piece of equipment in the Photofact Index.

The second reference is Rider's, the John F. Rider Perpetual Troubleshooters Manuals. These cover radios from 1926 to 1953, also televisions from 1948 to 1957. Rider's is indexed by a system that is very similar to the Photofacts.

Red Books is the name given to RCA Victor Service Data Books; these cover RCA receivers manufactured from 1923 to 1950.

Supreme Manuals cover radios made as early as 1926 until the company went out of business in the 1950s, generally containing schematics only.

Hugo Gernsback's Official Radio Service Manuals published six volumes from 1929 to 1936.

The Mallory Radio Service Encyclopedia was first published in the early 1930s and contained a very complete listing of radios by manufacturer and model number.

Finding data today

There are a number of firms around the country who supply photocopies of data sheets, generally at prices around £5 - £15 a set of data (for a particular radio or TV). Even then, there are a few thoughtless people who think this price unreasonable and imagine these entrepreneurs are getting rich in this business. Sure, you can buy photocopies for 10p a sheet at the public library or the copy shop, but do you think you could run a business and support yourself by selling copies at that price? The people who offer this data service have spent years acquiring and storing the data, also laid out large sums buying and maintaining their own photocopying equipment, and there's time involved in collating, packing and posting the material, so let's hear no more silly complaints about profiteering.

It’s worth noting that in this information technology age there are alternative sources and a number of suppliers are turning to different distribution methods. Many North American schematics can be found online at

and Italian and other diagrams at


Resources for finding military radio equipment manuals online can be found at

and no doubt other such resources will appear in future.

Not everyone has connection to the Internet (yet) nor is this method ideal for everyone. But several suppliers are now offering radio schematics on CD-ROM disk as well and this promises to be an ideal solution. In the UK both Paul Stenning and the Mauritron organisation have issued CD-ROMs containing service sheets for popular vintage radio sets onto a CD, whilst in the USA the same system allows you to have access to 30,000 pages of Rider’s manuals and other valuable publications. European sets are now represented on CD-ROM as well.

Here is a list of all the suppliers we know of-give us a shout if you offer a commercial service and have not been included.


