Use caution before purchasing from W5LW

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Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2015 2:47 am

Use caution before purchasing from W5LW

Post by N8ECH » Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:32 am

On or about 12/17/17, Mr. Martin had an ad on QTH for a Commander 2500 amplifier with 2 pairs of 3CX800 tubes. (I have a screen shot of the ad) The amplifier was described as a "repair project." One pair of the tubes was described as "a 14 month old pair of Taylor tubes", and the second pair "a NEW set of medical pulse rated tubes." Both sets of tubes were further described as, " have been checked in an Alpha 89 amplifier, and are known to be full output with low grid current." The amp was advertised as $800 by itself, $1300 with one pair of tubes, or $1600 for amp and both pairs of tubes shipped.

I spoke to Mr. Martin via phone, and he seemed pleasant and someone I would be able to trust. Based upon our conversation, I agreed to the purchase and sent him payment for the amp and both pairs of tubes. I did understand that the amp would need work, but I felt that with both sets of tubes being in good condition (as stated), the deal seemed like a decent one.

When the three boxes arrived, I noted that all were packed well, and I give Mr. Martin credit for doing a good job there. Upon opening the amplifier box, it was pretty apparent that the amp had been apart, and was pretty much "thrown together." The plate/tune knobs were loose, and one of them fell off immediately. Some of the hardware had been reinstalled, and other screws were rattling around inside the box. When I tried to reinstall the plate/tune knobs, the tune load caps would not turn as the set screws on the inside were loose. The amp was stated to have biasing issues, but I did not expect to have to reassemble it to be able to simply turn it on. There were also interconnecting harnesses between the circuit boards that were flopping around. I quickly realized that the amp was above my trouble shooting ability, and engaged the services of a well known local ham who worked in the communications industry for 30+ years. I have known him for over 20 years, and he does good work.

For me the most troubling part of this transaction was the tubes. While they were packed well, they were nothing like W5LW had advertised. Please recall that he advertised all 4 of them as "full output with low grid current." When they were tested, one of the Taylor tubes was shorted. The other Taylor is the only one that seems to be "as advertised" with decent output AND low grid current. The second pair although they LOOK new require about 60 ma of grid current to obtain 1000 watts out.

When I contacted Mr. Martin with my concerns, and requested he make some level of partial refund for the shorted tube, he replied by saying "I told you I would stand behind the amp. Return all pieces to me and I will refund your money."
Return shipping would likely be $150-$200, and I ended up spending another $250 to bring the amp back to life.
Why would I pay to send Mr. Martin back the now repaired amp at my expense, and in the process losing between $300-$400 in the process?

I invite you to form your own opinion based upon my experience. Once it was clear to me that Mr. Martin was not interested in any sort of reasonable solution, I have had no further communication with him.

The amp was bought as a "fixer upper", and I got that and more! However, the tubes are NOT what was advertised, and due to that I feel like some level of financial adjustment is warranted. Were only one of the 4 tubes to be problematic, I could chalk it up to one of those times when something out of both of our controls just happened. With 3 of the 4 tubes being nowhere close to "as advertised", I cannot entertain that scenario, and could not recommend Mr. Martin as someone I would trust again.

I understand that Mr. Martin has the right to reply here, and I expect he will. My purpose in posting is not to engage a high school level of name calling or bickering, and I will not. I simply want to relate my experience with him. Make up your own mind, and be so advised should you choose to conduct business with him.

To those who may wonder why I delayed this posting, the answer is that I wanted to be able be able to reply without anger or emotion, and to relate this experience as clearly as completely as possible.


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Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:31 am

Re: Use caution before purchasing from W5LW

Post by w5lw » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:49 am

All, as Paul Harvey would say the rest of the story. The tubes mentioned were tested in a Alpha 89 and tested at the time with full output and what I said was low grid current, Eimac rates maximum grid at 60ma per tube, I believe Don told me the taylor was pulling 15ma and the medical pulls were pulling 35ma both well below the Eimac maximum, I also informed Don BEFORE he bought the amp that new medical pulls appeared to be refurbs that were sold to me as new because I could see faint logos on the heat sink. I personally would not expect refurb medical pulls to perform at eimac specs bur that is my opinion.
Don had told me when he contacted me to buy the amp that he would be repairing the amp himself so the fact that he took the amp elsewhere to be repaired really was his choice not my misguidance.
Don informed me that one of the Taylors ended up being shorted and that he wanted $150 compensation. I told Don that I had checked the tubes for shorts both at room temp and hot straight out of the amp and had not found any shorts. The Taylor tubes were @ 14 months old and I included the receipt from RF Parts for the Taylors so if there was a issue in the future he might be able to exercise the warranty.
I had told Don before he bought the amp that if there was an issue or it wasn't what he expected send it back and I would refund his purchase price of $1600. I told Don again when he contacted me about the tube to send it back and I would refund his money but he wanted a partial refund, I don't do that because of reasons I won't get into here. I have stuck to my word and continue to stick to my word, the fact that Don chose to have it repaired instead of repairing himself was his choice.

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