Valve Radio Repair Handbook Review

Valve Radio and Audio Repair HandbookThis book was first published as Practical Handbook of Valve Radio Repair in 1982. This second edition, called Valve Radio & Audio Repair Handbook, has been revised, expanded and updated.

The book is divided into three distinctive parts, covering Essential Theory, Practical Repair Work and Reference Data respectively.

The author, Chas E. Miller, is well known in vintage radio circles as the publisher of Radiophile magazine. He now also published 405 Alive and Radio Days. Previously Chas worked as a radio and television service engineer for many years.

Part 1

Comprising 11 chapters in 90 pages, this section gives a detailed grounding in electrical theory, valve operation, TRF and superhet receiver circuits etc. The information is based on that required for practical repair work, rather than the more theoretical and mathematical coverage that would be found in many text books etc. This section is probably largely unchanged from the first edition. Although the information is accurate and generally clear, the style is rather dry and lifeless, and I often found myself skipping sections.

As with the rest of this book, there a few things that slipped past the proof-readers. For example there is a chapter called Practical Receiver Design (1): Battery Operated TRFs but there is no Practical Receiver Design (2)... chapter.

Part 2

Comprising 14 chapters in just 70 pages, this section aims to give practical repair information. This skips along at a fair pace, and is not really as detailed as I think many repairers and restorers would like. As well as Valve Radios, in this section the author manages to include American Midget sets, Public Address and Hi-Fi Amplifiers, and Automotive Equipment.

The largest chapter, at 13 pages, is devoted to Oddities. This includes nine pages on the Wartime Civilian Set which is lifted straight from Radiophile magazine (published by the author), which in turn was largely lifted from the Trader sheets! Nowhere else in the book is any set or subject given such detailed coverage.

A significant part of this section is either newly written or rewritten for this edition. This is evident by the different writing style between the original and new material. The new material is written in a more light-hearted and easy-going manner, much like the author's Radiophile magazine, whereas the original work is more reminiscent of a college textbook.

Part 3

Comprising 3 appendices over 80 pages, this section contains what the author describes as a "wide ranging and valuable collection of valve and other data". This comprises Intermediate Frequencies data from a series of Trader sheets, valve characteristic data from the Wireless World Valve Data book, and two pages describing how to work out how old a set is. The introductions to the IF and valve data sections are taken directly from the original source, giving the incorrect impression that the author himself compiled the data. The original sources of the data are not credited or acknowledged. This is followed by a 10-page reprint of the Popular Wireless Radio Handbook, originally free with Popular Wireless in 1929.

I am disappointed to find that around one third of the book is taken up by reprinted third party information, rather than by real editorial content.

Since the book is published by a major publisher, and has been at least two years in the making, I am surprised at the number of silly mistakes and inconsistencies. The back cover and a few places in the editorial promise a list of "specialist dealers for valves, components and complete receivers" yet no such list exists. There are also a number of spelling and typing errors. This sort of thing is familiar to subscribers to Radiophile magazine, but in a book of this price I would have expected better.

Overall, I am somewhat disappointed with this book. Although it contains some useful information, I am not convinced that it offers good value for money at 19.99.

On the other hand, there is very little newly published information available on this subject, and this book would be a better choice than many original publications, because it is from the perspective of an enthusiast collector/repairer of antique equipment, rather than a repair shop servicing what was then current equipment.

The book is published Newnes, and is available (probably by special order) through major booksellers. Quote ISBN 0-7506-3995-4. It is also available by post from On The Air (see Suppliers page). You could also try on-line sources such as To view the book details at Amazon click here.

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Last updated 14th April 2006.