  • ALGRA FUNKHISTORISCHES LABOR, Kirchstrasse 15, D-38642 Grafhorst, Germany (00 49 5364-2593, fax 00 49 5364-8386. Schematics from USA, NATO, UK, Germany and the Eastern Bloc, specialising in military sets.
  • ANTIQUE AUDIO, 41560 Schoolcraft, Plymouth, MI 48170, USA. Older factory manuals for RCA, Zenith (including Transoceanics) and several others. Riders volumes 1 through 22, Sams Photofacts 1 through 600, Beitman's volumes 1 through 10 and Sams Transistor Service Manuals volumes 1 through 90.
  • ANTIQUE ELECTRONIC SUPPLY, 6221 South Maple Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85283, USA (00 1 602-820 5411). Pre-1960 service manuals for many electronic products, including communications receivers. They offer reprints of some older service manuals, tube manuals, a tube substitution guidebook and even a ballast tube manual.
  • ARDCO ELECTRONICS, Box 95, Berwyn, Il. 60402, USA. The source for copies of Hallicrafters manuals.
  • Walt BELSITO, 149 Southmayd Road, Waterbury, CT 06705, USA (00 1 203-756 6376). Original and copy American manuals and schematics.
  • Mr BENTLEY, 27 DeVere Gardens, Ilford, IG1 3EB (0181-554 6631). Thousands of technical manuals and service sheets, top quality copies at modest prices.
  • Alton BOWMAN, 4172 East Avenue, Canadaigua, NY 14424-9564, USA. Schematics for all USA radio, TV, organ, etc. equipment 1920-1970.
  • CARDWELL CONDENSER CORPORATION, 80 East Montauk Highway, Lindenhurst, NY 11757, USA (00 1 516-957 7200, fax 00 1 516-957 7203). Manuals for Hammarlund equipment.
  • CENTER FOR LEGISLATIVE ARCHIVES, National Archives, Washington, DC 20408, USA (00 1 202-501 5350). Record Group 287 supplies US Army Technical Manuals for radio equipment manufactured from 1940 to 1979. Photocopies can be obtained at a cost of 25 cents per page and a $6 minimum order. A "Reproduction Service Order" must first be completed by the National Archives to determine the cost of the specific manual you desire. The manual on this form must be identified by its proper Army Technical Manual number. A booklet entitled Indexes and Lists to Army Technical and Administrative Publications 1940-1979; The National Archives Microfilm Publications Pamphlet Describing M1641, also available from the Archives, describes this procedure.
  • CENTRE ELECTRONICS, 345 Stockfield Road, Yardley, Birmingham, B25 8JP (0121-706 0261). Communications receivers and other military equipment, valves, manuals.
  • Jim COOKSON, Fen Hill, Hall Common Road, Ludham, NR29 5NU (01692-630285). Specialist information for military radios.
  • DIVERSE DEVICES, 75 Priory Road, St Denys, Southampton, SO17 2JQ (tel/fax 01703-584680). Large quantity of manuals and hard-to-find components.
  • FAIR RADIO SALES CO., Box 1105, 1016 E. Eureka Street, Lima, OH 45802, USA (00 1 419-223-2196). Manuals for surplus equipment. Also some Tektronix manuals and vacuum tube data. Catalog available.
  • Jim FARAGO, 4017 42 Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55406-3528, USA. A complete set of Riders, Volumes 1 through 23, covering radios from 1924 to 1954. The cost is $3 per copy plus SASE. The customer must provide the unit name, brand name and model number.
  • HI MANUALS, Box 802, Council Bluffs, IA 51502, USA. Extensive collection of manuals from the mid-1930s to the 1970s, including amateur radio equipment. You must order from a current catalogue and "dropped list." The cost is $3 for both. Many Heathkit manuals in stock. They also supply vacuum tube data from the RCA Receiving and Air Cooled Transmitting Tube manuals and the Rider #35 Tube Substitution Guide. The cost is $5 per tube plus a business-size SASE. Your cheque will be returned if the tube data is not available. Hi-Manuals cannot accommodate technical correspondence, quotation requests or telephone calls.
  • T. HULTERMANS PD0MHS, Postbus 4228, 5604 EE Eindhoven, NETHERLANDS. Makes copies of old schematics for a small fee.
  • Dean K KIDD, W7TYR, 27270 SW Ladd Hill Road, Sherwood, OR 97140, USA (00 1 503-625 7363). Manuals and data for older Tektronix test equipment.
  • LAND AIR COMMUNICATIONS, 95-15 108th Street, Richmond Hill, NY 11419, USA (00 1 718-847 3090). Carries Collins, Johnson, Hallicrafters, National and other manuals. Can provide schematics on most equipment dating back to 1945.
  • MANUAL MAN, Peter Markavage, 27 Walling St. Sayreville, NJ 08872-1818, USA (00 1 732 238-8964). Web site:
    "The best source of high quality manual copies that I have found is Pete Markavage I have purchased three from him, and his copies are first class. I have purchased copies from another popular service and was sent a lousy copy of a lousy copy. The pages were not centered, and no attempt was made to clean up the images. I received a refund, although I have to wonder why the product was sent out in the condition it was. On the other hand, Pete's copies were clearly off the original, with very clean and usable pictures. If you have a choice, call Pete."
  • MANUALS PLUS, Box 549, T.A.D. #601, Tooele, UT 84074, USA (00 1 801-882 7188, fax 00 1 801-882-7195. Stocks 300,000 original manuals for test equipment, also military and amateur radio equipment.
  • MAURITRON TECHNICAL SERVICES, 8 Cherry Tree Road, Chinnor, OX9 4QY (01844-351694, fax 01844-352554). Photocopies of old service sheets, other technical data.
  • MECCA, 1132 Conway Drive, Newark, OH 43055, USA (00 1 614-522-4944). Used manuals for test equipment, amateur equipment and early receivers. Prices range from $5 to $35. Send an SASE with your request for price and availability.
  • MILITARY MARKETPLACE, 3643 East River Road, Bainbridge, GA 31717, USA (00 1 912 243 0430). Radio equipment, manuals and general militaria.
  • Bernard MOTHERSILL photocopies (at cost) items from his own extensive collection of service sheets for 1950s and 60s TV sets. There are dozens and dozens, mainly Alba, Ekco, Bush, Ferguson/Thorn, GEC, Murphy, Perdio, Pilot, also a few Decca, Defiant, HMV, KB, McMichael, Peto Scott, Philco, Regentone and Ultra. Write with international reply coupon plus unstamped self-addressed envelope to him at 3 Cherrywood Close, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, Eire.
  • H. MUNIMUS, Jakobstr. 2, 70806 Kornwestheim, Germany (tel/fax 00 49 7154-182180). Circuits for radios from the USSR.
  • MUSTY MANUALS, 645 Wheeling Road, Wheeling, IL 60090, USA (00 1 708-634-6467). An extensive collection of owner’s manuals, service and maintenance manuals, catalogues, magazines and other technical facts on all types of early and late model radio equipment, including ham gear. Manuals come with updates or articles, product reviews and other information. Catalogue available.
  • OLDE TYME RADIO COMPANY, Suite 317, 2445 Lyttonsville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA (00 1 301-585 8776). Some RCA Tube Manuals and Riders for sale. Catalogue available.
  • PUETT ELECTRONICS, Box 28572, Dallas, TX 75228, USA (00 1 214-321-0927, 214-327 8721). Schematic diagrams "for nearly any radio receiver." Cost is $5 with manufacturer and model number; $15 plus drawing and description if the manufacturer or model number is unknown. Reproduction manuals, Rider's indexes, RCA Vacuum Tube Manuals, and many other service/instruction manuals for classic radios and related equipment are available. Some amateur equipment manuals including Collins. Test equipment manuals include Hewlett Packard, Tektronix, Hickock and others. Catalogue available.
  • RADIO ROADMAP, Lance Wilson, 8429 Via Linda, Scottsdale, AZ 85258, USA (00 1 602 483 8993). Pre-1945 USA radios.
  • The RADIOPHILE, ‘Larkhill’, Newport Road, Woodseaves, Stafford, ST20 0NP. Copies of radio and TV manuals.
  • RÉTRO-PHONIA, BP1462, 25008 Besancon cedex, France (tel/fax 00 33 3-8148 9398). More than 3,000 circuits for European radios. Website expected soon, use Google to locate.
  • R. ROSENGARTEN, 1448 Lebanon Road, Clarksville, OH 45113-9711, USA (e-mail Pre-1938 American schematics.
  • Howard W. SAMS & Co., 2647 Waterfront Parkway East Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46214-2041, USA (00 1 800-428 7267, 800-428-5331). Sams covers most consumer electronic items manufactured since 1945. A photocopy service for manufacturer's manuals and Rider's data is also available.
  • SAVOY HILL PUBLICATIONS. Now under new ownership: Paul & Alex Ollivier - Fir View, 7 Rabys Row, Scorrier, Redruth, Cornwall, TR16 5AW. Tel: 01209-820771, E mail: Matchless selection of service manuals and printed matter about vintage radio. The 'Antique Wireless Newsheet' available to subscribers.
  • K. SCHOLTZ, Leisveldstraat 31, NL-5045 XS, Tilburg, Netherlands (00 31 13-571 2494 weekdays, 00 49 228-217321 weekends). Circuits for Czech radios 1945 onwards, Hungarian radios 1936 onwards.
  • Robert SCHRANTZ, 610 E. Juanita Avenue, San Dimas, CA 91773, USA (tel/fax 00 1 909-394 1194). American radio and TV schematics 1920-1960 mailed or faxed.
  • Chris SIMMONDS (01705-789320). Radio circuit diagrams for more than 4,000 models 1930-1960.
  • SLEP ELECTRONICS CO., Box 100, Otto, NC 28763-0100, USA (00 1 704-524 7519). Operation and service manuals; schematic service for old and new amateur radios, commercial and military surplus test equipment, commercial equipment.
  • Philip TAYLOR, 3 Silver Lane, Billingshurst, RH1 0RP.
  • TECHNICAL INFORMATION SERVICES/INFOTECH, Midinbank Farm, Ryelands, Strathaven, ML10 6RD (01357-440280), 'World's largest selection of manuals, 1930s to current date, British and foreign'.
  • TEST EQUIPMENT MAUALS, (Ed Matsuda), Box 390613, San Diego, CA 92149, USA (00 1 619-479 0225, fax 00 1 619-479 1670. Good source of Hewlett-Packard and other manuals.
  • VINTAGE TECHNICAL SERVICES, Liverpool 16.. Hundreds of technical manuals for WW2 radio and radar equipment, UK, USA and German. "I am very sorry to have to tell you that Ian Mant - the owner of VintageTechnical Services - passes away some months ago. He left his entire stock of manuals to VMARS. We do not at the moment have a copying service I am afraid. 73s, Richard G7RVI". Index of VMARS technical manuals service at
  • Dave WILLIAMS, 16 Church Street, Owston Ferry, Doncaster, DN9 1RG (tel/fax 01427-728169). Email: Circuits and service manuals 1930-1990s.


