From my experience GEC are another company who have produced a decidedly variable range of sets. Some are really good while some (particularly later) sets are not up to much.

Mike Izycky offers the following useful method for dating GEC radios:

GEC sets are very easy to date, with only one or two exceptions. Up to 1949 the first two digits of the model number are the model year. After 1950, the model year is the sum of the first two digits added to the last two digits, so:-

BC5639 = (5+6)+39 = 50, so the set is 1950.

This doesn't work with the later models having three digit numbers though.


Wavebands - MW, LW

Valves - X119, WD119, LN119, U119

Date - 1959

Status - No longer in my collection

This interesting set uses a tuning indicator that has the appearance of a thermometer. It consists of a thin clear tube, through which the tuning drive cord is threaded. A small section of the cord is painted black, this indicates the wavelength on the adjacent scales.

The set is built on a PCB, which is mounted vertically in the cabinet This was another set from the NVCF - bought at the end of the day for next-to-nothing, because the seller did not want to take it back home with him! Several capacitors have been replaced, and the set worked when I tested it. The waveband switch needs some attention however. Two of the valves have been replaced with Mullard equivalents (the numbers above were taken from the rear panel of the set).

Although I quite liked this set, I was running out of space so a few had to go. This was one of them.


Wavebands - MW, LW, VHF

Valves - B109, X119, W119, DH109, N119, U119

Date - Late 1950s

Status - No longer in my collection

This is a cheap-and-nasty offering from GEC. The circuit is basic, with no refinements like AGC on the VHF band or negative feedback. The sound quality and performance is fairly bad.

There is evidence of last-minute modifications, such as a screening loop near the W119 IF amplifier valve, the purpose of which (according to the Trader sheet) is to prevent instability caused by the directional ferrite rod aerial. Why not use a proper valve-screening can?


Wavebands - VHF

Valves - B109, W119, W119, LN119, U119

Date - 1959

Status - No longer in my collection

No, it isn't the wrong photo! This set is housed in the same cabinet as the BC401 above, but whereas the BC401 receives MW and LW, this set receives VHF only. A number of manufacturers did the same sort of thing in the late 50s - take a look at the Murphy U502/U504 and Bush VHF90A/DAC70 for examples.

I purchased this set at the Spring 2002 NVCF for £10. It is complete and looks relatively untouched inside, apart from a resistor soldered across a dropper section. The brass is in better condition than my BC401.

Although I quite liked this set, I was running out of space so a few had to go. This was one of them.


Wavebands - MW, LW

Transistors - GET874, GET873, GET873, GET114, GET114, GET114

Date - 1961

Status - No longer in my collection

This horrible transistor set was a gift from Jon Evans. He was going to throw it away but thought I might find it useful for spares. The top section is cracked around the controls and the speaker fabric is filthy.

With a battery fitted it does work, and it actually doesn't sound too bad. It has a fairly large round loudspeaker which probably helps.

It has two tuning scales, and both pointers are operated by the same control, allowing it to be viewed from either side. The back of the case is identical to the front except there is no GEC logo. There are two tone switches, FIDELITY gives some treble boost (more likely it removes some treble cut) and SPEECH removes some bass. Both are rather excessive in their operation.

I was undecided whether to restore it or use it for parts. Being a GEC it uses odd transistor types, which makes it less useful for parts, so it might get restored in due course. The trouble is, that it's so ugly...

Although I quite liked this set, I was running out of space so a few had to go. This was one of them.

BC3550 "Droitwich Super 5"

Wavebands - LW, MW

Valves - U12, AC4PEN, MHD4, VMP4/K "Catkin valve", MX40

Date - 1935

Status - Contributed photo and description

Colin Carmichael provided the photograph and the following description:

This must have been a top of the range GEC in 1935. It is well equipped with a fluid light tuning indicator, 8 inch speaker and a "Sensitivity Switch".

The performance is very good with good sound quality and sensitivity. The chassis is well made but a bit cramped,which makes it difficult to work on in some cases. The dial also gets in the way if the chassis has to be put on its side or upside-down.

The cabinet is a very Cubist design with a rectangular dial, square speaker aperture and a very rectangular cabinet with attractive veneers and bronze trim.

BC3740 "AC Super 4"

Wavebands - MW, LW

Valves - X41, VMP4G, D41, N41, U12

Date - 1937

Status - No longer in my collection

This is probably one of the nicest sets I have owned. Mine was rescued from a garden shed, and was in a terrible state when I received it. Despite that, it was in good condition electrically and only needed a few capacitors and one valve to give good performance. The cabinet needed much more work, and this photo shows the finished result. The knobs were not the originals, which had become mislaid.

Sadly I had to sell it when I was short of cash - and it is clear that these sets in good order can fetch a fair sum of money! The set was made in the mid-thirties, and the sound quality is every bit as good as that produced by sets made some fifteen years later! The build quality is rather untidy, with many joints between components self-supporting rather than on tag strips - but they have held up for over sixty years without problems!

BC5441 and BC5442

Wavebands - SW, MW, LW

Valves (BC5441) - X61M, W61, DH63, KT61, U50
Valves (later BC5441 & all BC5442) - X79, W7, DH77, N78, U78

Date (BC5441) - 1950
Date (BC5442) - 1951

Status - BC5441 in my collection

Despite the different valve lineups, these two sets are sufficiently similar to be covered by one Trader service sheet.

The photo shows my BC5441. The BC5442 has a tone control so has four knobs across the front. Otherwise it looks identical.

A BC5441 version I repaired was a very nice set, which gave good sound quality. The cabinet, with the darker veneer inlet on the front, was distinctive yet subtle. I have not seen a BC5442, but as they are so similar electrically, I would expect the performance to be similar also.

I bought this set from my good friend Jon Evans at the Autumn 2003 NVCF for £3.50. The cabinet is rather tired, but internally it looks to be OK. I have not yet tested it. This is the later BC5441 with the smaller (X79 etc.) valve lineup.


Wavebands - SW, MW, LW

Valves - X79, W77, DH77, N78, U78

Date - 1952

Status - Repaired for a customer

Judging from the set I repaired, this was not one of GEC's better efforts. The set was notably insensitive, although on stronger stations the sound quality was very good.

I spent a considerable amount of time trying replacement valves, checking and rechecking the alignment (which seemed to peak up nicely), and testing component values, voltages and signal levels around the RF and IF stages - but nothing amiss was found. I even referred the set to a colleague in case I was missing something obvious, but he could not find anything either.

I cannot say whether these sets are indeed hopelessly insensitive, or whether there was something wrong with this set that neither of us could find. If anyone else has come across this set and can comment on its performance I would be most interested to hear from you.

Dominic Rivron sent me this comment:

I read on your site that you would be interested to hear from anyone encountering a GEC BC5839. I've just bought one for three quid from the man at the local tip! First impression is exactly the same as yours. Sounds good on strong stations, but it does seem insensitive - performance using only the built in loop aerial is pathetic. I intend to do some work on it, and I'll mail you again if I find out more.


Wavebands - VHF, MW, LW, BS

Transistors - AF178, AF115, AF116, AF116, AF116, OC71, AC127, OC81D, OC81, AC127

Date - 1965

Status - Contributed photo and description

Simon Hockenhull describes the repair of this set in the Recent Repairs section. He also supplied this photo.

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Last updated 14th April 2006.