  • BPS Inc., 164 Winter Haven, Brownsville, TX 78521, USA. Complete Rider radio repair manual collection of volumes 1-23 (30,000 pages), priced $249.00.
  • MAURITRON TECHNICAL SERVICES, 8 Cherry Tree Road, Chinnor, Oxon., OX9 4QY (01844-351694, fax 01844-352554). Disk contains Trader service sheets for 500 sets from the 1930s-1950s, priced £49.95.
  • Wilfried MEIER, Schepdonksweg 11, D-47625 Kevelaer-Wetten, Germany (00 49 2832-2544). CD1 Radio receiver circuits, comprising all 11 volumes of Lange/Nowisch; CD2 Complete Philips radio service documentation from 1927 to 1945; CD3 Philips radios BX series from 1947 to 1957; CD4 Philips test equipment (all GM types); CD5 Philips TV receivers from 1948 to 1968 (including British sets and first-generation colour sets); CD6 TV Miscellany (British pre-war sets and post-war sets down to 1953, plus many German, Belgian, French sets and some East Bloc examples). Each CD-ROM costs DM98.00.
  • OLD COLONY SOUND LABORATORY, Box 876, Peterborough, NH 03458-0876, USA (00 1 603-924 6371, 00 1 603-924 6526; fax 00 1 603-924 9467). Disk version of the 4th edition of Radiotron Designer’s Handbook, $29.95.
  • RADIO ERA ARCHIVES, 2043 Empire Central, Dallas, Texas 75235, USA (00 1 214-358 5195, fax 00 1 214-357 4693). Rider’s Perpetual Troubleshooter’s Manual with additional new material and index, covering the original 23 volumes in six CDs, $85 per CD or $450 the set. Plus RCA Radiotron Repair Handbook and many other reference books old and new (details at
  • Paul STENNING, Box 170, 89 Commercial Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5RR. Service information DVD-ROM, containing over 6400 vintage radio service manuals, £24.99. Valve data CD-ROM, containing Mullard, Osram, Brimar, Cossor and valve catalogues and manuals, plus Wireless World valve book and data supplements, ERT transistor chart, RSGB services valve equivalents, USA substitution tables and a guide to valve numbering systems, £9.99. (more details at


A few to try...


Valve and transistor data

Data books for components are extremely valuable, not only for the characteristics of each type but the equivalents tables, showing substitutes for when the original type needed is not available. Each country has its own ‘bibles’ of data and the bad news is that most of these are now long out of print. The good news is that a few have been reprinted and many more are easily found second-hand at swapmeets and in used book shops. In Britain the many editions of the Wireless World guide (official title Radio Valve Data, later Radio Valve and Transistor Data, Iliffe Books) and Bernard Babani’s International Radio Tube Encyclopedia are among the best books ever published.

Among the books currently in print (all inexpensive paperbacks) are:

  • Comprehensive Radio Valve Guide (five volumes) by Bernard Babani, reprinted by Radio Bygones, 9 Wetherby Close, Broadstone, BH18 8JB (tel/fax 01202-658474).
  • Lampmètre Radio-Contrôle - Notice d’ Emploi, 1941 (Valve tester Instructions, 1941). Photocopied reprint, 62 pages. Price 100 French francs postpaid, from J.-C. Montagné, 35 rue Salvador-Allende, 92220 Bagneux, France. The book covers all current (in 1941) French valves plus a sprinkling of British, RCA and German ones, with equivalence tables and base diagrams. See the author's web site for other interesting titles.
  • Radio Tubes and TV Tubes, published by SECG Éditions Radio, 3 rue de l’ Éperon, F-75006, Paris, France. As well as basic data for each type, these books also show specimen application circuits.
  • Röhren-Codex, a reprint of the 1951 edition of this German valve data publication covering valves from all Western countries. Available from Verlag Historischer Technikliteratur, Nesselrodestrasse 7, D-45699 Herten, Germany.
  • Tableaux de Characteristiques et de Correspondances de Lampes (Valve characteristics and equivalents). Photocopied book, 48 pages. Price 100 French francs post-paid, from J.-C. Montagné, 35 rue Salvador-Allende, 92220 Bagneux, France. This useful book is a mixture of old publications and personal additions, made up into a kind of useful scrapbook. French valves come top of the list in this book but there are also plenty of American, British and German types. The data covers the pre-war period right down to 1964 and includes both tabular information and diagrams of valve bases. See the author's website for other interesting titles.
  • Valves Electronic (GPO, 1947), WD Valve Data, CV and Military Wartime Valve Equivalents, Services Radio Valve Manual (1942), Services Index of Valves, CRTs and Electronic Devices (1944), Admiralty Fleet Order (1945, with RAF and USA valve types)

A specialist supplier of valve books worth mentioning is OLD COLONY SOUND LABORATORY, Box 243, Peterborough, NH 03458, USA (00 1 603-924 6371, 00 1 603-924 6526; fax 00 1 603-924 9467, e-mail They offer Operating Features of the Audion, a small 32-page reprint of Edwin Armstrong’s 1917 paper from the Journal of the New York Academy of Sciences. Old Colony also has many of the RCA tube books in reprint and they also a page with foreign tube books, including a 636-page book from Japan which has characteristic and specs for all major vacuum tubes (mainly in English) and there are other books in Japanese, German, Swedish and Italian.

In this day and age ‘machine readable’ resources are popular with some people (presumably those who cannot be bothered to buy books) and the good news for them is that valve data is available on the Internet and on floppy disk. Here are some pointers.

Websites (all with links to other sites)

Valve and other data on disk

  • Tube DataBase III, also Transistor Substitution Database and Integrated Circuit Identification. IBM format disk, $25 each from Jim Johnson, Box 6352, Kennewick, WA 99336-0352, USA.
  • Tubedata. Valve data and substitution information on more than 25,000 European, American and Russian valves. IBM format disk, $39.95 from ARC, Box 2, Carlisle, MA 01741, USA (00 1 508 371 0512, fax 00 1 508 371 7129).
  • Valve Data CD-ROM, containing Mullard, Osram, Brimar, Cossor and valve catalogues and manuals, plus Wireless World valve book and data supplements, ERT transistor chart, RSGB services valve equivalents, USA substitution tables and a guide to valve numbering systems. More details at or from Paul Stenning, PO Box 15, Hereford, HR4 9WX.
  • VT Data. Interactive data search and inventory system. IBM format disk, $29 + postage from EPS/Solutions, Box 862, Broomall, PA 19008-0862, USA. Information at

Reading circuit diagrams

A degree of understanding helps, especially when you find symbols and notations which don’t match today’s practice.

Don’t be misled.

When reading old diagrams bear in mind that some components may be denoted by different symbols from the ones we use today. Resistors were drawn as zig-zags instead of boxes, whilst lamps and fuses were also shown differently. What looks like a script lower case w (actually the small form of the Greek letter omega) denotes ohms and at this time the normal large omega symbol was reserved to denote megohms. If you find both symbols together, the meaning of each is clear, otherwise you will have to use common sense !

In American diagrams another trap lurks. Mohms at one time denoted thousands of ohms, from the Latin word for a thousand (which also gives us milli- for indicating thousandths. Usage ceased sometime in the early 1930s, but not consistently (and mid-1930s ARRL Handbooks are very careful over this, which gives some idea of the confusion it caused). In really old US diagrams, you may find resistors drawn as ‘squarewave’ shapes, and ‘inductors’ drawn with zigzag lines, whilst condensers are shown as either overlapping squares or interlocked, square-cornered ‘U’ shapes. (This appears in many US patent drawings but not exclusively).

The designator VT may mean ‘vacuum tube/valve, thermionic’ or ‘valve, transistor’ and Q can be either a transistor or a capacitor. In all cases, however, the shape of the accompanying symbol will make clear which component is meant.

In wiring diagrams the colours are usually marked and on British drawings the convention is generally

  • BK black
  • BN brown
  • R red
  • O orange
  • Y yellow
  • G green
  • B blue
  • V violet
  • S slate (i.e. grey)
  • W white
  • P pink

This information is an updated version of a small fragment of the book ELECTRONIC CLASSICS, published by Newnes (ISBN 0-7506-3788-9). For just £19.99 you can acquire over 400 pages of solid reading on vintage radio collecting and restoration.


It's YOU who keeps this free resource up to date !   CLICK HERE to let me know of any amendments.

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